Playoff run, WPIAL championship build legacy for Penn Hills players

Saturday, March 25, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Penn Hills boys basketball coach Chris Giles and the players on the team had an opportunity to create permanent memories. Winning the Class 5A WPIAL championship gave everyone something to hold on to.

The Indians’ season came to an end March 17 in Sharon with a 68-54 loss to Cathedral Prep in the PIAA quarterfinals.

“I’m proud of the guys. They left a legacy to come back to,” Giles said. “Any time they come back, there will be a banner. Not only did they win a WPIAL championship, but reached the PIAA quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.”

Penn Hills ended the season with a 23-4 record and won the Section 2-5A title. When the Indians beat Peters Township, 70-65, at the Petersen Events Center, Giles’ daughter Jaxx was out with the team during the trophy presentation.

“It was an awesome experience,” Giles said. “I’m hoping maybe someday she’ll be out there lifting the WPIAL championship trophy as a player.”

The Indians senior class included five players — Michia Oliver, Noah Barren, Quinnipiac commit Daemar Kelly, Matthew Lemon and Kenyan Smith — who all helped contribute to the team’s success over the past few seasons.

Penn Hills was able to march through the first two rounds of the state tournament by beating up District 9 champion DuBois, 63-20, before grinding past District 3’s Hershey, 50-42.

The Indians have been able to maintain the standard of excellence set by former coach Dan DeRose, who led Penn Hills to a WPIAL title during the 2018 season. Every season since Giles took over in 2021, the Indians have won at least one WPIAL playoff game.

“Being at Penn Hills is tremendous. It is a unique place,” Giles said. “We have a ton of kids who love playing basketball. We had a group of kids who showed their toughness all season.”

Penn Hills will have plenty of players returning next season. The Indians saw junior guard Lamire Redman and junior guard/forward Julian Dugger see a lot of playing time. The challenge Giles is also enjoying is building from the youth level up.

Penn Hills saw a dip in participation once the YMCA youth league was shuttered when its facility closed in 2018. Giles said there has been a major growth in the area youth program that has been started by several Penn Hills residents over the past few years.

“Obviously, I want to be there for the youth and community to give back,” Giles said. “I’m a teacher and am off in the summer. That’s the time where I’m in the gym and doing personal training. I like the grind of being in the gym. We want to keep basketballs in these kids’ hands and keep them active.”


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