Alle-Kiski Valley high school basketball notebook: Springdale boys get tough

Friday, January 12, 2018 | 1:43 PM

The Springdale football program takes pride in its hustle and toughness, as evidenced by late legendary coach Chuck Wagner's “hang in there tough” saying.

It would appear the Dynamos' boys basketball team is embracing that mentality as well.

Springdale is coming off two of its strongest defensive performances of the season in victories over St. Joseph and Leechburg. The Dynamos limited St. Joseph to 41 points — a 39-point improvement from the teams' meeting a week before — and held Leechburg to 45 to move into a tie with the Blue Devils in Section 1-2A.

The defensive effort was visible to the naked eye against Leechburg as Springdale players dove for loose balls, challenged shots and outrebounded the bigger Blue Devils and held them without a field goal in the pivotal third quarter.

“I almost think every basketball coach talks to their teams about playing tough and hustling, but I'm not sure all the teams or players buy in to that,” Springdale coach Seth Thompson said. “This group here, they bought in to that tough mentality where we're going to be strong with the ball on offense, and we're going to guard you tough, we're going to go on the floor for those loose balls, we're going to tie up balls. That's part of our game plan.”

Weather woes

For the second consecutive week, weather will affect Friday night basketball.

After subzero wind chills forced the postponement of several games Jan. 5, a winter storm warning in effect for Western Pennsylvania on Friday already caused several districts to change their game times.

The Valley/Deer Lakes and Burrell/Shady Side Academy boys basketball games were moved to 6:30 p.m., up an hour from the originally scheduled time. Freeport's boys will play at Derry at 6:15, the Deer Lakes girls will play at Shady Side Academy at 5:15 and the Leechburg and Highlands girls will play a varsity-only nonsection game at 6.

Other games remain undetermined.

A hard road

Leechburg boys coach Corey Smith pinpointed a theme after the Blue Devils' 57-45 loss to Springdale on Tuesday: It happened away from home.

All three of Leechburg's losses this season came in road games, to Burrell, Summit Academy and Springdale. The latter two were Section 1-2A games.

Leechburg (7-3, 2-2) is unbeaten in three home and two neutral-site games but 2-3 in true road games. The Blue Devils are scheduled to play at West Shamokin on Friday.

“We have to learn how to get the ‘Ws' at away games,” Smith said. “We're just not getting it done when we're away from home.”

Smith said the Blue Devils were outhustled against Springdale, something he aims to correct.

“That's one thing I'm not going to tolerate: We won't get outworked,” Smith said. “We're known for our hustle points, and we didn't get it done tonight.”

Keeping up with the Jones

Alex Jones was first off the bench for the St. Joseph girls basketball team last year, but coach Sally Ackerman looked at her as another starter. This season there's nothing unofficial about her starting role, and she's taken her increased role to heart.

Jones, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, has increased her points-per-game average four points to 14.8 this season, second on the team to fellow senior Chloe Kurpakus (19.9).

In addition to her scoring propensity, Jones has an average of 6.9 rebounds and team-bests in assists (4.5) and steals (4.6).

“Scoring points is a nice thing, but getting rebounds, not being the tallest girl out there, is what I take pride in, along with the assists and my defense,” Jones said.

Tough-luck Spartans

Already down one of its projected starters to a season-ending injury, the St. Joseph boys basketball team lost another recently when it was determined junior guard Daniel Fábregas would miss the rest of the campaign with a broken finger.

Fábregas, a Valley News Dispatch All-Star as a sophomore, suffered the injury early in the season and played through it with a splint, but the condition worsened and he recently was shut down for the season.

Junior Matt Arvay was lost to a torn ACL in the preseason for St. Joseph (3-7, 0-2 Section 3-A), which enters Friday's game at Trinity Christian on a six-game losing streak.

“This is just another devastating hit to our team,” coach Kelly Robinson said. “It just makes things difficult. The only upside to both of them is the fact that they're both juniors, and they both come back for their senior year.”

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

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