Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: West Mifflin's Ryan Maha, Central Valley's Seairra Barrett

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Ryan Maha

School: West Mifflin

Year: Senior

Sport: Basketball

Claim to fame: Maha — a 6-foot-1 guard who will attend Carnegie Mellon next year — scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Titans to a 90-55, Section 4-AAA win over Belle Vernon on Jan. 3. An all-section selection last year, he scored 16 points in a 54-48 win Southern Regional, N.J. and 17 in a 36-32 win over St. Francis, Ontario at the KSA Classic Tournament at Orlando, Fla. Maha is averaging 19 points through six games and Tuesday was nominated to play in the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game.

It sounds like you got off to a little bit of a rough start. How are you feeling your game has improved lately?

We've been playing a lot out of town and had a nine-day break after Florida so we got a lot of practices in. We came out pretty strong the other night. We've changed our tempo up and played faster and that's good for me to get out and get open.

How good can this Titans team be?

I honestly think the ceiling is the limit. I don't think there's any reason we can't win the section, make a WPIAL run and get into states. Sometimes being an underdog is nice so we can push from below. We're going to get better and better.

How difficult is it starting on a successful team that your dad has coached for quite some time?

I enjoy it. I relish the role. I've done it for four years now. Sometimes I get it more than the other players. It's a situation that I wouldn't want it any other way. I get the coaching at practice and at home before bed.

What are you most looking forward to about attending Carnegie Mellon?

The challenges that go with Carnegie Mellon academically. I'm looking forward to that and also the level of basketball they play there. There are a couple guys who may be an inch or two short, but otherwise they'd be in the Ivy League. It'll be a challenge, but I wouldn't have chose it if I wasn't ready for that.

Seairra Barrett

School: Central Valley

Year: Senior

Sport: Basketball

Claim to fame: Barrett scored a game-high 26 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and had six steals for the Warriors in their 70-46 win over New Castle in Section 2-AAA on Saturday. The 6-foot guard also had 30 points and a season-high 18 rebounds in a 67-49 win over Montour in the C.J. Betters Tournament at Community College of Beaver County on Dec. 28.

What aspect of your game do you like most, scoring or rebounding?

I'd probably say the scoring side because it makes me feel good about myself when I score points. I know I'm helping the team when I do that.

What's the mentality you take when battling for loose rebounds in the paint?

You really have to get in the paint, be tough and box out. A lot of people don't jump. You have to be able to go up and use your legs.

Have you decided where you want to attend college?

I'm leaning between California (Pa.), Duquesne and Ohio State. I'll decide in the next few weeks. It's going to be about the academics, how many hours away it is and the program I want to study.

What can we expect from this year's Central Valley team down the stretch?

A lot of hard work on the court. We're playing tougher, bigger and faster. Our defense has definitely changed. All the girls are starting to shoot, so it'll be different.

— Brian Graham

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