Daily News spotlight athletes: West Mifflin's Aaron Adams, Thomas Jefferson's Haley Kutscher
School: West Mifflin
Claim to fame: Adams scored 20 points, including five 3-pointers, in a 63-51 victory over Laurel Highlands in a WPIAL Class AAA preliminary-round playoff game Friday night.
Did you feel that you needed to step up after losing one of your better players?
No question. Ryan (Maha) was our leading scorer, and I felt that Karlyn (Garner) and I needed to step up like we did against Steel Valley. We took a tough loss in that game, but we played well. Going into this game I felt I had to step up, and I feel like I did that.
Do you guys prepare any differentlyfor playoff games?
We pretty much stuck with what we had been doing in the regular season because it has worked for us. Early on we were scoring in the 30s, and as the season went on we bumped it up into the 80s. We've just adjusted to different teams but nothing really that different.
Are you always looking to shoot 3-pointers or was that just how this game played out?
At the beginning of the season when Ryan was playing, I didn't have a big role. I was just coming off the bench to take charges and get rebounds. I felt like I had to step up and do more. I don't think I shot any different on Friday. They were just falling on Friday.
What do you guys have to do to make this playoff run a success?
Like coach says, we have to win and survive. We have to focus in practice and prepare for each team. We have to go into each game like it's do or die. No one is expecting a 15 seed to beat a 2 seed so we have to go in with confidence thinking we're going to win the game. We have to slow their tempo down. They're a very skilled team. We have to play smart like we know how. If we do that we are going to win.
Who would you like to play one on one?
That's a tough question. I think I would like to play one on one with a guy named Doug Kecman. He was a really good shooter and a really good player that went to West Mifflin North before they merged, and then to Cincinnati. My dad knew him when he played.
School: Thomas Jefferson
Claim to fame: Kutscher scored a game-high 13 points and nailed an important 3-pointer just before halftime to give Thomas Jefferson a 26-18 lead, as the Jaguars (13-9) defeated Ambridge in a WPIAL Class AAA preliminary-round game Saturday.
On paper, the game against Ambridge was pretty even. What was the game plan?
Coach (Phil) Shar had us try different defenses throughout the game to keep the other team on their toes. He was confident in our ability on offense; we just tried to switch things up on defense.
What has been the key to the team's success this season?
I would say all of the practices that we have had since May. We have also done a lot of team bonding as well. We have sleepovers and talk about how our games went.
What do you consider your biggest strength on the court?
I would say my defense. I feel like it comes more naturally than playing on offense. I feel a little more pressure on offense, whereas on defense I feel like I can read what the other person is going to do.
Do you consider yourself a leader?
I think so, because I kind of give everyone else positive energy. If someone else is down I try to make sure that they smile.
What are your plans for next year?
I am going to IUP for criminology. I'm not sure about playing basketball. A part of me wants to play, but another part of me isn't sure.
— Robert Stinner