ADAMS TWP — One by one, seniors on the Mars boys basketball team climbed a ladder, grabbed a pair of scissors and cut down a piece of the net.
It was the first time since 1987 that the Planets enjoyed such an opportunity. It had been 26 years since they last won a section title.
“It felt amazing,” said Mars senior forward Matt Getsy. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. It felt so good to finally get that section title.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” added senior center Josh Goetz.
Mars capped off a perfect 12-0 WPIAL Section 1-AAA season with a 73-61 home win over Knoch Friday night.
The game wasn’t as close as the winning margin.
The Planets jumped out to a 25-5 lead in the first seven minutes of the game and led 42-19 at halftime.
Mars also led 25-5 in the last meeting against Knoch three weeks ago.
“I was really concerned about how we would respond in the first quarter,” said Mars coach Rob Carmody, shaking ice out of his shirt after a postgame Gatorade shower. “I though we responded great.”
Carmody, though, was not pleased with how his team responded in the second half.
With a big lead, the Planets (18-3, 12-0) went in cruise control.
Knoch (11-10, 6-6) was able to chip away at the Mars advantage and scored 28 points in the fourth quarter. Matt Zanella had 12 of his team-high 16 points in the final quarter for Knoch.
“We came out and relaxed a little bit. That’s something we can not allow to happen,” Carmody said. “That’s another lesson we can learn.
“The game is 32 minutes long,” he added.
That sentiment was shared by Knoch coach Rob McNabb, who had a feeling of deja vu come over him in the first quarter.
“I don’t know what it is; We’ve had good practices,” McNabb said. “We came out here and we laid an egg for the first 10 minutes.”
Knoch outscored Mars 56-48 in the final 25 minutes.
“You would expect nothing less in this rivalry,” Carmody said.
Mars once again had balance with four players cracking double digits, led by 15 from Zach May.
Matt Getsy and Owen Nearhoof each added 13 and Alex Locher, playing in his first game since suffering a major concussion against Montour Dec. 19, came off the bench to score 12 points.
“Having Alex back ... it gives us another shooter in the rotation and a longer, leaner guy to have on defense,” Carmody said. “It’s great to have him back.”
Goetz added nine points for the Planets, but he spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble.
He did have the play of the night with a thunderous two-handed dunk in the third quarter. It may have been too thunderous as he was called for a technical for hanging on to the rim.
It was ironic, then, that Goetz and some of his teammates were a little nervous about climbing the ladder to cut down his piece of the net.
“That ladder was a little intimidating,” Goetz said.
Mars is definitely intimidating as it prepares for the WPIAL Class AAA playoff. The section title was just a necessary first step, Getsy said.
“We want to go as far as we can,” Getsy said. “We want to get that WPIAL championship.”
Austin Miller 5-11 3-5 14, David Gallagher 2-3 0-0 5, Dakota Bruggeman 5-9 0-2 10, Marc Vaughan 2-5 0-2 4, Chris Kier 1-5 0-0 2, Ben Pfieffer 3-3 1-4 8, Matt Zanella 6-8 4-4 16, Alex Campbell 1-1 0-0 2, Asa Adams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-45 8-17 61.
Garrett Ashbaugh 0-3 1-2 1, Matt Getsy 5-9 3-4 13, Mitch Buzard 4-11 0-0 8, Zach May 5-12 1-1 15, Josh Goetz 3-4 3-3 9, Ben Erdahl 0-1 0-0 0, Alex Locher 3-6 4-4 12, Owen Nearhoof 4-6 4-5 13, Adam Bayuk 1-2 0-0 2, Graham Easom 0-0 0-0 0, Nick DeCamp 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-56 16-21 73.
Knoch 7 12 14 28—61
Mars 25 17 14 17—73
3-point goals: Knoch 3 (Miller, Gallagher, Pfieffer). Mars 7 (May 4, Locher 2, Nearhoof)
JV: Mars 50-22
Monday: Plum at Knoch; Mars at Shenango