5 things to watch in the PIAA basketball semifinals

Monday, March 18, 2019 | 2:25 AM

Moon and Mars combined for a dramatic WPIAL boys basketball championship earlier this month.

Mars rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit and Andrew Recchia made a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left in a 58-56 victory at Petersen Events Center.

Now, they’ll meet again.

WPIAL champion Mars (27-1) faces runner-up Moon (26-2) in a PIAA Class 5A semifinal at 7 p.m., Monday at New Castle.

Recent history favors the runner-up. Since basketball expanded to six classifications in 2016-17, there have been three WPIAL championship rematches in the boys state playoff brackets.

Twice, the WPIAL champion lost the rematch.

In 2018, runner-up Our Lady of the Sacred Heart used overtime to defeat champion Sewickley Academy, 70-68, in the PIAA Class 2A semifinals.

In 2017, runner-up Lincoln Park upset champion North Catholic, 54-46, in a PIAA Class 3A semifinal.

However, also in 2017, WPIAL champion Pine-Richland defeated runner-up Butler, 64-58, in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal

WPIAL championship rematch, Part 2

There’s also a WPIAL championship rematch in the girls brackets.

Chartiers Valley (28-0) and Thomas Jefferson (22-7), which met in the WPIAL Class 5A girls finals, will rematch at 7 p.m., Tuesday at Peters Township. Chartiers Valley won the WPIAL title 64-48 on March 2.

It will be the fourth matchup this season between the section rivals. Chartiers Valley also won both regular-season meetings: 68-50 and 41-38.

One win away from history

The Peters Township girls are one win away from its first PIAA championship appearance, but standing in their way is the defending state champion.

The Indians face Upper Dublin and 6-foot-3 junior star Jackie Vargas at 6 p.m., Monday in a Class 6A semifinal at Bald Eagle Area. Vargas — a talented post player — has scored in double figures in all three state playoff games, including 17 points in a second-round win over North Allegheny.

Upper Dublin (25-4) entered states as the fifth-place team from District 1.

A year ago, the suburban Philadelphia team entered the PIAA tournament as the ninth-place team from District 1 and ultimately defeated Central Bucks South, 41-39, in the state finals.

Lucky No. 7?

The WPIAL has a chance to send seven teams to Hershey for the finals. If so, that would be the most under the six-classification formation that started in 2016-17.

The district had four finalists last season (two boys, two girls) and six in 2017 (three boys, three girls).

And still undefeated

There are three undefeated girls teams left in the state: Chartiers Valley, Peters Township and Dunmore. All three are 28-0.

Lancaster Catholic was 30-0 before an overtime loss to Mifflinberg, 72-70, in the Class 4A girls quarterfinals.

PIAA boys basketball pairings

PIAA girls basketball pairings

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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