Greensburg Central Catholic girls rewarded for strong finish

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018 | 10:22 PM


Late season's success has Greensburg Central Catholic coach Joe Eisaman and Hempfield first-year coach Lindsy Muchnock excited about the upcoming WPIAL girls basketball playoffs.

The WPIAL released playoff pairings at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree on Tuesday, with the tournament set to begin Friday.

Greensburg Central Catholic, which ended the season winning 10 of 14 games, will open the playoffs in the quarterfinals Feb. 22 against the winner of the Serra Catholic (14-7) and Riverview (11-10) first-round game, set for Friday at Northgate.

The Centurions, who finished the regular season 12-10, were seeded fourth in Class 2A and earned a bye. Nine of their losses were to playoff teams.

“It didn't matter to me if we got seeded or had to play a preliminary-round game,” Eisaman said. “If you can't win a preliminary-round game, you're not going far anyway. It gives us a full weak to get ready.”

If Serra Catholic wins, it would force a rematch between Section 3 rivals. Serra and GCC split during the regular season.

The WPIAL seeded Greensburg Central Catholic high because of the strength of its nonsection schedule.

“We played a lot of larger schools,” said Eisaman, whose team lost to Vincentian Academy in the 2017 semifinals. “That's been our model. It helps us to find out where our weaknesses are and where to improve. It helped us finish strong and get ready for the playoffs.”

Vincentian (20-1) was seeded No. 1 in Class 2A followed by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (19-2) and Chartiers-Houston (17-5). Leechburg (18-4) was seeded No. 6 behind Serra.

Hempfield (11-11) received a seventh seed in Class 6A and will face Seneca Valley (11-10) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fox Chapel. Hempfield ended up finishing fifth in last year's tournament and qualified for the PIAA playoffs.

Undefeated North Allegheny (22-0) was seeded No. 1 in Class 6A, followed by Peters Township (19-3), Bethel Park (16-5) and Norwin (11-9).

Hempfield used a late-season spurt, winning six of seven games, and challenged Norwin for the section title.

“We expected to be where we're at,” Muchnock said. “We actually finished the second half of the season a lot stronger, and we had a nice run with a five-game winning streak. We're excited to be in the playoffs and excited for the draw against Seneca Valley.

“They are a very good team, and we'll prepare the best we can and see what we can do.”

Muchnock said she plans to watch film on Seneca Valley and to see how her team matches up against the Raiders.

Norwin (11-9) opens the playoffs Tuesday as well against Pine-Richland (7-13) at 8 p.m. at Plum. The Knights won consecutive WPIAL titles in 2015 and 2016.

Knights coach Brian Brozeski said just getting into the tournament is half the battle.

“There are a lot of good teams in the tournament,” Brozeski said. “Anyone can win it. We're just happy to have a shot.”

Latrobe (16-6), which tied with Hempfield for second place in Section 2-6A, opens the playoffs against Shaler (10-12) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Plum.

Belle Vernon (17-5) was seeded No. 6 in Class 4A behind Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (19-3), Blackhawk (18-2), Beaver (16-5), Keystone Oaks (17-4) and Central Valley (15-5).

The Leopards will play Knoch (11-4) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Baldwin.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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