But­ler turns back Peters Town­ship in tip-off tour­na­ment

No. 1 Golden Tor­na­does be­gin sea­son with win

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - High School Basketball -

When the sea­son ends there is a chance that But­ler may look back on open­ing night as the rea­son why they were able to win their first WPIAL Class 6A cham­pi­onship and first ti­tle of any kind since tak­ing the Class 4A ti­tle home in 1991.

Noth­ing mo­ti­vates a pro­gram like nearly get­ting up­set by an un­ranked team in its sea­son opener.

Top Divi­sion I prospect Ethan Mor­ton scored a game-high 34 points, in­clud­ing a key pair of free throws in the fi­nal 30 sec­onds, as Class 6A No. 1 But­ler es­caped with a 70-68 win against host Peters Town­ship in the In­di­ans tip-off tour­na­ment. Peters Town­ship had an op­por­tu­nity to tie the game in the fi­nals sec­onds but the Golden Tor­na­does forced a turnover on the In­di­ans’ fi­nal possession.

But­ler led, 34-32, at the in­ter­mis­sion, but Peters Town­ship was able to stay in it thanks in large part to Dax Ploskina, who scored 12 of his team-high 31 in the first half. Devin Car­ney scored 15 for the Golden Tor­na­does, who did not trail in the fourth quar­ter.

Other top games

Dave DeGre­go­rio didn’t waste any time putting his stamp on the North Catholic pro­gram and he had his son to help. Junior guard Isaac DeGre­go­rio, a Hamp­ton trans­fer, scored 18 points to lead four Tro­jans play­ers in dou­ble-fig­ures, while se­nior Nick Koscin­ski chipped in 14 as Class 3A No. 3 North Catholic sneaked past twotime de­fend­ing WPIAL Class 2A cham­pion Sewick­ley Acad­emy, 70-65, at the open­ing game of the Bald­win/Peters Town­ship TipOff Tour­na­ment. Se­nior for­ward Nate Ridge­way helped the Pan­thers stay in it with a game-high 33 points and helped Sewick­ley Acad­emy, the No. 2 team in Class 2A, mount a fu­ri­ous fourth-quar­ter come­back.

Le­high re­cruit Reed Fenton did most of his dam­age in the first half as the La­trobe se­nior scored 33 of his 42 points be­fore the in­ter­mis­sion and fin­ished with 10 3-point­ers to lead the Class 6A No. 2 Wild­cats to an im­pres­sive, 90-70, vic­tory against an Al­toona squad that could con­tend for the Dis­trict 6 ti­tle. Fenton had to be on his game as the Moun­tain Lions got 32 from T.J. Charles.

Bethel Park is sup­posed to make a run at the Class 6A ti­tle this sea­son, but the No. 5 team in the clas­si­fi­ca­tion had a tough time with an un­ranked Class 3A Steel Val­ley squad be­fore a 30-13 spurt in the third quar­ter helped the Black Hawks to an 85-72 win. The two teams com­bined for 25 3-point­ers as Alex Mullen hit six for 18 of his game-high 30 points to lead Bethel Park. Cam­den Po­lak dropped in five from be­hind the arc for 15 of his 29 in the loss for Steel Val­ley.

Even with­out trans­fer Dono­van Johnson, Our Lady of the Sa­cred Heart has a for­mi­da­ble team and the Charg­ers showed much of their might as Daren DiMichele scored 19 points and Dante Spadafora 16 to lead four play­ers in dou­ble-fig­ures as Class 2A No. 1 OLSH had its way with Class 4A Black­hawk, 70-60, at the Arm­strong Tip-Off Tour­na­ment.

Clair­ton trans­fer Khori Fusco is al­ready pay­ing div­i­dends -— and set­ting bench­marks — for his new team as the se­nior guard popped in 18 points, in­clud­ing the 1,000th of his ca­reer, while An­drew Rec­chia led the Fight­ing Plan­ets with 19 as Class 5A No. 1 and de­fend­ing WPIAL cham­pion Mars got the clock run­ning in its 73-30 win against Bur­rell.

Even with­out se­nior for­ward Justin Moon, Serra Catholic can still find ways to win. Moon, who av­er­aged 16.1 points and 13.3 re­bounds a game last sea­son and was in­jured in warmups, sat this one out. But the Ea­gles found an­other player who can put up a dou­ble-dou­ble as Bernard Law­son dropped 17 points and pulled down 12 boards and Khalil Smith chipped in 17 as Class 2A No. 4 Serra Catholic blew out East Al­legheny, 63-38.

There weren’t many up­sets on open­ing night, but Way­nes­burg pulled off the big­gest one as Lu­cas Gar­ber scored a game-high 29 and the Raiders stalled a fourth-quar­ter Bur­gettstown come­back as they pulled out a 54-52 win against the No. 5 team in Class 2A. Bobby Kozares scored 15 to lead three Blue Devils in dou­ble fig­ures.

Se­nior for­ward Justin No­vak did ev­ery­thing he could to keep Fra­zier in the game as he dropped in a game-high 33 points and pulled down 10 re­bounds, but it wasn’t enough for the Com­modores as junior Con­nor Mis­lan scored 30 points and Joe Al­corn 10 to lead South Fayette to a 74-64 win in the South Park Tip-Off Tour­na­ment.

Ring­gold had an op­por­tu­nity to kick­start its sea­son in the right di­rec­tion af­ter a dis­mal 3-19 2017-18 cam­paign, but de­spite 17 points from Chris Pic­con and 14 from Jaden Taylor, the Rams missed a shot at the buzzer and fell, 49-48, to Nor­win. Ty Bil­incky led the Knights with 18.

Belle Ver­non did quite a bit of dam­age to it­self as the team shot just 10 of 22 from the line against Class 5A No. 5 Franklin Re­gional while the Pan­thers Nick Leopold went for a game-high 16 in the Class 4A No. 5 Leop­ards 68-41 loss at the Hemp­field Tour­na­ment.

Star of the night

Cor­nell guard Kaden DiVitto opened with a 22-point first quar­ter en route to a game-high 46 to lead the Raiders to a 75-58 win against Deer Lak­est.

Charles LeClaire/For the Post-Gazette

Johnny Crise of High­lands dunks against the Pine-Richland Rams in the sea­son opener Fri­day at Pine-Richland High School.

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