Upper St. Clair’s Tanner O’Grady shoots down Mt. Lebanon with buzzer-beater

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 | 11:45 PM

Following the winter storm on Sunday, snowmen made appearances on many landscapes throughout the district.

On Tuesday, it was time for the iceman to reappear.

Upper St. Clair senior Tanner O’Grady hit his second buzzer-beating shot of the season, this time breaking a tie as time expired as USC defeated visiting Mt. Lebanon, 48-46.

The senior guard also hit a buzzer beater in the second game of the season to lead the Panthers to a win over Pine-Richland in a rematch of the 2021 6A title game.

“O’Grady again, second time game winner,” Upper St. Clair coach Danny Holzer said. “An off-balance 7-footer, karma was in our favor (Tuesday).”

The thrilling finish ended the first boys basketball meeting between the rival Blue Devils and Panthers in nearly two years. The section foes did not play at all last season because Mt. Lebanon played with a strict mask policy while Upper St. Clair did not.

“I’m so proud of our team to fight through and find a way to win this game,” Holzer said. “Mt. Lebanon’s a good team and when they have the lead, they are hard to come back on.”

Upper St. Clair only had three short-lived leads of two points each before taking the final lead on O’Grady’s heroics.

After the Panthers grabbed an early 2-0 advantage, Mt. Lebanon scored the next nine points. The Blue Devils led by 10 points after one quarter and by eight at halftime.

After scoring only two points in the first half, O’Grady came to life, scoring 13 of USC’s 20 points in the third quarter.

The final quarter became a chess match between Holzer and Blue Devils coach Joey David. Each team had patient half-court sets without a lot of shots.

USC junior Nick Sekernek gave the Panthers only their second lead of the game when he connected on a 3-pointer with 4:41 left in the fourth quarter.

Mt. Lebanon senior Christian Powers put the Blue Devils back up, 44-43.

After a Panthers turnover, the Blue Devils had the ball with 90 seconds left; however, a deflected pass came to USC senior James Smith, who drove the right lane, hit a lay-up and was fouled. His free throw gave Upper St. Clair a 46-44 lead.

Joey Peters hit a pair of free throws for Mt. Lebanon with 1:01 left to tie the game.

Upper St. Clair called timeout after killing the clock to 13 seconds left.

After the timeout, USC nearly turned it over, but Smith made a great save near the sidelines to throw the ball back blindly toward the free-throw line. O’Grady grabbed the loose ball, drove to the right baseline and hit the jumper as the horn sounded.

Senior Porter Rauch scored 12 points for Upper St. Clair (3-2, 9-3). Powers led Mt. Lebanon (3-2, 7-6) with 13 points while Peters added 10.

The Upper St. Clair win combined with a Baldwin victory over Bethel Park leaves the Panthers and Blue Devils in a four-way tie for first place in Section 2-6A with the Black Hawks and Highlanders.

“Typical Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon game,” Holzer said. “They’re such a good program and a really good team and so are we. I’m really proud of my team.”

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