Moon falls to Mars after late three-pointer in WPIAL Championship


Photo by Tori Flick

By Preston Moore, Moon Sports Beat Writer

OAKLAND, Pa. — After halftime, the Mars student section rumbled with the “I believe that we will win” chant. At the time Mars was down 14 and winning felt like an improbable outcome. Mars would later come back and make things interesting in the closing minutes of the game.

The first quarter started off in Moon’s favor following a layup for Connor Ryan off the drive. Mars quickly responded with two scores of their own off of jumpers from Andrew Recchia. Recchia was a key factor for Mars with his performance in the clutch and his 23 points. Mars and Moon continued to fight back and forth on possessions each scoring a few. Moon however, caught fire and went on a 10-2 run to close out the quarter.

The second quarter was all the same for Moon. The Tigers played stellar defense which caused multiple turnovers and hit shots when it counted. Michael Carmody could be seen getting visibly frustrated with the referees after being called for three travels in the quarter. Carmody also picked up his third foul halfway through the quarter and was forced to sit until the next half. Halfway through the second, Moon went on an 11-2 run to further extend their lead on the Fighting Planets. Moon was clearly the dominant team in the first half and looked like they were going to escape with a victory.

The second half began with a rejuvenated Mars team. Mars could be seen getting up and pressuring on defense and playing with passion. Moon hit a few shots to start the quarter before Mars played nearly perfect offense to close the quarter. Mars went on a 16-4 run to reduce a commanding lead that the Tigers built up in the first half. Moon’s lead was cut down to only two points at the end of the third quarter.

The Tigers looked almost too relaxed in the third taking poorly selected shots and not moving the ball on offense which continued in the fourth quarter. Mars continued their shooting prowess and steadily got back onto Moon’s heels after a couple Tiger scores. Mars eventually took the lead off of a few free throws from Recchia who did not miss a single free throw in the fourth quarter. The student section erupted after the free throw from Recchia to take the lead as the Tigers looked shocked and realized their work would be cut out for them. With about a minute left in the game the Tigers were up by only a point. Mars drew a shooting foul on a play that riled up the Moon student section and many parents. Boos filled the stands as Recchia yet again drained both of his foul shots to take the lead. The following possession Moon held the ball for 30 seconds before Austin Ryan hit a 15-footer to take the lead back with only 17 seconds remaining.

Mars inbounded the ball with less than 20 seconds remaining. Recchia held the ball for about 10 seconds before he made his move. Recchia came off a screen set by Carmody at the top of the key and drained a three to take the lead with only 2.6 seconds left in the game. Moon instantly called a timeout to talk strategy. Moon’s only hope was to toss up a full court prayer to win the game. Cameron Goble threw a half court intended for Donovan Johnson to hit the game winning shot but was intercepted on the Pitt logo by Carmody to end the game. Mars won in a huge upset, 58-56.

Mars won their second WPIAL Championship in a row. Both teams will look forward to playing in the state playoffs in hopes on winning the PIAA title.