ADAMS TWP — Mars clinched its eighth consecutive boys basketball section championship Friday night without even playing.
Regardless, the Planets played with a sense of urgency Saturday.
Mihali Sfanos scored 10 points in the first five minutes, Mars jumped out to a 14-5 lead and was never threatened from there in posting a 67-41 victory over rival Hampton.
“There's a lot of pride in this program and it's important to these kids that they go out there and play well,” Mars coach Rob Carmody said. “And Hampton is one of the last long rivalries left on our schedule.
“Joe (Hampton coach Lafko) and I have probably coached against each other 25 times through the years. I have a lot of respect for that program.”
But on this day, the Talbots (11-9, 9-5) had no chance.
Mars (17-4, 12-2) had a 52-22 lead with 6:24 left in the game. That margin reached 63-30 with three minutes to go when Carmody completely emptied his bench.
The Planets wrapped up their section crown when Shaler dropped a 63-62 decision to Plum on Friday. But that didn't seem to matter Saturday.
Hampton had defeated Mars, 42-37, Jan. 14. The Planets were without dominant center Michael Carmody that night as he was out of town competing in a high-school football all-star game.
“With Michael or without him, there are no excuses there,” Coach Carmody said. “You have to win despite injuries, illness, player absence, that's all part of it.
“He really does impact the game, though. When you can dominate from 17 feet on in, you've got quite an edge.”
Sfanos led a balanced Mars attack with 16 points, five assists and five rebounds. Point guard Zach Schlegel had 14 points and eight assists, hitting four treys.
Michael Carmody had 13 points and 13 rebounds, Chris Dvorak nine points and five boards.
“We didn't play very well today, but all credit goes to Mars,” Lafko said. “They shot the ball well but most importantly, they dominated us on the boards.”
Hampton managed only five rebounds in the first half. Mars had a 30-17 edge on the boards for the game.
“Eight straight section titles is unheard of. That's crazy,” Schlegel said. “A lot of great players here have taken part in that and we wanted to continue it.”
Coach Carmody added that “nobody wants to be on the team that breaks that streak.”
The Planets shot 54 percent from the field Saturday and drained 14 of 17 free throws.
Quinn Morrow led Hampton with 11 points while Ben Ringeisen tallied 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Talbots have qualified for the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs as well.
“We learned some things from this game that we can take with us,” Lafko said.
Schlegel and the 6-foot-6 Dvorak are sophomore starters while Sfanos is a junior.
“We've progressed as a team all season,” Coach Carmody said. “The defense has always beenthere. Now we're meshing offensively and our scoring average is climbing.
“These guys had to learn how to play together. Mihali is an excellent scorer and Zach had to figure out how to use screens set by Michael. The Dvorak kid will wind up being 6-8 or so. We're looking forward to that.”
Schlegel knows the math numbers the Planets are putting up are improving.
“My goal is to hit double digits in points and get seven or eight assists each game,” he said. “If I can do that, Mike gets his 20 points, Mihali his 15 ... We'll be just fine.”
Matt DeMatteo 4-9 0-0 9, Matt Govi 2-4 0-0 5, Quinn Morrow 2-6 7-8 11, Colby Mignogna 0-8 0-0 0, Ben Ringeisen 3-4 44-8 10, Eric Weeks 0-0 0-0 0, Brennan Murray 3-6 0-1 6. Totals: 14-37 11-17 41.
Zach Schlegel 4-8 2-2 14, Michael Carmody 5-6 3-4 13, Chris Dvorak 4-9 1-1 9, Joey Craska 3-4 0-0 7, Mihali Sfanos 4-8 6-6 16, Jared Kozura 0-1 2-4 2, Bryce Cunningham 1-2 0-0 2, Austin Cote 1-1 0-0 2, Tasso Sfanos 0-2 0-0 0, Pete Craska 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Peaco 1-1 0-0 2, John Kozura 0-1 0-0 0, Nate Roush 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 23-44 14-17 67.
Hampton 9 4 9 19 — 41
Mars16 16 13 22 — 67
3-point goals: Dematteo, Govi
Monday: Butler at Hampton, Mars at Shenango