High school notebook: Valley girls return to court
After three consecutive forfeits and a bleak outlook for the rest of the season, the short-handed Valley girls basketball team returned to the court Monday.
With five players, the Vikings downed Highlands, 59-43, for their first win. Valley hadn't played since Dec. 22.
Coach Jeff Cheatham remains optimistic that the team can finish the season, even if he doesn't have full commitment from the “six to seven” girls who make up the team.
“That was the best we looked all season,” Cheatham said. “We have some players. If we had some numbers, we could be the best team in the section. The thing about Monday's game is that we hadn't been together as a group for over a week. We had a little practice before the game. We went over a few offensive plays.”
Three of Valley's players had big stat nights, although they all logged 32 minutes.
Sophomore guard Kaylyn Iacopino had a triple-double with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocks, while junior guard Lashay Madison had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Kristea Smith added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The other players were sophomore Jame Reese and freshman Nicole Gray. Reese picked up her fourth foul in the second quarter, and Iacopino did the same later but did not foul out.
Valley asked if it could play 4-on-5 at one point, but the officials declined.
Valley (1-6, 1-3) will host Knoch (2-9, 1-3) on Thursday night and will travel to Mars (6-5, 2-1) on Friday. Cheatham hopes to make do with the players he has.
“The girls we have seem to be more focused and serious,” he said.
The WPIAL advised Valley to attempt to play its section schedule to remain in good faith with the league next season.
Teams must start games with a minimum of five players or face forfeiture.
Big night for Misejka
While Valley playing was the story, Highlands' senior guard Nikki Misejka nearly willed her team to victory Monday. Misejka scored a career-high 34 points in the loss, including all 18 of her team's points in the first half.
Highlands had only two other players score in the game.
The PIHL announced its all-stars, who will take part in four games Feb. 10 at Robert Morris Island Sports Center.
The most local representation is in Class A, where 12 players and two coaches were selected. Freeport had six selections: junior forward Cole Hepler; senior forward Greg Newman; junior defensemen Brendon Zack and John Bird; and a pair of goaltenders, sophomore Dominic Digiacobbe and freshman Matt Huston.
Kittanning has four all-stars: junior forwards Hunter Grafton and Christian Miller; senior forward Eli Johns; and senior defenseman Mike Kelly. Kittanning coach Jamie King also was picked as an assistant to Deer Lakes' Todd Luniewski on the Northeast Conference team.
Deer Lakes' player selections are sophomore forward Zach Luniewski and junior forward Tommy Lisowski.
In Class AA, three Plum players were selected: senior forward Andrew Walters; junior forward Joey Randazzo; and senior defenseman Jordan Gable.
Kiski Area senior forward Shawn Welsh also will play for the Class-AA team.
Ford City senior forward Jesse Valasek, senior defenseman Joe Cippel and senior goalie Adam Cogley are Open Class all-stars. Ford City coach Glen Kilgore will coach the Northeast team.
Each all-star game will be Northeast vs. Southwest. Game schedule: Open Class, 11 a.m.; Class A, 1 p.m.; Class AA, 3; and Class AAA, 5.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.