Holzer registers 300th win
In dramatic fashion, Upper St. Clair coach Danny Holzer registered his 300th career victory as the Panthers defeated Peters Township, 67-62, in double overtime.
With follow-up wins against Allderdice and Moon, Holzer improved to 302-148. In his 18 seasons at the helm, Holzer has guided the Panthers to two WPIAL championships in 1996, his inaugural campaign, and in 2005, when Sean Lee, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys, was a senior. He also managed USC to a runner-up finish in 2003 and two western regional quarterfinal rounds in the PIAA tournament.
Of the 300 wins, Holzer says it just shows that he’s had a nice run. “A lot of people have been a part of this. I have been surrounded by and received great support from the administration, community and my assistant coaches,” he said.
Holzer’s biggest supporters are his wife, Carol, and his son, Riley, who is split between hockey and basketball.
A fourth-grade student in the Thomas Jefferson School District, Holzer’s alma mater, Riley excels for the South Hills Amateur Hockey Association’s Squirt AA squad. In addition to playing basketball in his school district, Riley plays on an AAU team, coached by his dad and former Major League Baseball pitcher Matt Clement, who also coaches hoops at Butler.
“When I’m not around, Riley will say he likes hockey (better),” said Holzer with a laugh. “He tells me he likes them both. I don’t care what he does as long as he’s happy and healthy and grows up able to help others. What’s important is who he is off the court and the ice.”
Holzer, on the other hand, admits he would not be the coach he is were it not for his wife. “She is an awesome coach’s wife,” he said. “She allows me to do what I do.”
During his coaching career, Holzer has taught social studies, 16 of those years at USC, where he also serves as student activities director. But each of the contests, the wins and the losses, on the court have been “battles” just as the overtime decision at Peters Township.
“Most of the wins have been that way. The losses, too,” Holzer added. “They have been section rivalry games. It’s weird but with us, Peters, Lebo and Bethel all playing each other, every body wants to beat each other so bad. It’s like the Super Bowl. So, it’s ironic that the (300th) win went into double overtime. It’s fitting. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Jordan Grabowski led Holzer to the milestone. He exploded for 21 points. He scored seven straight points after Dakota Norton lifted PT to a 59-56 lead with his 3-point field goal. Grabowski also buried a 3-pointer with 2:45 to play and pushed the Panthers into the lead for good, 60-59.
Three other players finished in double digits for USC.
Connor Gallagher came off the bench to provide 17 markers, 12 in the second stanza as USC closed to within two, 28-26, at halftime. J.J. Conn and Joel Klein followed with 12 and 11 points.
Through the years, Holzer has coached many players and coached against many other standouts.
He said that DuJuan Blair was one of the best players he faced. The center for the San Antonio Spurs led Schenley to the PIAA state championship in 2005 before going on to excel at Pitt. The other standout was T.J. McConnell. He led Chartiers Valley to the PIAA finals in 2010 and excelled at Duquesne for a time before transferring to Arizona.
“I’ve coached against so many great teams and great players over the years but one of the hardest to play against was McConnell. He could hurt you in so many ways. He was so central to the game.”
Central to USC’s game, Holzer is unconcerned about his personal achievements. Rather he is focused on guiding the Panthers into the post-season.
“You hope there are more (wins) to come but we’ve moved forward,” he said. “It’s on to the next game and trying to prepare hopefully for the playoffs.”
Heading into last night’s tussle with Lebo, USC sported a 9-3 record. The Panthers were 5-1 in Section 4-AAAA and trailed undefeated Bethel Park in the standings.
USC has three critical contests coming up. In addition to hosting the Hawks at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 22, the Panthers visit Trinity Friday, Jan. 18 and Canon-McMillan the following Friday, Jan. 25.
The Big Macs proved giant slayers, recently toppling Lebo while the Hillers almost handed BP its first section defeat but the Hawks escaped with their second straight overtime win on the road.
Despite 10 tallies from Sam Bohn, Canon-McMillan dropped a 46-40 decision at Moon. However, the Big Macs rallied to upend Mt. Lebanon, 82-77, in triple overtime.
Brett Haney led all scorers with 35 points. He drained five buckets from 3-point range.
Seth Petras finished with 12 tallies, including two to push the game into overtime for the Big Macs. Jake Cadez also finished in double figures for CM. He scored 16.
For the Blue Devils, Tyler Roth (23), Matt Hoffman (22), Johnny Heagy (10) and Justin David (10) led the scoring attack. Roth buried five, 3-point field goals.
After Bethel Park disposed of Mt. Lebanon, 59-46, in Section 4-AAAA action, the Hawks ventured into Washington County and escaped with an overtime win at Trinity, 65-63.
Cody Gilchrist, off an assist from Rohan Young, iced the contest with his game-winning bucket with five seconds to play. Gilchrist finished with 18. Young followed with 14. Wyatt Hagerty and Kennedy Gilmore supplied 13 and 12 points in the triumph.
Against Lebo, Gilchrist led the way with 16 markers and Hagerty followed with 13 tallies. Gilmore chipped in 10 points while Young and Joey Mascaro both finished with eight each.
For the Blue Devils, Tyler Roth (17), Jonny David (11) and Matt Hoffman (10) scored in double figures.
Meanwhile, Peters Township dropped its fourth league game in a row when the Indians fell to Baldwin, 60-52. Gabe Pritz fired in 34 points for the Indians, who were outscored, 12-4, in overtime.
In their OT loss to USC, Pritz also led. He scored 13 of his game-high 25 points in the opening quarter. Norton finished with 20 tallies for the Indians, who lead 17-7 after the first frame.
In USC’s win over the Moon Tigers, Jordan Grabowski and J.J. Conn finished with 18 and 15 tallies respectively.
CV recovered from a 59-55 upset against Beaver Area by rolling up victories against Keystone Oaks, 95-82, South Park, 60-45, and Mt. Lebanon, 60-56, before its section showdown last night against South Fayette.
In a battle of unbeaten teams, Beaver used a 21-11 scoring edge in the final frame to pull out the victory.
Michael Boulous (17), Dominic Castello (12) and Haedyn Herzer (11) all scored in double figures for the Colts.
In double digits for the Colts against KO were: McConnell (22), Spencer Casson (22), Castello (17), Boulos (14) and Haerzer (14).
Jared Skolnicki topped out with 22 tallies for KO. Taylor Lehman and Cory Sevacko finished with 18 each while Kobe Phillippi and Braydon Griffiths followed with 14 and 10 tallies each.
Boulos topped all scorers against the Eagles, pumping in 26 points. Castello and Casson both finished with 11 markers.
Boulos (26) Castello (16) and Casson (14) led the attack against Lebo. Tyler Roth and Justin David paced the Blue Devils with 16 and 14 markers.
KO got back on the winning track when the Golden Eagles dumped McGuffey, 75-58. Lehman (20), Griffiths (18), Skolnicki (16) and Sevacko (13) led the offensive attack.
Meanwhile South Fayette trumped McGuffey, 73-43, and downed Montour, 53-46, in preparation for the fray against Chartiers Valley last night.
Evan Bonnaure and Zach Challingsworth were the big guns for the Lions.
Against the Highlanders, Bonnaure exploded for 32 points. He buried six, 3-point field goals. He fired in 23 versus the Spartans.
Challingsworth chipped in 14 and 12 in the victories.
Bishop Canevin succumbed to Brentwood, 56-44. Jake Seligman (16), Brennan Cahill (12) and Mike Tambellini (10) led the Crusaders’ attack.
The Crusaders, however, recovered to beat Fort Cherry, 58-51.
Behind the 18-point performance of Dale Clancy, Seton-La Salle topped Washington, 50-45, in a key Section 4-AA clash.
The Rebels also trounced Burgettstown, 75-50.Levi Masau (17), Clancy (15), Ryan Norkus (15) and David Boehm led the Rebel uprising.
In non-section action, Avonworth edged Chartiers-Houston, 48-47.
Alec Ferrari and Shayne Murphy each tossed in 10 tallies in the losing effort. The Bucs recovered from that loss to beat Brentwood on the road, 48-45, in a return to Section 4 play. Ferrari tossed in a game-high 18 points.