Aiden Reesman stepped to the free-throw line with a chance to extend what was a two-point Moon advantage over Thomas Jefferson with 47 seconds left in Monday’s WPIAL Class 5A semifinals.



So after Thomas Jefferson tied the score and Reesman went to the line again after being fouled with 6.5 seconds left, it’s not hard to imagine what was going through his head as he tried to put the Tigers ahead.

“I go to the foul line and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to make these two. I can’t miss four in a row,’” Reesman recalls.



And with that, the Tigers earned a dramatic win to claim a spot in the championship.

Elijah Guillory pumped in a game-high 39 points to propel No. 1 Moon to the final for the first time since 2019 following a thrilling 67-65 win against No. 4 Thomas Jefferson in front of a big crowd at Peters Township.

It was the 10th win in a row for Moon (22-3), which will shoot for its first title since 2017 and fifth overall when it takes on No. 2 Franklin Regional (22-2) in the championship at 9 p.m. Friday at Petersen Events Center. Thomas Jefferson, which had won nine straight, was stopped short in its attempt of reaching its first final since 1988.

Moon led Thomas Jefferson, 65-58, before the Jaguars used a big rally to tie the score late. Sean Sullivan hit a pair of free throws with 1:55 left before Noah Prosser drilled a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 65-63 with 54 seconds remaining. After Reesman missed a pair of free throws with 47 seconds left, Nick Trklja’s layup with 32 seconds left pulled Thomas Jefferson even.

With the score tied, 65-65, Moon decided to hold for the last shot. Guillory, one of the WPIAL’s top players who was fantastic throughout, dribbled as he allowed some time to run off the clock before driving to the basket. Guillory’s layup attempt fell off the rim, but Reesman scooped up the rebound and was fouled with 6.5 seconds left.

“That’s my guy,” Guillory said of Reesman, who finished with four points. “I trusted him to hit those free throws. I knew he was going to hit those.”

After Reesman did, Thomas Jefferson hurried the ball down court and Evan Berger fired up a 3-point attempt from the right side with three seconds left that was off the mark. As players from both teams battled for the rebound, time expired.

Berger was outstanding in the game, scoring a team-high 26 points while also knocking down four of the team’s 10 3-pointers. Brody Evans and Noah Prosser each hit three 3-pointers. Evans finished with 15 points and Prosser nine.

“The thing that makes them so difficult is everyone can shoot it, and they play so well together,” Moon coach Gino Palmosina said. “They know what’s a good shot, what’s a bad shot. I’ve got to give Berger a ton of credit. He always makes the right play. The way they shoot the ball and the way they play together, it’s tough.”

Elijah Guillory scored a game-high 39 points in Moon’s 67-65 win against Thomas Jefferson in a WPIAL Class 5A semifinal Monday at Peters Township. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

It’s also tough trying to slow down Guillory, as Thomas Jefferson found out Monday. Guillory, a 6-foot-5 senior guard with Division I offers, converted seven 3-pointers among his 39 points. Guillory scored 13 points in the first quarter, four in the second, 14 in the third and eight in the fourth.

“The crowd was in it. We were in it. Teams were going back and forth. I just played off that energy, and so did my team,” Guillory said.

Caden Schmidt (10 points) was the only other player to score in double figures for Moon, which went 14 of 18 from the free-throw line.

The first half was a tale of two quarters as Moon raced to a 17-9 first-quarter lead before Thomas Jefferson outscored the Tigers, 23-12, in the second quarter to take a 32-29 halftime lead courtesy of a 3-pointer from Evans just before the buzzer.

A Moon team that entered the postseason without a playoff win in five years is now a win away from a WPIAL title.

“This is awesome, but the job’s not finished,” Reesman said. “We don’t want to just get there. We’ve got to have a good few days. Franklin Regional is a good team. We’ve got to get back to our defense and play a good game Friday.”

Franklin Regional’s Cooper Rankin and Cameron Rowell (2) embrace as they celebrate their 69-40 win against Shaler in the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals Monday at Mt. Lebanon. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Other Class 5A semifinal

• Fin Hutchison’s 16 points led a group of four players scoring in double figures and No. 2 Franklin Regional (22-2) captured a surprisingly lopsided 69-40 win against No. 3 Shaler (22-3) that pushed the Panthers into the championship game for the first time since 2018. Connor Crossey chipped in 14 points, Cooper Rankin 11 and Colin Masten 10. Cam Rowell tacked on nine. The Panthers, winners of 12 in a row, led Shaler, 17-5, after one quarter before Shaler cut its deficit to 26-18 at the half. However, Franklin Regional followed with an 18-7 scoring advantage in the third quarter that pushed its lead to 44-25. The Panthers, who went just 9-13 last season, have never won a WPIAL title. Neither has Shaler, which saw its eight-game win streak snapped after losing to Franklin Regional for the second time this season. The Panthers beat Shaler, 72-62, at home in double overtime on Jan. 19. Keegan Smetanka led Shaler with 15 points and Brandon London added 11.

Class 3A semifinals

• No. 1 and defending champion Deer Lakes (20-4) worked overtime for the second game in a row to claim an 84-73 win against No. 4 Neshannock (20-4) at Fox Chapel. Wayne Love and Nate Moore scored 23 points apiece for Deer Lakes, which rallied to defeat Ellwood City, 39-38, in overtime in the quarterfinals. In a battle of Lancers, Neshannock took its first lead of the game, 56-54, with six minutes left. That advantage stood at 65-63 before Moore scored on a layup and was fouled with 2.9 seconds left in regulation. Moore misfired on the free throw, but Deer Lakes outscored Neshannock, 19-8, in the final frame to grab the win despite shooting 16 of 35 from the free-throw line. Billy Schaeffer added 11 points for Deer Lakes. David Kwiat poured in 29 points for Neshannock, including a 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer that tied the score at 30. L.J. Keith added 14 points for Neshannock, which was appearing in the semifinals for the third time in four years and was denied its first trip to the finals since 1987.

• Macky Bennis scored 20 points and No. 11 Burrell (16-5), the only double-digit seed to reach the semifinals, moved on to the final for the first time since 2013 after upsetting No. 2 Mohawk (17-8), 51-34, at North Allegheny. Tucker Bitar chipped in 12 points for Burrell, which knocked off No. 6 Seton LaSalle and No. 3 Shady Side Academy the previous two rounds. Burrell raced to a 17-3 first-quarter lead before taking a 26-11 halftime advantage. Jay Wrona scored 25 points for Mohawk, which had won 14 of 15 games and was trying to reach its first final since winning its only title in 1970. Standout Bobby Fadden, who came into the night averaging a team-best 22 points per game, was limited to six. Burrell, the Section 3 runner-up, will take on Section 3 champion Deer Lakes for the third time this season in the final. Deer Lakes defeated Burrell, 65-43 and 51-48, during the regular season.

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