A-K Valley girls basketball notes: Burrell’s Watts on road to recovery from ACL tear

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 6:49 PM


Olivia Watts is back on the road to recovery after a second ACL tear in her left knee put her on the sidelines for her entire junior season.

The Burrell guard, who had surgery last Friday to repair the injury, is looking on the bright side of her situation with the help of her teammates and coaches.

“My teammates have been there for me the entire time,” said Watts, who finished second on the team in scoring last year at 9.3 points per game. “They sent me texts before and after the surgery and checked in on me. That has really been helpful. I definitely think this recovery will go smoother than my last one because I now know what to expect.”

Watts was gearing up for the season in late November when continued soreness in the knee led to a visit to the doctor. That is when she received the latest injury diagnosis.

“Olivia looked so healthy, strong and fast in practices,” Burrell coach Joel Ceraso said. “I feel so bad for her.”

Now in the early stages of recovery, Watts hopes to soon join her teammates at practices and games.

“I can see this team getting better and better,” said Watts, who already is eyeing a return for her senior year.

“We have freshmen stepping up who are really helping the experienced players. I will try to be there as much as I can to help cheer on my teammates.”

Burrell, 2-2 overall and 1-0 in Section 1-4A, is on a covid-related pause and will return to practice Friday. The Bucs will be back in action Monday at Knoch.

Watts began her high school career two years ago as a freshman at Riverview. She started a couple of games and was one of the first subs off the bench.

Going into that offseason, Watts was excited to build on that first varsity campaign.

But misfortune struck at an AAU tournament in March 2019 when she suffered the first ACL injury.

Surgery led to rehab from the spring and into the fall as she made the transfer transition to Burrell. She was cleared a week before her sophomore season, paving the way for her to take that next step.

Apollo-Ridge hoping to overcome injuries

The Vikings planned to open their season last Thursday with a nonsection game at Yough. But because of injuries to several key players, and with Yough in agreement, the game was postponed.

Returning senior starters in guard Morgan Gamble (knee) and forward Madison Marks (foot) have been sidelined.

Sophomore guard/forward Sydney Duriancik returned for Apollo-Ridge’s opener with Aquinas Academy (34-22 loss) last Saturday.

Gamble tried to give it a go Monday against Springdale in a 48-19 Section 4-2A win, but coach Ray Bartha said her injury will need a little bit more time to heal. In the victory, senior Emily Bonelli and sophomore Brinley Toland scored 14 points each to lead the Vikings.

Marks has a doctor’s appointment early next week to see how she is progressing.

Apollo-Ridge (1-1, 1-0) doesn’t play again until a Section 1-1A home matchup with Winchester-Thurston on Jan. 28.

Vikings ready to set sail

Valley coach Ernie Sipolino is pleased to have his team back in the gym a little sooner than expected after an positive covid test within the program.

A misunderstanding on protocol, Sipolino said, was straightened out, and the team returned to practice Monday. The Vikings players are getting back up to speed for their season opener, a Section 1-4A matchup Thursday at Derry.

“We have a couple of players out right now, but we will go down to Derry with six or so, and then we should be back to full strength by the end of the week,” Sipolino said.

Valley is scheduled to host Jeannette next Wednesday before section contests with Highlands on Jan. 28 and Freeport on Jan. 29.

Spartans also back in action

After two weeks away from the gym after a positive covid test within the program, the St. Joseph girls basketball team got back to practice Wednesday.

The youthful Spartans, 0-2 after nonsection losses to WPIAL powers Neshannock and Mohawk on Dec. 11, are scheduled to resume games Saturday at Laurel.

St. Joseph also plays four times in six days next week, starting with a home game against Springdale on Monday. The Spartans open Section 3-1A play at Clairton next Wednesday and continue in section at Aquinas on Jan. 28 before visiting Lincoln Park on Jan. 30.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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