Mars boys too much for Steel Valley in OT
TribLIVE Sports Videos
In a basketball game of runs, Mars made the final one count in overtime to claim a WPIAL Class AAA first-round playoff victory Tuesday night.
Sophomore John Castello scored 25 points, including five in OT, and the eighth-seeded Planets rallied to beat ninth-seeded Steel Valley, 67-61, at West Allegheny High School to advance to the quarterfinals.
Mars (15-8) will face top-seeded Chartiers Valley (22-1) on Friday at a site to be determined after Chartiers Valley overwhelmed 16th-seeded Mt. Pleasant in a first-round game.
“It's what you'd expect out of an 8-9 game,” Mars coach Rob Carmody said. “That second half was a fun game to coach.”
After Steel Valley overcame a nine-pont deficit with a 17-4 run in the third quarter, Mars came back from five points down in the fourth to force the extra period, then outscored Steel Valley, 9-3, at the outset of overtime to take a six-point advantage and hold on for the victory.
The Planets' game-changing run, included a 13-7 edge in overtime.
“We went cold. We couldn't put the ball in the basket,” Steel Valley coach Shawn McCallister said, though foul trouble played a part in it.
Three Steel Valley starters were whistled for their fifth personals in overtime, including senior Ajan Smith, who closed out his high school career with a 26-point effort to lead both teams.
“Nobody has an answer for Ajan Smith,” Carmody said. “He's a matchup nightmare as a 6-4 guard. If you would have said he would have had 26 tonight, I would have thought we'd be in trouble.”
Owen Nearhoof added 18 points and Alex Gruber, whose free throw in regulation forced overtime, had 16 for Mars, which overcame a turnover with 27 seconds left in regulation by keeping Steel Valley from scoring on its final fourth-quarter possession.
Steel Valley (14-5) jumped to a 10-3 lead and settled for a one-point edge at the end of the first quarter. But Mars quickly took control in the second, opening up a 23-18 lead on a basket by Castello. The Planets held a 28-23 advantage at halftime.
In the third, Castello hit a jumper and a layup in succession to open play and give Mars a 35-26 lead before Steel Valley regrouped and went ahead 41-39 on a basket by Dominique Keyes, who also fouled out in OT after scoring 14 points for the Ironmen.
Steel Valley stayed in front until Gruber, who was playing in just his sixth game since returning from a broken ankle, hit 1 of 2 free throws with 3:45 left to tie the score 53-53 and another 1 of 2 with 1:50 to go to tie it again 54-54. Neither team scored again in regulation.
“Foul trouble affected our bigs,” McCallister said, “because they couldn't play the style they play and we couldn't do what we wanted to do, which was hit the boards. We were outrebounded badly.”
In overtime, sophomore Ryan McCallister's 3-pointer gave Steel Valley a 57-54 lead before Mars scored nine unanswered to go up 63-57.
Smith scored 13 points in each half but fouled out early in overtime.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- West Mifflin edges late-charging Steel Valley in Section 4 contest
- Valley Independent roundup: Elizabeth Forward edges Ringgold in Section 4-AAA clash
- Deep roster sparks Butler boys basketball team
- Burrell girls basketball braces for Greensburg Central
- Plum’s defense seals win over McKeesport
- Plum boys win section opener, girls fall to Fox Chapel
- High school roundup: No. 4 Bethel Park boys edge Upper St. Clair
- Franklin Regional boys weather tough losses
- Defensive play fueling Mars boys basketball team
- Trib Cup: Winchester Thurston boys basketball motivated by playoff run
- High school roundup: No. 2 CW North Catholic cruises past No. 4 Riverview