Penn Hills took its notoriously stingy defense to a whole new level Friday night.
Already boasting the WPIAL’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense in Class 5A at an average of 44 points allowed per game, the Indians certainly seemed to avoid any semblance of a championship hangover after capturing a WPIAL title last week against Peters Township. Playing host to District 9 champion DuBois (11-14), Penn Hills pulverized its overmatched opponent en route to a 63-20 PIAA first-round playoff victory.
DuBois failed to score more than seven points in any quarter and found itself facing a 33-9 halftime deficit before the Indians stretched the lead to 50-15 going into the final quarter. The performance signaled a return to form for the top-ranked Penn Hills defense after a 70-65 win against Peters Township in the WPIAL title game.
“That’s what we hang our hats on. That’s our culture at Penn Hills,” Indians coach Chris Giles said. “It’s defense first. You’ve got to be tough kids.”
Noah Barren led three players in double figures for Penn Hills with 15 points, while Rob Thomas and Lamire Redman finished with 12 apiece. Thomas also added eight rebounds, while Daemar Kelly finished with eight points and six assists.
The victory sets the Indians up for a second-round showdown on Tuesday with District 3 third-place finisher Hershey, which defeated Gateway Friday in a first-round matchup, 56-55.
“Having an opportunity for our seniors to have another game [at home], it was great,” Giles said. “They really went out and followed the game plan.”
Other Class 5A boys
• Remi Mack muscled his way to a double-double in his first game back from injury for Mars (17-10), scoring a career-high 21 points to go with 12 rebounds, in a 61-49 win against District 3 runner-up Manheim Central (22-7) at Manheim Township High School. Ryan Ceh added a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards for the Planets, who advance to face District 10 champion Cathedral Prep in the second round of the state playoffs on Tuesday.
Class 4A boys
• Few teams can match the scoring balance Highlands achieved Friday, as the Rams (22-5) saw five players finish in double figures en route to an 81-67 win at District 6 champion Johnstown (22-4). Jimmy Kunst led the way with 23 points along with 19 from Cameron Reigard, 14 from Chandler Thimons, 12 from Bradyn Foster and 11 from Jordyn Tavarez. Highlands will now rematch WPIAL champion Lincoln Park on Tuesday, with hopes of avenging an 87-64 WPIAL defeat at the hands of the Leopards in the WPIAL semifinals.
• Eric Weeks led all scorers with 26 points to power Hampton to a 61-44 win at District 10 champion Grove City (16-10). The Talbots (24-3), who are still are playing without star junior Peter Kramer for the remainder of the postseason due to PIAA transfer rules, will now attempt to advance to the quarterfinal round by getting past Laurel Highlands, which defeated Clearfield Friday, 82-59.
Class 1A boys
• Austin Milliner scored a game-high 25 points for Carlynton in a commanding 65-35 victory against District 5 runner-up Southern Fulton (19-7) at McConnellsburg High School. With the win, the Cougars (18-7) are now in line for a second-round showdown against District 9 champion Elk County Catholic on Tuesday.
Class 6A girls
• Jasmine Timmerson and Kellie McConnell each scored 18 points to lead WPIAL Class 6A champion North Allegheny (21-5) to a 76-53 home win against Manheim Township (17-11), the seventh-place finisher from District 3. Lydia Betz also added 15 points and Caroline Henderson scored 11 to round out the balanced offensive attack, as North Allegheny finished with 13 made 3-pointers.
• Clare Cramer scored a game-high 16 points and Jenny Smith tacked on 12 for Mt. Lebanon (18-8) in a 58-50 win at District 6 champion Altoona (17-10). The Blue Devils blew open the game with an 18-point second quarter for a 10-point halftime lead. Mt. Lebanon now will square off with WPIAL Class 6A champion North Allegheny on Tuesday for the first time this season with a trip to the PIAA quarterfinals on the line.
Class 3A girls
• WPIAL champion Avonworth (20-5) continued its hot streak with a 40-34 win against District 3 third-place finisher Forest Hills (22-6) at North Hills High School. Greta O’Brien scored a game-high 16 points for the Antelopes to go with 11 points from Becca Goetz, sending Avonworth to the second round to take on section rival Our Lady of the Sacred Heart on Tuesday for the fourth time this season.
• Kyleigh Nagy scored 18 points and Mia Grisafi chipped in 11 for Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (20-7) in a 60-42 triumph at District 10 runner-up Wilmington (21-5). The Chargers will now attempt to avenge a trio of losses to WPIAL champion Avonworth, including a 43-25 defeat in the WPIAL quarterfinals, when the teams square off in the second round of the PIAA tournament.
Class 2A girls
• Emile Fedrizzi led all scorers with 21 points for WPIAL champion Shenango (23-4), and the Wildcats kept their dream season alive after pulling away late for a 50-43 home win against District 6 fourth-place finisher Marion Center (14-13). Janie Natalie added 15 points and Kylee Rubin contributed 14 for Shenango in the school’s first-ever PIAA home playoff game, and the Wildcats will now face District 10 third-place finisher Lakeview in the second round on Tuesday.
*** — Erica Gribble, Greensburg Central Catholic. Gribble scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Centurions to a 55-33 win at District 5 champion Windber.
** — Rylee Kalocay, Upper St. Clair. One of the top sophomores in the area, Kalocay helped the Panthers erase the sting of their WPIAL championship defeat by scoring a game-high 30 points in a 56-34 win against visiting McDowell.
* — Max Hurray, North Catholic. Hurray was in no hurry to see his junior season come to an end, surpassing 1,000 points for his career while scoring a team-leading 25 points for the Trojans in an 89-65 rout against District 10 runner-up Hickory.
Class 5A first round
Cathedral Prep 47, South Fayette 45
Exeter Township 62, Fox Chapel 57
Hershey 56, Gateway 55
Mars 61, Manheim Central 49
Mechanicsburg 56, North Hills 52
Penn Hills 63, DuBois 20
Peters Township 60, Milton Hershey 53
Class 4A first round
Hampton 61, Grove City 44
Highlands 81, Johnstown 67
Laurel Highlands 82, Clearfield 59
Lincoln Park 80, South Allegheny 63
North Catholic 89, Hickory 65
Uniontown 81, Berks Catholic 69
Class 1A first round
Carlynton 65, Southern Fulton 35
Elk County Catholic 67, Neighborhood Academy 47
Farrell 75, Geibel Catholic 62
Imani Christian 78, Clarion 43
Union 65, Kennedy Catholic 45
Class 6A first round
Mt. Lebanon 58, Altoona 50
North Allegheny 76, Manheim Township 53
Norwin 34, Central Dauphin 19
Upper St. Clair 56, McDowell 34
Class 3A first round
Avonworth 40, Forest Hills 34
Chestnut Ridge 70, Keystone Oaks 57
Laurel 57, Sharpsville 31
Mercyhurst Prep 73, Waynesburg 35
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 60, Wilmington 42
Shady Side Academy 54, Karns City 19
Westmont Hilltop 48, Neshannock 42
Class 2A first round
Bishop McCort 64, Freedom 58
Burgettstown 57, United 52
Greensburg Central Catholic 55, Windber 33
Homer-Center 43, Chartiers-Houston 20
Kennedy Catholic 77, Brentwood 20
Maplewood 65, Aliquippa 47
Shenango 50, Marion Center 43
Redbank Valley 63, Serra Catholic 36
Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at email@example.com.