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Kiski Area's Simmons, Burrell's Bordonaro named Valley News Dispatch Basketball Players of the Year

| Sunday, April 6, 2014, 12:54 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Kiski Area's Michael Simmons (22) drives for a lay-up past Gateway's William Thomas (3) during their WPIAL Class AAAA basketball playoff game at Plum High School on Saturday, February 22, 2014. Kiski Area won in overtime, 82-73.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Fox Chapel's Matthew D'Amico (right) drives baseline against Plum's Nicholas Stotler on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, at Plum High School.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Fox Chapel's Brian Papich (24) drives to the hoop past Peters Township's Connor Freely during their game at Fox Chapel on Monday, Feb. 8, 2014. Papich scored his 1,000th career point in the second half.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Kiski Area's Joe Brungo dribbles past Penn-Trafford's Dom Conconcelli on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at Kiski Area..
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge's Tre Tipton (1) drives past Leechburg's Jordan Cominos during the championship game of the Apollo Trust Company Christmas Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, at Apollo-Ridge High School.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Burrell's Natalie Myers dribbles past General McLane's Louisa Lytle during a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal Friday, March 14, 2014, at Sharon High School.
St. Joseph senior forward Mallory Heinle
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Valley's Lashay Madison dribbles past Knoch's Maddy Bricker during the basketball game at Valley High School on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014.
Andy Colwell | Erie Times-News
Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias shoots over McDowell defenders Mary Smith (left) and Ciana Kaczmarek during the third quarter of a PIAA Class AAAA first-round game at Mercyhurst University in Erie on March 7, 2014. Fox Chapel won 48-36.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Burrell's Sydney Bordonaro dodges a block by McGuffey's Rachel Czulewicz (10) and Kati Demi during a WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal game at Montour on Friday, February 21, 2014.

Kiski Area's Mike Simmons and Burrell's Sydney Bordonaro have been selected as the Valley News Dispatch Basketball Players of the Year

Boys player of the year

Mike Simmons

Kiski Area, 6-2, Junior, Guard

The still-evolving scouting report on junior point guard Mike Simmons is that he has a knack for scoring — often times in bunches. He was one of the main reasons Kiski Area fans turned out in bunches this season.

Simmons put up 20.3 points while also giving the Cavaliers 4.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

For his efforts, he is the Valley News Dispatch Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Fox Chapel senior guard Matt D'Amico also was considered.

With Simmons conducting the offense, No. 13 seed Kiski Area (17-7) vaulted into the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals and PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2002. Simmons powered the Cavaliers past Gateway in the quarterfinals with 37 points in an 82-73 overtime win.

He has 722 career points.

Kiski Area put together its best season in years. Why was this team so special?

We are all like brothers, and I think it showed on the court. We had good chemistry, and we all had each other's backs.

You tweeted something a while back about watching game film with your dad. Is this a common thing?

We like to watch previous games so I can learn from my mistakes and hopefully not make the same ones again.

What do you remember most about the playoff game against Gateway?

Besides the crazy atmosphere and high intensity, it would have to be missing the front end of a one-and-one with six seconds left. Making both of them would have sealed the game, and we never would have had to go to overtime.

Your team lost to New Castle (31-0) in the WPIAL semifinals. What was it like playing against the eventual state champions?

I don't know if I will ever play against a team like that again. It was obviously not the outcome we had hoped for, but it was a game to learn from.

You'll move from point guard to shooting guard next season. Good move for you?

I think shooting guard is my more natural position. This season was really the first time I've played point guard, so there was definitely some rough patches, but wherever coach wants me to play, I'll be up for the challenge.

Boys first-team selections

Joey Brungo

Kiski Area

6-2, Sr., Guard

The consistent all-around guard averaged 14.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals for the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinalist. Pitt football preferred walk-on hit 27 3-pointers.

Matt D'Amico

Fox Chapel

6-3, Sr., Guard

D'Amico became Fox Chapel's all-time leading scorer, breaking a mark that lasted 25 years. He averaged 22.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists for a playoff team and finished with 1,437 points.

Austin Dedert


6-6, Sr., Forward

One of area's top big men, Dedert averaged a double-double for the Mustangs, with 14.5 points and 10.1 rebounds. He also blocked 88 shots and shot 61 percent from the floor.

Brian Papich

Fox Chapel

6-2, Sr., Guard/forward

Papich averaged 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.0 steals for the Foxes (17-6). He shot nearly 60 percent from the field, making 114 of 191 field goals and finished with 1,021 career points.

Tre Tipton


6-1, Jr., Guard

A versatile and athletic guard, he led the Vikings (19-4) in scoring (14.7 ppg), rebounds (8.7 rpg), assists (5.4 apg), steals (4.1 spg) and blocks (1.4 bpg). He helped the Vikings average 62 points per game and return to the playoffs.

Boys second-team selections

Josh Beale

Freeport, 6-3, So., G

Led Freeport with 13.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 2.1 apg.

James Edwards

Plum, 6-1, So., G

Led Plum at 16.2 ppg; added 1.5 assists.

Austin Miller

Knoch, 6-1, Sr., G

Energetic guard gave 10.9 points and 5.5 assists a game.

Ben Ritchie

Leechburg, 6-2, Sr., G

Averaged 18.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.1 assists.

Nick Stotler

Plum, 6-2, Sr., G/F

Scored 14.2 points, grabbed 6.5 rebounds, dealt 2.5 assists.

Boys third-team selections

Kaison Branch


6-0, Jr., G

David Gallagher


6-1, Sr., G

Zach Lesnick


6-1, Sr., G

Brendan Lettrich


5-11, So., G

Jesse Sequeira

Ford City

6-0, Sr., G

Girls player of the year

Sydney Bordonaro

Burrell, 5-7, Junior, guard

Sydney Bordonaro will be one of the top returning players in the state next season. But the Burrell junior is quick to slide aside personal achievements for team success.

When Burrell crept to within earshot of its championship goals and fell short, Bordonaro left feeling incomplete. Still, she helped the team to its best season — 28 wins, two losses, a trip to A.J. Palumbo Center for the WPIAL championship and a spot in the PIAA final four.

For her achievements, she is the Valley News Dispatch Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the second straight season.

Fox Chapel senior Erin Mathias also was considered, as was St. Joseph senior Mallory Heinle and Bordonaro's teammate, sophomore Natalie Myers.

One of the area's better stop-and-pop players and floor leaders, Bordonaro averaged 16.5 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 steals and shot 47 percent from 3-point range.

An all-state first-teamer and Burrell's all-time leading scorer (1,209 points), Bordonaro has verbally committed to Pepperdine University.

Burrell had its best season in program history. What's the one thing you take from this year?

There is always someone better than us. To be state champs, the whole team must work hard all year to keep improving.

This year's team seemed to have a unique bond. Where did that come from?

From playing together since we were in second grade. Everyone was truly committed to winning, and we were all on the same page.

Both of your team's losses were to Seton-La Salle. Some of your former AAU teammates play for the Rebels. What was it like playing against them?

It was weird playing against them. Just because I'm used to joking around with them and now I had to be serious, which isn't like me at all.

How often do you work on your 3-poin t shooting?

I work on my 3-point shooting every night. I go to the gym at whatever hours it is open and get around 1,000 shots up a day.

How will moving from point guard to shooting guard next season change your game?

One of my weaknesses is playing without the ball. So being able to play without the ball in my hands and creating other opportunities for my team is something that will help me for the next level.

Girls first-team selections

Mallory Heinle

St. Joseph

6-1, Sr., Forward

The Slippery Rock recruit helped the Spartans (19-5) reach the WPIAL quarterfinals. She averaged a Class A best 23.6 points, plus 7.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 steals and scored 1,473 career points.

Lashay Madison


5-11, Sr., Guard

A go-to scorer for the Vikings, she averaged 15.7 points. She started four years for an up-and-down program and attracted college attention from Division I, II and III schools.

Erin Mathias

Fox Chapel

6-3, Sr., Forward/center

The Duke recruit, Class AAAA state player of the year and Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year helped the Foxes reach the WPIAL semifinals. She averaged 16.6 points, 12.8 rebounds and 4.8 blocks.

Natalie Myers


5-11, So., Forward

An up-and-coming second-year starter, Myers averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucs (28-2), who reached the WPIAL Class AA finals and PIAA semifinals. She had a double-double in 7 of 8 playoff games.

Krista Pietropola


5-11, Sr., Guard

The Youngstown State recruit averaged 17.3 points and broke Plum's career scoring record with 1,370 points. She also averaged eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Girls second-team selections

Sadie Buchser

Riverview, 5-9, So., G

Averaged team-best 14.5 points per game.

Ash ley Emminger

Ap.-Ridge, 5-9, Sr., F

Versatile scorer averaged 10.5 points a game.

Emily Knepshield

Kittanning, 5-5, Sr., G

Topped 1,000-point mark for career and averaged 10.7 per game.

Zoe Soilis

Freeport, 5-7, So., G/F

Averaged team-best 15.7 points and 4.7 rebounds for playoff team.

Courtney Zezza

Plum, 6-4, Jr., F-C

Shot-altering post player scored 13.8 points for playoff team.

Girls third-team selections

Allyson Cujas

Ford City

5-11, Sr., F

Christina Davis

Ford City

5-8, Jr., G/F

Kaylyn Iacopino


6-0, Jr., F

Amanda Koprivnikar


5-6, Sr., G

Kelsey Oddis


5-7, Sr., G

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