For one of the few times in district basketball finals history, the WPIAL will have book-end girls basketball championship games with the Class A title games lifting the curtain and the Class AAAA finals concluding two days of championships. Here is a look at all four of the 2014 WPIAL Girls Basketball Championship Games which can be heard only here on the MSA Sports Network.
The game: Hempfield (17-8) vs. Penn-Trafford (19-6) Saturday at 9 p.m.
Coaches: Aaron Epps, Hempfield … John Giannikas, Penn-Trafford
Championship history: This is the first championship appearance for either team. They both come from Section 1 and this is the first time in WPIAL history that any of the teams currently in Section 1 made it to the title game. Penn-Trafford had never made it to the semifinals before this season.
Leading scorers: Monica Burns, Hempfield, 20.2; Maria Palarino, Penn-Trafford, 18.0.
The lowdown: Considering how Section 1 teams fared in the past, this is most certainly a surprising championship matchup. The two teams met twice during the season and Penn-Trafford won both (53-49 and 63-62). One of the keys might be for Penn-Trafford to control Burns like it did in the first two meetings. Burns scored only 12 and 15 points in the two games against Penn-Trafford. The play of Leah Knizner also could be key for Hempfield. She is averaging 14 points in the playoffs. Hempfield has scored 65, 56 and 60 points in the playoffs, but Penn-Trafford has not allowed more than 43 points in a playoff game.
The game: Blackhawk (22-2) vs. South Park (21-4) Saturday at 3 p.m.
Coaches: Reggie Wells, South Park. He used to coach the South Park’s boys team and guided the Eagles boys to two title games. One of Wells’ losses was to, coincidentally, Blackhawk. … Steve Lodovico, Blackhawk. Lodovico is a former Blackhawk boys player.
Championship history: Blackhawk has won five championships – 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2011. Blackhawk lost in the 2001 title game. … South Park is the defending WPIAL champion. The Eagles have three titles overall. They also won in 1998 and 2008 (Class AA). South Park lost to Hopewell in the 2012 title game.
Leading scorers: Chassidy Omogrosso, Blackhawk, 22.1; Allison McGrath, South Park 17.6; Hallie Torris, South Park, 15.6.
The lowdown: Both teams have the ability to score a lot of points. Blackhawk averages 69 points and South Park 60. But South Park’s Wells said his team’s defense will be key. The Eagles like to play zone. Blackhawk has scored 77, 69 and 69 points in the playoffs. Omogrosso is one of the best guards in the WPIAL and has committed to Duquesne. She is one of two Division I players for the Cougars. Courtney Vannoy has committed to Loyola, Md. McGrath is a key for South Park, but the Eagles proved in the semifinals they are more than McGrath. Elizabeth Forward played a box-and-one on McGrath and she scored six points, all on free throws.
The game: Seton-LaSalle (21-4) vs. Burrell (25-0) Friday at 5 p.m.
Coaches: Spencer Stefko, Seton-LaSalle. He is in his first season with the Rebels after a successful run at Chartiers Valley. … Meghan Ziemianski, Burrell. Ziemianski’s two assistants are her brother, Zack, and her father, Mark.
Championship history: Talk about differing traditions. Burrell is making its first WPIAL title game appearance. Meanwhile, this is Seton-LaSalle’s 13th championship game. The Rebels won five titles in 1983, 1984, 2000, 2011 and 2012. They lost in the title game seven times.
The lowdown: Although Burrell is undefeated, Seton-LaSalle is widely considered the favorite. Seton-LaSalle has three Pitt recruits. Senior guard Yacine Diop and senior forward Naje Gibson have already signed with Pitt. Junior guard Cassidy Walsh is verbally committed to Pitt. While those three are talented, don’t overlook Shaunay Edmonds, who has scored double figures three of the past four games. Burrell is led by junior guard Sydney Bordonaro, who averages 16.1 points. She is averaging 19 in the playoffs and already has more than 1,000 career points. Burrell needs a big game from her to have a chance, but sophomore forward Natalie Myers also is a key for the Bucs.
The game: Serra (23-2) vs. Vincentian (21-3) Saturday at 11 a.m.
Coaches: Bill Cleary is Serra’s longtime coach. … Ron Moncrief, Vincentian
Championship history: This is a rematch of last year’s championship, won by Vincentian, 53-46. Vincentian is trying to win its third consecutive title and fourth in five years. Vincentian has six titles overall. The others were in 1996, 2001 and 2002. Vincentian lost in the 1992 and 2007 final. … Serra is trying for its fifth title. The four came in 1992, 1999, 2003 and 2005. Serra has lost six times in the final.
The lowdown: The two teams met in the second game of the season and Vincentian won, 70-60. The player to watch is Vincentian junior forward Brenna Wise. She averages 18.4 points and already has around a dozen scholarship offers. Pitt, Duquesne and Virginia Tech are just a few of the schools that have offered. Ally Bartoszewicz and Torrieonna Cash also are capable of hurting opposing defenses. While Vincentian has a capable offense, Serra has allowed an average of only 28 points in three playoff games. Serra is led by the Sieg sisters – Megan and Katie. Serra has had three different leading scorers in three playoff games. Besides the Sieg sisters, Nicole Pero had a team-high 16 points in the first round.