Competing in a section as rugged as Class 4A Section 4, every game has a playoff-type feel to it this late in the season — especially when WPIAL championship hopefuls such as South Allegheny and Montour collide.

The Gladiators entered their showdown against the Spartans on the strength of back-to-back quality wins against Uniontown and Avonworth, but their momentum came to a halt Tuesday night at Montour. Behind a game-high 29 points from two-sport star Jake Wolfe, the Spartans (14-3, 5-1) surged to a crucial 60-52 home victory while keeping pace with Avonworth in the race for the section title.

“South Allegheny is so physical,” Montour coach Bill Minear said. “They’re really disciplined. They set a lot of screens. You have to at least meet the physicality. … Anywhere I coach, [toughness] hasn’t been a problem. Four of our starters play football. They’re tough kids.

“They won in football, and they expect to win in basketball.”

After being selected to the 2023 PUP All-Star team at quarterback after a spectacular season which saw him account for 3,448 yards and 45 touchdowns in the fall, Wolfe is taking his game to a new level on the hardwood this season. Averaging a team-high 16.9 points per game, Wolfe was at his best Tuesday night, scoring at all three levels while setting up his teammates for open looks with his elite court vision.

“I think his competitive nature is tremendous. His sports IQ, what it takes to win — he understands that,” Minear said. “He can finish with either hand. And he’s really shooting the ball well. It’s harder for defenses to knock him off his line, because he’s so much stronger now.”

Kaleb Platz finished with 14 points for the Spartans, and Ama Sow added 12 before fouling out. Mike Michalski led the way for South Allegheny (12-6, 3-4) with 19 points, followed by 14 from Jeston Beatty and 10 from Cam Epps.

Now, it appears the race for the Class 4A Section 4 title will boil down to a two-team race between Montour and Avonworth, and the teams will meet to decide it next week. The Antelopes claimed the first matchup Jan. 12 at home, 64-48, but the Spartans will get the chance for revenge Tuesday on their home court.

“We still have some work to do, obviously,” Minear said. “We really haven’t had a breather-type game. It’s all been real high quality teams. … We’re definitely battle-tested.”

Yough’s Austin Matthews keeps the ball in bounds against Washington Tuesday night at Yough High School. Yough won, 43-35. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Other boys games

• Defending WPIAL Class 3A champion Deer Lakes took a major step toward securing the Section 3 title outright, sweeping the season series against Burrell with a hard-fought 51-48 road win. Billy Schaeffer scored a team-leading 15 points for the Lancers (15-2, 9-0) to go with 13 from Collin Rodgers. Macky Bennis finished with a game-high 19 points for the Buccaneers (11-5, 6-4).

• Zion Moore led all scorers with 23 points, and Trevor Kovatch chipped in 21 for Belle Vernon (10-5, 5-2) in a pivotal 69-65 win over Class 4A Section 3 rival Uniontown (15-3, 6-1), which lost for the third time in four games after a 14-0 start. Jeremiah Hager led the Red Raiders with 21 points.

• Playing without his trusted sidekick Major Rainey, Allderdice senior Logan Golle put the Dragons on his back with a game-high 32 points in an 81-53 victory over City League rival Obama Academy (5-10, 4-2). Ma-ayan Kohai added 13 points for Allderdice (14-3, 6-0), while Torrien Perkins led the Eagles with 16 points.

• Elijah Guillory turned in another outstanding performance for Moon (15-3, 7-0), finishing with a game-high 28 points to power the Tigers to a 71-54 win over visiting North Hills in Class 5A Section 4. Aiden Reesman added 24 points and Carter Tumulty tallied 14 for Moon. Eric James scored a team-leading 18 points for the Indians (9-8, 3-4).

• Jayden Davis and Mike Plasko each finished with 28 points, but it was Davis and Chartiers Valley who took home their fourth consecutive win with a 64-53 verdict against visiting South Fayette (10-8, 4-3) in Class 5A Section 4. Julian Semplice added 15 for the Colts (10-9, 3-4), while Gavin Orosz finished with 18 points for the Lions.

• Nate Girod led four players in double figures for Mt. Lebanon with 17 points in a 64-49 win at Hempfield in Class 6A Section 2. Brody Barber added 15 for the Blue Devils (15-3, 6-1), while Liam Sheely finished with 14 and Riley Farabaugh scored 12. Drew Gordon led all scorers with 22 points for the Spartans (4-15, 0-7).

• Joey Dopirak scored a game-high 25 points for North Allegheny and surpassed the 1,000-point plateau for his career, helping the Tigers topple Pine-Richland at home for a 72-53 win in Class 6A Section 1. Anthony Sciote added 22 points and drained six 3-pointers for North Allegheny (8-11, 5-2), while Carson Baer finished with a team-high 14 points for the Rams (6-11, 2-5).

• Jack Dunbar scored a game-high 19 points and became the ninth player in school history to join the 1,000-point club for his career, leading Peters Township to a one-sided 77-23 victory at Connellsville (2-16, 1-6) in Class 5A Section 3. Mickey Vaccarello finished with 17 points for the Indians (12-5, 6-2), while Dylan Donovan added 15 points.

• Zach Washington led the way for Quaker Valley with a game-high 25 points, and Joe Coyle tacked on 24 for the Quakers (9-8, 4-3) in a 73-57 home win against West Mifflin in Class 4A Section 4. David Fleming finished with a team-high 22 points for the Titans (9-8, 2-5).

California started the season with nine consecutive losses, but now the Trojans (5-13, 4-5) are playoff bound after a 77-66 triumph over visiting Mapletown in Class 1A Section 2. Vinny Manzella scored a game-high 31 points, including 21 in the second quarter, and Noah Neil added 20 to go with 11 from Jacob Ziolecki. Braden McIntire led the Maples with 21 points, followed by 20 from Roger Gradek.

• Lorenzo Gardner kept up his prolific scoring pace for Monessen (14-3, 6-1) as the Greyhounds guard poured in a game-high 30 points in a 58-55 win at Jefferson-Morgan (12-7, 4-3) in Class 1A Section 2.

• Shamar Simpson scored a game-high 32 points and Courtney Wallace contributed 22 for Neighborhood Academy (13-4, 5-1) in a 73-57 victory against Aquinas Academy in Class 1A Section 3. Jacob Guillen finished with a team-leading 23 points for Aquinas (11-6, 4-2).

Washington’s Ruben Gordon (3) looks for an opening against Yough Tuesday night at Yough High School. Yough won, 43-35. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Girls games

• Lydia Betz led a trio of double-digit scorers for North Allegheny (16-2, 5-2) with 15 points, aided by 11 points apiece from Caroline Henderson and Kellie McConnell, in a 59-38 win over visiting Pine-Richland in Class 6A Section 1. Madison Zavasky paced all scorers with 19 points for the Rams (5-11, 3-4).

Bethel Park picked up its second consecutive upset win on the road, taking down Canon-McMillan in a Class 6A Section 2 clash, 57-47, five days after beating WPIAL title contender Chartiers Valley. Ella Harmon scored a team-high 15 points for the Black Hawks (6-12, 3-7) to go with 14 from Sadie Orie and 11 from Ella Sabatos. Nadia Davis led all scorers with 23 points for the Big Macs (10-8, 3-6).

• Isabella Barbour scored a game-high 18 points and Lyla Jablon contributed 12 for Fox Chapel, helping the Foxes (6-13, 4-6) eke out a 49-46 upset win over visiting Hampton (11-7, 6-3). Meghan Murray finished with 17 points for the Talbots.

Yough’s Terek Crosby looks to get rid of the ball against Washington Tuesday night at Yough High School. Yough won, 43-35. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Three stars

*** — Nate Papuga, Derry. Papuga poured in a game-high 33 points and surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career in a 77-29 rout at Apollo-Ridge in Class 3A Section 3.

** — Parker Hollick, Ligonier Valley. Hollick had a game for the ages in an 83-73 win at Valley in Class 3A Section 3, knocking down 11 3-pointers on his way to scoring 43 points while pulling down 10 rebounds.

* — Ryan Ceh, Mars. Ceh continued his stellar senior season for the Planets, tallying a career-high 45 points to go with 13 rebounds in an 83-58 win over visiting West Allegheny in Class 5A Section 4.

Hot from deep

Players with 3 or more 3-pointers: Parker Hollick, Ligonier Valley, 11; Drew Gordon, Hempfield, 6; Jeremiah Hager, Uniontown, 6; Anthony Sciote, North Allegheny, 6; Nick Krzeczowski, Beaver, 5; Braden McIntire, Mapletown, 5; Bryce Wright, Avella, 5; Brandon Bell, West Allegheny, 4; Anthony Bonner, Neshannock, 4; Tommy Davis, Belle Vernon, 4; Syzair Dungee, Ringgold, 4; Evan Jellots, Geibel Catholic, 4; Trevor Kovatch, Belle Vernon, 4; David Kwiat, Neshannock, 4; Vinny Manzella, California, 4; Alex Nyilas, Hampton, 4; Gary Tarbuk, Geibel Catholic, 4; Zach Washington, Quaker Valley, 4; Michael Wisniewski, Ligonier Valley, 4; Jake Wolfe, Montour, 4; Talan Anderson, Neshannock, 3; Bella Antonacci, Indiana, 3; Brody Barber, Mt. Lebanon, 3; Brody Evans, Thomas Jefferson, 3; Nate Girod, Mt. Lebanon, 3; Ella Harmon, Bethel Park, 3; Mike Mathias, Bethel Park, 3; Sam Miller, Canon-McMillan, 3; Noah Prosser, Thomas Jefferson, 3; Aaron Smith, West Mifflin, 3; Carter Tumulty, Moon, 3; Brian Wisniewski, Ligonier Valley, 3.

Washington’s Will Callon shoots the ball against Yough Tuesday night at Yough High School. Yough won, 43-35. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Boys scores

Albert Gallatin 82, Laurel Highlands 54

Allderdice 81, Obama Academy 53

Aliquippa 51, Sewickley Academy 20

Avonworth 62, East Allegheny 43

Baldwin 67, Canon-McMillan 57

Beaver 75, Blackhawk 56

Belle Vernon 69, Uniontown 65

Bethel Park 70, Trinity 63

Brashear 76, Westinghouse 49

Burgettstown 65, Beth-Center 32

Butler 70, New Castle 57

California 77, Mapletown 66

Carlynton 54, Western Beaver 25

Carmichaels 47, Bentworth 37

Carrick 57, Perry 37

Central Catholic 60, Seneca Valley 25

Central Valley 64, Ambridge 62 (OT)

Chartiers Valley 64, South Fayette 53

Chartiers-Houston 53, Frazier 31

Clairton 77, Leechburg 41

Deer Lakes 51, Burrell 48

Derry 77, Apollo-Ridge 29

Eden Christian 63, Nazareth Prep 44

Elizabeth Forward 83, Southmoreland 63

Ellwood City 67, Freedom 25

Fox Chapel 70, Plum 55

Franklin Regional 61, Kiski Area 48

Greensburg Central Catholic 73, Jeannette 51

Hampton 67, Indiana 32

Highlands 76, Freeport 55

Hillel Academy 48, Summit Academy 38

Imani Christian 98, St. Joseph 24

Knoch 58, Greensburg Salem 47

Ligonier Valley 83, Valley 73

Mars 83, West Allegheny 58

McGuffey 53, Charleroi 41

McKeesport 84, Latrobe 77 (OT)

Mohawk 56, Beaver Falls 51

Monessen 58, Jefferson-Morgan 55

Montour 60, South Allegheny 52

Moon 71, North Hills 54

Mount Pleasant 51, Brownsville 41

Mt. Lebanon 64, Hempfield 49

Neshannock 73, Riverside 48

North Allegheny 72, Pine-Richland 53

North Catholic 90, Hopewell 30

Northgate 75, Shenango 68

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 57, Steel Valley 39

Penn Hills 56, Armstrong 43

Penn-Trafford 54, Gateway 52

Peters Township 79, Connellsville 23

Quaker Valley 73, West Mifflin 57

Rochester 61, Avella 54

Serra Catholic 64, Springdale 57

Seton LaSalle 82, Keystone Oaks 63

Shaler 67, Woodland Hills 55

South Park 58, Brentwood 49

South Side 63, Laurel 31

Thomas Jefferson 95, Ringgold 69

Union 70, Cornell 20

Upper St. Clair 68, Norwin 30

West Greene 70, Geibel Catholic 53

Winchester Thurston 51, Propel Braddock Hills 34

Yough 43, Washington 35

Girls scores

Bethel Park 57, Canon-McMillan 47

Bishop Canevin 63, Avella 35

Connellsville 56, Ringgold 21

Fox Chapel 49, Hampton 46

Indiana 47, Gateway 14

Keystone Oaks 62, Seton LaSalle 60

Mount Pleasant 42, Geibel Catholic 39

Neshannock 60, Knoch 57 (OT)

North Allegheny 59, Pine-Richland 38

Obama Academy 54, Allderdice 46

Penn-Trafford 58, Montour 50

Perry 33, Carrick 25

Propel Braddock Hills 42, Neighborhood Academy 18

Riverview 42, Hillel Academy 9

Westinghouse 30, Brashear 27

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