A-K Valley high school notebook: Deer Lakes’ Cochran named section MVP

Saturday, May 25, 2024 | 8:01 PM

Deer Lakes senior outfielder Ryan Cochran’s fielding and hitting made Section 3-3A coaches stand up and take notice this spring, and the Lancers veteran was awarded in a vote as the section’s MVP.

Cochran led Deer Lakes with an average of better than .450 throughout the season and fronted the team in doubles, home runs, hits, extra-base hits, RBIs and runs.

He leads a deep group of first-team all-stars. The selections, voted on by the section coaches, were released Thursday.

Valley captured the Section 3-3A title with a 9-3 record and finished 16-5 overall.

The Vikings’ season ended sooner than they had hoped with a 5-3 upset loss, as the No. 5 seed, to No. 12 Shenango in the first round May 14.

However, Valley players received good news as senior pitcher Wesley Schrock, freshman infielder Julian Danko, sophomore outfielder Nikolas Heakins and senior outfielder Tyler Danko were voted to the first team.

Valley’s Jim Basilone, Burrell’s Jay Miller and Shady Side Academy’s Sean Wilson tied in votes for the section’s coach of the year.

Section runner-up Burrell, which plays South Allegheny on Tuesday for third place in WPIAL Class 3A, had junior pitcher Stevie Hasson, junior infielder Ryan Bates and junior designated hitter/utility player Isaac Lacinski pick up first-team honors.

Also voted to the first team was Freeport senior outfielder Ryan Claypool.

PIHL girls playoffs

Eight local Alle-Kiski Valley products will be on teams hoping to make a run to a championship as the PIHL girls playoff tournament begins Tuesday at RMUIsland Sports Center.

Representing Team Central is Fox Chapel freshman forward Melanie Pietz and Burrell junior forward Elizabeth Jarrett, and Team East features Freeport freshman forward Grace Laboda and Freeport sophomore forward Madyson Kirsch.

Kiski Area freshman forward Payton Cline is a member of Team Northeast, and the Knoch trio of senior defenseman Dara Patten, sophomore forward Danica Klimek and senior forward Sydnee Pitkins skate for Team Northwest.

Each team played 10 games in the regular season, and all were seeded for the playoffs. A play-in game Tuesday at 7 p.m. will pit Team Northeast (1-9) against Team Northwest (2-8).

The winner plays Team South (9-1) in the quarterfinals Tuesday at 8 p.m. at RMU. Team Central (3-7) and Team Southwest (8-2) will do battle in the first game at RMU at 6.

The other two Tuesday quarterfinal games, both at 8 p.m. at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, feature Team North (4-6) versus Team West (7-3) and Team Southeast (6-4) against Team East (5-5).

The semifinals will be Thursday at UPMC with the championship game at UPMC set for 7 p.m. June 3.

Clay target state tourney

The Pennsylvania State High School Clay Target League will host its trap shooting state tournament June 2 at the PA State Shotgunning Association in Elysburg.

A total of 698 athletes from 41 teams from across the state will take part, including those from the Kiski Area club team, which was among 47 teams and nearly 1,200 students who participated in league events this spring.

The Pittsburgh region will be well represented at the tournament. Kiski Area will start with shooters competing in five half-hour blocks from 9 to 11:30 a.m. They will repeat the schedule for the second sessions at about noon.

Others teams from the area are Yough, Penn-Trafford, California, Geibel, Uniontown, Connellsville, California, Southmoreland, Blackhawk, Mt. Pleasant, Hempfield, Bentworth, Fort Cherry, Latrobe, Norwin, Franklin Regional and Central Valley.

The PA State High School Clay Target League is part of the USA Clay Target League, which offers high school and college programs across the country.

Lower Burrell Legion baseball on hold

District 31 American Legion baseball teams begin the second week of league play Monday evening, but Lower Burrell, new to the league this summer, will not be in action.

That is because a majority of the Lower Burrell team members still have business to tend to in the WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A tournaments.

Burrell will face South Allegheny on Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the third-place game at Washington & Jefferson’s Ross Memorial Park. The Bucs also are guaranteed at least one PIAA playoff game, and that will be June 3.

Burrell high school team coach Jay Miller, who will serve as an assistant for the Lower Burrell Legion team, said games through at least next Monday are being rescheduled with the potential for more to be moved based on how deep of a run Burrell makes in the state tournament.

“We might be playing (Legion games) every day,” Miller said.

District 31 features two seven-team divisions, with Lower Burrell in the West Division with Bushy Run, Hempfield East, Mt. Pleasant, Murrysville, Trafford and Yough. The East Division features Blairsville, Derry, Homer City, Latrobe, Somerset, Unity and Young Township.

Lower Burrell will play a 19-game schedule, facing each division foe twice and each team in the other division once.

The regular season is slated to end July 7, with the playoffs beginning July 9.

St. Joseph Basketball Summer League in full swing

The high school basketball season is about six months away, but local teams aren’t waiting to get prepared.

The St. Joseph Basketball Summer League kicked off May 14, and games involving boys varsity and junior varsity teams are each week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through June 19.

The playoffs begin June 20 and conclude June 25 for varsity teams. A one-night JV playoff will be June 26.

Teams in action so far are St. Joseph, Apollo-Ridge, Kiski Area, Valley, Leechburg, Springdale, Freeport, Burrell and Aquinas Academy.

Burrell, the WPIAL Class 3A boys runner-up, and Freeport met on the first night of games and went down to the wire. The Bucs pulled out a 47-45 victory.

St. Joseph also will host Apollo-Ridge and a third team for a trio of girls games June 5.

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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