Trib HSSN boys basketball player of the week — Week ending Jan. 25, 2020

Monday, January 27, 2020 | 5:20 PM

Two big wins last week not only clinched a playoff spot for Leechburg with two weeks left, it also kept them in the hunt for a piece of the Section 3-A title.

Leading the way for the Blue Devils in a week in which they scored 191 points in two games was junior guard Dylan Cook.

The junior opened the week with 26 points in a 42-point win over Aquinas Academy.

“He finished at a very high level of efficiency at the hoop,” Leechburg coach Damian Davies said. “His foul shooting percentage is also very high.”

On Friday, Cook scored 34 points as the Blue Devils stunned Imani Christian, 88-76, knocking the Saints into a first-place tie with Greensburg Central Catholic.

“He was very effective making decisions against Imani’s pressure and taking full advantage of the sets we are running along with finishing and making fouls,” Davies said.

While Cook enjoyed a big week on the scoresheet, there’s no pressure on him every game since Leechburg has four players averaging in double-digit scoring in helping with one of the top offenses in Class A.

“He doesn’t have to run back to get the ball and take himself out of scoring positions because players are confident to start the break themselves like Jake (Blumer) and he can get into different scoring areas and not get bottled up or anticipated by defenses,” Davies said.

Back at the helm at Leechburg, Davies remembers seeing Cook in elementary school working on his euro-step move to the bucket. When asked about it, Cook said he learned the move on YouTube and worked on it all summer long in his driveway.

“Dylan is a floor general,” Davies said. “He loves to set up his teammates for great looks with his understanding of what we are trying to do. He really enjoys the nuances of the game. From elementary to high school, he is constantly working on improving his skills and his leadership.”

Also add defense to the list of things Cook has worked hard on to improve.

“Dylan is in a great spot for us defensively, so he is able to get a lot of looks at attacking the hoop,” Davies said. “I would say (it’s) his ability to create turnovers and then create space to get a high-percentage shot off and finish. Stack his 80% foul shooting on top of it.”

Leechburg is in fourth place, but only trails Imani and Greensburg Central Catholic by two games with four games left and will travel to GCC on Tuesday.

Davies feels his team’s success this season is a by-product of how close players are on and off the court.

“I have them in class and they are all enjoyable students that their parents should be proud of,” he said. “When we are on the court for practice and games, this feels like an extension of that time where we are trying to be our best selves.”

Honorable mention

Dante Parsons, Greensburg Salem

There is no playoff talk at Greensburg Salem, as the Golden Lions are struggling through a tough season, but don’t tell Dante Parsons to slow down. He is wrapping up his scholastic career with a strong kick. The senior scored 29 and 28 points in section losses to McKeesport and Woodland Hills, and then tallied 29 points in a victory over Valley that ended an eight-game losing streak for the Golden Lions.

Isiah Warfield, Central Valley

On Tuesday, Central Valley lost to Ambridge, putting its playoff hopes on life support. On Friday, the Warriors upset Quaker Valley to remain in the hunt with two weeks left in section play. Senior Isiah Warfield led the way for CV in both games, scoring 26 points in the 13-point loss to the Bridgers, then dropping in 29 points in the big six-point victory over the Quakers.

Kevin Kolesar, Riverside

Like Dante Parsons, Kevin Kolesar’s senior season will likely not end with a trip to the postseason, but that hasn’t slowed the big man down. The 6-foot-6 forward scored 21 points in a tough two-point loss to Neshannock that was a hit to Riverside’s playoff chase, but the next day, he scored 30 in a win over Freedom that ended the Panthers’ four-game losing skid.

Previous Trib HSSN Players of the Week

Week 5 – Vinny Cugini, Aquinas Academy

Week 4 – Frank Stumpo, Keystone Oaks

Week 3 – Adou Thiero, Quaker Valley

Week 2 – Camden Polak, Steel Valley

Week 1 – Jake Hoffman, Mt. Lebanon

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