A-K Valley basketball playoff capsules: Games of Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 | 6:43 PM
No. 5 Highlands (15-7) vs. No. 12 Belle Vernon (8-14)
8 p.m. Wednesday at North Hills
Winner plays: No. 4 Uniontown (18-3) or No. 13 Beaver (6-15) on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Coaches: Tyler Stoczynski, Highlands; Joe Salvino, Belle Vernon
Points scored/allowed: Highlands, 66.0/56.9; Belle Vernon, 60.5/69.3
Players to watch: Johnny Crise, Highlands (jr., F); Cam Nusser, Belle Vernon (jr., G)
Last WPIAL playoff appearance: Highlands, 2018, semifinals (lost to Franklin Regional, 48-40); Belle Vernon, 2018, semifinals (lost to New Castle, 63-43)
About Highlands: The Golden Rams, who won a share of the Section 1-4A title, advanced to at least the semifinals in two of the past three seasons. They played in Class 5A the last two seasons. Highlands won nine of its last 12 games, and its last loss to a Class 4A team came Jan. 8. The 6-foot-7 Crise (15.8 ppg) has offers from Robert Morris and USC Upstate. Junior guard Luke Cochran averages 18.9 ppg.
About Belle Vernon: Salvino is in his first season at Belle Vernon after 34 years and more than 600 wins at neighboring Monessen. Nusser averaged more than 15 ppg, leading the Leopards in scoring for a second consecutive season. The program reached the PIAA playoffs last season for the first time in two decades.
No. 6 Knoch (17-5) vs. No. 11 South Park (10-12)
8 p.m. Wednesday at Fox Chapel
Winner plays: No. 3 Quaker Valley (18-3) on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Coaches: Ron McNabb, Knoch; Jason Dolak, South Park
Points scored/allowed: Knoch, 64.5/49.5; South Park, 55.0/58.8
Players to watch: Julian Sanks, Knoch (jr., G); Santino Tutich, South Park (sr., G/F)
Last WPIAL playoff appearance: Knoch, 2016, preliminary round (lost to Montour, 49-38); South Park, 2018, first round (lost to Valley, 76-69)
About Knoch: The Knights tied Highlands for the Section 1-4A championship. They won just one section game in Class 5A last season. This is the highest-scoring team McNabb has coached in his seven seasons. The Knights set a school record with 14 3-pointers in a win over Derry. Julian Sanks, Knoch’s lone senior starter on a junior-heavy team, ranks in the school’s top 10 for career 3s.
About South Park: The Eagles tied for second in Section 3-4A, overcoming an early six-game losing streak to reach the postseason for a second consecutive season. After starting 0-3 in games decided by single digits, South Park won its final five in that situation. South Park played three teams in Knoch’s Section 1-4A, dropping games against Derry, Freeport and Highlands.
No. 8 Freeport (11-9) vs. No. 9 Ringgold (13-8)
8 p.m. Wednesday at Gateway
Winner plays: No. 1 New Castle (18-4) on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Coaches: Wayne Greiser, Freeport; Phil Pergola, Ringgold
Points scored/allowed: Freeport, 57.4/62.9; Ringgold, 59.9/54.9
Players to watch: Jalen Brown, Freeport (sr., G); Chris Peccon, Ringgold (jr., G)
Last WPIAL playoff appearance: Freeport, 2018, first round (lost to South Fayette, 48-45); Ringgold, 2011, first round (lost to Blackhawk, 63-47)
About Freeport: The Yellowjackets are making their third consecutive WPIAL playoff appearance, falling to South Fayette in the first round each of the past two seasons. Freeport’s last playoff win came in 2010. Brown, a La Roche recruit, is a three-year starter at point guard who averages 15.8 ppg. Freeport starts two freshmen after losing a pair of starters to injury.
About Ringgold: The Rams are one of the more remarkable turnaround stories in the WPIAL, improving by 10 wins from a season ago and tying for second place in Section 3-4A after going winless in section play last season. Ringgold won nine of its first 10 games but dropped seven of its final 11, including five of its last six.
No. 7 Deer Lakes (16-6) vs. No. 10 Seton LaSalle (11-10)
6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Fox Chapel
Winner plays: No. 2 South Park (16-6) on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Coaches: Dave Petruska, Deer Lakes; Jordan Burkes, Seton LaSalle
Points scored/allowed: Deer Lakes, 47.0/33.0; Seton LaSalle, 42.0/49.7
Players to watch: Anna Solomon, Deer Lakes (sr., G); Vanessa Hudson, Seton LaSalle (jr., G)
Last WPIAL playoff appearance: Deer Lakes, 2018, first round (lost to Central Valley, 51-42); Seton LaSalle, 2018, quarterfinals (lost to East Allegheny, 60-41)
About Deer Lakes: The Lancers are making their fifth consecutive WPIAL playoff appearance and ninth in the last 10 years, but they’re searching for some success: Their last postseason win came in 2013. The team is dangerous when it’s hitting from the outside. Abby Buechel, Reese Hasley and Solomon had games with at least six 3-pointers this season. Four of the team’s losses came by four points or fewer.
About Seton LaSalle: The Rebels have won seven WPIAL titles, including four this decade (2011, ‘12, ‘14 and ‘15), plus three PIAA championships (1984, ‘12, ‘14). A four-game midseason winning streak helped propel Seton LaSalle to a third-place finish in Secton 2-3A. Burkes, in her first season at Seton LaSalle, is a former star at Seton Hill, where she was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame.
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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