Spotlight athletes: Clairton's Bryon Clifford, Elizabeth Forward's Dana Buck
Claim to fame: Clifford, who leads the Bears (8-3, 5-0) in scoring at 18.5 points per game, scored 26 points in a 79-16 victory over Geibel last week. He also scored 15 points in a win over rival Monessen on Friday for the top spot in Section 3-A.
“Going into this season, we expected Bryon to do exactly what he has been doing,” head coach Matt Geletko said. “He is our floor general and serves as an extension of our coaching staff. He knows when to push it and when to slow it down and call a play. There have been times when I've had a play in my head to run, and he's already called it. He understands what we're trying to do as a team.”
What are you looking to do when you come down the court on offense?
Mostly, I'm trying to beat my man to the hoop. I really only shoot a 3 if I'm wide open. But if we don't have a play called, I'm trying to get to the hoop.
What would it mean to you to add a basketball title to the school's trophy case?
It would mean everything to win one. That's what I've really been striving for. I'd want a basketball title over a football title.
Who are your favorite basketball players and team?
Well, one of my favorite players was Allen Iverson. Now, I really like Chris Paul and the Clippers. I just really like the way they both play. Iverson was fast and just mean back in his prime. Chris Paul is the same way.
What do you do to prepare for a big game?
We usually watch film as a team. Afterward, I watch highlights of players like Chris Paul and Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. When I get out on the court, I try to do the things they do and play my game how they play theirs.
What would you like to do after high school?
I'd like to study either athletic training or business management. I actually just got back from a visit to Cal. U. for football. I'd prefer to play basketball, but I'll take whatever I can get.
School: Elizabeth Forward
Claim to fame: Buck scored a game-high 24 points against Belle Vernon last week in a 55-49 victory for the Warriors (15-1, 7-0 Section 4-AAA). The team hasn't lost to a WPIAL opponent this season — their only loss coming in a tournament in Florida last month. Buck scored 17 in a win against Waynesburg on Thursday and now has more than 1,000 career points.
“Dana has been consistent all around for us this year, both offensively and defensively,” head coach Sam Kosanovich said. “She's been a co-captain for the last two years. She's not vocal and is very humble, but she leads by her actions as far as how she plays and practices. Offensively, she can shoot the 3, drive and post up. She's very versatile and we try to use her that way. On defense, she's a shot blocker and a great rebounder as well.”
How does it feel to surpass 1,000 career points?
It was a relief, to be honest. I wanted to get it out of the way so we could focus on bigger goals like winning the section and making the playoffs.
Did you know you were getting close?
Yeah, they were keeping track and going into the game (against Waynesburg) I knew I was 15 away. I scored it on a foul shot, so after the foul shot they stopped the game and the team brought me flowers and balloons.
What is the hardest part of being a leader?
I think it's hard because I am very quiet so I don't lead with my voice. I just lead with how I play. I try to set an example for the rest of the team.
Do you know what you want to do next year?
I am deciding right now between Penn State and Duquesne. I'd like to go for supply chain management and business. I really just want to focus on my schoolwork and getting my degree.
What is your favorite place to vacation and why?
Disney World, because it's the happiest place on earth! Why wouldn't it be everyone's favorite place?
What do you think you will miss most about playing high school basketball?
Definitely my teammates. I will miss them a lot. We are all really close, and being with them every day is something I will miss.
— Robert Stinner