Mt. Lebanon boys earn top seed in Class 6A as WPIAL playoff pairings are released
By: Chris Harlan
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 | 7:33 PM
If the WPIAL ran the Class 6A boys basketball tournament five times, it might crown five different champions.
That's the opinion of Mt. Lebanon coach Joe David, whose team was seeded first Tuesday night when the WPIAL revealed playoff brackets at the annual pairings meeting in Green Tree.
The Class 6A boys bracket was the hardest to assemble and could be the most unpredictable in years.
“There are probably six or seven teams in 6A that could win this thing,” David said. “Maybe you do the same tournament five times and come out with five different champions. It might be one of those years.”
The WPIAL basketball committee seeded Section 2 champion Mt. Lebanon first and Section 3 champion Woodland Hills second, in part because the Blue Devils lost just once in section. With the top two seeds decided, the committee's task grew tougher yet.
The next six seeds went to No. 3 Fox Chapel, No. 4 Central Catholic, No. 5 Penn Hills, No. 6 Pine-Richland, No. 7 Canon-McMillan and No. 8 Butler.
“It was very difficult with a lot of debate back and forth,” said Hampton athletic director Bill Cardone, chairman of the WPIAL's basketball committee. “I don't think so much from the one and the two (seeds), but the three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Almost all the way down to nine, it was a very difficult bracket to put together.
“It's probably the most depth we've seen out of the largest classification, at least since I've been on the committee.”
The committee chose to seed Fox Chapel, the second-place team in Section 3, ahead of Section 1 champion Central Catholic. The brackets were assembled early Monday, before Central Catholic defeated Fox Chapel in a nonsection game.
The committee was impressed with Fox Chapel's second-half success, including wins over No. 2-seed Woodland Hills and No. 5 Penn Hills.
“They went 7-0 in a pretty good section,” committee member Dan O'Neil said. “I think the consensus was they must be playing very, very well.”
The WPIAL awarded the other boys No. 1 seeds to Mars in Class 5A, Quaker Valley in 4A, Lincoln Park in 3A, Sewickley Academy in 2A and Vincentian Academy in A.
North Allegheny received the No. 1 seed in Class 6A girls, joining Trinity in 5A, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in 4A, Bishop Canevin in 3A, Vincentian Academy in 2A and Winchester Thurston in A.
First-round games are Friday, Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday with quarterfinals Feb. 22-24 and semifinals Feb. 26-28. The championships are March 1-3 at Petersen Events Center.
“My team is programmed and brainwashed to understand that the No. 1 team in the WPIAL is determined March 2 or 3,” David said. “They're programmed that the stats and the standings mean absolutely nothing. They know what's ahead of them. Whether they're (seeded) one, four or six, it doesn't make a difference.”
The difference between first and eighth in Class 6A boys was slim. Consider, Canon-McMillan was the top-ranked team just two weeks ago. After a loss to Baldwin, the 20-win Big Macs were seeded seventh.
“I've seen a lot of (disgruntled) coaches lose their first-round game tonight,” said Canon-McMillan coach Rick Bell, who wasn't upset with his seed. “You're not going to win a game tonight, but if you're not careful with how you walk out of here and present it to your kids, you can lose tonight.”
Pine-Richland fell to sixth after a late loss to Seneca Valley. Butler dropped to eighth after losing to Central Catholic.
“At some point in the year, they were all (ranked No. 1),” WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said. “So that's what it came down to: Who was playing well at the end? Anybody could beat anybody. I think the consensus is it's a wide-open tournament.”
In Class 4A boys, the committee considered awarding the top four seeds to teams all from the same section: Quaker Valley, New Castle, Central Valley and Ambridge. The committee made that decision a year ago, believing Section 2 was that much stronger than the others, but decided against it this time. New Castle is second, Section 3 champion Belle Vernon is third and Section 1 champion Indiana is fourth.
However, the committee did seed Central Valley fifth and Ambridge sixth, meaning all four Section 2 teams could play their way into the semifinals.
In Class A boys, Clairton and Monessen were placed on opposite sides of the bracket, as expected. The section rivals were involved in a brawl last week.
The complete list of WPIAL pairings for the opening round is below.
Butler (18-4) vs. Latrobe (15-7) at Fox Chapel, 1:30 p.m.; Penn Hills (19-3) vs. Upper St. Clair (11-11) at Baldwin, 1:30 p.m.; Canon-McMillan (20-2) vs. Seneca Valley (14-8) at West Allegheny, 1:30 p.m.; Pine-Richland (17-5) vs. Bethel Park (13-9) at North Hills, 1:30 p.m.
Byes: Mt. Lebanon (19-3), Woodland Hills (19-3), Fox Chapel (17-5), Central Catholic (14-8)
Hampton (10-12) vs. Gateway (12-10) at Fox Chapel, 8 p.m.; McKeesport (14-8) vs. Armstrong, TBD; Trinity (18-4) vs. Greensburg Salem (12-10) at Peters Township, 6:30 p.m.; West Allegheny (10-11) vs. Laurel Highlands (14-8) at Peters Township, 8 p.m.; Moon (17-5) vs. Albert Gallatin (12-10) at Baldwin, 8 p.m.
Byes: Mars (18-4), Highlands (17-4), Franklin Regional (18-4)
Valley (13-4) vs. South Park (12-9) at North Hills, 8 p.m.; Central Valley (14-7) vs. Uniontown (13-9) at Peters Township, 8 p.m.; South Fayette (15-7) vs. Freeport (15-6) at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 8 p.m.; Ambridge (12-9) vs. Deer Lakes (12-9) at Fox Chapel, 8 p.m.
Byes: Quaker Valley (21-0), New Castle (18-4), Belle Vernon (17-5), Indiana (17-5)
Brownsville (11-11) vs. Carlynton (8-14) at Charleroi, 8 p.m.
Aliquippa (15-6) vs. South Side Beaver (9-12) at Ambridge, 8 p.m.; Burrell (10-12) vs. Riverside (12-9) at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 8 p.m.; Washington (17-5) vs. Brentwood (8-12) at Peters Township, 7 p.m.; Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (11-11) vs. Ellwood City (14-8) at Ambridge, 6:30 p.m.
Lincoln Park (15-6) vs. Brownsville/Carlynton at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 8 p.m.; East Allegheny (11-9) vs. Burgettstown (15-6) at Peters Township, 6:30 p.m.; Seton LaSalle (16-5) vs. South Allegheny (11-11) at Peters Township, 8 p.m.; Shady Side Academy (13-8) vs. Avonworth (12-10) at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Leechburg (13-6) vs. Fort Cherry (9-13) at North Hills, 5:30 p.m.; Chartiers-Houston (17-5) vs. Neshannock (8-14) at West Allegheny, 8 p.m.; California (13-8) vs. Springdale (12-8) at North Hills, 8:30 p.m.; Shenango (14-8) vs. Frazier (9-12) at West Allegheny, 6:30 p.m.
Byes: Sewickley Academy (18-4), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (20-2), Jeannette (18-3), Serra Catholic (18-4)
Propel Andrew Street (16-5) vs. Holy Family Academy (13-8) at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 6:30 p.m.; Cornell (16-6) vs. Winchester Thurston (8-11) at Northgate, 8 p.m.; Imani Christian (11-9) vs. West Greene (8-14) at Charleroi, 6:30 p.m.; Eden Christian Academy (15-5) vs. Geibel (7-15) at Baldwin, 8 p.m.
Byes: Vincentian Academy (15-7), Monessen (13-8), Union (15-5), Clairton (16-4)
Butler (13-9) vs. Upper St. Clair (12-9) at North Hills, 7 p.m.; Norwin (11-9) vs. Pine-Richland (7-13) at Plum, 8 p.m.; Mt. Lebanon (11-11) vs. Penn Hills (13-8) at Baldwin, 6:30 p.m.; Hempfield (11-11) vs. Seneca Valley (11-10) at Fox Chapel, 6:30 p.m.; Latrobe (16-6) vs. Shaler (10-12) at Plum, 6:30 p.m.
Byes: North Allegheny (22-0), Peters Township (19-3), Bethel Park (16-5)
Trinity (19-3) vs. Plum (6-16) at West Allegheny, 8 p.m.; Oakland Catholic (14-8) vs. South Fayette (12-8) at Upper St. Clair, 6:30 p.m.; Mars (17-5) vs. Uniontown (7-12) at Gateway, 6:30 p.m.; Hampton (18-4) vs. Connellsville (11-11) at Gateway, 8 p.m.; Thomas Jefferson (19-3) vs. Montour (9-13) at Upper St. Clair, 8 p.m.; Gateway (19-3) vs. Ringgold (16-6) at Baldwin, 6:30 p.m.; West Allegheny (16-6) vs. Woodland Hills (10-12) at Fox Chapel, 6:30 p.m.; Chartiers Valley (16-6) vs. Armstrong (15-7) at Fox Chapel, 8 p.m.
South Park (13-9) vs. Ambridge (12-10) at West Allegheny, 3 p.m.; Central Valley (15-5) vs. Deer Lakes (9-13) at North Hills, 3 p.m.; Freeport (13-8) vs. Elizabeth Forward (14-7) at Fox Chapel, 3 p.m.; Belle Vernon (17-5) vs. Knoch (11-11) at Baldwin, 3 p.m.
Byes: Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (19-3), Blackhawk (18-2), Beaver (16-5), Keystone Oaks (17-4)
South Side Beaver (15-7) vs. Laurel (12-10) at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 6:30 p.m.; Avonworth (15-7) vs. South Allegheny (12-8) at Fox Chapel, 6:30 p.m.; Riverside (14-8) vs. Seton LaSalle (9-13) at North Hills, 6:30 p.m.; Charleroi (19-3) vs. Apollo-Ridge (10-12) at Peters Township, 6:30 p.m.
Byes: Bishop Canevin (17-4), East Allegheny (22-0), Neshannock (19-3), Mohawk (18-4)
Washington (15-6) vs. California (14-7) at Peters Township, 8:30 p.m.; Serra Catholic (14-7) vs. Riverview (11-10) at Northgate, 6:30 p.m.; Brentwood (15-6) vs. Fort Cherry (12-10) at Peters Township, 5:30 p.m.; Leechburg (18-4) vs. Frazier (13-9) at West Allegheny, 6:30 p.m.
Byes: Vincentian Academy (20-1), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (19-2), Chartiers-Houston (17-5), Greensburg Central Catholic (12-10)
Avella (13-8) vs. Cornell (7-15) at West Allegheny, noon; Aquinas Academy (14-5) vs. Mapletown (9-13) at Baldwin, noon; Rochester (12-7) vs. Eden Christian Academy (8-13) at North Hills, noon; St. Joseph (13-9) vs. Geibel (9-11) at Fox Chapel, noon
Byes: Winchester Thurston (16-5), West Greene (20-2), Quigley Catholic (14-8), Sewickley Academy (13-5)
Tags: Mt. Lebanon