Trib HSSN boys basketball team of the week: Upper St. Clair Panthers
For years, TribLive has honored a Player of the Week in boys basketball, and that tradition continues this winter.
However, it is a team sport. So this winter, we are saluting a team of the week.
The first Team of the Week for the week of Dec. 10 is the Upper St. Clair Panthers.
For a program known to be a perennial power on the hardwood, it’s been five years since Upper St. Clair won a section title and 14 years since hoisting WPIAL gold.
But the Panthers have come storming out of the gates this season and have the look of a team that may be ready to be a champion again.
“I don’t know if these were statement wins,” veteran coach Danny Holzer said, “but it shows we could be a team that will be good in January and February. Our section is competitive from top to bottom, so it will be tough.”
After winning two games on opening weekend, Upper St. Clair knocked off 2017 Class 6A champion and 2018 runner-up Pine-Richland, 51-48, as Chris Pantelis led the way with 15 points.
Then, USC cranked up the offense for its Section 2-6A opener Friday as Tanner Gensler scored 42 points in a thrilling, 86-81 overtime win at home over Peters Township.
“That’s big because there are only 10 section games,” Holzer said. “The way we did it, I think our team is really starting to believe we have a chance to be good in 6A. Peters and Pine-Richland are both really good teams.”
In both victories last week, Upper St. Clair had to fight and claw back after falling behind, a trait Holzer loves to see.
“The key to those wins was we never got down or felt we couldn’t come back. We were down nine in both games at the half, but we made some adjustments and kept plugging away, and our kids believed we would find a way to win.”
The Panthers outscored the Indians, 26-14, in the fourth quarter to force overtime and eventually handed Peters Township the section loss.
Now can Upper St. Clair build on the quick start?
“To continue this success, we need to continue to play as a team on both ends of the court,” Holzer said. “We need to really work hard in practice and improve every day because there are a lot of tough games ahead.”
Don Rebel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Don at [email protected] or via Twitter @TheDonRebel.