Luke Gensler

Eleanor Bailey/The Almanac

Luke Gensler dribbles while being defended by a Seneca Valley player during a recent game.

Upper St. Clair continued on its trajectory for a showdown at Mt. Lebanon by picking up section wins against Baldwin, 97-56, and Canon-McMillan, 83-52.

The Panthers and Blue Devils could be atop the Section 2, Class 6A standings when the teams face off at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14

“I’m looking forward to the game. It should be fun and it’s always a packed house,” said USC skipper Danny Holzer.

“It’s such a huge rivalry because both of these teams are usually at the top of the section and the (WPIAL) rankings. Both programs have a mutual respect for each other and have enjoyed success over the years. Plus, the game always has implications. There’s always a lot on the line.”

USC’s winning streak, not to mention its season, is on the line, particularly since the Panthers have run into a rash of injuries. For example, Josh Russell broke his foot against Canon-McMillan and is out for the season. The senior missed his junior year due to an ACL injury.

“It’s heart-breaking,” Holzer said.

David Pantelis is also nursing a high-ankle sprain.

Russell and Pantelis pitched in 15 and 14 points against Baldwin. Also in double digits against the Highlanders were: Andrew Casey (15), Luke Gensler (12) and Landon Rauch (11).

Gensler led the way against the Big Macs with 20 tallies. Rauch and Casey followed with 13 markers and Jack Moore finished with 10 points.

Tommy Samosky was tops for C-M with 21.

Despite the injuries, Holzer said that he is “confident” in his team. The Panthers are playing well together and they share expectations for continued success. Holzer equates his club’s winning approach to that of Lebo’s.

“Mt. Lebanon is a good team and they have a confidence that they are going to win. Obviously they are well-coached, particularly when you look at what they have done since Joe (David) has been there,” Holzer continued of the skipper who has won three WPIAL championships, including last year’s title. “They know how to play on the big stage.”

Noting the Blue Devils have their big stars in Jake Hoffman and Blaine Gartley, Holzer added, “they have other guys that step in and continue to be a part of their recipe of sustained success.”

Other action

Canon-McMillan rebounded to beat Washington, 49-24, in the Chuckie Mahoney Classic held at Burgettstown. In the victory, Syncere Southern and Cole Stanley tossed in 10 tallies each.

Peters Township picked up a 70-60 win against Baldwin.

Colin Cote exploded for 33 points. He buried seven, 3-point field goals, converted six, two-point buckets and pitched in six free throws.

Sam Petrarch provided 16 tallies and Michael McDonnell followed with nine markers.

Previously, the Indians succumbed to Bethel Park, 70-60.

Cote and Julian Masco paced PT with 13 and 11 points while Ryan Meis and Tommy DiRienzo fired in 26 and 18 for the Hawks.

BP sealed the deal at the line. Overall, the Hawks converted 27 of 32 free throws, including 17 of 18 in the final frame. Mess was 10 of 13 from the line while DiRienzo was 12 of 12.

After a quick trip to Florida to compete in the Lehigh Shootout, Chartiers Valley returned to Section 2, Class 5A action and crushed, Moon, 61-20.

In double figures for the Colts were: Marcello Legister (12), Sean Banas (12) and Jared Goldstrom (10).

In the Shootout, the Colts lost to the host club, 70-54, and Evangelical Christian, 71-67. Goldstrom led the attack with 19 and 27 points in the respective defeats. Brayden Reynolds supplied 22 markers against Evangelical Christian while Banas provided 19 tallies against Lehigh.

One point proved the difference for South Fayette in two section frays.

In overtime, the Lions dropped a 48-47 decision to Montour. However, South Fayette outlasted West Allegheny, 71-70.

Though the Lions mounted a 39-28 lead by halftime, West-A outscored the Lions, 23-14, in the third quarter and 19-18 in the final frame to seal the victory.

In the loss, Connor Mislan (19), Brandon Jakiela (18), Drew Franklin (14) and Kade St. Ledger (13) paced a balanced attack for the Lions.

In the OT defeat against the Spartans, Jakiela registered 12 tallies and Jake Dunlay led with 14 points.

In other boys’ action, Seton LaSalle defeated Fort Cherry, 71-32, and McKeesport, 70-65.

In the overtime win against the Tigers, Michael Bigley exploded for 23 points. He converted 3 of 4 shots from the foul line in the extra quarter.

Against the Rangers, Bigley fired in 22 points. Terrell Trugg-Moore followed with 21.

Girls

Chartiers Valley continued its dominance in WPIAL girls basketball.

In a showdown between perennial powers, the Colts thrashed North Catholic, 72-44.

While Perri Page and Aislin Malcolm powered the offense with 27 and 24 points, Megan McConnell spearheaded the defense, limiting Trojannette star Tess Myers to three points. McConnell did notch nine points.

In a return to Section 1 action, the Colts stretched their winning streak to 51 games with a 71-15 pounding of West Allegheny.

Malcolm (16), McConnell (15), Hallie Cowan (14) and Helene Cowan (10) all finished in double figures.

In Section 2, 6A action, Bethel Park remained undefeated after posting wins against Peters Township, 37-32, and Connelsville, 71-32.

Lauren Mullen (13), Olivia Westphal (11) and Maddie Dziezgowski (10) led the way for the Hawks.

Journey Thompson topped out at 12 for the Indians, who defeated the Hawks four times last year on their way to WPIAL and PIAA championships.

In the win against the Falcons, Westphal pitched in 18 while Dziezgowski and Mullen followed with 15 and 13 points.

The Indians also succumbed to Hempfield, 52-47. Thompson (17) and Avana Sayles (14) both reached double figures.

Meanwhile, Mt. Lebanon toppled Canon-McMillan, 71-32.

Ashleigh Connor pumped in a game-high 26 markers. Reagan Murdoch (12), Patrice Smith (11) and Morgan Palmer (10) followed in double figures.

Ellionna Kotar with 12 tallies paced the Big Macs.

Finally, Seton LaSalle dispatched Charleroi, 56-46.

Vanessa Hudson pitched in 18 points while Chloe Lestitian and Sarah Merlina followed with 15 each.

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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