5A Boys Basketball First Round Recap

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Mars 76, Bethel Park 40

7th-seeded Mars (15-8) made a big time statement to the rest of 5A as they were able to jump out to a 23-9 lead after a quarter of play and get the running clock going in the second half en route to a 76-40 victory over 10th-seeded Bethel Park (13-9) on Friday night at North Hills High School.

Tasso Sfanos was his usual self, going for 26 points for Mars while Ryan Ceh added 18 of his own. Ben Guffey had 14 points for Bethel Park while Nick Brown had 12 points.

Mars will advance to the WPIAL 5A Quarterfinals where they will match up with Penn Hills on Wednesday.

South Fayette 34, Shaler 33

Elijah Hill hit the go-ahead shot for 8th-seeded South Fayette (14-9) with eight seconds remaining to defeat a pesky 9th-seeded Shaler (16-7) team 34-33 at home on Friday night.

After a tight first quarter, South Fayette made the first move of the game going on a 14-0 run that would span from late in the second quarter to late in the third quarter, giving the Lions a 24-16 lead. Shaler would score their first points of the second half with four seconds left in the third quarter.

South Fayette got the lead all the way up to 28-19 when Shaler would go on a 10-0 run and take the 29-28 lead with three minutes left in the game. Shaler would keep the lead at 33-30 when South Fayette got a steal with 45 seconds left and turned it into a quick layup cutting the lead to one. Shaler then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 which set the stage for Hill to be the hero, scoring and coming away with the 34-33 victory.

Michael Plasko finished with 19 points for South Fayette. Kaden Orga led Shaler with 11 points. South Fayette advances to the WPIAL 5A Quarterfinals and will take on top-seeded Peters Township on Wednesday.

Penn Hills 38, Trinity 29

15th-seeded Trinity (10-13) battled all night but 5A’s top defense was at it again as 2nd-seeded Penn Hills (18-3) didn’t have the offense they usually do, but the defense was there for them to pull out a 38-29 win at home.

While Trinity hung around all night, Penn Hills never lost the lead as they were able to keep it from midway through the first quarter until the final buzzer. Daemar Kelly had 21 points including 13/14 from the free throw line.

Penn Hills advances to the WPIAL 5A Quarterfinals where they will take on Mars on Wednesday.

Fox Chapel 62, Thomas Jefferson 45

The defending 6A WPIAL Champions may have been the No. 11 seed and had to go on the road in the WPIAL 5A First Round but their playoff experience showed big time Friday night as they were able to handle 6th-seeded Thomas Jefferson (15-8) 62-45.

Fox Chapel (14-9) and Thomas Jefferson kept it close early each getting their leading scorer going early, Jefferson Moorefield-Brown for Fox Chapel and Evan Berger for Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson had a 10-9 lead late in the first quarter but a little 4-0 run by Fox Chapel gave them the 13-12 lead after a quarter.

Thomas Jefferson would again fight back to take the 22-21 lead but a 9-0 Fox Chapel run to finish the second quarter would give the Foxes a 30-22 lead but a half-court buzzer-beater by Noah Prosser gave Thomas Jefferson a little momentum, even though they trailed 30-25 at the half.

Fox Chapel started to get separation in the third quarter as they outscore Thomas Jefferson 16-9 and got the lead to double digits at 46-34 heading into the fourth quarter. Trailing by double digits in the fourth, Thomas Jefferson was forced to press and Fox Chapel continued to pour on the points, rolling to a 62-45 victory.

Kam Greil led Fox Chapel with 20 points. Moorefield-Brown had 16. Berger had 16 points for Thomas Jefferson.

Fox Chapel advances to the WPIAL 5A Quarterfinals where they will take on North Hills on Wednesday. This is a rematch of last year’s WPIAL 6A Championship.

Peters Township 66, Penn-Trafford 55

When they teams met in December, it was all Peters Township (20-3) as the Indians won by 29 points. 16th-seeded Penn-Trafford (7-16) was much different this time around playing a much more competitive contest that Peters Township would ultimately win 66-55.

Things stayed tight throughout the first half with top-seeded Peters Township being able to get a little bit of separation in the second quarter and took a 40-28 lead into halftime. Penn-Trafford would fight back in the second half and only trailed 52-46 early in the fourth quarter. A 4-0 run would put Peters Township back up by double figures and Penn-Trafford would never get closer than nine points after that.

Brendan McCullough had 17 points for Peters Township. Jack Dunbar had 13 points, Jake Ziegler added 12 points and Nate Miller pitched in 10. Tyler Freas had 18 points for Penn-Trafford while Brayden Stone contributed 13 points.

Peters Township advances to the WPIAL 5A Quarterfinals where they will take on South Fayette on Wednesday.

North Hills 76, Kiski Area 71

14th-seeded Kiski Area (11-12) exploded offensively and had the lead over 3rd-seeded North Hills (18-5) through three quarters of play, but the Indians who were last year’s 6A runner-up was able to work their way back into the lead and hold off Kiski Area 76-71 at home on Friday night.

It was nothing but offense for both teams in the first quarter as Kiski Area jumped out to a 29-24 lead after a quarter of play. Things remained the same in the second quarter with Kiski Area continuing to hit from deep and they were actually able to extend their lead to 49-42 at the break.

North Hills started to make their move in the third quarter as they were able to get the deficit down to 61-60 heading into the fourth quarter. Kiski Area tried to slow things down in the final frame but North Hills picked up the defensive pressure. North Hills got a huge basket from Jake Pollaro that would spark an 8-0 run and give North Hills the lead. Kiski Area trailed 74-71 but a three-point attempt to tie fell short, Logan Johnson was fouled and hit the free throws, and North Hills escaped with a 76-71 win.

Royce Parham continued to show why he was 5A’s leading scorer this season dropping 30 points. Eric James had 18 in his playoff debut. Noah Thimons was huge for Kiski Area off the bench with 21 points and Isaiah Gonzales added 16.

North Hills advances to the WPIAL 5A Quarterfinals where they will take on Fox Chapel. This is a rematch of last year’s WPIAL 6A Championship.

Gateway 55, Woodland Hills 40

4th-seeded Gateway (16-5) pulled away from 13th-seeded Woodland Hills (14-9) in the final seven minutes of the game to come away with a 55-40 victory in the WPIAL 5A First Round.

Gateway had a big time first half offensively, shooting 57% from the field and 5/8 from three-point land taking a 32-21 lead into the locker room at halftime. Woodland Hills started to work the ball inside to Lamar Williams in the third quarter and they start to cut into Gateway’s lead.

Woodland Hills got the deficit all the way down to 40-36 with seven minutes remaining and trailed by five with five minutes remaining but a 15-4 run for the Gators would be all they needed to seal a first round victory 55-40 over Woodland Hills.

Jaydon Carr had 20 points for Gateway. He was 9/10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter including 7/8 in the final four minutes. Kaleb Pryor added 11 points. Chaz Cobbs led Woodland Hills with 13 points. Williams added 12 points and Shanier Pinkney pitched in 11 points.

Gateway advances to the WPIAL 5A Quarterfinals where they will take on McKeesport on Wednesday. The two teams are both out of Section 3-5A and split the regular season series.