A-K Valley athletes of the week: Apollo-Ridge’s Brinley Toland, Highlands’ Bradyn Foster

Saturday, January 14, 2023 | 3:16 PM

Brinley Toland

Class: Senior

School: Apollo-Ridge

Sport: Basketball

Report card: Toland scored 21 points Thursday as Apollo-Ridge (11-2, 3-1) defeated Burrell, 57-45, in a Section 3-3A girls basketball game. That followed the point guard’s 17-point effort Monday night when the Vikings scored a 50-43 victory over Deer Lakes. Also a volleyball standout, Toland averaged 14.7 points last season when she was a second-team Valley News Dispatch all-star.

How did the team play against Burrell on Thursday?

I think we knew we had to focus going into this game. We ran through our offense really well. We were really patient taking shots and didn’t force anything. Our defense went really well. Our press was really good.

What are some things the team is doing well at this point in the season?

I think we’re really working together well. Our press has been a real strong thing we’ve worked on. We work on it every day in practice. We capitalize on it in the game. We force a lot of turnovers. We’re scoring off mistakes, pushing and getting that lead.

What is the goal for the rest of the season?

We’re just taking a game at a time and focusing on each team we play. We have a decent section. We know each game isn’t going to be a breeze, so we have to work hard and know what to do and when to do it. We’re trying to win section and then focus on playoffs when we get there.

What will it take to advance in the playoffs?

It just takes mentality. If we start getting down and play a tough team, we have to know we’re a good team and stay up. If everybody plays well and stays positive and we keep our heads in it, we can do well and move on.

What’s it like playing for your grandfather (Ray Bartha)?

I love it. He’s been my coach since like fifth grade. I wouldn’t want another coach. He’s a great coach. We have a really good team environment. He’s really positive and enthusiastic. He loves basketball.

Who is the toughest player you’ve guarded?

Probably Nadia Moore for Winchester Thurston. She’s decent-sized. She can shoot well and handle the ball well. You can’t really stop her. And of course all the girls from North Catholic. They are good all around.

How did you get started in basketball?

My pap, obviously. We’re a basketball family with my mom and aunt who played. Me and my sister, Kylar, have been playing since we were little.

What are your plans for next fall?

I’m not sure yet. I don’t think I’m playing (basketball), but I think I’m going to go into the medical field.

Are you involved in any other activities at Apollo-Ridge?

Volleyball. I think the anticipation for both sports you need and the mentality and staying strong on the court and being a leader and trying to keep everybody up (cross over). I think it also helps to keep me in shape.

What is something people might not know about you?

I’m really young for my grade. I was 13 when I started playing in ninth grade.

Bradyn Foster

Class: Junior

School: Highlands

Sport: Basketball

Report card: The Highlands boys basketball team scored three victories last week, and Foster was a major reason the Golden Rams improved to 11-2 overall and 3-1 in Section 1-4A. Foster had 12 points in Tuesday’s 95-28 win over Greensburg Salem. On Wednesday, the 6-foot-8 forward poured in 19 points with 10 rebounds in a 62-39 victory over Obama Academy. Then, he had 24 points and 11 rebounds in Friday’s 97-59 triumph at Indiana. Foster, who averages a team-high 20.2 points, was a second-team all-section pick and third-team Valley News Dispatch all-star last season.

How did the team play Friday at Indiana?

I think we did very well offensively. Our defense could have been better. Offensively, we were rolling.

What are some things the team is doing well at this point in the season?

I think we’re shooting the ball a lot better than we were the past few weeks, moving the ball better, working as a team, just getting in a groove.

What are the team’s goals for the rest of the season?

First, keep winning games. Eventually, beat Hampton and win the section. We want to want the WPIAL championship.

What will it take to avenge the loss to Hampton the next time around?

I think we’re going to have to play a lot better on defense. We can’t give up 37 points to one player again. We need to move the ball better on offense. I think we can get it done.

Who is the best player you’ve played against?

Probably Peter Kramer (from Hampton).

What is the best part about being 6-foot-8?

There’s not anyone my size. It gives me a pretty big advantage over most people, easy to rebound, things like that.

What’s the worst part?

How often people ask me how tall I am.

How old were you when you realized you could dunk?

I was in eighth grade. I was 14, probably 6-foot-3.

How did you get started in basketball?

I was about 1 year old, and my dad (Mike Foster) was coaching. He took me to the gym for one of his practices, and ever since it’s been what I’ve done.

What is something people might not know about you?

I also like to coach. I like to coach little kids. It’s called Beast Mode, something we do at Highlands with the younger kids.

Did you make any new year’s resolutions?

Just work harder.

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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