A-K Valley high school athletes of the week: Plum’s Megan Marston and Kiski Area’s Isaiah Gonzalez

Saturday, December 9, 2023 | 6:10 PM

Megan Marston

Class: Senior

School: Plum

Sport: Basketball

Report card: Marston had a hot hand for the Mustangs as they jumped out to a 3-0 start. She kicked off the season with 22 points in a 67-43 victory over Freeport at the Freeport Tip-Off. About 12 hours later, she poured in 22 more as Plum topped Class 4A power Highlands, 63-58. Marston then had 31 points to pace the Mustangs to a 62-38 rout of Beaver. The two-time Valley News Dispatch first-team selection heads into Tuesday’s nonsection matchup with Fox Chapel averaging 25 points.

What’s been the reason for the team getting off to a strong start?

We are bringing a lot more pressure on defense, and that is leading to more steals and turnovers, which is leading to some easier baskets. Were also rebounding pretty well and not giving teams extra chances. We’re just playing really well offensively, and our scores are higher than they have been.”

What are some of the important things you worked on to be ready for your final varsity season?

It was definitely my 3-point shot. That was my biggest focus. But, at the same time, keeping my mid-range shot strong if not better than it was last year. If a defense is taking away my 3-point shot, I have the confidence in pulling up for a mid-range shot. If they take away the mid-range, I know I can take the 3. I feel I have more versatility with my shooting.

How confident are you that the team can achieve that elusive first section championship?

All of our players are really focused toward that goal. It is so important for us. The section, I feel, is really wide open because of transfers, people who graduated, injuries, all of that. Every game in section will be a challenge, but we know we have a great chance if we play consistently and to our capabilities.

How has working with former Highlands 3-point shooting standout Micah Mason helped your shooting abilities?

It’s probably been one of the most beneficial things I’ve done in basketball. For the past three years, he’s changed my 3-point shot so much. Now, I feel it is almost effortless at times. Before, I would be lucky if I made one 3 a game. Now, I’ve been fortunate enough to make more than three 3-pointers in each game. He gives so much confidence to the people he trains because he helps with both the physical and mental aspects of it.

How has your mother, Colleen, a Gateway and St. Francis (Pa.) basketball standout and member of the Gateway Sports Hall of Fame, helped you grow your own game?

Her influence and support has meant everything to me. I am really lucky to have her as a trainer, as someone who always is breaking down plays and game circumstances. She has put in so much time for me, and it has helped me to want to put in a lot of time, too. My whole family is so incredibly supportive of me. I am blessed.

You will join the women’s basketball team at Case Western Reserve. It seems like a perfect fit for you.

I am so excited. Case Western is a perfect combo for what I want to do athletically and academically. When I got to meet the coaching staff and the teammates I will have for the next three or four year, it make it all the better. You can see everyone’s dedication to making the program better. They all have been so supportive of me and welcoming me in to the team.

The Steelers have been a hot topic of discussion. How do you think they will do the final four games of the regular season?

I don’t watch football very much, and I don’t know who they play in the next four games, but I would say they are going to win two and lose two to finish 9-8. I feel they will win two because why not?

What sport team are you following that has you excited to watch?

Right now it would be the Iowa women’s basketball team. I’ve been watching Caitlin Clark ever since she started at Iowa. I like the way the team plays, and the way she has helped make the women’s game more popular to so many people. It’s inspiring that one team and one player could fuel that.

What is an all-time favorite Christmas gift you’ve received?

I got this little Razor kids motorcycle one year when I was 10 or 11. I rode it nonstop for months in the freezing cold. I was so excited to get it.

What is your favorite school subject?

Math, for sure. It has been my most successful subject since I was young. It is a combination of me being good at it and also finding it interesting.

If you could start playing any musical instrument, what would it be?

I am not musical at all, but I would love to play the drums. I think it would be so cool. There are a couple of kids in the school band who are crazy good at drums. It is so cool when they play at football games and pep rallies. Drums would definitely be the thing I would want to play.

Is basketball the only sport you play?

Now it is. I played soccer for Plum until my junior year. I was a goalie, and I really enjoyed it. We got to play in some really cool games and had some really great experiences. It would be fun to play in those games again, but playing just basketball was the right decision for me

Isaiah Gonzalez

Class: Senior

School: Kiski Area

Sport: Basketball

Report card: Gonzalez raised his scoring total each time through the Cavaliers’ first four games. He scored 17 in the season-opening 56-42 win over Westmont Hilltop and added 19 in a 69-41 rout of defending WPIAL Class 3A champion Deer Lakes to close the Armstrong tournament. Gonzalez led Kiski with 25 in Tuesday’s 58-45 home victory over New Castle and had a game-best 28 in a 74-65 loss to Class 6A No. 1 Butler on Thursday.

You picked up a nice victory against a strong New Castle team on Tuesday. What was the key to the win?

We knew we had to play together because they are a really good team. We saw how we played last year against them, and it wasn’t the best. They are a little different team this year, but they still have strong players. We just made some nice plays to help us get the win.

How did the team play in the loss to Butler?

I thought we played pretty good. I felt we should’ve won the game. We were in position to do that. I think if we would’ve won it, we would’ve gotten ranked as one of the top 5A teams. Even though we didn’t win it, our confidence remained pretty high.

What has been important to your strong start offensively?

I really want to win this year. It is my last season, and I worked on a lot of things in my game in the offseason. I have a lot of confidence going into every game that I can do what I can to help the team win.

How does the rest of your December schedule, with games against Mars, Montour, Indiana and Woodland Hills, help you get ready for the start of section play in January?

We want to be tested to make sure we can be at our best for when we go after the section title. At every practice since the start, coach (Corey Smith) points to the banner to make sure we understand what it is going to take in every practice and every game.

What is it like sharing the court with younger brother, Amaree?

I like playing with Amaree. He is a really good point guard. He sees the floor really well. He’s also really good at knocking down the 3.

Are you looking to continue playing football or basketball in college?

Right now, I am not sure if it will be football or basketball. I am trying to see what opportunities open after this basketball season. I have talked to a few people more on the football side, but I hope my basketball season creates additional opportunities.

Do you have any superstitions or routines that you follow before every game?

Me and my friend Bart (Martin), we always talk before about what we need to do to win the game. That is important. We want to make sure we’re on the same page and building that confidence. I’m always listening to music, too.

What is on a pregame playlist?

My favorite (rap) artist. His name is A Boogie. He’s from New York. I usually listen to him before every game and on every bus ride.

What is your prediction for the Steelers’ last four games of the regular season?

Since they let (Matt Canada) go, I thought they would do better offensively. I didn’t see the game against the Patriots, but my cousin said they didn’t play their best. But I hope they can finish out strong. I am going to say they finish 2-2. I think they will beat Baltimore in the last game to move up in the rankings and also beat the Colts (next Saturday).

Who is winning the College Football Playoff?

I have ‘Bama winning the national title. After seeing what they did against Georgia, I have ‘Bama winning it all.

Do you have any Christmas traditions?

Usually, my brothers and sister usually wake us up at 3 in the morning to open presents. I don’t look forward to waking up that early. I would rather sleep in. Then about 1 or 2 in the afternoon, we go to my grandmother’s house with other family and chill for a little bit.

What is a go-to meal?

I like mac and cheese and lasagna, not necessarily together. But if I can have one of those, I think I would be fine for the rest of the day. My dad’s lasagna is kind of fire. It’s really good.

Is there a TV show or movie that is a must-watch?

Coach Carter is a great movie. I’ve seen it three or four times the past week. If it’s on TV, I will just put it on or I’ll just watch it on Netflix.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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