Penn Hills made its case for being the best team in WPIAL Class 5A on Tuesday night.
Oh, mercy, did it ever.
Penn Hills turned showdown between section leaders into a rout, as Noah Barren scored 26 points to lead the hot-shooting Indians to a 74-44 mercy rule win against visiting Gateway.
On the way to winning its eighth game in a row, Penn Hills (11-2) seemed to almost never miss. The Indians shot 65% (19 of 29) from the field in the first half and 61% (30 of 49) in the game. They led Gateway (11-4) by 21 points after one quarter and by 31 at the half, which led to a running clock for the entire second half. Penn Hills, which led by as many as 38 points, has now defeated Gateway 10 consecutive times, the Gators’ last win in the series coming in 2015.
Penn Hills coach Chris Giles credited the pinpoint shooting to an altered style of play this season.
“We’ve really tried to be controlled this year,” Giles said. “We’re not shooting as many 3s. We really want to take good shots, under control, rhythm shots. It’s the fundamentals. We’re trying to build on that. We’re trying to take good shots all of the time.”
Barren’s 26 points came after he tallied a career-high 32 in Penn Hills’ previous game, a come-from-behind win at North Allegheny last Friday. Barren was 10 of 14 from the field Tuesday while adding 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.
But Barren got lots of help, too. Rob Thomas added 17 points and Daemar Kelly chipped in 16, which included a pair of big dunks.
Kaleb Pryor scored a team-high 10 points for Gateway, which saw its eight-game winning streak snapped. The Gators averaged 66.7 points a game during that stretch, but against Penn Hills they committed 24 turnovers and finished with their second-lowest point total of the season.
While it was an outstanding performance by Penn Hills, Giles wouldn’t go as far to say that the Indians are the undisputed top dog in Class 5A.
Said Giles, “I don’t know. There’s another team up north (North Hills) that’s really good. I think 5A is pretty good right now. You’ve got teams in the South Hills that are good and teams in the North Hills that are good. I think it’s very competitive.”
Other boys games
• Vinnie Cugini moved closer to the WPIAL all-time scoring mark, as he scored 40 points to pace Aquinas Academy (14-1) in an 80-61 non-section win at Rochester (6-10). Cugini now has 2,751 points, putting him only 87 away from the record held by Valley great Tom Pipkins. Xavier Rigby led Rochester with 16 points.
• Despite 50 points from Shea Champine, Class 2A Bishop Canevin (12-2) suffered a 93-79 home loss to Class 4A Highlands (14-2). Highlands got a big game from Cam Reigard, who buried seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 30 points. Jimmy Kunst added 22 and Bradyn Foster chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds.
• Union (15-0), the only remaining unbeaten team in the WPIAL, survived a scare by rallying for a 57-54 win at Carlynton (11-5) in Class 1A Section 1. Andrew Gettings (12 points), Peyton Lombardo (11) and Braylon Thomas (10) all scored in double figures for Union, which outscored Carlynton, 18-5, in the second quarter. Chase Jones led Carlynton with 19 points.
• Neshannock (11-4, 7-1) raced to a 19-point halftime lead and coasted to a 77-53 home win against Ellwood City (12-6, 4-4) in Class 3A Section 1. Jack Glies paced Neshannock with 20 points, while Joseph Roth led Ellwood City with 24 points. The Wolverines have lost four of five games.
• Kam Greil (9 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) flirted with a triple double while leading Fox Chapel (11-5) to a 59-58 win at Upper St. Clair (9-8). Asher White led the Foxes with 14 points, while Upper St. Clair’s Nick Sukernek knocked down six 3-pointers among his 23 points.
• Class 4A Laurel Highlands (13-2) went on the road and picked up an impressive 46-38 win at Class 6A Norwin (9-6). Rodney Gallagher led the Mustangs with 15 points and Keondre DeShields and Mason Bolish added 11 apiece. Justin Weaver paced North with 12 points.
• In another good inter-classification matchup, visiting Class 6A Mt. Lebanon (11-5) edged Class 5A Bethel Park (9-6), 50-48. Brody Barber led Mt. Lebanon with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Bethel Park got a team-best 14 points from Nick Brown.
• Makhai Valentine’s 39 points vaulted Steel Valley (8-9, 6-2) to a 71-66 victory against visiting Keystone Oaks (8-7, 5-3) in Class 3A Section 2. Cruce Brookins added 12 points for the Ironmen, while Tulio Watts paced Keystone Oaks with 17.
• McKeesport (13-3, 6-1) snapped a two-game losing streak by defeating Latrobe (11-7, 3-5), 64-52, in Class 5A Section 3. Rachel Manfredo led Latrobe with 18 points and Maddy Hertzler added 15, all on 3-pointers. Latrobe was led by Camille Dominick’s 26 points.
• Class 1A Union (10-6) picked up a 41-39 non-section win at Class 4A Beaver (10-5). Zoe Lepri led the Scotties with 12 points and Mia Preuhs added 10. Chloe List scored 17 points for Beaver.
*** — Deven Koch, Mars. Koch caught fire against Montour, draining seven 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 23 points in a 73-67 win.
** — Macky Bennis, Burrell. Bennis collected a game-high 31 points in a 78-66 win at Ligonier Valley.
* — Iyanna Wade, Clairton. Wade, the leading girls scorer in the WPIAL, poured in 36 points in a 52-37 win at Ellis School.
Hot from deep
Players with 3 or more 3-pointers: Cam Reigard, Highlands, 7; Deven Koch, Mars, 7; Nick Sukernek, Upper St. Clair, 6; Emma Paul, Armstrong, 5; Maddy Hertzler, McKeesport, 5; Asher White, Fox Chapel, 4; Owen Norman, Fort Cherry, 3; Camille Dominick, Latrobe, 3.
Aquinas Academy 80, Rochester 61
Avella 47, Jefferson-Morgan 44
Beaver 74, Hopewell 36
Blackhawk 53, Central Valley 49
Burrell 78, Ligonier Valley 66
Deer Lakes 89, Derry 64
Fort Cherry 77, Bentworth 40
Fox Chapel 59, Upper St. Clair 58
Greensburg Central Catholic 83, Serra Catholic 73
Highlands 93, Bishop Canevin 79
Laurel Highlands 46, Norwin 38
Lincoln Park 79, Ambridge 40
Mars 73, Montour 67
Mt. Lebanon 50, Bethel Park 48
Mount Pleasant 47, McGuffey 31
Neshannock 77, Ellwood City 53
North Hills 85, Penn-Trafford 49
Penn Hills 74, Gateway 44
Pine-Richland 62, Hempfield 39
Seton LaSalle 59, South Park 43
Shady Side Academy 61, Apollo-Ridge 20
Steel Valley 71, Keystone Oaks 66
Union 57, Carlynton 54
Uniontown 71, Albert Gallatin 31
Waynesburg 57, Brownsville 25
Armstrong 57, Seneca Valley 36
Beaver Falls 56, Eden Christian 45
Clairton 52, Ellis School 37
Indiana 46, Kiski Area 28
McKeesport 64, Latrobe 52
North Hills 52, Hopewell 42
Shenango 53, Riverside 27
Union 41, Beaver 39