Freeport girls draw familiar opponent in WPIAL’s 1st round
By: Michael Love
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 | 11:42 PM
The Freeport girls basketball team is experiencing some WPIAL playoff déjà vu.
For the second year in a row, the Yellowjackets will face Elizabeth Forward in a Class 4A 7-10 first-round matchup.
And like last year, the game is at 3 p.m. on a Saturday at Fox Chapel, and the winner faces No. 2 Blackhawk in the quarterfinals.
Freeport coach Fred Soilis hopes that it also is déjà vu in terms of the outcome against the Warriors. The Yellowjackets topped Elizabeth Forward, 56-50, in overtime to advance to the 2017 round of eight.
“I felt that (Elizabeth Forward) was a real possibility,” said Soilis, who helped guide Freeport (13-8) to a runner-up finish in Section 1.
“I expected us to be a six or a seven (seed).”
Soilis said the game should be another competitive one between the teams. Elizabeth Forward (14-7) finished fourth in Section 3.
“We're going to put our best foot forward and see what we can do,” he said. “It's a fun and exciting time for the girls.”
The seven girls playoff qualifiers from the Alle-Kiski Valley learned their fates Tuesday evening as the brackets were revealed at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree.
Leechburg coach Joel Ceraso thought his team might garner a higher seed than No. 6 in the Class 2A playoffs. The Blue Devils (18-4), the second-place team from Section 2 behind No. 1 Vincentian, will face Frazier (13-9) out of Section 3 in the first round Friday at West Allegheny.
“We have Frazier first and then would face a pretty good Chartiers-Houston team if we can advance,” Ceraso said. “We hoped for a better placement, but it is what it is. (The committee) has a pretty tough job each year. We're just glad to have an opportunity to play for a championship. Hopefully, we can get it done.”
Leechburg capped the regular season Monday with a 49-47 victory over Class A No. 1 Winchester Thurston. The Blue Devils won five of seven down the stretch, including an 80-56 rout of Class 2A No. 7 Brentwood.
Blue Devils senior Mikayla Lovelace enters the WPIAL playoffs 31 points shy of 2,000 for her varsity career.
St. Joseph coach Sally Ackerman stressed her No. 6 Spartans can't look ahead to a potential quarterfinal against rival Quigley Catholic.
The team, she said, will be focused on No. 11 Geibel (9-11) on Saturday at Fox Chapel.
St. Joseph topped Quigley by four in a quarterfinal playoff game last year and scored a 73-70 victory in a January nonsection matchup.
Quigley (14-8) captured the Section 1 title with a 10-0 record and is seeded third.
“We have to show up and play hard on Saturday,” Ackerman said. “Geibel is a good team and will be looking to knock us off. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and we have to be ready for a battle.”
Apollo-Ridge (10-12) is No. 11 in Class 3A and will take on Section 3 runner-up Charleroi (19-3) in the first round.
The Vikings, back in the playoffs after a one-year hiatus, will play Feb. 21 at Peters Township.
Apollo-Ridge, with only one senior in 1,000-point scorer Megan Ost, hopes to snap a five-game losing streak. That stretch included games against Class 3A top seed Bishop Canevin, Class 4A playoff qualifier Knoch and a Greensburg Salem team that is in the Class 5A playoff field.
Deer Lakes, Riverview and Plum drew the lowest seeds in their tournaments, but all three are hoping to open some eyes in the first round.
Mustangs coach Steve Elsier knows his 6-16 team has a tough mountain to climb against No. 1 Trinity (19-3).
“We have to go out and play ball with nothing to lose,” Elsier said. “The girls are excited. It should be a good learning experience for this young team.”
Deer Lakes (9-13) is the No. 12 seed in Class 4A and will take on No. 5 Central Valley (15-5) on Saturday at North Hills.
The Lancers are in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. The winner will face Section 3 champion Keystone Oaks in the quarterfinals.
In addition to a fellow Section 1 playoff qualifiers Freeport, Knoch and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, all 10 of Deer Lakes' nonsection opponents also punched their tickets to the postseason.
Riverview (11-10), winners of five of seven games heading into the postseason, drew the No. 12 seed in Class 2A and will take on Section 3 champion Serra Catholic (14-7) on Friday at Northgate.
“I'm good with (the seed),” Raiders coach Keith Stitt said. “I knew we would probably get Serra or (Greensburg Central Catholic). We'll prepare for Friday and see what happens.”