Daily News spotlight athletes: West Mifflin's Ryan Maha, McKeesport's Nassiah Bray

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Ryan Maha

Year: Senior

School: West Mifflin

Sport: Basketball

Claim to fame: Maha scored 25 points to lead West Mifflin (10-5, 6-4) to an 82-70 win over Section 4-AAA rival Steel Valley last Friday. He also surpassed 1,000 career points in a 77-71 victory over Belle Vernon.

“It is interesting to coach your own child but he's a good kid and he's made it easy for me,” West Mifflin coach Lance Maha said. “I would say it's easier for me to coach him than it is for him to play for me. We expect him to lead because of the amount of experience he has. He can shoot, handle the ball and pass. He's a pretty skilled kid who has been able to lend some stability to us. Unfortunately, he's played at 70-80 percent because of his knee, so he hasn't practiced much. Despite that he's averaged close to 19 points per game.”

How does it feel to reach 1,000 career points?

It was a nice accomplishment. To be mentioned with CJ (Hester), Bryant (McCallister), Chris (Giles) and Keith Perry is great. It's more about the team's accomplishments but that was one individual accomplishment that I am very proud of.

How do you keep yourself motivated and improving as a basketball player?

I just keep our team goals in mind. We have a progression of goals every year to: make playoffs, win the section, try to win a WPIAL title, get into the state playoffs and win a state title. The traditions that came before me keeps myself, and our team focused to keep up those standards. It helps keep the whole team motivated.

What are you going to be doing next year?

I verbally committed to Carnegie Mellon to study economics and minor in policy and management. I'd like to try to get a job on Wall Street and see how it works out. I know you can go in thinking one thing and come out thinking something completely opposite, so we'll see how that goes.

Have you ever beaten your dad one-on-one?

I can't even tell you the last time we played but I think he beat me. He hasn't brought it up recently because I don't think he wants to play me anymore.

What is your favorite high school basketball experience?

We went to Disney this past year over Christmas. It was a really interesting. It was great timing and we had great weather. It was really fun and it's paying dividends now because we bonded as a team. The whole team stayed in three rooms for six straight days. We laughed a lot and it only helped our chemistry. That's a trip I will never forget. It was an unbelievable time.

Nassiah Bray

Year: Junior

School: McKeesport

Sport: Basketball

Claim to fame: Bray scored 21 points as the Tigers (8-11, 3-6) defeated Section 2-AAAA foe Franklin Regional, 55-47, last week. She has scored in double figures 12 times this season and is averaging 11 points per game.

“Nassiah has really improved her game in many ways this season,” McKeesport coach Eric Smith said. “She has become more of a scorer and she allows the game to come to her a lot better now. As a sophomore and even at the beginning of this year she forced shots and passes, but she has improved on that dramatically. She's taking advantage of what the defense gives her. She has cut down on the turnovers and is averaging five or six points more per game this year. She's a great leader and has a great understanding of the game.

Who do you look forward to facing each year?

I like facing Gateway because they're probably our biggest rival, and I just really like playing against them.

What is your favorite place to vacation?

I love to go to Ocean City, Md., and walk on the boardwalk.

Do you have a favorite player or team?

My favorite player is Maya Moore. I like the way she plays. She's so aggressive and just I want to play like her. My favorite team would have to be UConn. They're always so good. They're unstoppable.

How did you get into playing basketball?

I've played since I was 5 at the YMCA. I started, and I just kept going.

What do you like to do outside of playing basketball?

I like to hang out with my friends and have fun with them.

What is your favorite class in school?

I'd have to say pre-calculus because I understand it the most out of all of my classes.

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