2024 WPIAL Class 5A girls basketball championship breakdown: Armstrong vs. South Fayette

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Friday, March 1, 2024 | 12:09 PM


WPIAL Class 5A girls basketball championship

No. 5 Armstrong vs. No. 6 South Fayette

5 p.m. Saturday at Petersen Events Center

On the air: Audio broadcast: Trib HSSN; Video livestream: NFHS Network

WPIAL titles: Armstrong 0, South Fayette 3 (2022-23, ‘16)

Armstrong (21-4)

Coach: Jim Callipare

Projected starting lineup

No., Name, Ht., Cl., Pos.

1, Marlo Mellish, 5-6, jr., G

5, Emma Paul, 5-5, sr., G

12, Kyla Fitzgerald, 6-2, sr., F

21, Isabella Yancy, 5-3, jr., G

25, Sarai Weaver, 5-11, sr., F

How they got here: Defeated No. 12 Latrobe, 51-40, in the first round; No. 4 Lincoln Park, 59-31, in the quarterfinals; and No. 1 Oakland Catholic, 49-40, in the semifinals.

Notable: Armstrong, which was formed when Kittanning and Ford City merged in 2015, is playing in its first WPIAL girls basketball championship game. The River Hawks shared the Section 2 championship with North Hills at 10-2 and finished the regular season on a 13-game winning streak. Senior guard Emma Paul averages 21 ppg and had 28 points in the semifinal upset over previously-unbeaten Oakland Catholic. She also had 25 in the quarterfinals and 22 in the first round. Senior forward Sarai Weaver also has been a reliable secondary scorer. Jim Callipare is in his third year leading Armstrong.

South Fayette (17-8)

Coach: Bryan Bennett

Projected starting lineup

No., Name, Ht., Cl., Pos.

3, Haylie Lamonde, 5-7, so., G

11, Lainey Yater, 5-5, sr., G

13, Alexa Ankrum, 5-10, jr., F

14, Juliette Leroux, 6-0, so., G/F

32, Erica Hall, 5-11, sr., G/F

How they got here: Defeated No. 11 Mars, 55-36, in the first round; No. 3 Trinity, 53-39, in the quarterfinals; and No. 2 McKeesport, 49-41, in the semifinals.

Notable: South Fayette wasn’t expected to be playing in the WPIAL final as the No. 6 seed, but after winning back-to-back championships, it’s no surprise the Lions are back at the Pete. South Fayette finished third in Section 4 at 6-4 but has gone on quite a run in the postseason with four commanding victories. Sophomore Juliette Leroux had 16 points, and sophomore Haylie Lamonde added 13 in the semifinal win. Seniors Lainey Yater and Erica Hall were all-section performers and key starters in last year’s WPIAL title run, when the team relied on Maddie Webber (Villanova) and Ava Leroux (Elon). Sixth-year Bryan Bennett has guided the team to the finals for a third straight season.

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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