School: Hazleton Area
Sport: Girls Basketball
All in the Family: Alyssa is the daughter of David and Renee Sitch of Drums. Her older sister Aimee was also a standout basketball player at Hazleton Area and is now studying in optometry school.
Statistically speaking: Sitch, already the second-leading scorer in Wyoming Valley Conference Division I with a 19-point average, finished her final regular season with a flourish by scoring 46 points over two games. She hit 20 to help spark the Cougars to their second upset of area rival and WVC Division I champ Crestwood. Then she followed that up with a 26-point performance, including six three-point goals that raised her season total to 66, as Hazleton Area held off stubborn Berwick to conclude a week that clinched the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye for the Cougars in the upcoming District 2/4 Class 4A playoffs.
Shooting star: At 5-foot-1, Sitch didn’t need size to make a big impact on the WVC and earn the honor of being chosen as the WVC Coaches Division I Player of the Year. On a night where her teammate Mackenzie Yori set the girls record by scoring 40 points in Hazleton Area’s home gym, Sitch was every bit as brilliant. She hit for 20 that night, with eight coming just after halftime to help the Cougars pull away from Crestwood for good while leading a punishing press defense that staggered the high-flying Comets. Then, when Hazleton Area needed a lift against Berwick, it was Sitch who gave it to them — hitting one big shot after another and making plays as the leader of the Cougars’ vaunted defense while allowing her team to escape with a road win and finish the regular season on a roll heading to districts.
Coach’s Corner: “She’s amazing me,” Hazleton Area coach Joe Gavio said. “That blazing speed goes by people — the great ones have a different gear. The Berwick game, it didn’t change anything, we already had the second seed (clinched for districts), we’re going there after an emotional win. The game was close, everybody got uptight. (But) Alyssa is strong. She wants the ball, she makes it in the clutch. She could be having a bad game, and then she hits big ones for us. She carries us when things are down. She’s a tremendous leader. And she’s so much fun to coach. She’s been the catalyst all year. Our team revolves around her. She goes game to game, and she doesn’t come out. When she steps on that court, it becomes everything for her. She’s just a winner.”
Did you know? As good as she is at playing it, basketball isn’t Sitch’s main sports passion. She’s also a star on the track and field circuit, and won the District 2 Class 3A gold medal — and a trip to the PIAA state meet — in the long jump last spring. “Basketball keeps my endurance up for track,” Sitch said. “I hope to be a district champion in long jump again and, obviously, do well at states.”
From her angle: “I’ve pretty much been consistent throughout every game,” Sitch said. “That’s just what I try to do, every game I try to do my best. My sister always did basketball and track, I just wanted to follow her. I’ve always loved playing basketball. Basketball is a completely different feel (from track), you have to depend on other people rather than just yourself. I’m just happy with my whole team, with everything. As a point guard, that’s who the leader is going to be. I just wanted to do well this season. I never used to be a scorer. This year, I don’t know what happened, I’ve just been shooting the threes. I’ve stayed after practices, more focused on trying to improve my shot.”
Week in review: Sitch may have been the leader of Hazleton Area’s surprising share of a second-place finish in the WVC Division I this season, but for one night, Mackenzie Yori upstaged her. Yori set a girls basketball school record for single-game scoring in the Hazleton Area High School gym when she exploded for 40 points as Hazleton Area pulled its second upset of the season against Division I champ Crestwood. Included in Yori’s torrid shooting spree were seven three-point field goals. Crestwood’s Maddie Ritsick finished with 26 points in that game. Of course, Crestwood quickly got over its second defeat to Hazleton Area — the only two division losses for the Comets this season — and clinched the division title in its final regular season game later in the week, when Rebecca Rutkowski threw down 36 points at Tunkhannock — including her career 1,000th. Meyers scoring star Quieterriua Gross also hit the career milestone mark of 1,000 points when she finished with 21 against GAR, after scoring 20 in a loss to Holy Redeemer. Alexis Lewis made sure Redeemer finished league play at 13-0 by scoring 37 points against Meyers and 27 more against Wyoming Area to ensure the Royals claimed the Division II crown unbeaten. Berwick’s Taylor Montana warmed up for the District 2 Class 3A playoffs with 27 points in a close loss to Hazleton Area, and Dallas’ Katy Comitz scored 27 in an upset of Berwick. …
Lake-Lehman’s Julia Baur continued her impressive run in the girls swimming pool with victories in the 200 IM, the 100 freestyle and as part of the winning 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams in a meet against Wyoming Seminary. …
In the boys meet that night, Sem’s Andrew Levandoski captured victories in the 50 freestyle, the 100 backstroke and on the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams to lead the Blue Knights past Lehman. And Tunkhannock emerged with a couple of four-time winners while dunking Abington Heights. Matt Miller took the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly and was part of the winning 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay teams. Joe Moffitt captured the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke, teamed with Miller on the 200 medley team, and picked up another win on the 400 freestyle relay team. …
Wyoming Area’s 120-pounder Sharrieff Hale recorded the quickest pin on the wrestling mat last week, ending his match against Pittston Area in 38 seconds. And Crestwood’s Seth Korch picked up a pin in 52 seconds in his 126-pound match against GAR. …
Mason Gross cut loose for 39 points while leading Pittston Area past Wyoming Valley West in a boys basketball game that turned into a highlight reel for a few guys that night. His teammate Tyler McGarry finished with 26 points in that victory, while Jamie Calloway scored 32 points for the Spartans in defeat. Sal Biasi may not have been able to lead his team to victory against Crestwood, but he did lead everyone on the floor with 36 points. Meanwhile, Tunkhannock’s Austin Yanora had Tunkhannock cruising past Coughlin with 28 points and Lake-Lehman’s Pete Borum also put up 28 points against Hanover Area. James Holmes came through with 26 points to pace GAR to victory against Holy Redeemer, and Wyoming Seminary’s Seth Callahan continued his late-season scoring spree with a 25-point night against MMI Prep.