Trib HSSN May Madness: Jess Strom, Steel Valley vs. Becky Novacek, Hopewell

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | 9:00 AM


Over the course of the next month and a half, May Madness will determine who fans believe is the WPIAL Athlete of the Century.

HSSN has put together two 32-player brackets, one for the boys and one for the girls of WPIAL alums. Outside of a few exceptions, the field is made up of former district players who excelled in more than one sport.

Each weekday, May Madness will have one matchup each on the boys and girls bracket with a little background info on each athlete found in a daily tale of the tape.

Starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday and running through 9 a.m. Wednesday, vote on the HSSN twitter page on the two athletes featured in this second round matchup.

Check the HSSN website at noon Wednesday for the matchup’s final results.

Here is the contest for the girls. Round 2, Day 7:

Jess Strom vs. Becky Novacek is a battle between two first-decade athletes who not only played, but starred in multiple sports at mid-size high schools.

Jess Strom — Steel Valley Class of 2001

(Basketball, soccer)

• Defeated Morgan Ryan of Hempfield in the first round, 65-35%.

• 2000 and 2001 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Terrific Ten all-star.

• Scored 2,840 points in her career, putting her fifth on the all-time WPIAL girls basketball scoring list.

• Led the WPIAL in scoring in both her junior and senior seasons, averaging over 28 points per game in 2001.

•In scoring 783 points in 2001, she shot 54% from the field, 56% from 3-point range and 83% from the free throw line.

• Helped Steel Valley reach the WPIAL Class AA championship game as a freshman, where the Ironmen lost to Geibel Catholic.

• All-section player in soccer and basketball as a junior and senior.

• Broke the WPIAL girls soccer record for most goals in a career with 205.

• Inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame in 2012.

• Went on to play her college basketball at Penn State.

Becky Novacek — Hopewell Class of 2007

(Volleyball, basketball, track and field)

• Defeated Cassidy Krug of Montour in the first round, 76-24%.

• 2006 and 2007 Pittsburgh Tribune Review female athlete of the year.

• In 2006, was named “Top 100 Senior Aces” nationally by volleyballprep.com.

• Helped the Hopewell volleyball team win four section titles, three WPIAL championships and a PIAA championship.

• A three-time all-state performer who made first-team all-state her senior year after recording a school record 470 kills.

• In basketball, Novacek finished with more than 1,500 points in her career and fell just short of 1,000 rebounds with 987 for her career.

• Averaged nearly a double-double her senior year in helping the Vikings win back-to-back WPIAL and PIAA hoops championships.

• In track, Novacek won back-to-back WPIAL gold medals her junior and senior years in the high jump and won a PIAA championship in that event in 2007.

• Played college volleyball at Dayton.

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