Woodland Hills captures at least share of section title
By: Chris Harlan
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 | 1:20 AM
Woodland Hills' Amante Britt, the school's all-time leading scorer, was one whistle away from fouling out of his final home game.
With about 3 minutes left, he had two options:
Play cautious and finish the fourth quarter.
Or play aggressive and fight for the win.
“If I'm going to go out, I just wanted to go out with a bang and help the team win,” Britt said. “I felt like (if I was) being selfish thinking about my four fouls, we weren't going to win. So I put it on the line for the team. If I foul out, I foul out. I'll just cheer them more from the sideline if that happens.”
With 90 seconds left Tuesday, Britt scored a driving layup and then made back-to-back steals as Woodland Hills defeated rival Penn Hills, 66-56, to break their first-place tie in Section 3-6A.
The win clinched Woodland Hills at least a share of the section title, the team's first since 2012. When the horn sounded, Britt remained on the court as the student section rushed the floor.
“He did play like he had four fouls (at first),” Woodland Hills coach Odell Miller said. “But when we got down to 3 minutes left in the game … he's been our leader for four years, so he's got to do what he's got to do to win the game.
“That's what he did.”
Britt scored a game-high 27 points, including nine in the fourth quarter that stole momentum. He also had five steals and often was vital to breaking Penn Hills' trap.
The 6-foot senior made 9 of 12 shots from the floor and was perfect on three attempts from the arc.
“I've said I think he's the best point guard in the WPIAL,” Penn Hills coach Dan DeRose said. “We tried to face-guard him at times. You give him two or three feet, and he's just going to kill you.”
Woodland Hills teammate Keandre Bowles finished with 20 points, his most important coming on a layup with less than 3 minutes left and Woodland Hills ahead 53-51. Bowles fought off a foul to finish a layup and added the free throw to push the Wolverines' lead back to five.
Britt's consecutive steals then finished off Penn Hills' late rally from 17 points down.
Woodland Hills (18-3, 11-2) now holds a one-game lead over Penn Hills (18-3, 10-3) with one section game left for each.
The success is remarkable for a program that went winless just four seasons ago. Woodland Hills finished 0-21 in the 2013-14 season, Miller's second as coach. The team's record was 5-16 a year later, then improved to 12-10 in 2015-16 and 16-10 last season.
“I'm proud of my seniors because they've been with us when times were rough,” Miller said, “and they continued to work and they got better and better each year.”
Woodland Hills held a 40-23 lead in the third quarter Tuesday before Penn Hills rallied behind Daivon Stephens, Cory Fulton and Cam Wiley, who combined for 27 second-half points.
Stephens finished with 18 points, Wiley scored 11 and Fulton added 10.
Penn Hills defeated Woodland Hills, 68-60, when the teams met Jan. 12. That night, Penn Hills took an early lead while Woodland Hills struggled to make shots.
In the rematch, the script flipped. Penn Hills made 9 of 30 shots in the first two quarters and trailed 35-21 at halftime.
“We're not a very good shooting team, and for whatever reason we wanted to be jump shooters in the first quarter,” DeRose said. “I don't know why. I just couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing. We were shooting pull-up jumpers when we had lanes to the basket.”
Woodland Hills led 14-7 after one quarter and pulled away in the second when Britt made three 3-pointers. The Wolverines shot 52 percent (14 for 27) in the first half and 47 percent (11 for 23) in the second.
“We missed a lot of shots in the first quarter (against Penn Hills the first time),” Britt said. “This game, we just stuck with it. We didn't settle for jump shots. We beat the trap, got some layups, got some easy buckets. Things started rolling.”