Armstrong entered action Thursday night as one of only two undefeated teams remaining in Class 5A — but no one told that to Mars.

The Planets went into the River Hawks’ home gym with little regard for their perfect record, storming back from a five-point halftime deficit to pick up a convincing 55-36 win. Four players scored in double figures for Mars (8-2, 3-0), led by Vita Vargo with a game-high 16 points.

“In all honesty, we never talked about [their record]. We just prepare for the team that we’re going to be playing next,” Planets coach Dana Petruska said. “I have a young team, so my attitude is, if we keep it close and we lose, OK. We’ll regroup. It’s not like there’s this expectation for us.”

Olivia Donnelly also contributed 14 points for Mars, while Lauren Atwell and Annalynn Isaacs chipped in with 11 points apiece. Emma Paul had a team-high 14 points for Armstrong (10-1, 3-1) to go along with 12 from Kyla Fitzgerald.

“We held them to 6 points in the second half,” Petruska said. “I didn’t realize it until I got on the bus and I’m looking at the scorebook, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ “

Petruska credited freshman Alexis Cashdollar for slowing down Paul in the second half with some stingy defense — one of several underclassmen to play a key role in the win.

“Every year it’s a challenge, because you get new kids, different kids,” Petruska said. “We have some young kids who are really moving up the ladder, too. That’s the encouraging thing. It’s been a process for them, but they’re just getting better and better, every practice and every game. It’s been a fun year with this group of girls that I have.”

Other girls games

• The only other undefeated team in Class 5A going into action Thursday night was Lincoln Park, and the Leopards (9-1, 1-1) had the same fate as Armstrong while playing host to defending WPIAL champion South Fayette. Freshman Ryan Oldaker scored a team-leading 25 points, including five 3-pointers, and Erica Hall added 15 for the Lions (10-2, 2-0) in a 53-38 win.

Mars’ Olivia Donnelly reaches for the ball in the first half Thursday night of a girls basketball game against Armstrong. Mars won, 55-36. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

• Alayna Rocco led three players in double figures with 21 points for North Catholic in a crucial 62-41 road win at Greensburg Salem (9-2, 2-1). Tori Drevna added 19 points and Ava Walker finished with 11 for the Trojanettes (8-3, 4-0), while Kaitlyn Mankins led the Golden Lions with 15 points.

• Cate Clark scored a game-high 17 points for Serra Catholic in a battle of two of the top teams in Class 2A, but it wasn’t enough for the Eagles (5-1, 2-1) in a 47-43 loss to Greensburg Central Catholic. Erica Gribble led the Centurions (10-2, 4-0) with 16 points in this pivotal Section 3 win.

Three stars

*** — Becca Goetz finished with a game-high 24 points for Avonworth in a 50-43 comeback win against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. The Antelopes rallied from a 35-19 third-quarter deficit to get a leg up in the race for the Class 3A Section 2 crown.

** — Sophomore sensation Iyanna Wade kept up her torrid scoring pace for Clairton with a 47-point outburst in a 77-39 win against Springdale. The Bears improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in section.

* — Elle Snyder scored a game-high 34 points, including making a whopping 10 3-pointers, for Latrobe in the Wildcats’ 81-28 win against Connellsville.

Hot from deep

Players with 3 or more 3-pointers: Elle Snyder, Latrobe, 10; Ryan Oldaker, South Fayette, 5; Addison Blair, Waynesburg, 4; Sophia Nath, Bethel Park, 4; Faith Ealy, McGuffey, 3; Megan Voithofer, Carmichaels, 3.

Boys scores

Ligonier Valley 46, Apollo-Ridge 31

North Catholic 79, Winchester Thurston 37

Propel Andrew Street 48, Calvary Chapel Christian 21

Shenango 63, Wilmington 29

Girls scores

Aliquippa 46, Sewickley Academy 36

Apollo-Ridge 48, Ligonier Valley 20

Aquinas Academy 62, Eden Christian 39

Avella 50, Mapletown 28

Avonworth 50, Our Lady of Sacred Heart 43

Beaver County Christian 38, Propel Braddock Hills 9

Belle Vernon 48, Southmoreland 16

Bethel Park 73, Canon-McMillan 51

Bishop Canevin 37, Union 36

Blackhawk 58, Hopewell 19

Brentwood 43, Fort Cherry 37

Burgettstown 69, Sto-Rox 16

California 49, Beth-Center 42

Carlynton 55, Northgate 25

Carmichaels 43, Bentworth 41

Charleroi 57, Yough 46

Clairton 77, Springdale 39

Deer Lakes 44, Mount Pleasant 38

Elizabeth Forward 66, Laurel Highlands 44

Ellis School 31, Leechburg 27

Ellwood City 54, Riverside 31

Franklin Regional 40, Kiski Area 37

Freedom 46, Rochester 33

Greensburg Central Catholic 47, Serra Catholic 43

Hempfield 52, Seneca Valley 33

Highlands 55, Freeport 44

Knoch 55, Derry 18

Latrobe 81, Connellsville 28

Laurel 59, Neshannock 35

Mars 55, Armstrong 36

McKeesport 49, Albert Gallatin 35

Monessen 64, Jefferson-Morgan 13

Montour 60, West Allegheny 28

North Catholic 62, Greensburg Salem 41

Norwin 56, Butler 32

Plum 53, Peters Township 50

Propel Montour 44, Nazareth Prep 16

Quaker Valley 47, Beaver 41

Riverview 48, Hillel Academy 17

Shady Side Academy 62, Burrell 34

Shenango 45, New Brighton 5

South Allegheny 61, East Allegheny 11

South Fayette 53, Lincoln Park 38

South Park 56, Brownsville 25

St. Joseph 61, Jeannette 18

Trinity 49, Moon 27

Upper St. Clair 57, Mt. Lebanon 39

Washington 34, Chartiers-Houston 26

Waynesburg 44, McGuffey 30

West Greene 50, Geibel Catholic 16

West Mifflin 59, Uniontown 27

Winchester Thurston 61, Steel Valley 25

Woodland Hills 59, Penn Hills 53

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Steve Rotstein

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at