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Butler County spotlight athletes: March 16, 2014

| Saturday, March 15, 2014, 3:28 p.m.
Taylor Hockenberry.

John Castello

School: Mars

Year: Sophomore

Sport: Basketball

Claim to fame: Castello helped Mars win a section title. The Planets reached the PIAA Class AAA playoffs for a second straight year as well.

Getting back to the PIAA playoffs was one of your team's goals. With so many young guys in the lineup, how much will that experience help your team next year?

It'll help a great deal. It was a great atmosphere to play in. I definitely think we can learn from that and try to make it further next year.

Few people expected your team to do as well as it did. How did it feel to surprise some people?

It was great. We definitely surprised some people. But I think everyone, from the coaches and players, expected us to be right back where we were last year. We lived up to our expectations, and it was great to show people what we are really capable of.

You emerged as a key player this year. How were you able to handle that as a sophomore first-year starter?

It was nice. I felt pretty good. Owen Nearhoof is a great leader. I wouldn't have been able to do it without him and my other teammates. Owen really showed me how to handle everything well and be a better person. He is a great leader for all of us.

What are you going to work on in the offseason?

I am going to work on handling the ball and shooting from the outside. I need to work on my conditioning, too. I need to get that better to play a full 32 minutes without getting tired.

Taylor Hockenberry

School: Mars

Year: Freshman

Sport: Diving

Claim to fame: Hockenberry finished second at the WPIAL Class AA diving championships and qualified for the PIAA championship meet.

As a freshman, how nervous were you going into the WPIAL meet?

I was nervous going into the meet. After I started diving, I felt more comfortable, though.

Were you surprised you finished second?

I tried not to focus on how I was doing. But I was happy with how high I placed.

Allison Brownlee from Deer Lakes, another freshman, finished right behind you. How cool is it to go to the state meet with her?

I am really excited to go to states. Allison and I dive together down at Pitt, so it's nice.

You've only been diving for about a year. What drew you to the sport?

I like diving because it's challenging not only physically, but mentally, too. I just want to keep improving over the years.

— Joe Sager

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