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Planets align

Mars overpowers Indiana, 76-24
Mars' Zach Schlegel scores a basket despite Indiana's Evan Brocious during the second quarter of the boys basketball game at Mars Area High School in Adams Township, Pa. on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle 1/28/22

ADAMS TWP — As Mars coach Rob Carmody puts it, kids in the district don’t grow up revering LeBron James as much as they do the boys basketball likes of Andrew Recchia, John Costello, and Robby and Michael Carmody.

In a 76-24 Senior Night win over Indiana (3-12, 0-7) Friday evening, Zach Schlegel, Austin Cote, and Chris Dvorak left their own impressions on the fledgling elementary school hoopers in the bleachers.

The trio combined for half of the Planets’ scoring output in a Section 4-5A clash against a young Indians crew that has yet to notch a section victory.

“The guys who are seniors, they’ve lost 13 games in their career,” Carmody said. “That’s it. Tonight was their 76th career win. They’ve lost one home game in their career.”

A slew of Indiana turnovers and a few Dvorak putbacks powered Mars (14-1, 9-0) surges of 17 points in the first quarter and 21 in the second. Five different Planet players sunk treys in the first half and the team shot 70% (12-for-17) in the eight minutes before the intermission.

“From playing so many years, I can tell when people are right-hand dominant or left-hand dominant,” said Schlegel, whose point total benefitted from the pickpockets. “I force them to one side and go right for their dominant hand.”

Senior Bryce Cunningham returned for the celebration after missing a few weeks of action and recorded six points. The hosts are still waiting on another usual starter, Jonah Kozora, to get back.

“What Chris, Zach, and Austin have done in the absence of Bryce and Jonah is just continue to lead our basketball team,” Carmody said. “Tonight, you got to see what we’re about.

“We’ve got multiple guys who can shoot it, multiple guys who can defend. We have a really good team chemistry and we have the ability defensively, because of our guards and quickness, to really make things difficult.”

Familiarity among the group of boys has been fostered over the course of years. Evidently, the experience has helped. Mars has now strung together 10 consecutive wins after falling to Cincinnati’s Princeton High School at a holiday tournament in Florida.

“The reason we have been so successful is that all of those guys that are seniors tonight, every one of them was a Little Dribbler,” Carmody said. “Every one of them played in our youth program. Every one of them played in our junior high. They know what’s expected.”

Mars’ defense, averaging an allowance of 49.6 points, didn’t let any Indiana player into the double digits, scoring-wise. Offensively, in three quarters, Schlegel and junior Tasso Sfanos tied for the game-high in points with 17. Austin Cote posted 11.

“When you add Austin to the mix, he might be the best lacrosse player in the state of Pennsylvania, definitely one of them,” Carmody said. “He just has a whole other level of quickness and speed. Sometimes you think there’s four of him out there.”

With Highlands a game back in the grouping, biting at their heels, the Planets stare at meetings with a pair of firm opponents in the coming days.

“We get to go play maybe the most historic athletic program in Western Pennsylvania, Aliquippa, on Sunday,” Carmody said. “Turn around and play probably the best, if not one of the two or three best teams in the state in North Hills. It’s going to be a great challenge, but that’s what we want as we head here into the playoffs.”

Dvorak, who put together a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double in little over two quarters, is up for the challenge.

“I’m really excited,” Dvorak said. “Aliquippa is going to be a really good team, I know they’re really athletic. North Hills, I played AAU with a couple of those guys, so that’s been circled on our calendar for a couple weeks now ... Those are playoff-like games.”

INDIANA 24

Ethan Kutz 1 6-6 8, Stanford Webb 2 0-0 4, Trevor Todd 2 0-0 4, Noah Hutton 1 0-0 2, Hunter Martin 1 0-0 2, Evan Broclous1 0-0 2, Mark Collinger 0 1-2 1, Michael Lubold 0 1-2 1. Totals: 8 8-10 24.

MARS 76

Tasso Sfanos 7 1-1 17, Zach Schlegel 8 0-0 17, Austin Cote 4 1-2 11, Chris Dvorak 5 0-0 10, Austin Campbell 3 1-2 8, Bryce Cunningham 2 0-0 6, Ryan Ceh 2 0-0 5, Remi Black 1 0-0 2, Ian Zukowski 0 0-2 0. Totals: 32 3-7 76.

Indiana 6 6 8 4 — 24

Mars 24 29 18 5 — 76

3-point goals: Mars 9 (Cote 2, Sfanos 2, Cunningham 2, Schlegel, Campbell, Ceh)

Sunday: Mars vs. Aliquippa