Highlands’ Johnny Crise named Valley News Dispatch Boys Basketball Player of the Year

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Sunday, April 5, 2020 | 8:29 PM


Valley News Dispatch Boys Basketball Player of the Year

Johnny Crise

Highlands, 6-7, Sr., Forward

Every coach wants players to improve as the season progresses so they are hitting their peak in time to compete for championships.

Highlands’ Tyler Stoczynski saw that improvement with senior forward Johnny Crise. His continued development was a major reason the Golden Rams captured their first WPIAL championship since 1995.

“It seems every year he starts off and does well,” Stoczynski said. “When it comes to the end of the season and playoff time, he takes his game to another level.”

Crise averaged 14.7 points and had countless highlight-reel dunks in guiding Highlands to a 23-4 record. The 6-foot-7, high-flying forward had 23 points and 14 rebounds in the WPIAL Class 4A title game victory over Belle Vernon.

Though his basketball career came to an end with a loss to Grove City in the PIAA second round, his athletic pursuits will continue. Crise, who also had Division I offers to play basketball, will be a preferred walk-on this fall with the Penn State football team.

For his efforts, Crise has been selected the Valley News Dispatch Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the second straight season.

How did it feel to win a WPIAL title?

It felt great. After all that hard work that we talked about and put in since my freshman year, it felt great to achieve that.

How do you think the season went as a team and personally?

Overall, the season went great. A lot of younger guys learned a lot of valuable lessons. My objective going into the season was to get everyone involved.

What is it like to see two of your senior teammates, Korry Myers and Luke Cochran, heading to Point Park together?

I was so happy for them that they will continue that bond that they have, doing something they love like basketball. Having them on my team was great. Luke can control the game however he wants. Korry is a knock-down shooter. Having them on my side was a great advantage.

What was the best moment of the season?

Winning the WPIAL championship. It was a great feeling.

How did it feel to surpass 1,000 career points?

It was kind of strange. You don’t think of how many points you score. You just go out and play the game until someone tells you that. It was pretty cool to accomplish that.

How has the coronavirus outbreak impacted your life?

It’s strange right now. I’m still getting a feel for it. All I’ve been doing is waking up, doing schoolwork. I got a couple weights in the garage, so I’ve been lifting. I’m keeping in my own sanctuary.

Have you been able to do any type of conditioning or training?

Penn State wants me to put a lot of weight on, so all I’ve been doing is eating, lifting and sleeping.

What kind of diet do they have you on?

They are just telling me to eat everything in sight to get the weight on. That’s what I’ve been doing.

When will you report to campus?

They still have to decide if I go up early or wait a little longer (in the summer).

What do you want to major in?

I might to in undecided. (My parents and I) need to sit down and figure out a major.

What type of things do you like to do outside of basketball and football?

Anything to keep me active: hang out with friends, go swimming. I’ve been riding bikes a lot lately.

What was the last movie you saw, and how was it?

With all this coronavirus stuff, I’ve been watching the Marvel movies a lot. “Iron Man” was a great movie.

If you could have dinner with any three celebrities, who would they be?

(President Barack) Obama, Zion Williamson and Selena Gomez.

What is your go-to junk food?

Ice cream. My mom is so mad at me because I’ve been eating a ton of it.

What are your favorite courses in school?

I like English a lot. I like public speaking.

What is something people might not know about you?

I have two dogs: a boxer/rottweiler mix and a Welsh corgi.

First team all-stars

Luke Cochran

Highlands

6-2, Sr., Guard

The point guard for the WPIAL champion Golden Rams, Cochran averaged a team-high 16.3 points and surpassed 1,000 career points. The Point Park recruit is a two-time Valley News Dispatch first-team honoree who averaged 18.9 points in 2018-19.

Scott Fraser

Knoch

6-4, Sr., Guard

A two-time Valley News Dispatch first-team selection, Fraser averaged 17 points for the Knights, who were the highest-scoring team in WPIAL Class 4A (74.0). The all-section guard is a three-year starter and Grove City football recruit who helped Knoch earn the No. 2 seed for the district playoffs.

Demitri Fritch

Springdale

6-4, Jr., Guard

One of the WPIAL’s leading scorers, Fritch averaged 23.0 points and helped lead Springdale to its first section championship since 1993. The point guard also averaged around 15 rebounds and 6 assists. He had 42 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists against Sto-Rox.

Korry Myers

Highlands

6-1, Sr., Guard

Myers hit six 3-pointers to help Highlands defeat Belle Vernon, 72-54, and give the Golden Rams their first WPIAL title since 1995. For the season, he averaged 15.7 points and hit 76 3-pointers. Myers committed to play at Point Park on Tuesday.

Eli Yofan

Fox Chapel

6-0, So., Guard

Yofan averaged 15.7 points and helped lead the WPIAL quarterfinalist Foxes to a 10-0 record in Section 3-6A and a 21-2 overall mark. The all-section selection also plays soccer and volleyball.

Second team

Dylan Cook, Leechburg, Jr., 5-10, G

Klay Fitzroy, Apollo-Ridge, Jr., 6-3, G/F

Ryan Lang, Knoch, So., 5-11, G

Connor Moss, Plum, Jr., 6-2, G

Arnold Vento, Fox Chapel, Sr., 6-3, G

Third team

Jake Blumer, Leechburg, Sr., 6-2, F

Logan Dexter, Springdale, So., 6-2, F

Jake Fello, Apollo-Ridge, Jr., 6-1, G

Jake Schiedt, Knoch, Sr., 6-4, G

Andrew Sullivan, St. Joseph, Jr., 6-0, PG

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.

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