A-K Valley basketball notebook: Area teams enjoying win streaks

Thursday, January 4, 2018 | 11:51 PM

Thursday brought the resumption of section play in WPIAL basketball after the holiday break, the stretch runs for teams hoping to qualify for the postseason, and several Alle-Kiski Valley teams appear to be heating up even as temperatures grow colder.

The Leechburg girls held the longest winning streak among area teams heading into their Section 2-2A game at Vincentian on Thursday. Winners of five straight, the Blue Devils outscored teams by 22.4 points per game during their run — including 26.7 ppg in their last four games.

Highlands' boys team won its fourth consecutive game Wednesday, bludgeoning Southmoreland, 79-18. During the streak the Golden Rams (6-3) have won by blowout and by narrow margin, outlasting Knoch in overtime.

“We took some lumps early in the season, and we're starting to figure some things out,” Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski said. “We got game-time experience for some of the guys. It's just part of the process that we want to continue to get better throughout the season.”

Other A-K Valley teams showing strides include the Deer Lakes boys, winners of four of five; Leechburg boys, winners of five of six; Valley boys, winners of three straight; and Deer Lakes girls, winners of three of four. The Freeport boys and Fox Chapel girls also held two-game winning streaks.

Cold stopped

Some teams' Friday games are in jeopardy because of the weather.

Wind chills were forecast to dip below zero for Friday morning, causing some schools to cancel classes. That, in turn, could force the postponement of games.

30 rock

It took just a few possessions for Stoczynski to see his players' focus against Southmoreland. By the end of the quarter, the Golden Rams left little doubt in anyone's mind.

Highlands outscored Southmoreland, 30-0, in the first quarter in a 79-18 win.

“They just came out with tremendous energy,” Stoczynski said. “They were incredibly focused, and they were communicating at a level we haven't communicated at yet on defense all season. If we can continue to do that here as we continue to go along, I think that can be a successful thing for us.”

The game represented, by far, Highlands' best defensive performance of the season; the Golden Rams came into the game allowing 62.1 points per game.

Highlands also showcased offensive balance as six players scored at least nine points in the victory.

Whiting on the ball

Plum's Lamar Whiting's had a breakout performance in the Mustangs' triple-overtime victory over Armstrong on Tuesday, but it continued the junior's strong season overall.

Whiting leads Plum (5-5) in scoring at 25 points per game, but the point guard also tops the squad in rebounding (eight per game) and averages five assists.

Against Armstrong, a 68-64 victory, Whiting scored a career-high 36 points, draining the tying 3-pointer late in the first overtime and putting Plum ahead for good with a three-point play in the third overtime.

“He understood at the start of the season how big his role was going to have to be as a captain as well as the point guard distributing the ball to get everyone involved,” said Plum coach Hart Coleman, adding that Whiting also picked up his defensive intensity. “With the game on the line, he is one of the guys we go to to put us over the top.”

Michael Love contributed. Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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