5 things to watch in PIAA girls basketball: 4th matchup for Peters Twp., Bethel Park
By: Don Rebel
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 | 10:14 AM
Bethel Park is having an outstanding season. In fact, the Black Hawks may be one of the best girls basketball teams that didn’t win a district title, reach the district finals or even win a section crown.
That’s because there is a neighboring school 7.9 miles away that is enjoying a season for the ages.
Peters Township is now 26-0 and shooting for state gold after winning the school’s first WPIAL girls basketball championship.
The two have already met three times this season as they prepare to collide Tuesday at Canon-McMillan in a PIAA Class 6A second-round contest.
The Black Hawks are 22-0 against everybody else, but they are 0-3 against the rival Indians.
In the first meeting Jan. 3, Peters Township needed overtime to edge host Bethel Park, 68-60.
The Indians rolled at home, 61-46, in the regular-season rematch Jan. 28.
The third meeting took place with a district title game spot at stake as Peters Township won again 36-28 in the WPIAL semifinals at Canon-McMillan. That game featured the Black Hawks trying to slow the game down to the point the Indians led 4-2 after one quarter.
“I would say this team is up there with one of my best,” said WPIAL Hall of Famer and Bethel Park coach Jonna Burke, now in her 16th season at her alma mater after several years coaching at Butler.
“Certainly the team in 2013 that won the WPIAL championship was very special, but this team is competitive with everyone.”
However, history from one year ago tells us Peters Township is no lock for the state quarterfinals despite their winning ways over Bethel Park this season.
In 2018, the Indians swept the Black Hawks in the regular season by scores of 38-37 and 58-44. Then Peters Township beat Bethel Park in the WPIAL semifinals 55-39.
But when the two teams met for a fourth time in the PIAA first round at Canon-McMillan, Bethel Park was finally triumphant, beating Peters Township, 44-35.
Section rivals in states
Besides Peters Township and Bethel Park, there are two other games matching WPIAL section foes against each other in the second round of the PIAA playoffs.
In Class 5A, Oakland Catholic and Penn Hills will square off on Wednesday for a third time with a spot in the state quarterfinals at stake.
The Eagles and Indians split the two Section 3-5A contests with each winning road games. Penn Hills won on a buzzer beater 32-31 in January while Oakland Catholic returned the favor with a 48-43 victory in February.
In Class 3A, Neshannock and Avonworth prepare to meet for a fourth time on Tuesday.
Like Peters Township, Neshannock is going for the four-game sweep of Avonworth.
The Lancers won the two regular-season Section 1-3A meetings by scores of 61-42 and 56-35 before eliminating the Antelopes in the district playoffs with a 47-37 win in the WPIAL semifinals.
Perfect seasons at stake
It has been well documented that the WPIAL has only two undefeated teams still alive as we head to mid-March as both Peters Township in Class 6A and Chartiers Valley in 5A are a perfect 26-0.
There are only three other undefeated girls basketball teams still alive in the state.
District 3 champion Lancaster Catholic is now 29-0 after beating Quaker Valley in a Class 4A first-round game 52-24. The Crusaders now face WPIAL runner-up Central Valley, which has only two losses on its resume.
The other two “perfect” teams face off in a Class 3A second-round game Tuesday at Bethlehem Freedom.
District 1 champion St. Basil Academy will face District 2 champion Dunmore.
These two are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the latest Trib HSSN girls basketball state rankings.
2017 golden rematch
A game that nearly took place in the district finals will come to fruition in the second round of the PIAA postseason on Wednesday.
North Catholic was the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs this year and went on to beat Central Valley for the program’s 19th district championship.
Blackhawk was the tournament’s No. 3 seed and was one win away from facing North Catholic, but the Cougars fell to the rival Warriors, 55-48, in the WPIAL semifinals.
So Blackhawk vs. North Catholic at Fox Chapel will be the first meeting between these two district girls basketball powers since the 2017 WPIAL title game.
Championship No. 17 for North Catholic was a one-sided affair as the Trojanettes rolled past the Cougars on that March day at the Petersen Events Center, 65-36.
Top 5 teams collide
Traditional power Bishop Carroll is coming off another District 6 championship this season and a PIAA first-round win over Veritas Academy.
The Huskies’ 38-point victory Saturday might not have received much attention around here because Bishop Carroll is playing on the “east” side of the Class A bracket.
Now, No. 2 Bishop Carroll squares off against No. 3 Our Lady of the Lourdes Regional.
The Red Raiders are the District 4 champs and rolled past Faith Christian, 43-24, in the state opener.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.