Mars' Sfanos ready to make his mark on basketball court

July 24, 2019 Cranberry Local Sports

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ADAMS TWP — Mihali Sfanos is out to prove he's no one-trick pony.

As a sophomore for the Mars boys basketball team last winter, Sfanos was a deadly 3-point shooter, coming off the bench to drain 25 3-pointers — most of them huge, momentum-shifting ones.

He scored 20 points in a win over Armstrong in late January and came up with 14 big points in state playoff win on March over Milton Hershey.

But with a trio of stars at guard graduated from the program in Andrew Recchia, Brandon Caruso and Khori Fusco, Sfanos thinks his time is now.

To make sure it is, he's spending this summer rounding out his game.

“I've been trying to handle the ball better and get to the rim,” Sfanos said. “I'm really focusing on that this summer.”

It's not that Sfanos couldn't do that last year.

He just wasn't asked to do it because of the wealth of talent around him on the roster.

“He didn't have to worry about that for us last year,” said Mars boys basketball coach Rob Carmody. “He had all the required skills and athletic ability to do that. He can use his shot to set up his drive.”

That's Sfanos' plan.

He's already showcasing that this summer in various events through his AAU team, RYTES Warriors in Pittsburgh, as well as in the Slippery Rock High summer league with Mars.

The Planets recently won the Slippery Rock summer league championship.

“I'm loving it,” Sfanos said. “I'm having a great time and I feel like I'm getting a lot better.”

Sfanos and his family moved to Adams Township from Wisconsin before the start of the 2018-19 school year.

He played as a freshman at Hamilton High School in Sussex, Wisc., which advanced to the state title game in 2017-18.

Sfanos said the adjustment from the Wisconsin style of basketball, which was more structured, to the more free-wheeling style in the WPIAL wasn't that difficult.

He had also played baseball, but gave that up to focus solely on basketball.

When he was in the second grade in Wisconsin, he played up on a fourth-grade team.

“It was very challenging,” Sfanos said. “It kind of gave me an edge and toughness.”

Sfanos could be the next star in a line of them for the Mars basketball program.

The Planets have gone 52-7 over the last two seasons, including consecutive WPIAL 5A titles.

Mars has won seven straight section titles and has made two appearances in the PIAA championship game in the last four years.

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Mike Kilroy

Mike Kilroy

I joined the Butler Eagle in January of 2000 after spending five years at the Steubenville Herald-Star and Weirton Daily Times, where I did everything from editing the sports section to knocking snow and ice off the Associated Press satellite dish. I graduated from Kent State University in 1994 with a degree in magazine journalism and a minor in skipping class. My honors include a 2007 Associated Press award for feature writing, a 2005 and 2007 Keystone award for column writing and a 2003 Golden Quill award for feature writing. I have a high game of 255 at Wii Bowling.