A-K Valley athletes of the week: Freeport’s Melaina DeZort, Riverview’s Micah Black

Saturday, February 5, 2022 | 6:52 PM

Melaina DeZort

Class: Junior

School: Freeport

Sport: Basketball

Report card: DeZort scored 18 points and aided Freeport in a 49-42 comeback victory over Derry in an important Section 1-4A game Monday. The Yellowjackets evened their section record at 4-4 and moved into third place by a half game with the win. DeZort spent the summer rehabbing a knee injury to get back to play this season.

How’d it feel to help the team earn a comeback win in an important section?

It was good. I just had to flip that switch to where it was no longer just one game anymore. It was going to affect the rest of our season. I think it helped the other girls to get more involved and focused on what we needed to do to win.

What was the key to the comeback?

We started slow and weren’t playing our game, and Derry got out to a lead. I think we were down 10-2 in the first few minutes of the game. At halftime, coach (Fred) Soilis told us it was up to us. He said it was our game now and he had to step back and that if we wanted to make the playoffs we had to come together as a team. I gathered all the girls and said that we don’t want our season to end this way. We have all the pieces, but it’s been a struggle to put them all together and play team basketball. Once we got on the got on the same page where we wanted to win and our season to continue, we started to score in transition and play better defense.

What’s it been like being on a team that’s been battling for a playoff spot?

Personally, it’s been up and down. I just came back from a knee injury, and starting off, I didn’t even know if I’d be able to play the first few section games. I came back two months earlier than expected, so I had that in the back of my mind. I wasn’t sure if the team could rely on me in a game or if I’d have to sit out the next game. Once we got halfway through the season, I think we realized what our team was. I didn’t get to play any games in the summer or go to any open gyms, so it took awhile to gel with the team.

After going through the rehab process with your injury, how did it feel when you were able to get back on the court for a game?

My first game there was a ton of emotion, because I hadn’t played basketball for six months. I told myself that this is what I worked for. I really wasn’t scared at all. There was just a ton of excitement that I was finally there after all the hours of physical therapy and the pain at the beginning. It was emotional, because I finally had reached my goal.

Who would win a teamwide game of knockout?

Recently, I’d say Morgan Croney. In practice, we’ll play shooting games sometimes and we’re on the same team when we divide into two teams. When I’m missing, she’s always making it and sometimes she carries us, so I think she’d knock us all out in a game of knockout.

Do you have any pregame routines or superstitions?

I listen to the same song (No Flockin’ by Kodak Black) as the last song before every game. I’ve done that since freshman year. I don’t know why. It’s just the last song before I play. I also made sure it was on the playlist for warmups. As a team, we have this little skateboard in our locker room that we play with before games. My sister (Makenna) is a freshman on the team, and she found this random skateboard on a bus in the middle of the season. It’s the size of a Happy Meal toy. On the whiteboard in our locker room, I draw little roads for the skateboard to drive on. It’s really stupid, but it’s funny.

What is your favorite school subject?

I’ve been enjoying chemistry. It’s been getting difficult lately, but I do enjoy the labs. I also like Accounting II. I took Accounting I last year, and I liked learning about the accounting and finance part of business.

What are your hobbies outside of basketball?

This year with my injury. I had to find different things to do since I couldn’t play basketball and one thing I got into was golfing. It is a family sport, and it was the only sport I could play after I got my brace off. I really enjoy golfing and doing other outdoor activities like kayaking. I like hanging out with friends and going out to eat. I also like to shop. That’s one of my favorite things to do.

Micah Black

Class: Senior

School: Riverview

Sport: Basketball

Report card: Black had 18 points and helped Riverview rally from eight points down after three quarters in a 57-53 comeback victory over South Side. The win kept the Raiders in the race for a playoff spot in Section1-2A. Black was one of two returning starters for the Raiders and was the returning leading scorer.

How did it feel to help the team win an important section game?

It was great. I don’t think I’ve seen a comeback in our gym like that. I had two older brothers play on the team, but I don’t think they ever came back from that far behind. We were down 20 at one point in the third quarter.

What was the key to the comeback?

In the third quarter, we finally started to pick apart their zone. The zone troubled us in the first half and in the first time we matched up. We finally started a rhythm and getting everyone involved. We stopped taking the first 3-point look we had and started getting into the paint to get some good looks. That’s how we started to climb back.

How has it been working with new coach Phil McGivney?

It’s been great. It was a different course, because I had been playing for (Paul Sapotchine) the last five years and it was a surprise when he retired. I’ve enjoyed it. We had a different look going into the summer, and it was kind of a boost for me playing with a new coach. It made everything exciting and new for me. I know for me and the rest of the guys it’s been a fun and exciting year.

What’s the feeling around the team as you try to get into the playoffs?

Every game we talk about going 1-0. We aren’t thinking about the next few games we have ahead of us. I think we really have to come together, and that has to be our mindset. We have a shot at it. Some things have to go our way, but we’re going to do our best and go at it.

Who would win a teamwide game of knockout?

I would like to say myself, but I’d have to give it to Ben Hower. He has the most consistent stroke on the team. He shoots it the exact same way every time.

Do you have any pregame routines or superstitions?

I always put my left sock and shoe on before my right one every game and I have two wrist bands from a basketball camp, PGC, that I’ve attended the last two summers, and I wear those in warmups and drop them off to my assistant coach before games. I always go through the same routine before every game.

What is your favorite school subject?

I’ve always been a history guy. My dad is a history teacher at Mt. Lebanon and it’s always been a topic of conversation at the dinner table. One of my older brothers was a history major. It’s a family thing.

What are your hobbies outside of basketball?

I’m a big movie and TV guy. I have a teammate, Dan Roupas, who shares the same interest. I enjoy films.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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