At this point, if you’re still not convinced Elijah Guillory is one of the very best players in Western Pennsylvania, you might need to get your eyes checked.

Anybody in attendance for Moon’s convincing 79-58 win at Mars on Tuesday night certainly can attest to Guillory’s greatness after witnessing another vintage performance by the Tigers’ stellar senior. The 6-5 shooting guard poured in a smooth and efficient 33 points, making it look almost effortless while rising up for mid-range jumpers, knocking down 3-pointers and blowing past defenders on his way to the rim.

Having seen him do the same things in practice day after day for the last two years now, it would be easy for Moon coach Gino Palmosina to take Guillory’s brilliance for granted, but he can’t help but marvel at the way Guillory raises his game in the biggest moments of the biggest games.

“The word to describe him is ‘smooth,’ ” Palmosina said. “You see some things in practice, and you’re like, ‘holy moly.’ But to see him do it in a big game like this, obviously to decide first place in the section, under the bright lights on the road, it’s pretty special.”

Averaging 21.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game while shooting 60% from the field, there isn’t much Guillory can’t do at a high level on a basketball court. Leave him unguarded on the perimeter, and he’ll make you pay with his lights-out shooting. Try to play up on him to take away the 3-point shot, and he’ll easily drive to the hoop with his explosive first step. And if you try to double-team him, he’ll find the open man for an uncontested shot time and time again.

To put it simply, having a player like Guillory is a coach’s dream.

“I think Elijah has the best offensive toolbag in the WPIAL,” Palmosina said.

Guillory actually got off to a somewhat quiet start on Tuesday, scoring only four points in the first quarter as Mars (9-6, 3-2) jumped out to an early 15-9 lead. By the end of the quarter, the Tigers (12-2, 5-0) had cut the deficit to one at 19-18, and that’s when Guillory went into attack mode.

After starting the second quarter with four buckets in less than three minutes, it was clear Guillory was getting ready to take over the game. He would end up tallying 17 points in the quarter, scoring at will at all three levels and staking Moon to a 37-36 halftime lead.

“Coming out for the second half, our biggest thing was sticking together,” Guillory said. “Coach [Palmosina] always says, ‘Attack the rim and see the ball go through the rim.’ Once I saw that, it was over.

“You saw the result. We pulled it away.”

After the break, Guillory took a bit of a breather while Tigers guards Michael Santicola and Aiden Reesman began finding their rhythm. Santicola knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to stretch Moon’s lead to double-digits with a 13-3 run to start the second half, then Reesman went on a scoring spree to blow the game wide open later in the third quarter. Santicola finished the game with 22 points while Reesman contributed 15.

“I’ve played with him forever, so I love watching [Guillory] kill guys like that,” Reesman said.

A 6-4 junior guard with a soft shooting touch, Santicola is a reliable scorer in his own right, and his return from an ankle injury has provided the Tigers with a much-needed spark after a 1-2 start to the season. Moon is now 9-0 since Santicola’s return, and the Tigers stand alone in first place in Class 5A Section 4.

“My shot wasn’t falling in the beginning [of the game], but I still had faith in it,” Santicola said. “The three of us, leader-wise, kind of got us off to a hot start [in the second half]. I feel like the rest of the team feeds off of that.”

Moon’s Michael Santicola drives against Mars on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, at Mars Area High School. Santicola scored 22 points as Moon won, 79-58. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Being an elite scorer is one thing, but elevating the play of those around you is arguably an even more impressive trait in a player — and Guillory does that every time he steps on the court.

Whether shooting, driving, passing or defending, Guillory does everything it takes to be great, without ever playing “hero ball” or trying to stuff the stat sheet. With his selfless nature and high basketball IQ, coupled with his adept passing skills and terrific court vision, he is equally capable of creating open looks for his teammates as he is converting baskets on his own.

No matter how many points he scores, though, the only thing that matters to Guillory is winning, and the results speak for themselves — just check Moon’s 11-game winning streak for proof.

“I feel really good about tonight. It was a big step for me and my team,” Guillory said. “Just building blocks. One game at a time.”

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