A-K Valley athletes of the week: Highlands’ Johnny Crise and Fox Chapel’s Sophie Shao

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020 | 5:08 PM


Johnny Crise

Class: Senior

School: Highlands

Sport: Basketball

Report card: Crise had 23 points and 14 rebounds to help Highlands earn its first WPIAL championship since 1995 in a 72-54 win over Belle Vernon in the Class 4A final Saturday at Petersen Events Center. Crise, who signed as a preferred walk-on to play football at Penn State, had 27 points in the Golden Rams’ 53-45 win over Blackhawk in the semifinals Wednesday at North Allegheny.

How does it feel to be a WPIAL champion?

It feels great, honestly. To finally get that title feels amazing. The journey was amazing to get here.

What did the team do to celebrate?

I had a little fire at my house and had my family and friends over.

Now that you’ve conquered the WPIAL, what are you looking forward to in the PIAA tournament?

We just want to do the same thing we’ve been building on previously. We just want to play together and take it one game at a time really.

Do you have any superstitions or pregame routines?

My mom usually gives me Reese’s Cups before games.

What’s your favorite school subject?

I’d have to say English. My teacher and I have a really good bond, and he helps with a lot of things. We do a lot of speeches in there, and I like public speaking.

Who are your best friends on the team?

Luke Cochran. We’ve been playing basketball together since second grade.

Who would win a teamwide game of H-O-R-S-E?

To be honest, if it came down to the end, I would probably dunk a couple of times, because they can’t dunk. Luke (Cochran) and Korry (Myers) are very creative shooters, though, so it would probably be between them.

What NBA player would you like to play one-on-one?

Zion Williamson, because I watch and study his game and try to play like him, so it would be pretty cool to play him.

What’s your favorite TV show?

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but if I had to pick one, it would be “The Office.”

What’s something interesting about you that people may not know?

I play a lot of pingpong. When I was little, my mom and dad got a pingpong table, and I had friends over and we would play every weekend. We still play now and then.

Sophie Shao

Class: Freshman

School: Fox Chapel

Sport: Swimming

Report card: Shao won the 100 butterfly title at the WPIAL championships Thursday at Pitt’s Trees Pool and earned a spot in the PIAA championships March 11-14 at Bucknell. She finished in a career-best time of 54.74 seconds. Shao also was a part of the 400 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams with her older sister, Vivian, which finished second and third, respectively.

How did it feel to win at WPIALs as a freshman?

I was very proud of myself because I was able to put up a time that I never had before.

What did you do to celebrate?

Not much. Getting the gold medal was enough for me. We went to Chipotle for lunch, but then I went home and took a nap, because I was very tired from the meet.

What are you looking forward to at the PIAA meet?

I feel like I did really well at WPIALs, so I’m looking to carry that over and win states. I just want to try and get the time, 54, because I was really proud of my swim at WPIALs.

What makes the butterfly your best event?

I feel like it’s much easier for me than the other strokes, even though some people say it’s the hardest. Butterfly was very natural for me. I feel like I learned the stroke when I was 7, maybe. I remember liking it from a very young age. I had to work hard on the other strokes, like breaststroke. That used to be my worst stroke, and now it’s my second best, so a lot of hard work went into that.

When did you start swimming, and when did you know you wanted to swim competitively?

I started swimming around 5 years old at Deer Lakes Pool, and I started to swim competitively at 9.

Do you have any superstitions or pre-race routines?

Not really. I usually just listen to music beforehand to get my mind off the stress of the event.

What’s your favorite school subject?

My favorite is art right now. It’s kind of relaxing for me. It’s not as stressful as everything else I do, I guess.

What’s your favorite TV show?

“Naruto.” It’s a Japanese anime series that’s on Netflix.

What’s something interesting about you that people may not know?

I like dancing and drawing. I also play the piano.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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