Balance Wins

Mars gets 4 in double figures to knock off section foe Shaler in key matchup

January 22, 2020 Cranberry Local Sports


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Mars guard Mihali Sfanos goes to the basket for two of his 27 points to lead the Planets to a 74-61 win over Shaler, handing the Titans their first section loss.

ADAMS TWP — The effort from Mekhi Reynolds was impressive, but was no match for Mars' balanced scoring.

Shaler's star guard scored 25 of the Titans' first 31 points in the second half and finished with a game-high 32.

The Planets featured four players scoring in double digits, paced by a career-high 27 from junior guard Mihali Sfanos as host Mars handed Shaler its first section boys basketball loss of the season, 74-61 Tuesday night.

“The energy level was really high tonight,” said Sfanos. “We were feeding off of each other.”

Sfanos scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter to help keep the Titans at bay. He scored nine points during Mars' 13-5 run to start the final period, giving the Planets a 59-45 lead with less than five minutes remaining.

“It's not about what I want,” said Sfanos, who has excelled in an expanded role this season. “It's about what the team needs me to do.”

The win avenged a 73-62 loss to the Titans in December. Michael Carmody, Mars' senior forward, missed that game with an injury. He scored 10 points and brought down 16 rebounds Tuesday.

“He's our anchor,” said coach Rob Carmody. “When he's in there, the confidence level for the other guys goes up. If a guy misses a shot, there's a good chance Michael is going to rebound and put it in.

“He was double-teamed tonight. Well guess what? That opens up things for everybody else.”

Including Chris Dvorak and Zach Schlegel, who scored 19 and 14 points, respectively.

“I knew Mihali was a good player from last year,” said Titans' coach Rob Niederberger, “but others stepped up for them. They ran a three guard/two forward look at us and (Dvorak, 6-6 forward) really stepped up.”

“Chris played a good bit when Michael was out,” said Rob Carmody, “but this was his first big game. He's only a sophomore and has the chance to be a really good player.”

Sfanos was the only player on either team to score in double figures in the first half. His 15 points sparked Mars to a 30-22 lead.

But Reynolds, who averages 23 points per game, went off in the final two quarters and Mars countered with nine from Schlegel and 13 from Dvorak in that span as the Planets never surrendered the lead.

The victory keeps the Planets (11-3, 6-2) within striking distance of the section-leading Titans (11-5, 8-1).

“If we had lost tonight, that would have been gone,” said Coach Carmody of a possible section title. “But more than that, this game shows that we can be a better team. Up until now, we've been successful, but it's fluctuated. We need to be more consistent.”

Niederberger has no doubt his team can get back to its winning ways.

“Mars is the two-time defending WPIAL champion ... we're coming into their gym. Obviously, we wanted to win,” he said. “But there was no bubble burst here for us tonight. We're too strong mentally for that.

“We'll put this one in our back pocket and remember it. We may meet them again.”

SHALER 61

Mekhi Reynolds 12 1-2 32, Jonah Yount 1 1-2 3, Chris White 6 2-2 14, Dylan Schlagel 1 0-0 2, Jake Miller 1 0-0 2, Tyler Beighley 1 0-0 3, Nick Rispoli 2 1-2 5. Totals: 24 5-8 61.

MARS 74

Michael Carmody 4 2-2 10, Joey Craska 1 2-2 4, Mihali Sfanos 9 5-6 27, Zach Schlegel 5 2-2 14, Chris Dvorak 8 3-3 19. Totals: 27 14-15 74.

Shaler 9 13 18 21 — 61

Mars13 17 16 28 — 74

3-point goals: Shaler 8 (Reynolds 7, Beighley); Mars 6 (Sfanos 4, Schlegel 2).

Friday: Mars at Franklin Regional

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Derek Pyda

Derek Pyda

- Graduated from Connellsville High School in 1996
- Graduated from Clarion University in 2000 with a Bachelors in Communications
- Have also written for Clarion News (Clarion, PA) and the Herald-Standard (Uniontown, PA)
- Started at the Butler Eagle on April 2, 2002
- Interests include sports, history and geography