Montour boys get past Upper St. Clair on Jake Wolfe putback at buzzer

Friday, December 8, 2023 | 11:50 PM

There was plenty of size on the floor Friday when a pair of preseason Top 5 teams collided and earned their early reps as contenders.

However, when the biggest rebound of the game was up for grabs, it was a 6-foot-1 guard who was disguised as the big bad Wolfe that was the difference.

Senior Jake Wolfe followed up his own miss with a rebound tip that fell before the buzzer sounded that lifted Montour past host Upper St. Clair, 55-54.

Wolfe got the ball in the corner with a couple of second remaining and the Spartans down one. He drove the baseline and, sandwiched between two Panthers defenders, missed his first shot on the blocks, but tipped in the rebound for the game-winner.

“I knew I wanted to be the one to take the last shot,” Wolfe said. “I went to draw a foul and get a layup and once I realized it was coming off, I timed the putback and made it.”

The heroics capped off a great back-and-forth game in which Class 4A No. 5 Montour and Class 6A No. 2 Upper St. Clair never led by more than five points.

“The game was very competitive, and it was a hard-fought win against a bigger school,” Wolfe said. “The win will give us momentum moving forward and is a good win to have at the start of the season. The game felt like a playoff atmosphere, and it was a great experience.”

The game was deadlocked after the first quarter, 12-12.

Montour took over some momentum late in the second quarter and took a lead into the locker room, 29-25.

USC had the better of the pay in the third quarter, outscoring Montour 18-10 to take a four-point lead into the fourth quarter.

However, just when the Panthers looked like they were going to pull away, Wolfe and junior Kaleb Platz hit a pair of 3-pointers in consecutive possessions to put Montour back on top.

The Spartans were up by one point and had the ball with under a half-minute remaining when Wolfe turned the ball over, which led to a Brett Meinert reverse layup with 17 seconds left to put the Panthers up one and set up Wolfe’s last-second heroics.

“(Wolfe) made a play,” Upper St. Clair head coach Danny Holzer said. “We didn’t do a good enough job to force someone else to score.

“Our poor shooting in the first half hurt us. We got more rhythm at times on offense in the second half, but not enough to win.”

Upper St. Clair (2-1) was led by senior Christian Ito, who had a hot stroke early, scoring 11 of his 17 points in the first half. Tyler Robbins, a 6-9 junior, had 14 points and junior Kaamil Jackson added 10 points for the Panthers.

Montour (2-1) was led in scoring by 6-11 junior Ama Sow, who scored 21 points and showed dominance at times on both ends of the floor. Wolfe finished with 19 points.

“It was a great team win and everybody contributed,” Wolfe said. “Everyone on the team worked together to make plays, and we were grateful to get the win.”

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