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Tasso Sfanos’ Emphatic Buzzer Beater As Mars Upends North Hills in Thriller



The spotlight was set on one of the best WPIAL boys basketball players in Royce Parham and the North Hills Indians, but it was Tasso Sfanos and the Mars Fightin’ Planets that stole the show in a key section matchup.

With 4.2 seconds left in the game, Royce Parham was found all alone with space as he slammed it down to put North Hills up by two points.

Moments later after a Mars timeout, the Fightin’ Planets put the ball into the hands of their star player. Nearly covered on three sides, Sfanos got off a spinning shot right beyond the arc to knock down an emphatic buzzer beat for the 73-72 home victory.

Coming out of the Mars timeout, head coach Rob Carmody’s game plan was simple: create space and give Sfanos the ball.

“I tell the guys all the time, my job is to find space for you,” Carmody said. “Your job as a player is to take the space we create and use your skill to do it. In that situation, it’s a no-brainer for us. We’re going to create space and get Tasso the ball.”

From there, it was all about executing for Sfanos, who was nearly automatic on the evening.

“I’d been feeling it all night, so I got to my spot, rose up and as soon as it left my hand, I knew it was going in,” Sfanos said on his game-winning shot.

The one-point victory came in front of a packed house with dueling student sections. The energy was through the roof the entire night.

“It was one of those great Friday night basketball games,” Carmody said. “If you paid $5 to get in here, you saw two teams that kept throwing body blows at each other. From a fan’s perspective, you almost wished that shot sent it into overtime because the game was played at a high level.”

Sfanos’ buzzer-beater was just a small piece of a massive night for the senior as he posted a career-high 40 points in the win.

“It’s surreal, especially with the home crowd being there and everyone supporting,” Sfanos said. “A big shoutout to my teammates too for them making open shots clears a lot of space up for me.”

All night long Sfanos was mesmerizing as he continually found space and was finding the basket with ease.

“It was something I worked on over the summer,” Sfanos said. “Instead of just catch and shot, it was getting to my spot, finding my space and pulling up.”

While Sfanos assembled the best performance of his career, Mars pulled together as a unit to take down a 5-0 Indians team in section play. Not only did the Fightin’ Planets spoil the undefeated streak, but they also avenged a 33-point loss from the beginning of January.

“North Hills is tremendous,” Carmody said. “They really took it to us down at their place. Our guys have gotten much better since then. They have grown and feel more comfortable.”

Carmody emphasized the importance of the off-the-ball plays that helped his team stay with Parham to keep the game close throughout and secure the win.

“Ian Zukowski didn’t score a point but came in and he’s got to bang into Royce a little bit. I thought he did a great job in his role. He didn’t even take a shot. He made Royce’s job a little harder,” Carmody said.

Despite the loss and the close defense on Parham, he still managed 33 points in the losing effort.

“Royce is as good as you are going to get,” Carmody said. “If you try to play him with one guy, you are in for a world of hurt.”

With consecutive wins, Mars will now set its focus on Baldwin as the Fightin’ Planets and Fighting Highlanders will face off two times in three days.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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