Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Week: Mars’ Andrew Recchia
By: Don Rebel
Monday, March 4, 2019 | 8:48 PM
It really was ‘The shot heard around the world.”
The intergalactic 3-point shot from Andrew Recchia in the final seconds of the WPIAL Class 5A boys basketball title game made Mars a back-to-back champion.
Led by Recchia’s 23 points, the Fightin’ Planets edged Moon, 58-56.
Mars was down 14 points at halftime and trailed by as many as 18 before a furious third-quarter comeback helped set the stage for Recchia’s dramatics.
“Like our entire team, Andrew struggled finding any consistency or rhythm in the first half Friday,” Mars coach Rob Carmody said. “His shot will go down in Mars and WPIAL lore but his defense, his free throw shooting, his leadership all came to the forefront in the second half. The shot will get the highlights, but his steal off of an inbound play really gave us a chance to even be in that position.”
The steal gave Mars the basketball down by one point. Recchia got a pick, dribbled to the left of the key and launched his game-winning shot with two seconds left.
“This team has plenty of options, so Andrew knew what to read based on how they defended our initial action,” Carmody said. “Plan was for him to get into the lane and create a shot for himself, look for a drop to Michael, or kick to one of our shooters based on where the defense was.
“Moon did a great job of denying Andrew an angle to drive and, simply put, Andrew did a better job of staying calm, being aware of the time on the clock, and resetting himself and Michael to allow for another screen. It was very subtle but Andrew changed his pace and ball level just enough to create some separation from the defense and really set up the screen.”
Mars has been the No. 1 team in Class 5A since Day 1. There were questions around the team after Robby Carmody ended his brilliant scholastic career and graduated after last year’s title winning season. But Recchia’s play all season helped answer a lot of those questions.
“Andrew is just a tough dude,” Rob Carmody said. “He has a ton of offensive ability, by far the quickest set of feet I have had the opportunity to coach, and he has a very good feel for space and angles. His defense is excellent. His biggest improvement over the year has been becoming more of a leader, a guy the kids want to follow. I think he has fully realized that potential in these playoffs.
“Last year, an opposing coach commented that Andrew didn’t know what to do when Robby was not in the game. Well, with Andrew guiding us to this WPIAL championship that theory has been put to rest.”
Now, the two-time WPIAL champs get ready for what they hope is another long run in the PIAA postseason.
“I really think the main thing is giving our bodies and, more importantly, our spirits time to rest and recover this week so we are ready to go,” Rob Carmody said. “Our schedule has really prepared us to face any type of team so knowing we can lean on that experience will be very helpful.”
Whatever happens on The Road to Hershey, no one can take away the memories made by Recchia and his teammates on the first day of March of 2019.
“The moment it left his hand he started back on defense, there was no doubt it was going in,” the coach said. “I was thrilled. I know how hard our team has worked to get back here after losing Robby, I know how close these guys are, I know how much this means to our community, school and program.
“Just an awesome moment.”
Jake Hoffman, Mt. Lebanon
Mt. Lebanon won the Class 6A boys basketball title with contributions from many. Junior Jake Hoffman led all scorers with 17 points on Wednesday when Mt. Lebanon beat Canon-McMillan for the third time this season 58-39. Then in the finals, Hoffman chipped in 19 points as the Blue Devils edged Butler, 62-57, for the school’s fourth WPIAL boys basketball championship and third crown in the last 11 years under coach Joey David.
Sheldon Cox, New Castle
Every year, experts say this New Castle team isn’t as good as recent teams, yet every year the Red Hurricanes are hoisting the golden trophy at The Pete. Sophomore Sheldon Cox had a huge game in the semifinals with 27 points in a 68-62 win over Highlands. Then, in the finals, while Drew Cox led the ‘Canes with 20 points, Sheldon added 15 points as the Red Hurricanes stormed back to claim a third straight district crown with a come-from-behind victory over Quaker Valley, 60-54.
Tre Harvey, Nazareth Prep
After changing the school’s name from Holy Family Academy, few knew who Nazareth Prep was back in December. They know now. On Monday, Tre Harvey scored 16 points as the Saints knocked off No. 2-seed Cornell, 71-57, in the semifinals. Then on Thursday at Pitt, in the first title game ever for Nazareth Prep, they never blinked against the defending champs as Harvey scored 31 points in a 69-62 win over top-seeded Vincentian.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.