Penn Hills basketball players earn all-section honors after trips to semifinals
By: Andrew John
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | 1:30 AM
Even though both the boys and girls basketball programs at Penn Hills had their WPIAL title dreams halted in the semifinal round, the Indians had numerous players receive personal accolades for their efforts during the regular season.
The Penn Hills boys basketball team had four players receive Big 56 Class 5A all-section honors.
Senior guard/forward Tyree Spencer, sophomore forward Wes Kropp and junior point guard Kyree Mitchell were selected to Section 1-5A first team.
“I’m really proud what the team was able to do knowing that we had to work extra hard losing all the people to get all the people up to speed,” Spencer said.
“All the young kids gained the experience and were able to pick it up so quick. It was really fun to be a part of.”
Penn Hills coach Dan DeRose was selected as the Coach of the Year for Section 1-5A. The Indians captured the Section 1 crown this season after winning all 12 games in section play.
“Anytime you get an award like that and you’re getting that because you’re getting recognized by your peers means a lot. Obviously, I couldn’t have gotten it if the players didn’t perform the way that they did and worked hard,” DeRose said.
Senior guard/forward Marshall McArthur was selected to the second team.
Penn Hills (20-4), which won the WPIAL Class 6A boys basketball championship last year, lost 59-46 to No. 3 Moon in the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals at North Hills on Feb. 26.
“We couldn’t get to the free throw line, and we couldn’t get to the basket. We will learn from it,” DeRose said. “We got to somehow adapt when things like that happen, and we got to change our game. If that’s how it’s going to be in the playoffs, then I need to figure out other ways to score a basket.”
Senior guard Adia Brisker, a Niagara commit, and senior forward Tayonna Robertson, a Longwood commit, were first-team selections in Section 5-3A for the girls team.
“Coming into the season, we knew it was going to be important for them to step up things up here,” girls basketball coach Robert Cash said. “They are two very good players so we knew they were going to be important to have the team go in the right direction. They worked really hard in the last year to make that work.”
Senior guard Ariana Dunson was a second-team selection.
The Indians’ depth was recognized when four players received honorable mention honors. Sophomore guards A’Lysa Sledge, Jasmyn Golden and Jayla Golden all received the honor.
Senior guard Diamond-Jay Whittington was an honorable mention selection after missing all of her junior season with a torn ACL.
“Diamond Jade Whittington was an all-section player a couple years ago before her injury. She’s still an important part of this year’s team and instills confidence to continue to work hard and get better as this year goes on and for her future,” Cash said.
The No. 4 Indians (16-7) had their WPIAL championship homes came to an end after a 45-37 loss to No. 1 Chartiers Valley in the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals at Fox Chapel on Feb. 27.
“We learned how important it is in big-time games how to execute and focus. They played as hard as they could. We were one or two plays away from winning the game,” Cash said.
After the losses in the WPIAL semifinals, both basketball programs will look to refocus to make deep runs in the state playoffs.
The PIAA Class 5A boys basketball playoffs start March 8, while the PIAA Class 5A girls basketball playoffs start March 9.
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