Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Shady Side Academy's Kyle Olander, West Mifflin's Taylor Thomas
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School: Shady Side Academy
Claim to fame: Olander scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Indians past Northgate, 74-56, in a Class AA preliminary-round playoff game Saturday. Olander also scored 29 points in a 70-44 win over South Allegheny on Jan. 29 to all but assure the Indians a playoff berth. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 20.5 points per game during the regular season.
Rate your performance in the preliminary round game.
I think I did all right. I just did what my team needed me to do. Overall, it was a good team win.
What does Shady Side Academy need to do to make a deep playoff run?
I think we're going to have to stick together as a team and play strong defense. Our offense is coming along with many of our players scoring double digits. If we can play fundamental defense, I think we can make a run in the playoffs.
Do you prepare differently for playoff games?
Not really. This entire year I've been taking every game a game at a time. I treat every game like a playoff game. So I try to keep that mentality.
Have you decided where you want to attend college?
I'm going to go to college to study business and finance. I'm waiting to hear back from a few schools. I may try to walk on somewhere, but I haven't thought it all the way through.
What moment stands out most about your high school career?
I think my entire senior season. I injured my ankle early last year, so I didn't play much. This year has been a lot of fun with my teammates and the new coaches.
School: West Mifflin
Claim to fame: Thomas scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Titans in their 76-48 rout of Freeport in a Class AAA preliminary-round playoff game Saturday. Thomas had 14 points in West Mifflin's 56-48 win over Seton-La Salle on Feb. 10. Thomas was one of the Titans' primary offensive threats this year, averaging 16.4 points per game on the season.
What does it do for your confidence to come out and play the way you did in the first playoff game?
It lets me know that we were mentally and physically ready to have each other's backs. We'll try to remain up tempo and attack the other team and not let them get too comfortable.
How does your preparation change in the postseason?
I think we realize that it's just not one person or an individual. We need to work together. If you lose in the regular season you have another game. But in the playoffs, it's one and done.
What are the Titans capable of doing in the playoffs?
I honestly think that we can go as far as we want to take each other. I think we can make it to Palumbo and then get to Hershey.
Have you decided what you want to do after high school?
I'm going to go to college, but I'm not sure where, yet. I'm looking at Bethany and California (Pa.).
— Brian Graham
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