Going into the season, many viewed Greensburg Central Catholic as one of the leading title contenders in Class 2A.

Expectations were already high, but with most of the regular season now in the rearview mirror and the playoffs fast approaching, it appears the Centurions are even better than expected.

Greensburg Central received a stiff test from Section 3 rival Serra Catholic in a heated battle on Tuesday night, but the Centurions emerged victorious, 61-59, to secure their sixth consecutive win. The Eagles had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but their desperation 3-point attempt couldn’t find the hoop. Greensburg Central (15-2, 8-0) is now firmly in the driver’s seat in the race for the Section 3 crown, while Serra (8-6, 2-4) will have a tough road ahead to qualify for the WPIAL postseason.

“It always feels good to get a section win, especially against a team that has a lot of talent like they do,” said Centurions coach Christian Hyland. “I give them a lot of credit. I think they played really well. I didn’t think it was our best effort, but when you win a close game that has a playoff atmosphere and playoff feel, it’s good for the guys to learn from.

“Tonight, they exposed some of our flaws, so we have to continue to get better.”

Just as he has done all season, senior guard Tyree Turner carried the load for Greensburg Central with another workmanlike performance. Coming into the week as the No. 14 scorer in the WPIAL with an average of 22.7 ppg, Turner tallied a game-high 25 points in the rivalry win, scoring in a variety of ways while knocking down jump shots and getting to the basket with ease.

Liam Gallagher added 13 points for the Centurions, while Pete Burke finished with a team-leading 21 points for Serra. Owen Dumbroski added 17 and Isiah Petty finished with 13 in the defeat.

“We’re really lucky [to have Turner],” Hyland said. “He makes winning plays. He knows when to take over. He knows when to feed his teammates. He’s played in numerous big games. Tonight was nothing he hasn’t seen before.

“He knows how to keep his composure and just play until the last second, and he did that.”

Already owning an impressive win over Class 5A foe Penn-Trafford, and after nearly knocking off defending Class 5A champion Penn Hills, Greensburg Central will soon have a chance to add another signature non-section win. The Centurions meet Class 5A contender Gateway in the Shootout at Seton Hill University on Saturday in a game that will provide them one more major challenge before the postseason.

“We loaded up [the schedule] on purpose, to see where our guys were at,” Hyland said. “We’ve got another one coming up in Gateway, which is going to be a big test for us. One of the better teams in [Class] 5A. … In the long run, that’s beneficial for any team.”

Trinity’s Ruby Morgan tries to get past Lincoln Park’s J’La Kizart on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, at Trinity High School. Lincoln Park won in overtime, 61-60, to improve to 16-0 on the season. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Other boys games

• The last remaining undefeated boys team in the area finally met its match, as South Allegheny went on the road and knocked off previously unbeaten Uniontown, 54-44. Mike Michalski led the way with a game-high 20 points for the Gladiators (12-5) to go with 11 from Jeston Beatty, while Jamire Braxton finished with a team-leading 19 points for the Red Raiders (14-1). South Allegheny’s stifling defense held Uniontown more than 30 points below its season average of 75.9 ppg on its way to an eye-opening non-section triumph.

• Isaiah Gonzalez spearheaded a spirited effort on the road for Kiski Area with a game-high 28 points, leading the Cavaliers (10-5) to a 77-76 overtime victory at Knoch (11-5) in a dramatic non-section affair. Colin Keller added 19 points for Kiski while making five 3-pointers, and Carson Heinle contributed 15. The Knights fell short despite receiving 25 points from Jackson Bauman, 19 from Teegan Finucan, 16 from Derek Lang and 14 from Zane Pacek.

• Led by a team-high 24 points from Braylon Littlejohn and 17 from Donovan Carney, Class 6A title contender Butler (12-2) narrowly escaped with a 55-52 win in a back-and-forth battle at Hampton (13-3). Fresh off a 26-point effort to help take down Class 5A front-runner Moon on Saturday, star senior Peter Kramer had another terrific outing with 31 points and 12 rebounds for the Talbots.

• In a marquee matchup between Lawrence County rivals in Class 3A Section 1, host Ellwood City outlasted Neshannock, 54-47, behind 31 points and 17 rebounds from star senior Joseph Roth. The win marked the fifth consecutive victory for the Wolverines (10-6, 5-2), while David Kwiat led three double-digit scorers for the Lancers (13-3, 6-2).

• Trailing by six with 3:22 remaining, reigning WPIAL Class 3A champion Deer Lakes (12-2, 7-0) rallied for a frenetic 55-53 home win over Derry in a Section 3 showdown. Wayne Love led the Lancers with 14 points while Collin Rodgers contributed 13. Nate Papuga led all scorers with 21 points for the Trojans (8-5, 3-4).

• Meleek Thomas scored a game-high 26 points and Brandin “Beebah” Cummings added 22, pacing four players in double figures for Lincoln Park (13-3, 7-0) in an 85-50 win at Ambridge in Class 4A Section 2. Jared Astorino led the Bridgers (6-11, 3-4) with 18 points.

• Robert Thomas registered another double-double with 23 points and 17 rebounds for defending WPIAL Class 5A champion Penn Hills (9-5), and Amon Hawthorne added 14 points to propel the Indians to a 55-48 overtime win at Gateway (11-3) in one of the area’s most intense rivalries. Bryson Pavlik led the Gators with 13 points in the non-section defeat.

Shaler‘s suffocating defense was on full display once again in a 53-38 non-section victory at North Allegheny. Brandon London and Kaden Orga led the way with 14 points apiece for the Titans (15-2) to go with 10 from Joey DeSabato. Senior Joey Dopirak, the No. 15 scorer in the WPIAL at 22.5 ppg, led the Tigers (6-10) with a game-high 18 points..

• Ryan Ceh and Jake Wolfe each scored a game-high 21 points for Mars (9-7) and Montour (12-2), respectively, but it was Wolfe and the Spartans who claimed a 69-48 non-section win to remain unbeaten at home. Ama Sow added 13 points for Montour.

• Xavier Rigby led all scorers with 29 points and Jayvin Hemer finished with 20, leading Rochester (9-5) to an 87-77 non-section win at Aquinas Academy, which has lost four of five games since an 8-1 start. Jacob Guillen led Aquinas (9-5) with 28 points to go with 23 from Sam Duer.

• Carson Baer scored a game-high 20 points for Pine-Richland (6-8), but it wasn’t enough to offset Hempfield‘s balanced offensive attack as the host Spartans snapped a six-game losing streak with a 59-49 win non-section win. Max Williams tallied 17 points to lead four players in double figures for Hempfield (4-13).

• Macky Bennis buried five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 23 points for Burrell (12-3, 8-2), while Tucker Bitar added 13 in a 68-50 home win over Ligonier Valley (2-13, 1-6) in Class 3A Section 3. Michael Wisniewski led the Rams with 14 points along with 10 from Parker Hollick.

• Brayden Fisher led a trio of double-digit scorers for Carrick with 23 points and Kelenn Ward and Ray Saunders tacked on 13 apiece in a 72-42 win at California (4-12). The game was still relatively close going into the final quarter, then the Raiders (6-9) outscored the Trojans 25-3 in the fourth to pull away. Jacob Ziolecki finished with 12 points for California to go with 11 from Noah Neil.

• Mark Collinger led four double-digit scorers for Indiana with 16 points in a 69-40 non-section win at Connellsville (2-14). Evan Brocious added 14 for the Little Indians (8-8) to go with 12 from Aaron Webb and 10 from Trevor Todd. Bruce Giles finished with 10 points to lead the Falcons.

Lincoln Park’s bench reacts to Sarah Scott’s game-winning basket at the buzzer in overtime to beat Trinity, 61-60, on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, at Trinity High School. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Girls games

• Gemma Walker scored a game-high 18 points and Natalie Wetzel added 16 for Peters Township (17-0, 8-0), which remained unbeaten with a 51-41 victory at Baldwin in Class 6A Section 2. Lynsey Bernotas led the Highlanders (8-9, 1-7) with 10 points.

• Falling behind at South Park by a score of 21-12 after the first quarter, Serra Catholic‘s defense turned up the intensity en route to a 36-35 win. Niki Sfanos led all scorers with 13 points for Serra (13-3), which held South Park (10-6) to only two points in the second quarter and six points in both the third and fourth quarters to secure the non-section victory.

Trinity coach Kathy McConnell reacts as her team loses its lead against Lincoln Park on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, at Trinity High School. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Three stars

*** — Nate Girod, Mt. Lebanon. The Blue Devils’ sharpshooter drained five 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 25 points in host Mt. Lebanon’s 62-43 non-section win against Bethel Park.

** — Brady Mayo, Beaver. The third-leading scorer in the WPIAL raised his season average of 25.2 ppg, pouring in a game-high 30 points for the Bobcats in a 75-41 home win over Hopewell in Class 4A Section 2.

* — Eric James, North Hills. One of the area’s brightest young stars, the sophomore standout scored a game-high 35 points to power the Indians to a 78-72 non-section win against visiting Penn-Trafford.

Hot from deep

Players with 3 or more 3-pointers: Bella Antonacci, Indiana, 5; Macky Bennis, Burrell, 5; Donovan Carney, Butler, 5; Nate Girod, Mt. Lebanon, 5; Colin Keller, Kiski Area, 5; Jackson Bauman, Knoch, 4; Teegan Finucan, Knoch, 4; Tyler Freas, Penn-Trafford, 4; Abbie Johns, Kiski Area, 4; Kaden Orga, Shaler, 4; Ryan Ceh, Mars, 3; Eric James, North Hills, 3; Derek Lang, Knoch, 3; Liam Sheely, Mt. Lebanon, 3; Bella Urso, Fox Chapel, 3.

Trinity’s Aggie Niccolai goes up for a basket against Lincoln Park’s Bella Ruminer on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, at Trinity High School. Lincoln Park won in overtime, 61-60, to improve to 16-0 on the season. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Boys scores

Baldwin 57, Trinity 50

Beaver 75, Hopewell 41

Beaver Falls 68, New Brighton 62

Brownsville 51, Waynesburg 31

Burgettstown 56, Carmichaels 48

Burrell 68, Ligonier Valley 50

Butler 55, Hampton 52

Carrick 72, California 42

Central Valley 56, Blackhawk 41

Chartiers-Houston 50, Beth-Center 35

Clairton 61, Riverview 51

Deer Lakes 55, Derry 53

Ellwood City 54, Neshannock 47

Fort Cherry 77, Bentworth 51

Freeport 71, East Allegheny 63

Greensburg C.C. 61, Serra Catholic 59

Hempfield 59, Pine-Richland 49

Highlands 78, Bishop Canevin 70

Indiana 69, Connellsville 40

Keystone Oaks 67, Steel Valley 32

Kiski Area 77, Knoch 76

Jefferson-Morgan 55, Avella 53

Lincoln Park 85, Ambridge 50

McGuffey 62, Mount Pleasant 36

Mohawk 63, Freedom 21

Montour 69, Mars 48

Mt. Lebanon 62, Bethel Park 43

Nazareth Prep 63, Perry 29

North Hills 78, Penn-Trafford 72

Norwin 55, Laurel Highlands 38

Penn Hills 55, Gateway 48 (OT)

Peters Township 89, Elizabeth Forward 61

Riverside 63, Cornell 39

Rochester 87, Aquinas Academy 77

Seton LaSalle 52, South Park 46 (OT)

Shady Side Academy 68, Apollo-Ridge 21

Shaler 53, North Allegheny 38

South Allegheny 54, Uniontown 44

South Fayette 71, Thomas Jefferson 56

Southmoreland 72, Valley 56

St. Joseph 67, Geibel Catholic 48

Sto-Rox 62, Brentwood 58 (OT)

Turkeyfoot Valley 73, Mapletown 61

Union 60, Laurel 40

Upper St. Clair 50, Fox Chapel 40

Washington 68, Charleroi 34

Western Beaver 75, Carlynton 60

West Mifflin 61, Ringgold 57

Girls scores

Fox Chapel 54, New Castle 20

Indiana 49, Kiski Area 37

Latrobe 59, Hempfield 43

Laurel Highlands 52, Greensburg Salem 29

Leechburg 48, Hillel Academy 11

Lincoln Park 61, Trinity 60 (OT)

Monessen 46, Frazier 35

Penn Hills 56, Gateway 20

Peters Township 51, Baldwin 41

Serra Catholic 36, South Park 35

Southmoreland 41, Bentworth 37

West Greene 52, Hundred, W.Va., 17

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.