Belle Vernon junior Kreis leans on WNBA exposure

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022 | 6:43 PM


When she was a freshman, Belle Vernon’s Viva Kreis sat courtside at various stops and watched all 12 WNBA teams play, interviewed several players and met her favorite player, Diana Taurasi.

The summer tour was part of a project about women’s pro basketball becoming more prominent.

Over the passage of time since her unique endeavor, Kreis has become more prominent, too.

But it’s her play on the court, not the research project, that has the junior guard drawing the attention of opponents.

When teams yell “shooter” when they are playing Belle Vernon, they usually mean Kreis.

Not many players have such a high-arcing shot. We’re talking rainbows here.

Her 3-point shot also was a bit of a project and has a back story.

“I took a ‘physics lesson’ from a basketball trainer years ago, Justin Schneider,” Kreis said. “I have always been a so-called undersized player, so I realized early on that having a high release point on my shot would be more effective and allow me to impact the game.”

The shot worked well when the Leopards upset No. 1 Southmoreland, 52-40, in a Section 3-4A game. She made 5 of 7 3-point shots and finished with a game-high 18 points.

Belle Vernon (9-2) jumped to No. 3 in the Trib HSSSN Class 4A rankings. The Leopards, who extended their winning streak to four games with Wednesday’s 50-26 win over Ringgold and sit alone at first (4-0) in Section 3-4A, shot 8 of 14 from 3 for the game against Southmoreland.

Kreis followed with a career-high 25 points in a 69-35 win over Uniontown. When the Leopards defeated Yough, she handed out a career-best nine assists.

Sometimes, Kreis banks in a 3 when she launches a touch too high, but she doesn’t apologize.

“Viva has immersed herself in the basketball world at many different levels, ranging from her interactions with the WNBA, all the way to training youth players and working with our metro teams,” Belle Vernon coach Kaitlyn Slagus said. “She is a very talented player who does not only score the basketball but also has the ability to create plays for her teammates.”

Kreis said the WNBA experience is a key chapter in her still-budding basketball career.

“These opportunities have given me the inspiration to grow as a player and leader both on and off the court,” she said. “By talking with and observing players and coaches, I gained insight about the value of patience and staying calm during decisive game situations. I definitely feel that all of my experiences with the WNBA have shaped the player that I am becoming on the court, which begins with seizing every opportunity I am given.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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