A-K Valley high school notebook: Girls basketball teams vying for playoff spots in Section 1-4A

Sunday, January 7, 2018 | 12:07 AM

Three of the returning playoff teams from girls basketball Section 1-4A began something of a round-robin last week, each looking to bounce back from a slow start in section play.

Burrell, Deer Lakes and Freeport will play each other over an eight-day span from Jan. 4 to Thursday.

Deer Lakes began the stretch with a 47-36 win over Burrell on Thursday. The Lancers will visit Freeport on Monday, and Burrell will host Freeport on Thursday.

Freeport (4-5, 2-1) holds the edge over its Alle-Kiski Valley rivals in the standings by virtue of wins over Highlands and Knoch. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic leads the section, and Knoch is tied with Freeport.

Deer Lakes (4-5, 1-2) got its first section victory over Burrell.

“It's giving us the confidence to continue our section play,” junior Abby Buechel said.

The loss to Deer Lakes was Burrell's fourth in five games, but the Bucs (3-6, 1-3) can try to make up ground with Thursday's game against Freeport.

“It's nice to be competing and in games, but we definitely set a higher expectation,” Burrell coach Meaghan Volek said. “We're looking to really turn it around here in the next couple weeks.”

The first half of section play wraps up Jan. 15.

Almost perfect

A pair of Plum bowlers finished shot away from a perfect game in a match last week against Franklin Regional.

Senior Franklin Mercurio started his 745 series with a 289 in Game 1. He rolled 10 consecutive strikes before leaving the 10 pin on his 11th shot. He picked up the spare to complete the game.

Sophomore Ty Kirkpatrick rolled a 290 in Game 3. His lone blemish was a nine-spare in the first frame. He struck out after that to complete a 698 series. The big games helped Plum post a 7-0 victory over Franklin Regional, the Mustangs' chief competition in the WPIBL East.

“They beat us last year to end a long winning streak in section, and the guys remembered that,” Plum coach Jerry Yushinski said. “Both teams bowled really well, and we beat an amazing team.”

Benefit tournament

Highlands next month will host a basketball tournament in memory of an area youth coach who died in December.

The Coach Tom Callender Memorial Tournament, scheduled for 8 a.m. Feb. 3 at Highlands Middle School and Highlands High School, seeks to bring teams of boys in grades four through six for a full day of games. Registration costs $125, with the deadline Jan. 25.

Proceeds will benefit the Thomas P. Callender Memorial Fund. Callender, who coached area youth baseball and basketball teams, died in mid-December of a heart attack at age 39. He is survived by his wife and five children.

“He has been a huge part of the basketball program for years … (and) a huge part of the baseball program as well,” tournament organizer Dan Thimons said. “It was a devastating loss, and we're trying to help out the family any way we possibly can.”

For more information on the tournament, contact Thimons at djthimons1979@gmail.com or 724-487-3408.

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

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