A-K Valley High School Athletes of the Week: Week ending Dec. 18, 2021

Saturday, December 18, 2021 | 6:19 PM

Ryan Lang

Class: Senior

School: Knoch

Sport: Basketball

Report card: Lang surpassed 1,000 points for his career with a 39-point effort in a 66-52 win over Latrobe. He averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists last year and was a Valley News Dispatch first-team all-star.

How did it feel to surpass 1,000 points for your career?

It was a great milestone for me to hit. I was proud of myself for making it to that point, because only six people, including me, have reached (1,000 points). It’s a pretty big honor to be listed up there with them.

What has the team learned playing some tough nonsection competition such as defending Class 5A state champ Cathedral Prep, Latrobe and Hampton?

We wanted to play better teams, so we could better ourselves and figure out the roadblocks before we reached the section where we really have to step up and jell as a team. It gave us some adversity to get over, and we are making strides to become a better basketball team.

Do you have any college plans?

I want to major in business with a minor in biology, but I’m not sure where I want to go yet. I’m still working that out.

Who would win a team-wide game of knockout?

We definitely have some good shooters this year, but I would win. I wouldn’t want to let my teammates win because we’re a pretty competitive group. It would be close though.

Do you have any pregame routines or superstitions?

I used to eat a packet of mustard for cramping, but I stopped doing that. One game I put my basketball bag down, and I used to keep the mustard packets in it and somebody stepped on it. You can imagine what a mess that was. It was not fun to clean up.

What gift do you want the most for Christmas?

I haven’t put too much thought in it but probably some clothes or new shoes. I like collecting shoes. (Nike) Air Max are probably my favorite shoes.

What is your favorite school subject?

Right now I really like history. Mr. King teaches it, and he’s a pretty cool guy. I really like him as a teacher.

What are your hobbies outside of basketball?

I like to hang out with friends, fish, lift and watch TV.

Elsie Smith

Class: Junior

School: Fox Chapel

Sport: Basketball

Report card: Smith scored 30 points to help Fox Chapel slip past Shaler, 56-53, in double overtime. She hit four 3-pointers and converted 16 of 20 free throws in the win. Smith is the lone returning starter for the Foxes this season.

How did it feel to help the team win a tight double-overtime contest early in the season?

It was definitely nerve-wracking and intense, but I’m glad we came out on top because Shaler is a Big 6A school and a good team. They have really good players, and the fact that we won just really shows our ability.

How has it been working with a younger team after losing some key players to graduation?

It’s been a learning experience because two of our starters are freshmen and two are sophomores. The freshmen aren’t used to playing at the varsity level, but the Shaler game showed them how intense it is and how fun it is to play in those close games and come out on top. I feel like it will give them more confidence going forward.

Where do you think your natural ability to be a vocal leader comes from?

I think I’ve always had it, but when I played AAU (for Slaam basketball) from fifth grade through ninth grade, my coach (Jamal Woodson) was a very vocal person. He taught us to not be embarrassed to be loud on the court and that it is better to be loud than it is quiet.

Who would win a team-wide game of knockout?

I would give it to Brooke Fenton, one of our freshmen. She’s a really good shooter, and she’s good at knowing where her rebounds are going to go, so with knockout she’d always be where the ball is. She’s very competitive.

Do you have any pregame routines or superstitions?

I always wear a necklace during warmups, and before every game I give it to our assistant coach Britta (Emberg) to wear. When she doesn’t wear it, we normally don’t win, so I always do my best to make sure to give it to her.

What gift do you want the most for Christmas?

I just asked for clothes, but if I could have anything it would be a Keurig because I’m a coffee addict.

What is your favorite school subject?

Any math or science. I’m more of a math and science girl than an English or history person.

What are your hobbies outside of basketball?

I like to hang out with my friends, and every Sunday my family gets together to watch Steelers games. We’re big Steelers fans in my house.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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