Woodland Hills beats Latrobe to finish line in Section 3-6A
Latrobe and Woodland Hills showed they still belong in the fastest heat in Section 3-6A boys basketball.
But Woodland Hills was just a bit faster and, as a result, won the race.
Senior guard Amante Britt scored a game-high 28 points, 15 in the second half, to push the No. 5 Wolverines past the Wildcats, 84-79, in the section opener Friday night.
Senior 6-foot-6 center Marcus Dudzenski made his season debut for Latrobe, returning from a hip injury, and scored a team-high 24 points. Junior Bryce Butler added 22 for the Wildcats (2-2, 0-1), who had chances to take control late but struggled shooting free throws. They shot 5 of 12 from the line in the fourth quarter.
"You can't go to the line and come up empty like that," Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel said. "We have to knock those down. One of the main things was that we gave them way too many easy drive to the baskets. We have to work on some things."
It was another track meet for the up-and-down teams.
Latrobe came in averaging 76 points and Woodland Hills 75.
The Wildcats swept last season's series by scores of 84-80 and 77-65.
"We knew Latrobe would pressure us to try and garner turnovers, and they did," Woodland Hills coach Odell Miller said. "I thought we handled the pressure well."
Woodland Hills (4-0, 1-0), using drives and dishes in the lane down the stretch, managed to take the lead late and hang on.
"It's still early in the season but we need to find that grit," Dudzenski said. "We need that edge."
Latrobe was coming off a thrilling 92-91 victory over Gateway in double overtime in which junior Reed Fenton buried a winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Fenton and Butler each had career highs. Butler scored 40 and Fenton 36.
More breakneck pace favored both teams as they applied full-court pressure and forced run-outs.
Woodland Hills came out of a back-and-forth third quarter with a 62-59 lead.
The lead changed hands four times in the final four minutes.
Britt's 3 from the elbow with 2:59 left gave the Wolverines a 78-76 advantage. The Wildcats crept within one on a cut-and-score by Fenton to make it 80-79.
Butler's shot was blocked by Olson Nicholson with 30 seconds to go, and Butler and Fenton missed good 3-point looks before Tremon Josey made two free throws to seal it with 11.7 seconds.
Keandre Bowles scored 17 for the Wolverines, 11 after halftime.
Britt scored 13 in the opening quarter, including a transition layup for his 1,000th career point.
"What is it going to take for this kid to be a player to watch?" Miller said. "He is one of the best guards in the WPIAL."
Latrobe stretched the lead to nine late in the second quarter as Armstrong made a wing 3-pointer, and Butler scored back-to-back baskets to make it 38-29.
Fenton left the game briefly after hitting his head on the first-row bleacher where the beach-themed student section sits.
Dudzenski scored 10 in the opening quarter, including a dunk off a feed from Jason Armstrong as Latrobe took a 22-20 lead.
"This was the first time we had our team together," Wetzel said. "We're still messing around with (some lineups) and finding the right mix."
Fenton finished with 15 points, and Armstrong had 10.
Josey had 13 for the Wolverines.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BillBeckner.