Westmoreland athletes of the week: Mt. Pleasant’s Jake Johnson and Latrobe’s Rachel Ridilla

Tuesday, December 17, 2019 | 7:54 PM

Jake Johnson

School: Mt. Pleasant

Sport: Basketball

Year: Senior

Claim to fame: Johnson, who averages 16.8 points, scored 19 points to lead Mt. Pleasant (4-1) to a 56-43 win over Waynesburg in nonsection action on Dec. 13. Johnson scored 15 points twice — in a 55-51 win at Greensburg Salem on Dec. 10 and a 41-40 win over Monessen in the WCCA Showcase at Hempfield on Dec. 14.

“We’ve done a much better job of working together as a team,” Johnson said. “Individually, it’s just attack when I see gaps, and when I see a kick for a 3, I kick it. I’m just letting the game come to me.”

What are your college plans for next year?

It’s still up in the air. I’m looking to play either football or basketball. I’m looking to go anywhere that gives me the best opportunity. I want to major in finance.

What has been the key to the team’s success this season?

Our confidence. It is way up since last year. We played 20 or 30 games over the summer, so that really helped us.

What did you work on to get yourself ready for the season?

Shooting and left hand were my big stresses over the summer.

What did the team learn from the loss to Norwin in the tip-off tournament?

We came back, but we can’t let them go when we come back. We have to work the ball better around the zone.

What’s your favorite sport, football or basketball, and why?

Basketball. I enjoy basketball more, and I grew up with it.

Rachel Ridilla

School: Latrobe

Sport: Basketball

Year: Junior

Claim to fame: Ridilla, who averages 17.8 points, scored a game-high 26 points, including seven 3-pointers, to lead Latrobe (2-3, 0-2) to a 70-41 win over Ringgold in nonsection play on Dec. 14. Ridilla scored 14 points in a 58-57 loss to Albert Gallatin in Section 3-5A action on Dec. 12.

“I’m just going out there, and I’m not really focusing on the points. I just went out there and had fun,” Radilla said. “The ball went in so it just made it even better.”

What’s it like to be in the zone like you were against Ringgold?

I missed the first two, but once I saw the first one go in, that’s all I needed. They just kept going in after that, so it was pretty cool.

What did the team learn from the tough one-point loss to Albert Gallatin?

We learned about the game situations and what we needed to do to force too many passes and opportunities for the other team to score. It was close, but it was a hard loss.

What did you work on over the offseason to get yourself ready?

I worked a lot on my shot. It’s important to me. We worked on some team defense since that will be a key for us this year because it’s important to play on both ends of the floor.

What is the key for the team to make the playoffs?

I think we just need to calm down. We like to play fast-paced. but we need to calm down and get ourselves together. We need to focus on our games, and we will get one of those playoff sports.

What’s your pregame routine?

For me, I just try to focus on the game, and I don’t let anything else distract me. I try to think of what I need to do to help the team get the win.

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