Derry took the court for its postseason opener Monday against a much-higher seeded Our Lady of the Sacred Heart team that had won nine games in a row and was looking to reach the WPIAL final for an eighth consecutive season.

But it turns out that Derry’s coach, who doubles as a physical education teacher, isn’t much of a history buff.

“I told our guys, ‘We’re not playing history, we’re playing one basketball game,’” Tom Esposito said.

Esposito’s players must have taken it to heart because the Trojans pulled off an improbable win to make some history of their own.

Nate Papuga scored 25 points and No. 12 Derry won a WPIAL first-round playoff game for the first time after stunning No. 5 OLSH, 54-53, in a Class 3A game at Fox Chapel.

Derry, the fourth-place finisher from Section 3, improved to 14-6 while earning its first-ever quarterfinal berth. The Trojans won a preliminary-round game in the 2020-21 COVID season, but had never won a first-round game or played in the quarterfinals, Esposito said. The Trojans entered the night 1-10 in playoff games since the 1985-86 season.

The loss by Section 2 co-champion OLSH (18-4) was its first since Jan. 12. The Chargers had advanced to the WPIAL championship game each of the past seven seasons, winning four titles in that time.

Derry trailed, 46-43, after three quarters Monday, but used an 11-5 run to take a 54-51 advantage on a layup by Stan Rajkovich with 2:29 left. And while that turned out to be Derry’s final points of the game, it wasn’t a problem because OLSH scored only two more. Those came on Austin Avsec’s two free throws with 2:15 left that made it 54-53. Papuga blocked a shot attempt by Jake Johnson in the closing seconds to preserve the win.

“We dug in defensively for 32 minutes, but in that fourth quarter the defense was outstanding, holding them to two field goals and seven points,” said Esposito, who is in his 25th season.

Rajkovich finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds for Derry, which closed the regular season with wins in five of their final six games.

Freshman Tiernan McCullough led OLSH with 19 points and Johnson added 14.

One of four Section 3 teams to advance Monday, Derry will take on Neshannock in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

But first, the Trojans plan on celebrating their historic win.

“It’s huge,” Esposito said. “I was as excited as they were. I just told them how proud of them I was. We had a good week of practice leading up to the game.”

Aaron Lake and his Ellwood City teammates knocked off host Washington, 53-36, in a WPIAL Class 3A first-round game Monday. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Other Class 3A boys

• Tucker Bitar’s 21 points propelled No. 11 Burrell (14-5) to a 55-50 win at No. 6 Seton LaSalle (16-7). Macky Bennis added 15 points and Esau King-Buchak 12 for the Bucs, who led, 31-23, at the half and finished 13 of 15 from the free-throw line. Pat Weldon paced Seton LaSalle with 15 points.

• Eli Teslovich poured in 40 points to lead No. 3 Shady Side Academy (16-7) to a 79-62 win against No. 14 Beaver Falls (7-15) at Shaler. Cam Mallory chipped in 15 points and Ryan Frohlich 14 for the Bulldogs, who have won 10 of their past 11 games. Di’Nari Harris knocked down seven 3-pointers among his 33 points for Beaver Falls.

• Bobby Fadden connected on seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points to push host No. 2 Mohawk (16-7) to its 13th win in 14 games, 74-39, against No. 15 McGuffey (14-9). Jay Wrona added four 3-pointers and 12 points for Mohawk, which raced to a 16-point first-quarter lead. Ayden Cunningham led McGuffey with 11 points.

• Collin Rodgers (16 points) led a group of four players scoring in double figures for defending champion and No. 1 Deer Lakes (18-4), which surged to a 26-point halftime lead on its way to a 62-32 home win against No. 16 Sto-Rox (10-13). Nate Moore (14 points), Billy Schaeffer (12) and Wayne Love (11) also scored in double figures for the Lancers. David Johnson paced Sto-Rox with 11 points.

• Joseph Roth’s game-high 18 points propelled No. 9 Ellwood City (16-7) to a 53-36 win at No. 8 Washington (15-8). Nate Williams chipped in 13 points for the Wolverines, who held a 29-15 lead at the half. De’ondre Daugherty led Washington with 12 points, but only six of those came after the first quarter.

• Terek Crosby pumped in 25 points to push No. 7 Yough (19-4) to a 53-30 win against visiting No. 10 South Park (13-9). The Cougars, who also got 14 points from Austin Matthews, led by 12 points at the half. Luke Scarff scored 14 points for South Park, which was held to eight points or fewer in every quarter.

• David Kwiat’s game-high 22 points propelled No. 4 Neshannock (19-3) to a 66-40 home win against No. 13 Mount Pleasant (8-13). Jaxon Mozzocio added 11 points and six rebounds for the Lancers, who have won six games in a row. Luke Rivardo (10 points) was the only Mount Pleasant player to finish in double figures.

Washington’s Braiden Wise dribbles the ball down the court against Ellwood City’s Colten Crizer during Monday’s game won by visiting Ellwood City, 53-36. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Class 5A boys

• No. 9 North Hills (12-10) rallied from 12 points down after three quarters to force overtime, but the Indians ultimately fell to host No. 8 Fox Chapel (13-10), 94-84, in two overtimes. Jefferson Moorefield-Brown scored 28 points for Fox Chapel, which outscored North Hills, 11-1, in the second overtime. Eric James put up a game-high 34 points for North Hills, including 15 of the team’s 22 points in the fourth quarter.

• Shawn Davis scored on a driving layup just before the buzzer to vault No. 11 Bethel Park (12-11) to a 34-32 upset of host No. 6 South Fayette (14-9). Davis finished with a team-high nine points for the Black Hawks, who outscored South Fayette, 11-10, in the fourth quarter. Gavin Orosz led South Fayette with 11 points. Teammate Michael Plasko, who was fourth in the WPIAL in scoring during the regular season, was limited to five points, 20 below his average.

• No. 12 Kiski Area (15-7) pulled one of the biggest stunners of the night by going on the road and upsetting No. 5 Peters Township (17-6), 58-51. Isaiah Gonzalez scored 15 points for Kiski Area, which led, 26-19, at the half. Cam Mills paced Peters Township with 15 points and Jack Dunbar tacked on 14. Peters Township was the WPIAL runner-up last season and entered the game with wins in 11 of its past 12 games.

• Senior Sam Himrod came off the bench to score a team-high 20 points and help No. 3 Shaler (21-2) slip past visiting No. 14 Chartiers Valley (11-12), 73-71. Kaden Orga added 12 points for the Titans, who led by four points before Chartiers Valley made a basket at the buzzer. Jayden Davis led Chartiers Valley with 21 points and Julian Semplice had 19. 

• Mykel Bruce-McCrommon scored 23 points and host No. 7 Gateway (17-6) used a strong fourth quarter to knock off defending champion and No. 10 Penn Hills (14-8), 70-59. The score was tied, 47-47, after three quarters before Gateway outscored Penn Hills, 23-12, in the fourth. Alex Lowry added 13 points for the Gators, while Amon Hawthorne scored 21 for Penn Hills.

Franklin Regional (20-2), the No. 2 seed, ran its win streak to 10 games courtesy of a 67-51 win against visiting No. 15 Mars (10-13). Colin Masten led the Panthers with 20 points, while Cooper Rankin added 19 and Cam Rowell 18. Mars senior Ryan Ceh poured in a team-high 26 points and went over 1,000 for his career.

• Elijah Guillory tallied 19 points and Aiden Reesman had 18 to lead host No. 1 Moon (20-3) to its eighth win in a row, 73-39, against No. 16 Woodland Hills (9-14). Michael Santicola chipped in 12 points for the Tigers, who held a 40-23 advantage at the half. Woodland Hills got 12 points from Lamar Williams.

• Evan Berger’s 18 points led a quintet of players scoring in double figures for No. 4 Thomas Jefferson (20-3), which earned a 72-53 win against visiting No. 13 Penn-Trafford (11-12). Noah Prosser added 16 points, Brody Evans 12 and Nick Trklja and Kane Eggerton 10 apiece for the Jaguars, who closed the game on a 38-14 run. Evan Gross led Penn-Trafford with 12 points.

Coach Ryan Bunting’s Washington team saw its season end Monday with a 53-36 loss to visiting Ellwood City in a WPIAL Class 3A first-round game. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Class 1A girls

• After ending the regular season with seven consecutive losses, No. 10 Eden Christian (9-13) found its footing and claimed a 51-40 win against No. 7 Geibel Catholic (16-7) at Yough. Emmie Smith led Eden Christian with 15 points and Ella D’Ippolito added 12. Emma Larkin, the No. 2 scorer in the WPIAL during the regular season, paced Geibel with 27 points.

Monessen (18-5), the No. 5 seed, shut out visiting No. 12 Leechburg (8-11), 21-0, in the first quarter before going on to claim a 63-15 victory. Monessen’s win was brought to you by Johnson & Johnson, as Hailey Johnson scored 15 points and Madison Johnson 13. Grace Richards led Leechburg with five points.

• No. 8 West Greene (10-13) jumped to a 17-3 first-quarter advantage and went on to defeat No. 9 Jeannette (8-10), 55-33. Kendra Tharp led West Greene with 13 points and Madelyn Roberts added 12. Adriana Allison scored 25 points for Jeannette, which dressed only five players.

• Amari Elliott scored 17 points and No. 6 Bishop Canevin (7-13) limited visiting No. 11 Mapletown (6-15) to six or fewer points in each quarter on its way to a 53-17 win. The Crusaders also got 13 points from Isabella Sysak, while Isabella Garnek scored a team-high 10 points for Mapletown.

Boys scores

Class 5A first round

Bethel Park 34, South Fayette 32

Fox Chapel 94, North Hills 84 (2 OT)

Franklin Regional 67, Mars 51

Gateway 70, Penn Hills 59

Kiski Area 58, Peters Township 51

Moon 73, Woodland Hills 39

Shaler 73, Chartiers Valley 71

Thomas Jefferson 72, Penn-Trafford 53

Class 3A first round

Burrell 55, Seton LaSalle 50

Deer Lakes 62, Sto-Rox 32

Derry 54, O.L. Sacred Heart 53

Ellwood City 53, Washington 36

Mohawk 74, McGuffey 39

Neshannock 66, Mount Pleasant 40

Shady Side Academy 79, Beaver Falls 62

Yough 53, South Park 30

Girls scores

Class 1A first round

Bishop Canevin 53, Mapletown 17

Eden Christian 51, Geibel Catholic 40

Monessen 63, Leechburg 15

West Greene 55, Jeannette 33

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at