A-K Valley athletes of the week: Knoch’s Hattie McGraw, Deer Lakes’ Bryce Robson

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Saturday, January 21, 2023 | 12:05 PM


Hattie McGraw

Class: Senior

School: Knoch

Sport: Basketball

Report card: McGraw hit four 3-pointers and scored 17 points as Knoch earned a nonsection victory over Deer Lakes on Thursday. A second-team Valley News Dispatch all-star last year, she also had a team-high 12 points in a 56-39 loss to North Catholic on Monday and added 14 points in Friday’s nonsection loss to Pine-Richland. The 2021-22 WPIAL runner-up Knights (9-6, 4-2) have won seven of the last eight games and start the second half of Section 1-4A play Monday against Highlands.

How did the team play against Deer Lakes?

The team played very well. We shared the ball and got a lot of open looks. We stared a little slow but pulled together and had a good game.

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

Definitely, we always play hard with a lot of energy. We’re starting to share the ball really well. Our defense is always there.

Anything that you need to improve on?

Limiting our turnovers, just valuing every possession with the ball.

What are the goals the rest of the way?

Not losing anymore in section play, and making it back to the WPIAL championship would definitely be a big goal of ours.

What will it take to return to the WPIAL championship game?

It’s going to take a lot of focus mentally to lock in. Everyone has to buy into what we’re doing, even the players who might not have as much playing time, especially in practice. Everyone has to buy and in and value the ball every possession.

What’s the secret to being a good shooter?

Lots of shots. Over the summer, I make 500 shots a day. That’s definitely why I’m a good shooter.

What will it take to beat Highlands on Monday?

We’re going to have to move the ball on offense, take good shots and lock in on defense.

Who’s the best player you’ve faced?

(Alayna) Rocco from North Catholic. She is a great player. She shares the ball well but can, obviously, score.

Have you made plans for next fall?

I’m going to be going to Robert Morris for actuary science.

What do you want to study?

I really like math, and my mom is a guidance counselor and went through all the math options with me. I think that one is the best fitting.

Is there a story behind your first name?

My grandfather was on the phone with someone, and her name was Addy and he heard it wrong. He told my mom he really liked that name (Hattie), so my mom named me Hattie. You don’t meet many other Hatties, so I like that.

How did you get started playing basketball?

My dad started me and my sister (Mackenzie) up in third grade to be in the in-house league in our school. He was the coach, and we never stopped playing from there.

Are you involved in any other activities at Knoch?

I am a co-captain in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes).

What is something people might not know about you?

I can juggle. Mostly tennis balls or socks. I don’t get much more above that. Over quarantine I was so bored and wanted to learn something, so I looked up YouTube videos and started doing it.

Bryce Robson

Class: Senior

School: Deer Lakes

Sport: Basketball

Report card: A guard, Robson had 20 points — and surpassed 1,000 for his career — in leading Deer Lakes (9-6, 6-1) to a 97-35 Section 3-3A victory over Ligonier Valley on Friday. He also had a key steal in the final seconds that led to Michael Butler’s game-winning layup at the buzzer in Deer Lakes’ 53-51 win over Shady Side Academy on Tuesday. Robson, a second-team Valley News Dispatch all-star in 2021-22, added a team-high 12 points in the win. The Lancers, who ended OLSH’s state record winning streak earlier this season, are riding a four-game winning streak.

How did the team play against Ligonier Valley on Friday night?

We played pretty well. We came out hot. (I was) happy with how we played, and it will be good preparation for the big games we have ahead.

What was it like to get the 1,000th point of your career?

Surreal. It’s been a long time coming, the last four years. There were scares in there with covid and everything. It’s been a goal of mine for a long time. Achieving that goal was a feeling like no other.

How did it feel to get the win over Shady Side Academy on Tuesday?

Another great feeling. You match that up with the win against OLSH, we’ve had big wins. If we can continue on that path like we know we are capable of doing, I think we have a pretty good chance of going far this year.

What happened on the play where you forced the turnover in the final seconds?

I give all the credit in the world to our coach. Coach (Albie) Fletcher always puts us in the right positions on sideline and baseline out-of-bounds plays. We do a lot of film study. We knew I would sit on that exit pass.

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

More than anything, the team chemistry is really high, the team morale. We’ve been pretty sound defensively lately. We’ve been playing fast and playing together, making extra passes.

What are your goals the rest of the way?

Path to the Pete: That’s the ultimate goal. I got the individual stat out the way, and now it’s all team-oriented. I can’t wait to grind it out with my boys the rest of the way and, hopefully, make Deer Lakes history.

What will it take to advance in the playoffs?

Slow down, that’s the biggest thing. Our biggest problem is just playing in the moment, not worrying about past mistakes you’ve made. Instead of focusing on what could go bad, just thinking about what could go right.

Have you made any plans for next fall?

I haven’t committed anywhere. I’m still unsure if I want to continue playing.

How did you get started playing basketball?

When I was really young, Deer Lakes hosted youth clinics for kids in preschool, kindergarten, first grade. You’d go up to the middle school and shoot around. It’s come full circle ‘cause I’ve actually helped out with that clinic. Credit to Coach Fletcher ‘cause he’s the one who puts all that together. It’s a great community here. I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

Are you involved in any other activities at Deer Lakes?

I’m a baseball player. I play golf. I’m involved in a couple other clubs.

What’s the last movie you saw?

The Hangover series. I watched those on HBO Max. Those are some gems.

What type of music do you listen to pregame?

I keep it not so much high intensity, just stuff to get me psyched. Nothing too slow.

What is something people might not know about you?

I actually am a pretty solid whistler. It’s one of my hobbies.

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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