Alle-Kiski Valley high school notebook: Highlands’ Cochran honors friend

By: HSSN Staff
Saturday, January 5, 2019 | 9:06 PM


Luke Cochran played a lot of basketball with Eli Bussotti growing up, and after his friend’s death this fall, he thought of an appropriate way he could honor him on the court.

The Highlands junior point guard is wearing sneakers this season that recognize Bussotti, who died Oct. 21, 2018, from injuries he suffered in a car accident two days prior.

“Eli was a kid who came up through the program,” Cochran said. “My dad and his dad were good friends, and he played on my basketball team a couple times through the years. He’s always been a family friend … and his death was definitely an eye-opener to a lot of people in the community. People started realizing you can’t take every day for granted, like (a) live-in-the-moment type of thing. He was really good at that.”

Cochran said he found an artist on Instagram to create his shoes, which include the design of a blue sky with clouds and angels’ wings in black. One shoe has the word “Eli,” the other “10.21.18.”

Bussotti, who was a senior, would have turned 18 last week. He was an organ donor, and his organs went to at least eight people across the country.

“I’ve dedicated the season to (him) because of his grandfather and grandma and his whole family,” said Cochran, the leading scorer for Class 4A No. 4 Highlands.

National notoriety

Kiski Area opened some eyes after a strong performance at the Powerade Christmas Tournament last week as the Cavaliers appeared in InterMat’s Fab 50 rankings of the top high school wrestling teams in the country.

The Cavaliers came in at No. 31 in the rankings after their third-place finish at Powerade, one of the top high school wrestling tournaments in the country. They were the third-best Pennsylvania team in the rankings, slotting behind Wyoming Seminary (No. 2 in the country) and Bethlehem Catholic (No. 9).

Recruiting roundup

A pair of Kiski Area athletes signed with colleges last month: Girls soccer player Camille Caffas joined West Virginia Wesleyan, and boys swimmer Brenden Brzozowski signed with Edinboro.

Caffas, a midfielder, helped Kiski Area reach the WPIAL quarterfinals each of the past two seasons. She plays outside midfielder for the Allegheny Force Football Club “Ice,” and in June 2017 she played on the United States team at the United World Games in Austria.

Brzozowski won the 100-yard butterfly at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships and also swam those two events, plus a pair of relays, at the WPIAL Class AAA championships as a junior. He also qualified for WPIALs his first two seasons at Kiski Area.

• Shady Side Academy football standout Alex Bellinotti, a Lower Burrell native, picked up preferred walk-on offers from Duquesne, St. Francis (Pa.) and Cal (Pa.).

Bellinotti, an all-conference tight end/linebacker, had 151 tackles, 12 sacks and seven forced fumbles for the Allegheny Conference champion Indians this fall. He also scored six touchdowns on offense.

Also an all-conference player as a sophomore and junior when he played at Burrell, Bellinotti has more than a dozen scholarship offers spanning divisions I, II and III, plus the three preferred walk-on options.

• Deer Lakes all-conference tight end Colin Kadlick received his seventh offer, from Lock Haven. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kadlick led Deer Lakes in receiving as a senior, catching 42 passes for 491 yards and five touchdowns.

Help wanted

Apollo-Ridge is looking to hire a baseball coach to replace Eric Andring, who went 12-17 in two seasons.

Interested applicants can contact athletic director Ray Bartha at 724-478-6033 or [email protected] The deadline is Jan. 23.

The Vikings finished 7-7 in 2018, missing the WPIAL playoffs by one game.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at [email protected] or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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