Friday, February 10, 2012 | 1:35 PM
The WPIAL boys basketball playoffs will seem a little strange this year without Upper St. Clair. The Panthers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and their 10-year streak was the longest current streak in Class AAAA.
But on the other side of streaks, the February traditions continue at Monessen. Groundhog Day comes and goes. Valentines Day is celebrated. And the Monessen boys play in the WPIAL playoffs.
The Monessen boys have qualified for the playoffs for the 31st consecutive season, which is a WPIAL record. Blackhawk is second on the all-time list with 29 consecutive appearances.
The last time Monessen didn’t make the WPIAL playoffs was 1981. This year’s team is 20-1 and the Greyhounds have already finished section play. They went undefeated (12-0) in section for the second year in a row.
It will be interesting to see if the WPIAL seeds Monessen or Beaver Falls the No. 1 team for the Class AA playoffs. Monessen’s only loss was outside the WPIAL to Imani Christian and Monessen is the defending WPIAL champion. Beaver Falls has lost twice – to West Middlesex and Northgate. The West Middlesex loss came in the season opener. The Northgate loss came when Beaver Falls had six players suspended because of participating in a fight off school grounds.
The Monessen boys team was part of a controversial game last Friday at Brentwood. Some Monessen fans and players claimed Brentwood students and players used racial slurs toward Monessen.
Two Brentwood students came to the game dresses as bananas, like they have at many Brentwood athletic events. But the students went onto the floor during the game and ran past a section of Monessen fans, causing a disruption. The two students were ejected.
Monessen fans claimed Brentwood fans used racist language, but Brentwood officials issued a statement saying the district conducted an investigation and nothing revealed racist comments were made.
Monessen sent an incident report to the WPIAL. The WPIAL executive committee meets Monday for various reasons. The committee will examine the case and decide whether the WPIAL needs to have a hearing with Brentwood and Monessen.
While the Monessen boys are in the playoffs for the 31st consecutive season, the Serra Catholic boys are on a pretty good roll for section titles.
Regardless of how Serra fares Friday night against Clairton, Serra already has clinched at least a share of the WPIAL Class A Section 4 title. Serra is 9-0 and Clairton 8-1. That means Serra will win its eighth section title in a row, the longest current streak in WPIAL boys basketball.
Meanwhile, Beaver Falls has clinched at least a share of the WPIAL Class AA Section 6 title. Beaver Falls has won five sections in a row and 10 since 2001.
Mason Sets Record
Highlands senior guard Micah Mason set the WPIAL record for career 3-pointers in Tuesday’s game against Deer Lakes. Mason now has 335 3-pointers, one more than former Chartiers Valley star, T.J. McConnell.
Battle of Unbeatens
Maybe the best girls basketball game in the WPIAL this season will be a non-section game Saturday afternoon on MSA Sports.
Seton-LaSalle (19-0) plays at Oakland Catholic (21-0) at 2:30 p.m. They are the only undefeated teams in WPIAL girls basketball and both are ranked No. 1 by MSA Sports – Seton-LaSalle in Class AA and Oakland Catholic in Class AAAA.
Football Rule Changes
The National Federation of State High School Associations has made a few rules changes for football next season, and two are noteworthy.
First, a player must leave the game for at least one play if his helmet comes off without it being attributed to a penalty by an opponent.
Also, there will be no “forceout” rule in high school football any more. Starting next season, a receiver must come down in bounds with one foot while maintaining possession. In the past, an official could have ruled that an airborne player attempting to catch the ball would have come down inbounds, but was prevented from doing so because a hit by an opponent.
The WPIAL girls gymnastics championships are Saturday at Moon High School. Hopewell’s Kelly Burak is trying to win her third consecutive all-around title in the Diamond Division (highest level).
Where Are They Now?
Val McQuade, a member of the MSA Sports All-Netters team a year ago as she helped lead the Shaler Titans to a WPIAL Class AAAA championship, has started 18 of 24 games at Niagara University. McQuade, a freshman, is averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Tags: Beaver Falls Boys Basketball, Brentwood Boys Basketball, Highlands Boys Basketball, Monessen Boys Basketball, Oakland Catholic Girls Basketball, Serra Catholic Boys Basketball, Seton-LaSalle Girls Basketball, Shaler Girls Basketball, Upper St. Clair Boys Basketball