Mt. Lebanon gets past Baldwin in tightly contested section clash

Friday, January 27, 2023 | 11:30 PM

The Section 2-6A battle between first-place Mt. Lebanon and third-place Baldwin had all the making of overtime on Friday.

Through three quarters, the game was tied as the visiting Blue Devils’ score by quarters was 10, 10, 16 while the Highlanders’ scoring line read 16, 10, 10.

In the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 36, 38, 40 and 48.

With the Mt. Lebanon leading 50-48 and Baldwin’s Nate Richards at the line with under one second left, the junior hit the first free throw, then missed the second as they synergy ended, as did the game. The Blue Devils survived to remain undefeated in section play with a 50-49 victory.

“I’m so proud of our guys,” Mt. Lebanon coach Joe David said. “We were down on the road, the place was packed, and we knew they were coming out for us. We held our composure, hit some big 3s and made some free throws at the end.”

The Highlanders led by six points after the opening quarter thanks to a 14-1 run after the Blue Devils had taken an early 3-0 lead.

“All you can do is get better shots,” David said of his team’s slow start. “We missed some easy shots and they hit some big 3s. I think being down by six (points) at halftime was a blessing because I said we should be down by more than this.”

Baldwin maintained the lead until Mt. Lebanon senior Tanner Donati hit a 3-pointer to put the Blue Devils up 40-38 with just over five minutes left in regulation.

Senior James Wesling hit a clutch 3-pointer to tie the game 45-45 before Donati scored and was fouled for a conventional three-point play. Two free throws put the Blue Devils up 50-45 with under one minute left in the fourth quarter.

On an inbounds play, sophomore Nate Wesling scored and was fouled. His free throw pulled the Highlanders to within two points.

A Baldwin steal gave the Highlanders possession with a chance to tie or take the lead; however, two shots were missed. The Highlanders stayed alive with several offensive rebounds, leading to a Blue Devils foul with three-tenths of a second remaining.

“I think he fouled him,” Davis said of the late foul call with less than one second left. “I just wasn’t sure of the time. But it doesn’t make a difference right now. I’m happy for these seniors getting out of here. It’s not an easy place to play.”

To win the section, Mt. Lebanon will have to continue to be the road warriors. Three of its final four section games are on the road, including a big showdown with second-place Upper St. Clair next Friday.

“We’re going on the road,” Davis said. “When you have Mt. Lebanon across your chest, everybody wants to beat you. But this was a great start.”

Eight players ended up on the scoresheet for Mt. Lebanon (6-0. 12-5), led by Donati’s 14 points.

Baldwin (3-3, 9-7) was paced by Nate Wesling’s game-high 19 points.

The Blue Devils have now won seven of their last eight games.

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