Athletes of the Week: 12.19.13

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Matt D’Amico, Fox Chapel

Last week: D’Amico scored 29 points in a Dec. 9 win at North Hills, then scored 21 — including the 1,000th of his career — in a victory Friday against McKeesport.

Check this out: D’Amico, a 6-foot-2 senior, is one of the top guards in the WPIAL. He’s averaging 23 points per game for Fox Chapel, which was 4-1 and ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA heading into Wednesday. A four-year starter, he was the second-leading scorer in Class AAAA a season ago with 22.1 points per game. Division II and III schools are interested. D’Amico and Fox Chapel will travel to Orlando, Fla., next week for a tournament.

How did you score your 1,000th point? I was on the break and I was on the wing. I missed my shot, but I got the rebound and made a layup.

Most points you have scored in a game at any level? 38.

Where have you improved the most since you were a freshman? Just my overall confidence. As a freshman playing with juniors and seniors, I lacked confidence. As I got older, I developed a lot more confidence. With that confidence, I became a better player.

Your student section is really good. Do they help you guys out? Yeah, I think it helps us a lot mentally. It’s always a great atmosphere. It helps us get pumped up.

Best player in the WPIAL? I’d have to go with [Hampton’s] Ryan Luther. He has a great overall game and can play inside or outside.

Outside of basketball, what are you most looking forward to doing in Florida? Just having a good time. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I know we have two days where we don’t have basketball. I’m hoping to go to some amusement parks and just have a good time.

People might be surprised to know that … I love to sing.

Monica Burns, Hempfield

Last week: Burns arguably had the best shooting game of her high school career in a 64-49 victory a week ago against Connellsville. In the win, she had a game-high 34 points, which included six 3-pointers and a 12-for-12 performance from the free-throw line. With that victory, the Spartans moved to 3-1 this season.

Check this out: A senior guard, Burns led Hempfield in scoring a season ago at 18.3 points per game. . This season, she scored 32 points in her team’s season opener, a 63-60 upset win against Class AAA No. 2 South Park. Burns recently signed with IUP, where she will continue her career.

What were your goals as a team heading into the season? I wouldn’t consider winning the section as a goal, but it’s more of an expectation. I would say winning a WPIAL championship, just because of the talent we have.

What about any personal goals? I would like to be a really good leader. I want to make all my teammates around me better.

How have things gone in coach Aaron Epps’ second season? I couldn’t ask for a better coach. Coach Epps changed my life forever. Without him, I wouldn’t be the basketball player or person I am today. He’s the best thing that’s happened to Hempfield girls basketball.

Was there anything you focused on improving over the offseason? Since February, I actually gained 15 pounds of muscle from lifting weights. I knew since we were going to be at a height disadvantage this year, I would have to be stronger and step up my rebounding game.

Anything in particular on your Christmas wish list? I don’t ask for much. I’m blessed with a lot and am happy with what I have. Whatever I get is a bonus.

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