When the Mars boys faced North Hills earlier this month, the game spiraled out of hand quickly and wound up being one of the Planets’ most lopsided losses in Rob Carmody’s 25-year tenure as Mars coach.

Fast-forward 24 days, and the rematch between the Planets and Indians turned out to be one of Carmody’s most memorable wins.

With Mars trailing by two and time running out in regulation, Planets senior Tasso Sfanos gathered himself while being double-teamed and found just enough room to heave up a 3-pointer at the buzzer from well beyond NBA range. The shot hit nothing but net as Mars students stormed the court to celebrate the Planets’ thrilling 73-72 victory.

“The way we are, my guys like to see how much more of my hair they can get to fall out,” Carmody said. “It’s actually a shot that [Sfanos] shoots on a regular basis for us, just not with time running out. I think when Tasso is balanced and able to get into rhythm and shoot the ball, he’s as good as anybody around.

“It wasn’t Andrew Recchia making a shot like that to win the WPIAL, but it was a big shot. … Just a shot in the arm for our entire team and our whole program.”

Sfanos finished with 40 points to lead all scorers, while 6-8 junior Royce Parham tallied 33 to pace North Hills. The win keeps Mars in contention for the Class 5A Section 4 title, although the Indians still hold a one-game lead in the standings.

“Moments like this, these are the reasons why I’m a coach,” Carmody said. “We did a really good job of just taking their punches and being able to punch back a little bit, and fortunately for us, we had the ball last. That’s what it boiled down to. It was a terrific basketball game.”

Other boys games

• Sfanos wasn’t the only local player with a heroic game-winning shot on Friday. With West Mifflin trailing Montour by two in the final seconds of overtime, Brandon Battles took the ball after a missed free throw by the Spartans and dribbled toward the midcourt logo before unleashing a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The desperation heave went straight through the hoop to lift the Titans to a miraculous 73-72 overtime win, setting off a wild celebration on the court. Todd Harrison led all players with 20 points for West Mifflin, while Jake Wolfe finished with 18 to lead Montour.

• Not to be outdone, Upper St. Clair (10-8, 5-1) eked out a 67-65 overtime win against Hempfield (6-12, 1-5) thanks to a buzzer-beating layup by Julian Dahlem, who led the Panthers with 23 points to go along with 12 from Christian Wieczenski.

• Lincoln Park took a big step toward securing the Class 4A Section 2 title with a 71-55 win at North Catholic (10-6, 6-2). Brandin Cummings scored a team-leading 23 points and Meleek Thomas tacked on 22 for the Leopards (16-1, 9-0). Max Hurray led all scorers with 25 points for the Trojans.

• Daemar Kelly scored a team-high 19 points while Rob Thomas added 15 and Noah Barren chipped in with 13 for Penn Hills (12-2, 6-0) in a 65-51 win at Fox Chapel (11-6, 3-3). Kam Greil led all scorers with 21 points for the Foxes along with a career-high 20 points from Jefferson Moorefield-Brown.

Eden Christian Academy’s Malachi Manges drives through traffic Friday night against Winchester Thurston at Eden Christian Academy. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Girls games

• Mars solidified its standing atop Class 5A Section 2 with a hard-fought 50-47 road win against Fox Chapel (12-6, 6-3). Lauren Atwell led the way with 14 points for the Planets (13-3, 7-1) to go with 11 from Olivia Donnelly and 10 from Annalynn Isaacs. Elsie Smith had a game-high 16 points for the Foxes.

• Freshman guard Laci Bernotas hit a trio of 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 15 points to propel Baldwin (8-10, 4-5) to a 46-42 win against visiting Mt. Lebanon (13-5, 7-2). The Highlanders surged for 23 points in the third quarter to storm back from a six-point halftime deficit.

• Skylar Still scored a game-high 34 points for Winchester Thurston (8-9, 5-3), but it wasn’t enough in a 65-49 loss to Clairton. Iyanna Wade led a balanced attack for Clairton with 23 points to go with 18 from Keira Brown and 16 from Jamiya Childs for the Bears (8-6, 6-3).

Three stars

*** — Rowan Carmichael scored 37 points to lead Avonworth to a 63-58 upset win against South Allegheny, helping the Antelopes come back from a six-point deficit entering the fourth quarter to beat one of the top teams in Class 4A.

** — Vinnie Cugini is right on the cusp of the all-time WPIAL scoring record after a 57-point performance for Aquinas Academy in an 89-83 loss against Summit Academy. Cugini is averaging more than 45 points per game and now is 30 points away from Tom Pipkins’ WPIAL record of 2,838 career points. His next chance to break the record will come at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Neighborhood Academy.

* — “Sky High” Makhai Valentine set a career high with a 63-point outburst for Steel Valley in a 100-79 win at Brentwood, notching his second 50-point game this season. It is the most points scored by a WPIAL player this season and the third-highest single-game total in WPIAL history, behind Mohawk’s Larry Hardesty (71 points, 1959) and Highlands’ Micah Mason (64 points, 2011).

Hot from deep

Players with 3 or more 3-pointers: Makhai Valentine, Steel Valley, 12; Rowan Carmichael, Avonworth, 4; Colin Casteel, Butler, 4; Vinnie Cugini, Aquinas Academy, 4; Ava Dziubek, Mt. Lebanon, 4; Avery Molek, Chartiers-Houston, 4; Elsie Smith, Fox Chapel, 4; A.J. Alston, Montour, 3; Laci Bernotas, Baldwin, 3; Kam Greil, Fox Chapel, 3; Zach Kovell, Hopewell, 3; Tyler Pepin, Seneca Valley, 3; Ryan Porch, Butler, 3; Jake Wolfe, Montour, 3.

Boys scores

Aliquippa 53, South Side 30

Ambridge 65, Hopewell 56

Avella 77, Western Beaver 63

Avonworth 63, South Allegheny 58

Beaver 55, Central Valley 48

Beaver Falls 52, Neshannock 43

Belle Vernon 59, Southmoreland 52

Bethel Park 63, Ringgold 31

Bishop Canevin 72, Nazareth Prep 59

Blackhawk 74, Deer Lakes 67

Brownsville 51, Washington 43

Burrell 57, Derry 48

Butler 78, Seneca Valley 71

California 71, West Greene 58

Carmichaels 57, Beth-Center 48

Central Catholic 60, Pine-Richland 44

Charleroi 55, Mount Pleasant 45

Chartiers-Houston 53, Bentworth 44

Chartiers Valley 63, West Allegheny 45

Eden Christian 60, Winchester Thurston 23

Fort Cherry 80, Frazier 41

Freeport 47, Knoch 45

Geibel Catholic 75, Monessen 55

Greensburg Central Catholic 58, Leechburg 52

Greensburg Salem 75, Indiana 70

Hampton 51, Highlands 46

Imani Christian 89, Neighborhood Academy 61

Jefferson-Morgan 53, Mapletown 38

Keystone Oaks 62, South Park 60

Latrobe 70, Kiski Area 61

Laurel Highlands 77, Elizabeth Forward 45

Ligonier Valley 61, Apollo-Ridge 26

Lincoln Park 71, North Catholic 55

Mars 73, North Hills 72

Mohawk 64, Ellwood City 59

Mt. Lebanon 50, Baldwin 49

New Castle 62, North Allegheny 53

Northgate 74, Sewickley Academy 49

Norwin 57, Canon-McMillan 39

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 80, Sto-Rox 42

Penn Hills 65, Fox Chapel 51

Penn-Trafford 55, Franklin Regional 40

Peters Township 83, Thomas Jefferson 64

Quaker Valley 70, East Allegheny 29

Riverside 76, New Brighton 52

Riverview 46, Springdale 44

Rochester 53, Cornell 44

Serra Catholic 56, Clairton 51

Shady Side Academy 65, Valley 56

Shaler 69, Plum 44

Shenango 77, Laurel 52

Steel Valley 100, Brentwood 79

Summit Academy 89, Aquinas Academy 83

Trinity 80, Connellsville 45

Upper St. Clair 67, Hempfield 65

West Mifflin 73, Montour 72

Woodland Hills 42, Armstrong 33

Yough 77, Waynesburg 32

Girls scores

Aquinas Academy 53, Westinghouse 35

Baldwin 46, Mt. Lebanon 42

Butler 58, Seneca Valley 55

Clairton 65, Winchester Thurston 49

Eden Christian 43, Beaver County Christian 21

Kiski Area 40, Gateway 35

Mars 50, Fox Chapel 47

Monessen 57, Geibel Catholic 22

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

Steve Rotstein

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