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  • Writer's pictureAlex Fydryszewski

North Hills Survives Mars 66-63

Since the schedules came out for the high school basketball season, media and fans had tonight circled. The North Hills-Mars matchup was perhaps the marquee contest of the 2021-2022 season in the WPIAL. It lived up to the hype.

Two teams taking to the floor with five college basketball players apiece in a packed gym always makes for a good potential ROI on entertainment value and tonight had no shortage of it.

The game started off very well for the visiting Planets, who rode the two-way play of senior center Chris Dvorak to take a commanding 12-4 lead early and held a 17-12 lead after the first quarter. The 6'6" Dvorak led Mars with 6 points and a handful of rebounds, setting the stage for a big night individually.

Dvorak sparked a run early in the second that saw Mars extend its lead to 24-12, as his defensive play led to back to back buckets from senior guard Zach Schlegel and junior guard Tasso Sfanos.

North Hills responded by closing the half on an impressive 19-4 run to take a 31-28 lead into the half, as Matt Siedl led the way for the Indians with 10 points.

Coming out of halftime, the seesaw battle continued, as North Hills was holding on to a narrow 48-45 advantage after the third. The third quarter also saw some touch fouls called on Mars that changed the way the game was played from the Planets perspective, including two on Dvorak, giving North Hills the opportunity to attack the basket more aggressively.

North Hills star senior Alex Smith began heating up in the third, finishing the quarter with 16 points. Schlegel matched him shot for shot to end the period with 14 and Sfanos also hit double digits in the third.

North Hills broke out a double digit lead in the fourth and looked set to cruise to another statement win, but Mars would not go quietly. They used tight defense and efficient offense to claw back to within one basket as Dvorak dropped in a layup to cut the lead to 60-57 with under a minute left.

The Planets would get no closer in the final minute and Will Blass would seal the game on the foul line in the final seconds by going 4-4 from the line in the final 15 seconds of the contest--but Mars did get the last look of the game, a half court heave by Schlegel that drew iron.

Smith did the heavy lifting for North Hills, finishing with 22. Seidl added 18 and senior Devin Burgess 11. Blass finished with 8. For Mars, Schlegel led the way with 21, followed by Sfanos with 15. Dvorak had a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 19 rebounds in a masterful defensive performance. He held North Hills sensational sophomore Royce Parham to just 8 points, well below his season average of 21.7.

North Hills will travel to Seneca Valley before hosting battle tested City League leaders Allderdice on Saturday afternoon. Mars travels to Plum to close out the week before another marquee game against divisional rival Highlands next Tuesday.

Three Rivers Broadcasting coverage of High School Basketball is brought to you in part by the Polish Falcons of America, Gym Rat Performance Training, Carnegie Iron Werks and ReportIt.

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