AK Valley girls basketball notebook: Every second counts for Kiski Area

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021 | 5:09 PM


In Saturday’s 33-31 buzzer-beating win over Greensburg Salem, Kiski Area’s players saw first-hand how much every second counts in close games.

The early seconds, and minutes, didn’t add up to much for the Cavaliers, who missed their first nine shots. They trailed the Golden Lions for a total of 31 minutes, 59 seconds.

But that last second meant everything.

Kiski Area used an 8-0 run to end the game, and a steal from senior Sam Worthing, a pass to freshman Abbie Johns and Johns’ buzzer-beating layup produced a win. And a celebration.

“It was an incredible feeling for the girls,” said Kiski Area coach Nick Dizon, whose team improved to 3-4. “What made it more incredible was how we struggled early on and the way they fought back and kept playing hard. The day before in practice, we talked about the importance of always playing with energy, and if you play with that energy, you give yourself a chance to win, more often than not. The girls kept up their confidence levels and were in position at the end.”

Freshman Cara Coleman produced her first double-digit scoring effort with 13 points, and Johns and fellow freshman Emma Peck added eight each.

Promising debuts

The Alle-Kiski Valley boasts a sizable crop of talented freshmen who are making their presence felt this season.

In the first half of her first varsity game Jan. 8 against Kiski Area, Burrell’s Kate Myers scored 14 points and finished with 17. Johns, in that same game, also had 17.

Freeport freshman Morgan Croney made a 3-pointer on her first varsity shot Jan. 14 at Highlands and finished with six points and eight rebounds in the 43-28 victory.

Other freshmen making people take notice include Fox Chapel’s Sarah Slember, Highlands’ Jocelyn Bielak and Kalleigh Nerone, St. Joseph’s Julia Spinelli and Emma Swiercewski, Plum’s Megan Marston, Springdale’s Katerina Puskar and Apollo-Ridge’s Sophia Yard.

All have produced double-figure scoring games.

Breakthroughs

The youthful Leechburg and St. Joseph squads won their first games Monday.

It was Valley’s turn Wednesday.

St. Joseph had three players finish in double figures, led by 19 from Julie Spinelli, in a 52-32 victory over Springdale. Junior Trinity Lockwood Morris added 12, and freshman Emma Swiercewski scored 11.

The Spartans’ three losses this season have come to Neshannock, Mohawk and Laurel with a combined overall record of 22-3.

Leechburg, with no seniors and just one junior, outscored Propel Andrew Street, 6-3, in overtime to earn a 27-24 victory. Sophomore Christine Guo led the Blue Devils with 13 points.

Valley, playing only its second game after a covid-related delay to the start of its season, upended Jeannette 34-20 behind a team-best 13 points from sophomore Tori Johnson.

Sophomore Jada Norman and junior NiAsia Berger recorded 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

Busy schedule

It is a full Thursday for A-K Valley teams, highlighted by the Section 2-5A clash at Plum between the Mustangs (2-3, 2-2) and Fox Chapel (2-5, 2-3). They are two of four in the conference hoping to pick up a third win in section play and keep pace with section leaders Armstrong (4-0, 3-0) and Hampton (7-1, 4-1).

Freeport (1-1, 1-1) returns to action after a 10-day layoff with a Section 1-4A matchup at rival Burrell (2-3, 1-1).

Undefeated and Class 4A No. 2 Knoch (4-0, 4-0) visits Derry (1-3, 1-3) in Section 1-4A, and fellow Section 1 foes Highlands (2-7, 1-3) and Valley (1-1, 0-1) will meet in New Kensington.

Section 4-2A features Springdale (2-5, 0-2) at Greensburg Central Catholic (1-1, 0-1) and Class 2A No. 2 Winchester Thurston (3-3, 3-0) at Apollo-Ridge (1-1, 1-0). Like Freeport, the Vikings haven’t played in 10 days.

The schedule rounds out with Section 3-1A matchups Riverview (3-1, 2-1) at Clairton (4-1, 3-1) and St. Joseph (1-4, 0-1) at Class 1A No. 5 Aquinas Academy (7-2, 3-0).

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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