4 A-K Valley teams receive top 4 seeds for WPIAL basketball tournament

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 | 9:30 PM

In a year like no other, every WPIAL basketball team had the opportunity to play in the postseason this year, and when the WPIAL announced the brackets on Tuesday, four teams from the Alle-Kiski Valley found themselves with top-four seeds in their respective classifications.

For the second straight year, the Fox Chapel boys (16-2) earned the No. 2 seed in Class 6A. They’ll host No. 15 Bethel Park at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Defending WPIAL Class 4A champion Highlands (13-3) earned the No. 4 seed in Class 5A and will host the winner of No. 13 Trinity and No. 20 Kiski Area at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Springdale (11-7, 6-3) earned the No. 4 seed in Class 2A. They’ll host the winner of No. 13 Winchester Thurston and No. 20 Jefferson Morgan at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Knoch (7-1) received the highest seed for girls basketball teams from the A-K Valley with the No. 4 seed in Class 4A. They’ll host No. 13 Hopewell at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

All 14 boys teams and 12 of the 14 girls teams opted into the tournament.

Last year, as the No. 6 seed, Knoch suffered a close loss to No. 3 Central Valley in the Class 4A quarterfinals and just missed a trip to states under the follow-the-leader format.

“The girls understand what is in front of them,” Knights coach Chris Andreassi said. “They got a taste last year of some big-time playoff action. I don’t think there is any nervous anticipation or anything like that. They will be ready to go.”

The Knights returned to practice Monday after a two-week covid pause. They last played Feb. 6, a 51-41 loss to Class 3A power Laurel. They went undefeated (7-0) in Section 1-4A.

The Freeport girls, 8-2 overall and 7-1 in Section 1-4A, are seeded sixth and will host No. 11 Mt. Pleasant at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The Yellowjackets’ only losses came at the hands of Knoch and Class 5A Gateway.

“It’s exciting to have a home game, for sure,” Freeport coach Fred Soilis said. “You don’t see that very often in the playoffs in basketball. We’re going to prepare like we always do and be ready for what we expect to be a competitive game.”

Fox Chapel, 9-7 overall and 8-4 in a competitive Section 2-5A, drew the No. 8 seed in Class 5A and will host No. 25 Ringgold in the preliminary round at 8 p.m. Monday. The Foxes are in the postseason for the third year in a row.

Class 5A girls has the biggest field with 26 teams. Plum, seeded 15th,, will host Lincoln Park at 6 p.m. Monday.

Deer Lakes (6-4) maintains the longest active playoff streak in the A-K Valley with its seventh straight appearance. As the No. 14 seed, the Lancers visit No. 3 Southmoreland at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Riverview, No. 10 in Class A, will play at Bishop Canevin at 6 p.m. March 4 in a rematch of a Crusaders quarterfinal win last year. St. Joseph (6-11), No. 9 in Class A, also plays March 4 at No. 8 Avella.

After suffering back-to-back losses earlier in the season, the Fox Chapel boys could take a 16-game winning streak into the playoffs. Coach Zach Skrinjar said he feels his team’s strength of schedule prepared them even more for the postseason.

“Every game we’ve played this year, we’ve played against a playoff team,” Skrinjar said. “It’s definitely been a good preparation for us.”

Highlands is looking to win its second straight WPIAL title, but even though the Golden Rams have won their past three games, they are still looking to improve heading into their first-round matchup.

“With all the games that have been postponed and all the stoppages and everything, we’re definitely still trying to grow and get better,” Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski said. “We’re gonna utilize practice times and the games we have the rest of this week and continue to try and get better because we have a lot of opportunity to improve.”

Deer Lakes, Leechburg and St. Joseph were the only other A-K Valley boys teams who received top 10 seeds on Tuesday. Deer Lakes (8-3, 5-2) is the No. 10 seed in Class 4A after missing its last five games due to a shutdown.

Leechburg (6-4, 6-3) received the No. 6 seed and St. Joseph (7-9, 5-5) received the No. 8 seed in the Class A tournament. Leechburg will host No. 11 Mapletown and St. Joseph will host No. 9 Avella at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Watch the archive of the WPIAL Basketball Playoff Pairings Show on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

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