Two of the WPIAL’s top scorers went head to head on the hardwood Friday.
But it wasn’t one of them who stole the show, it was a Pitt football recruit.
Cruce Brookins scored a career-high 40 points to lead Steel Valley to a 73-65 win at Seton LaSalle in a Class 3A Section 2 game.
“I definitely felt like I was in the zone. I’ve never played like that in my life,” said Brookins, a 6-foot-2 guard who said his previous career best was 32 points.
In what was expected to be a duel between Steel Valley’s Makhai Valentine and Seton LaSalle’s Connor Spratt, it was Brookins who led the Ironmen (7-9, 5-2) to a third consecutive section win. Valentine (34.5 ppg) and Spratt (27.7 ppg) entered the game among the WPIAL’s top 10 scorers and neither disappointed Friday despite being overshadowed by Brookins. Spratt scored 37 and Valentine had 25.
“It was easy today,” Brookins said. “They were sending three guys at [Makhai], so I knew I had to step up.”
Steel Valley scored 35 points in the first quarter on its way to a 20-point lead, but Seton LaSalle (4-9, 3-4) rallied and made it a game in the final quarter. Hayden Merchant added 10 points for the Rebels.
Other boys games
• Royce Parham has been carrying North Hills recently. On Friday, he got carried away and broke the program’s single-game scoring record. Parham went off for a career-high 47 points to lead host North Hills (12-2) to a 97-85 non-section win against Pine-Richland (3-11). Parham broke the record held by Nick Smith, who scored 44 in 2016. Josh Gimbel led Pine-Richland with 31 points and Emory Moye added 26.
• In an inter-class battle of teams that lead their sections, Class 5A Peters Township (12-3) rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to win at Class 6A Mt. Lebanon (10-5), 60-56. Brendan McCullough scored a team-high 17 points for Peters Township, which outscored Mt. Lebanon, 38-20, in the second half. Mt. Lebanon’s Tanner Donati scored a team-high 18 points.
• Laurel Highlands (12-2) bounced back from just its second loss by rolling to a 70-44 non-section win against visiting Latrobe (5-9). Keondre DeShields led the Mustangs with 25 points and Rodney Gallagher added 18. Landon Butler scored 17 for Latrobe.
• Neshannock (10-4, 6-1) knocked down 12 3-pointers and scored its most points since 2013 in defeating host Freedom (2-14, 1-6), 93-37, in Class 3A Section 1. Jack Glies had three of those triples and finished with a team-high 20 points. Garrett Drutarsky paced Freedom with 11 points.
• Jayden Davis scored 24 points and Chartiers Valley (13-3) snapped a three-game losing streak via a 54-44 non-section win against visiting Trinity (7-8). Drew Sleva chipped in 15 points for the Colts, while Drew Collins paced the Hillers with 14.
• Eight was the magic number for Mt. Lebanon (12-4, 6-1), which saw five players lead the way with 8 points in a 59-33 win at Canon-McMillan (4-11, 0-7) in Class 6A Section 2. The quintet included twins Payton and Riley Collins. Kelsey Wandera led the Big Macs with 9 points.
• Eden Williamson scored 22 points and Kristina Bozek added 20 to pace Trinity (9-5) in a 79-59 non-section win at Chartiers Valley (7-6). Emma Reynolds led Chartiers Valley with 20 points and Ella Cupka added 12.
*** — Cadin Olsen, Armstrong. Olsen dropped 31 points in Armstrong’s 60-43 triumph against visiting Freeport in non-section play. Olsen now has 984 career points. His brother, Ian, added 11 points.
** — Owen Norman, Fort Cherry. Norman’s 26 points vaulted Fort Cherry to a 90-30 win at Beth-Center in Class 2A Section 4. The Rangers have scored at least 80 points in each of their past three games.
* — Tiffany Zelmore, Mount Pleasant. One of the WPIAL’s top scorers had another big game, as Zelmore outscored visiting Geibel Catholic by herself after tallying 30 points in a 60-29 non-section win. Zelmore ranks second in the district in scoring with 28.7 points a game.
Hot from deep
Players with 3 or more 3-pointers: Kristina Bozek, Trinity, 5; Morgan Gesinski, Mount Pleasant, 4; David Kwiat, Neshannock, 4; Jared Astorino, Ambridge, 3; Brock Henderson, Charleroi, 3; Bryce Large, Charleroi, 3; Jack Glies, Neshannock, 3; Matt Ellery, North Catholic, 3; Giontae Clemmons, Propel Braddock Hills, 3; Xavier Rigby, Rochester, 3.
Allderdice 68, Obama Academy 61
Armstrong 60, Freeport 43
Blackhawk 70, Hopewell 27
Butler 64, Hempfield 51
Central Catholic 67, Penn-Trafford 47
Charleroi 68, Waynesburg 40
Cornell 53, Propel Montour 28
Eden Christian 74, St. Joseph 62
Fort Cherry 90, Beth-Center 30
Gateway 53, Belle Vernon 49
Geibel 65, Mount Pleasant 54
Keystone Oaks 54, Sto-Rox 48
Laurel Highlands 70, Latrobe 44
Lincoln Park 76, Beaver 59
Neshannock 93, Freedom 37
North Catholic 80, Ambridge 51
North Hills 97, Pine-Richland 85
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 56, Brentwood 47
Penn Hills 59, North Allegheny 53
Peters Township 60, Mt. Lebanon 56
Propel Braddock Hills 66, Propel Andrew Street 27
Shady Side Academy 50, Burrell 44
South Fayette 47, Avonworth 44
South Side 55, Rochester 53
Steel Valley 73, Seton LaSalle 65
Union 58, Laurel 28
Washington 54, McGuffey 48
West Allegheny 51, Canon-McMillan 47
Mt. Lebanon 59, Canon-McMillan 33
Mt. Pleasant 60, Geibel Catholic 29
Pine-Richland 61, Knoch 55
Plum 49, Gateway 29
Trinity 79, Chartiers Valley 59