Alle-Kiski Valley Athletes of the Week: Freeport’s Maddie Clark, Highlands’ Jrake Burford

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | 5:37 PM


Maddie Clark

Class: Senior

School: Freeport

Sport: Basketball

Report card: Clark had a game-high 22 points to lead Freeport to a 65-38 Section 1-4A victory Thursday at Greensburg Salem. She also scored 15 points to help the Yellowjackets rally in the second half of a 54-43 win Monday at Indiana. Clark shares the court with her twin sister, Samantha.

How did it feel to contribute to two big section wins last week?

We’re all trying to play together as a team. The big thing is getting everyone to contribute and have opportunities to score. My teammates have done a really good job of doing that.

What’s the feeling around the team now that it is getting healthy after a rash of injuries to start the season?

The beginning of the year was definitely rough, but I feel like we are back to where we want to be. We’re all super excited about that.

What’s it like sharing the court with your twin sister, Samantha?

We’ll get into arguments sometimes, but we want the best for each other and we’re both really happy when each other succeeds.

Do you have any superstitions or pregame routines?

I love Russell Westbrook, and a few years ago I got a Russell Westbrook doll. Before every game we have everyone on the team high-fives (the doll), even the coaches, as we go out on to the court. He’s become like our mascot.

Do you have a favorite pregame meal?

Whatever my parents make me.

What’s your favorite school subject?

Anatomy, because I think it’s really interesting to see how detailed the human body is and everything that happens inside it.

Who are your best friends on the team?

I have to say the rest of the seniors (Sidney Shemanski, Samantha Clark, Harley Holloway and Louisa Fennell) because we’ve been playing basketball together since elementary school. We’re all really close.

Who is your favorite college or NBA team?

Whatever team Russell Westbrook plays for, so the Houston Rockets.

Who would win a team-wide game of H-O-R-S-E?

I’d say our freshman, Melaina DeZort. She has a crazy good shot.

What’s your favorite TV show?

“Friends”

What’s something interesting about you that people may not know?

I was a dancer for almost 10 years, and I used to be in musical productions like Gypsy and Legally Blonde when I was little.

Jrake Burford

Class: Sophomore

School: Highlands

Sport: Wrestling

Report Card: Burford pinned his way to his first Allegheny County Wrestling Tournament title Saturday, finishing with one in the 132-pound championship against Pine-Richland’s Kelin Laffey. He had a pin in every match, and only one went past the first period. Burford will participate in the team playoffs Wednesday with Highlands, which is in the postseason for the first time since 2006.

How does it feel to be a county champion?

It feels great. I earned it and worked hard for it.

How were you able to turn the tables on Laffey after being 0-2 against him in previous matches?

The difference was me being aggressive and stopping his offense by getting to my offense first.

What are you going to do with your gold medal that you won Saturday?

I’ll keep it in my little trophy case I have set up in my room.

What was it like to be a part of breaking Highlands’ drought in the team playoffs?

It feels good. Highlands is switching the program around. It’s not just one or two people. We’re starting to become a team together.

What’s it like having your dad (Highlands wrestling coach Grant Walters) as your coach?

It has its pros and cons (laughter). I’ll just say that.

If you had entrance music when you are going out onto the mat, what would it be?

Probably something by NBA YoungBoy. It can’t think of a particular song, but probably him.

What is your prematch routine?

I don’t do much. Most of the time I just pace back and forth and think about my gameplan. Nothing too crazy.

What’s your favorite school subject?

Chemistry, because it’s hands-on and not all about just books and papers. You get to do labs and stuff like that.

Who are your best friends on the team?

They’re all equally my best friends.

What’s your favorite TV show?

“Rick and Morty”

What’s something interesting about you that people may not know?

I like drawing. I’ll draw anything, really.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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