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High school notebook: St. Joseph's Heinle happy to be SRU-bound

| Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, 12:36 a.m.
St. Joseph junior forward Mallory Heinle defends the ball during a practice.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic running back Tyler Balla looks to avoid Mt. Pleasant defensive back Tyler Mellors (7) on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, in Mt. Pleasant.

Familiar means family to Mallory Heinle.

When she runs down the court or peeks up from a huddle during a timeout, she likes to look into the stands for her parents and other relatives during games.

The St. Joseph senior wants that to continue in college, which is why she chose to further her playing career at Slippery Rock.

Although she considered Seton Hill, Wheeling Jesuit, Navy and Mount St. Mary's, Slippery Rock seemed to fill out the 6-foot forward's checklist.

“I wanted to be close enough so my family could be involved in my basketball, but if I knew it was the right school I would have gone anywhere,” Heinle said. “The schools that were farther away were bigger programs so that was exciting, but they just didn't have the right fit for me academically or socially like SRU did.”

Heinle, who needs 94 points to reach 1,000 for her career, averaged 19.5 points and 7.4 rebounds last season as St. Joseph reached the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals.

What a catch

Greensburg Central Catholic senior running back Tyler Balla added his name to the play-of-the-year ballot Friday night.

Balla, who is from New Kensington and transferred from Valley, made a spectacular one-handed catch in a 35-20 win over Waynesburg.

Balla finished the game with 118 yards rushing and four touchdowns, threw a 59-yard score and returned a punt 80 yards.

His circus catch came on third-and-12. You can see it on YouTube.

D-I showdown

The Knoch and Burrell girls soccer teams will play Wednesday in Lower Burrell, but it will be more than a Section 2-AA game. The game will match a pair of Division I defenders, both of whom also are counted on for offense.

Knoch has senior Gabi Lassinger, who verbally committed to Lafayette. Burrell features senior Sam Shepherd, a Virginia Military Institute recruit.

Mathias ranked

Fox Chapel basketball standout Erin Mathias is ranked No. 9 among forwards and No. 38 overall by ESPN HoopGurlz Top 100 for the Class of 2014.

Mathias (6-foot-3) is one of 70 girls on the list who committed early to a college. She gave Duke a verbal commitment in 2011.

She also had interest from Penn State, Pitt, Maryland and West Virginia.

The rankings are compiled by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.

Licata missing

A player was noticeably missing from Valley's golf results Tuesday. Junior Nick Licata, the team's No. 1 player, competed in the Section 8-AAA individual tournament the day before, but it turns out, he wasn't at 100 percent.

Licata sprained his ankle last week in gym class and the team has been resting him.

Coach Joe Finau said Licata had balance issues in the qualifier. He shot 81 and missed the cut by one shot.

“Nick was really looking forward to making a splash in the WPIALs this year after bowing out in the semis last year, and I know he would never use the ankle sprain as an excuse for missing the cut at qualifiers this year,” Finau said. “But I know the quality of golfer that Nick is, and there is little doubt in my mind that he will be back in semis next year — assuming he doesn't try to be a gym class hero again.”

Turning it around

Since starting a program last fall, Kittanning girls soccer is making progress. Winless last season, the second-year club team has five wins already this year.

The Wildcats (5-2) are proving to the WPIAL that they're ready to join the next section realignment.

Former Kiski Area standout Crystal Heder is coaching Kittanning.

“The girls believe in what we're trying to do,” Heder said. “And they're really showing improvements.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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