For the second year in a row, Canon-McMillan is trying to sneak into the playoffs in Class AAAA. The Big Macs (4-2, 8-5) made the playoffs last season with a fourth place finish in Section 4-AAAA and a victory on Tuesday night has them in the playoff hunt once again.
The Big Macs defeated Peters Township, 55-46, with Britton Beachy and Alex Hammers leading the way. Beachy, a freshman guard, scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half to give Canon-McMillan a 25-19 lead at the break.
Hammers, who finished with a game-high 20 points against the Indians, scored 15 in the second half to push the Big Macs to the key section win. The victory over Peters Township has the Big Macs in third place in the section. Mt. Lebanon is right behind Canon-McMillan and defeated the Big Macs, 51-37, on Jan. 10. Head coach Rick Bell’s squad could not afford a loss against the rival Indians and a lineup that has seen different faces receiving playing time got the job done.
The Big Macs’ cannot rest easy. They face first-place Bethel Park (5-1, 10-2) on Friday night. The Blackhawks are led in scoring by Joey Mascaro, who averages 19.3 points per game, and Josh Krafczynski’s 15.2. The Blackhawks are on a five-game winning streak and with a roster of six seniors that finished second in the section last season, Bethel Park’s team is loaded with veteran talent.
Canon-McMillan has just one senior on its roster. Costa Karanikos is averaging double figures and along with Hammers, has been a steady force in the Big Macs’ lineup. The key to Canon-McMillan’s season could rest on the play of Beachy. The freshman has made an immediate impact when the Big Macs needed it the most. Injuries and illness had the roster depleted to a seven-man rotation, but with Malik Brown returning, reinforcements continue to roll in for Canon-McMillan.
The game against Bethel Park could be a measuring stick for the Big Macs. They have had an unexpected amount of success this season and with the competition in Class AAAA being what it is, a win over the Blackhawks would do wonders for Canon-McMillan’s confidence.
A victory would also provide much needed cushion for their playoff hopes. The Big Macs have seven-straight section games following Friday night’s matchup against Bethel Park, including back-to-back games against second place Upper St. Clair on Jan.24 and 27.