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Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Greensburg Central Catholic's Christian Hyland, Penn-Trafford's Amanda Balas

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Greensburg Central Catholic's Christian Hyland
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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Andrew John
Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Christian Hyland

School: Greensburg Central Catholic

Sport: Basketball

Year: Senior

Claim to fame: Hyland, who is averaging 12 points per game, scored 15 to help Greensburg Central Catholic (25-3) to a 60-49 win over Beaver Falls, the reigning state champion, in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals Saturday.

“We knew they were a good team,” Hyland said. “We were confident during the game we would be able to step up and make a couple of shots if they were going to stop Brian (Graytok).”

What are your college plans?

Still undecided. I will decide after basketball to see if I want to play basketball in college or not. I'm looking at Grove City, Penn State Behrend and Geneva. I'm looking at the character of the coaches and guys on the team. At Central, we are one big family. I love that aspect of being one team. I will major in education. I like to help others, and I thought education would be a good thing to go in.

How is it to play alongside someone like Brian Graytok?

We have been playing since sixth grade. He's my best friend. We have that sense on the court. He knows where I'm going to be. We know where we are going to be at all times.

How did you gain all the leadership qualities?

I think I got that at an early age from my dad. He had success as a player and he passed that down to me. I have had a great coach. He has been teaching me how to play. I also watched how Jesse Reed played. He's the best point guard in Central history. I take my game after him.

What's the first thing you want to do when it finally gets warm outside?

Spend time with friends outside since it's my senior year. I like to play some pickup basketball outside. I know it's rare for kids to play outside but I like to play some kids around the county.

Amanda Balas

School: Penn-Trafford

Sport: Bowling

Year: Sophomore

Claim to fame: Balas, who came into the finals as the fourth seed, won the Pennsylvania state individual title over the top-seeded Chelsey Merkinger of Lancaster Mennonite, 187-185. Balas, who had a game-high 215 in qualifying, finished the qualifying round with a six-game total of 1,140.

“There were a lot of thoughts going in my head. I was going into that match thinking I wasn't going to win just because how good I thought the other girl was,” Balas said. “Halfway through the last game, I realized I didn't miss any spares or any marks. I was actually close to being able to win.”

You had to bowl in the maximum amount of games to capture the title. Did you think that benefited you?

I definitely think sitting out a couple of games wouldn't have benefited me. When you sit out a couple of games, you just get out of what you are doing. All the games, except for the first round were all very close so I think that pushed me to step up my game a little bit more.

With your other tournament experience, where you able to draw that?

Definitely. I had junior league (last weekend) and had a tournament for qualifying for Pepsi states. I don't know why it is, but I just feel so much more confident out there.

How did you get involved with bowling?

It was definitely through my dad. He has been bowling for a long time. He is definitely my inspiration to bowl. If I look back he gets upset and it kind of upsets me too. I want to impress him with my bowling so being able to see his face after I won Friday was one thing I wanted to see. He is very confident in what I'm doing.

What is going through your head before you let go of the ball?

I have my eyes set on a mark in the lane and that's all I concentrate on. When I hit that mark I'm able to look up at the pins. If it didn't work, I try to figure out what went wrong and why it did what it did and prepare for the next shot.

What is one thing people might not know about you?

I got up my confidence level up to try out for select choir, where only certain people are selected, and I was one of those who made it. That definitely built up my confidence in that. I don't think people realize how dedicated I am with that thing too.

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