A-K Valley athletes of the week: Deer Lakes’ Collin Rodgers, Kiski Area’s Veronica Flanagan

Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 1:35 PM

Veronica Flanagan

Class: Junior

School: Kiski Area

Sport: Bowling

Report card: Kiski Area junior Veronica Flanagan captured the WPIBL girls singles championship Thursday at AMF Mt. Lebanon after she defeated Freeport’s Mackensie Livingston, 222-183, in the final. Flanagan, the WPIBL runner-up last year, was fourth after the qualifying round when she rolled games of 205, 206 and 205 for a 616 series. She then beat Hempfield’s Ashley Bensur, 204-190, and Hempfield’s Amelia Droste, 189-181, to reach the final. Flanagan led the Northeast Division in average this season at 205.83 with a 234 high game and 684 high series and she finished third at the WCCA championships in January.

How did it feel to win the WPIBL title Thursday?

It felt pretty good. I came second last year, so it was nice to get the victory this year. Overall, I just felt really good the whole day.

What did you do well in the final match to roll a 222?

It kinda worked out. I played the same line I played all day. After playing it a couple games, I had a really good feel for it. Just stayed with what I was doing and it worked out.

What was the competition like at that event?

The competition for the high school stuff is always tough. There’s a lot of really good girls. I always prepare to have some really good competition.

What’s the most challenging part of such a long day of bowling?

Just keeping your head in it all day no matter what happens. If you have a bad ball, bad frame or bad game you just have to keep fighting it out.

What are your goals for regionals?

I definitely want to advance to states again like I did last year. I’d like to make it a bit higher in regionals this year.

How many states have you visited for bowling?

We’ve been to Indiana and Michigan and Ohio for three of the different nationals.

Are there any bowlers you watch to learn from?

I wouldn’t say there’s any I mimic, but we do watch bowling a lot. I have my own style, and my coaches have been really good with playing with what they know I can do.

What’s the best snack food at the ally?

I don’t eat during matches, but most of the time me and the girls will get a chicken tender basket to split when it’s a long day.

Do you have a favorite local restaurant?

Probably Asia Cuisine on Hyde Park. I’m a big Chinese person.

What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?

Every year for my birthday, my dad makes homemade chicken parmesan.

If you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?

Based off a celebrity bowler, I’ve always wanted to meet Liz Johnson. She was one of my favorites growing up and one of the few I haven’t met yet.

Collin Rodgers

Class: Sophomore

School: Deer Lakes

Sport: Basketball

Report card: Collin Rodgers had six points, including the winning buzzer-beater Thursday night as the No. 1-seeded Deer Lakes boys basketball team defeated Ellwood City, 39-38, in the WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals. Nathaniel Moore tipped a pass away from Ellwood City near half-court, and Rodgers grabbed the loose ball and hit a shot in the lane as time expired. Rodgers also had 16 points to lead Deer Lakes to a 62-32 win over Sto-Rox in the first round Monday.

How did it feel to hit the game-winner on Thursday?

It felt good. It was kind of like a little bit of a shock. I don’t really know what happened. I heard the cheering. I didn’t see it go in. Not like a direct reaction, but I heard the cheering. It was a nice sight to see it went in.

What was the celebration like?

We had a big dogpile in the middle of the court. A big team celebration. I made the big shot, but if it wasn’t for a our defense we wouldn’t have gotten back in that game to have the opportunity.

How did the team play overall Thursday?

Obviously, not our best offensive performance. We only scored 39 points, but we gave up 38 points to a team that averages 68 points per game. If we’re looking at the positive, it shows how good our defense can be. We don’t need to rely on our offense when our defense can shut down opposing teams.

What will it take to beat Neshannock on Monday?

We’re going to have to be a little more sound offensively. Ellwood City sat in that 2-3 zone. Neshannock doesn’t have the 6-foot-5 kid Ellwood City has. We just have to adapt and execute offensively and do what we do on defense, and I think we’ll be good.

How does last year’s playoff experience help this time around?

It’s a nice help knowing you’ve been there before. You still have the nerves before the game, but that’s because I’m in a different role this year. You know the effort, preparation it takes to get there and what teamwork it takes to get to the end goal.

How can you describe the crowd that follows this team?

It’s amazing. It’s nice looking up at the crowd and seeing a community like that come together. When they were shooting foul shots, my ears were ringing from the noise the fans were making. To have that support, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Who is the toughest player you’ve guarded?

This season, probably Eli Teslovich from Shady Side.

What is your role on this team?

Last year, I came off the bench. It was doing whatever I could do to get minutes and contribute at the varsity level. I was a ball-handler and primary defender. Me and Aiden Fletcher could come off the bench and guard the two best players when the starters needed a break. This year, more running the offense and doing what I can do to contribute and get the team running on offense. Trying to keep the team together in hard moments, making sure we are level-headed and staying strong with one another.

Who is the funniest player on the team?

I don’t know if he’s trying to be funny, but it has to be Nathaniel Moore. Some thing he does gets the whole team laughing.

What type of hype-up music do you guys listen to?

In the locker room I’m not really a music person. I’m more of a get mentally ready for the game. I’m just straight focused.

How does soccer and your success there help with basketball?

Just the fact from soccer that I had a bigger role for soccer and basketball this year. My freshman year I started on the soccer team, but I wasn’t the guy. This past year, we had a very young team, and I needed to step up. Same thing for basketball. I need to step up in big games and help the team out.

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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