Alle-Kiski Valley Athletes of the Week: St. Joseph’s Andrew Sullivan, Plum’s Shannon Small
School: St. Joseph
Report card: With the game on the line, Sullivan drained a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime in the Spartans’ 65-59 come-from-behind win over Section 3-A rival Leechburg, which clinched the outright section title. A two-year starter for playoff-bound St. Joseph (17-5, 10-2), the 6-foot guard put up a game-high 28 points in the win. He closed the regular season leading the Spartans in every scoring category including points (300) and points per game (14.3). Sullivan also starts at midfielder for the Spartans’ soccer team and is a starting outfielder on the baseball team.
How long have you played basketball?
Ever since I was 5 years old.
How good did it feel to drain the 3-pointer against Leechburg and send the game into overtime?
It was great, especially losing to them as bad we did the first time.
How many times have you practiced that game-winning shot?
I practiced it a lot.
Did coach draw that play up coming out of a timeout?
Yeah. It was actually a play that our coaches put in two weeks ago. It worked perfectly, and I got a good look.
What’s the name of the play?
We either call it “special” or “Duke.” We call it a number of different names.
St. Joseph was down 22 points in that game. What led the Spartans to a comeback?
Definitely our defense. Our defense was turning into offense, and that really helped put us back into the game.
Was there a specific play where the game turned?
I remember one play, I think it was Grant (Bendis), he got a steal, dove for the ball, passed it to Daniel (Fábregas) and he got a layup. I knew that we wanted it at that point.
What was the atmosphere like for that game?
It was great, just with how many people cheered us on. Coach said there was as many people there in the gym that night as there was all season.
How does it feel to be Section 3-A champs?
It’s great. Seniors said they’ve been talking about this for a while, especially after a year like we had least year.
Do you think Section 3-A is underrated?
I think it is, because the winner having two losses just shows you how competitive the teams are. Every game was a barnburner.
What do the Spartans need to do right to make a deep run in the playoffs?
I think we need to play team ball as long as our defense is there.
Who is the comedian on the team?
Definitely Daniel (Fábregas) and Gabe McKernan.
Do you have a favorite NBA team?
Los Angeles Lakers.
What three words best describe you?
Hardworking. Intelligent. Unselfish.
What three people dead or alive would you like to have dinner with?
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry.
What is your favorite subject at school?
What is something interesting about you that people don’t know?
Growing up, I was always the smallest in the family, and I was always the baby. But over this past year, I’ve grown taller than everyone.
Report card: Small bowled from the third spot in the lineup to help lead Plum to a championship in the boys/mixed division of the inaugural Penn-Ohio High School Challenge last Saturday. She posted a 391-pin total to place fifth among all bowlers in her division and was tops among girls bowlers. Small, who bowls anchor for the Mustangs, ranks first in the WPIBL in high series (693) and second in average (198.27) and high game (259).
How did you get started bowling?
My dad (Bob) always bowled. He just started me at a young age, and I’ve grown to like it.
How did it feel to come away as champs in Saturday’s first-ever Penn-Ohio challenge?
I thought it as pretty cool. It was tough tournament with the pattern and so many tough teams.
You bowled with the boys on Saturday. How did that feel?
I was really happy because the guys are a really good team. For me to bowl with them, it was an honor.
What’s the one thing you learned coming out of that tourney?
I learned that you can’t give up. We weren’t bowling good at first. Eventually it will work out.
Did Saturday’s win help with the team’s confidence?
I think it helped with the boys and the girls. Not all the boys that bowled are usually on varsity.
Is the girls team ready for Thursday’s WPIBL championships?
I think we are. We’ve been practicing our spares a lot. You don’t need strikes to win; you need spares.
Do you have any turkeys to your credit?
Yes, I feel like I get those a lot.
How tough was the WPIBL East Division this year?
Penn Hills got really good this year, and we weren’t able to be section champs like we did the past few years.
How many games a week do you bowl?
Fifteen. I bowl a lot.
What’s the secret to bowling a strike?
As my dad likes to say, “Slow down, bend your knee and throw the ball out.”
What kind of ball do you use?
I mainly use a “Storm,” 15 pounds. At the tourney on Saturday, my dad won the raffle and won a new ball. I can’t wait to try that out.
Where is your favorite place to bowl?
I obviously love Nesbit’s, but I really like Princess Lanes. The lane conditions are just like Nesbit’s.
Have you ever bowled at Noble Manor Lanes, the site of the WPIBL championship?
No, I haven’t. I’ve bowled under different conditions.
What’s the most difficult spare for you to pick up?
The 10 pin. I usually make it, but it makes me so nervous. It’s the right-corner pin.
What three people would you like to have dinner with?
Marc Andre Fleury, Ellen DeGeneres and Kris Letang.
What is your favorite subject at school?
Do you have plans to bowl in college?
It’s what I want to do. I want to major in pharmacy and bowl.
What is something interesting about you that nobody knows?
Anytime I go to a restaurant, I get a salad. That’s all I eat at restaurants.
Who has the best salads?
In Murrysville, the North Park Lounge. I really like their salads.
What’s your favorite salad dressing and topping?
Ranch and croutons.
William Whalen is a freelance writer.