Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: New Castle's Malik Hooker, Seton-La Salle's Cassidy Walsh
School: New Castle
Claim to fame: Hooker played his last high school basketball game and won a PIAA title after scoring 13 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out four assists for the Red Hurricanes in their 52-39 win over La Salle College High School on Saturday. An Ohio State football recruit, Hooker led New Castle by scoring 15 points in its 58-54 win over Abington at Chambersburg High School on March 18.
What was it like to end your career with a WPIAL and state title?
It was a great feeling. We've been playing together since the third grade. So to win the WPIAL and states with those guys was a great feeling.
What will stand out from this season?
Our hard work and the dedication we put into what we made. The history we made. We've been trying to win this since eighth grade going into ninth grade. To do it is a great feeling.
What's next for you?
I'm going to get ready to go to college and work on my weight program.
What has the Ohio State staff said to expect?
They haven't been talking much about getting ready. They just wanted me to work hard and finish the season off.
Are you excited to play Big 10 football in front of crowds of nearly 100,000 fans?
I can't even express how that feels. I play in front of a lot at New Castle. But to play in front of that many people (in Columbus), I can't even think about what that will feel like.
School: Seton-La Salle
Claim to fame: Walsh — a Pitt recruit — scored 11 points to help the Rebels win the PIAA Class AA title with a 58-50 victory over Neumann-Goretti on Friday. Walsh had 15 points for the Rebels in their 48-37 win over Burrell in the state semifinals at North Allegheny on March 18.
How does it feel to win a state championship?
It's pretty indescribable. It's a lot different than winning the WPIALs.
What will you remember most about this season's championship run?
I'll definitely remember playing with Naje (Gibson) and Yacine (Diop). It's been a blast playing with them. I had such a fun time with them.
Now that the season is over, what are you going to start working to improve for next year?
I want to work on my all-around game. I have to get my game to that next level. Anything you can think of, I'll be working on. I'll be working out with my AAU coach, John Miller, all summer.
How often are you in touch with the Pitt staff?
They'll send me stuff in the mail and text me a lot to wish me luck. Some coaches have come to some of my games, too.
— Brian Graham