Pittsburgh athletes of the week: Steel Valley’s Kennedy Smith, Baldwin’s Lauren Gilbert | TribLIVE.com
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Steel Valley's Kennedy Smith

Kennedy Smith

School: Steel Valley

Year: Senior

Sport: Basketball

Claim to fame: Smith scored 17 points, including a mid-range jump shot with two seconds left to lead the Ironmen to a win over West Mifflin on Jan. 22. Steel Valley is 11-3 overall and in first place in Section 4-AAA with a 7-2 record.

What was going through your mind on the last-second shot?

I just cleared my mind before I shot the ball. I just took all the distractions away and focused on the shot. I knew my teammates had faith in me, too.

What impact has the West Mifflin win had on your season?

It’s a big confidence boost for us. We feel like we’ve just got to ride these next couple of games out, and then it’s on to the playoffs.

How did you get started playing basketball?

It started up at Charlie Batch’s 16th Avenue playground. He runs his annual basketball league. … I was about 6.

How would you describe yourself as a player?

I’m a high-motor, energetic type of player, and I love defense.

What’s your favorite class in school?

World culture … he’s really a great teacher, Mr. Seech. I learned a lot from him. … He makes us understand it easily, and it’s very interesting.

Lauren Gilbert

School: Baldwin

Year: Junior

Sport: Basketball

Claim to fame: The guard scored 27 points, including three 3-pointers and 15 of 16 free throws, in a win Jan. 21. At 11-7 overall and 6-5 in Section 4-AAAA, Baldwin is in fifth place.

How did you become such a good free throw shooter?

Foul shooting was always important to me. I always finished practice with shooting a foul shot before exiting off the court. … We do practice a lot of free throw shooting as well.

What will you need to do to advance to the postseason?

We just have to go into every practice now 10 times more ready, because it does come down to the last minutes of the game. … Just practicing taking care of the ball at the end and trying to have less turnovers each quarter.

How would you describe yourself as a player?

I try and look to assist a lot. I try and score a lot, but I try and look for the open player on the floor and if I have a shot I’ll take it, but I would much rather get the ball up the floor, set up a play, get the team settled down and start running from there.

Who is the best player you ever played against?

Probably (Bethel Park’s) Shannon Conley and Justina Mascaro.

— Alex Oltmanns

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