No. 2 Mars rips Kittanning
Mars took a big step toward its first boys basketball section title since 1987 with a 67-41 victory Tuesday night at Kittanning.
A relentless Planets defense and a command performance by 6-foot-8 Mars center Josh Goetz led to the big victory.
Goetz wowed the big crowd at Lt. Charles Hutchinson Gym with 20 points, 22 rebounds and seven blocked shots before leaving the game with about five minutes to play.
The Planets, ranked second in this week's Trib Total Media Class AAA poll, are 8-0 in the section and 14-3 overall. Mars is a half-game in front of Indiana in Section 1-AAA.
“We were looking to quickening the tempo and making our easy shots, then playing good defense,” Goetz said.
Third-place Kittanning (13-3, 6-3) can clinch a WPIAL playoff berth with a victory Wednesday at Valley.
Mars led the entire way and took advantage of Kittanning turnovers.
The Wildcats committed 16 turnovers, 12 that directly led to 10 Planets field goals and four foul shots.
“All year, it's been that old cliché of defense, rebounding and trapping,” Mars coach Rob Carmody said.
“It really helps to have the group we have. They're experienced, and they pick up things in practice about other teams just because they're so experienced.”
A basket by Wildcats senior Vince Mead brought Kittanning to within 7-6, but the Planets answered with a 21-0 tear to take control.
“They're good, and they were on tonight,” said Kittanning coach Bill Henry. “We turned it over too many times and the things we tried to focus on — rebounding, getting to the free throw line, not turning the ball over, they just beat us in all of those facets.”
Goetz and the Planets defense challenged Kittanning's shots, as the Wildcats went 6 of 26 from the field in the first half.
Sterling Henry led Kittanning with 13, though he landed hard on his back with 2:30 left in the game battling for a rebound. He went to the bench under his own power.
Noah Kunst came off the bench to score 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats.
George Guido is a freelance writer.