PG Athletes of the Week: Owen Nearhoof, Nicolete Newman

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Owen Nearhoof, Mars

Last week: Nearhoof scored 29 points in an 81-64 loss against North Hills and had 23 as his team rebounded for a 78-42 victory against Freeport.

Check this out: The 6-foot senior is averaging 20.2 points per game this season, and, in a Jan. 17 win against Valley, Nearhoof scored his 1,000th career point. A two-sport standout, Nearhoof said he has received college interest for football from Robert Morris, Gannon, Tiffin and Westminster, the last of which also has shown interest for basketball. His two older brothers — Nolan and Ryan — played football at Robert Morris.

Do you prefer playing basketball or football? If I had to pick a favorite, it’d probably be football. I just enjoy it a little more.

Have you decided which one of those you’ll play in college? It’d more than likely be football, but there’s still a good chance I could play basketball. It’s hard to say right now.

Being the youngest of three brothers, did you get picked on a lot? There wasn’t any bullying. Obviously, there’s the younger brother-type relationship. My oldest brother, Ryan, and his friends would play this game where they’d create a situation and they’d always find a way to make me lose. I give them credit for making me into the competitor I am.

Your team has won six of its past eight. What’s been going right? We’re really starting to click as a team. When you lose a lot of seniors and starters and you gain a big sophomore class, you’re playing with a lot of guys you’ve never played with before. We’re not peaking yet, but we’re steadily improving every game.

Can you remember a time when it was this cold for this long? No, I don’t think so. It’s definitely crazy. We’ve already had two or three games get delayed or canceled, which I don’t think has ever happened before since I’ve been there.

Who’s your Super Bowl pick? I’m going to have to say the Broncos. I’m a huge Peyton Manning fan. I play quarterback, too, and I just admire him.

Biggest pet peeve? Games getting rescheduled.

Nicolete Newman, Seton-LaSalle

Last week: Newman went 10 of 10 from the field — including 6 of 6 from 3-point range — and finished with 26 points to lead Seton-LaSalle to a 70-28 win Thursday against Fort Cherry. Two days earlier, Newman was 6 of 8 on 3-point attempts and scored 20 points in an 80-42 win at Brentwood.

Check this out: On a team loaded with talent, Newman plays the role of sharpshooter. A 5-foot-6 junior guard, she is averaging 12.7 points per game and has made a team-high 43 3-pointers this season, making her one of the WPIAL’s most dangerous perimeter shooters. Seton-LaSalle is 14-3 (9-0 in Class AA Section 4) and ranked No. 1 in WPIAL Class AA. As a freshman, Newman helped Seton-LaSalle win the PIAA title by scoring a team-high 16 points — highlighted by four 3-pointers — in the championship game. The Rebels also won the WPIAL title that season, but lost in the final last season.

Will your team win the WPIAL championship this season? We have a really strong team. We really have a chance. After last year, you never know what will happen, but we believe we will.

What do you remember most about winning the PIAA title? We were just all so pumped up. It was so exciting. Whenever we won, I’ve never felt that great. I’ve never experienced anything like that.

Describe coach (Spencer) Stefko in one word. There are a lot of words I could say about him. (Laughs) He’s definitely positive. Persistent. For example, a lot of our defense was absolutely horrible coming into the season, and we’ve improved so much. Probably persistent. He doesn’t give up on anyone.

Funniest player on your team? I would definitely say Naje Gibson. She always puts a smile on everyone’s faces.

Most people might be surprised to know that … A lot of people know this about me, but I have an obsession with Justin Bieber.

What do you think about the trouble he’s gotten into recently? I’m not happy about it, but I’m a diehard believer, so I can’t give up on the man. 

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