A-K Valley basketball playoff preview capsules for Friday
Friday, February 23, 2018 | 12:31 AM
WPIAL basketball playoff capsules
Class 5A quarterfinals
No. 2 Highlands (17-4) vs. No. 7 West Allegheny (11-11)
8 p.m. Friday at Fox Chapel
Winner plays: No. 3 Franklin Regional (18-4) or No. 6 Moon (18-5)
Layup lines: After receiving a first-round bye, Highlands gets its postseason going. The Golden Rams closed the regular season on a 15-1 tear to earn a share of the Section 3-5A championship. The only loss in that span came to City League champion Allderdice. The Golden Rams finished as WPIAL runner-up in 2016 but fell in the first round of the playoffs last season. Four players average double figures in scoring for Highlands: Shawn Erceg (12.4 points per game), Luke Cochran (11.1), Johnny Crise (10.4) and sixth man Romello Freeman (10.2). Erceg and Crise are 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7, respectively, and double-double threats. Crise posted a triple-double this season. ... West Allegheny is one of the biggest turnaround stories in WPIAL boys basketball. The Indians won just one game a season ago but rose to finish third in Section 2-5A this season. They beat Laurel Highlands, 63-54, in the first round, behind 20 points from Isaiah Crowe and 16 from Jackson Faulk. More than half of West Allegheny's games were decided by 10 points or fewer, and the Indians went 7-6 in such contests.
No. 8 Leechburg (15-7) vs. No. 1 Sewickley Academy (18-4)
8 p.m. Friday at Northgate
Winner plays: No. 4 Serra Catholic (18-4) or No. 5 Chartiers-Houston (18-5)
Layup lines: Fresh off its first WPIAL playoff victory since 2011, Leechburg will take on the defending champion Panthers. The Blue Devils pulled away for a 62-50 victory over Fort Cherry in the first round. Christian Hack scored a team-high 20 points for Leechburg. Freshman Dylan Cook added 14 points off the bench. The Blue Devils finished third in Section 1-2A to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs for the third consecutive season. Although a strong core of guards — Hack, a 1,000-point scorer, Cook, Corey Keresz and John Miskinis — lead the way for Leechburg, forward Jake Blumer had 11 rebounds against Fort Cherry. ... Sewickley Academy, which shared the Section 3-2A title with OLSH, is led by sophomores Jett Roesing (16.6 points per game), Isaiah Smith (15.9) and Isiah Warfield (15.6). Warfield has an offer from Duquesne. The Panthers average 73.9 ppg and exceeded 70 points 14 times, going undefeated in those games.
No. 10 Springdale (13-8) vs. No. 2 OLSH (20-2)
8 p.m. Friday at Canon-McMillan
Winner plays: No. 3 Jeannette (18-3) or No. 6 Shenango (15-8)
Layup lines: Springdale is coming off a 34-33 first-round victory over California, which gave the Dynamos their first postseason win since Feb. 9, 2008, against Brentwood. Junior Mike Zolnierczyk scored 18 points in the game, including the decisive pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining. The fourth-place team from Section 1-2A, Springdale has won its past three games after dropping four of the previous five. The Dynamos are allowing 33 points per game during their current streak and now are 9-2 in games decided by single digits. ... OLSH tied for the Section 3-2A championship with defending WPIAL champ Sewickley Academy. After dropping the season opener to Seton LaSalle, OLSH won 20 of its remaining 21 regular-season games, with the only loss coming Feb. 9 to Sewickley Academy. The Chargers average 77.9 points per game, tops in Class 2A. Donovan Johnson, younger brother of North Carolina's Cameron Johnson, averages 19 ppg; Daren DiMichele averages 17 and Dante Spadafora averages 15.
No. 6 St. Joseph (14-9) vs. No. 3 Quigley Catholic (14-8)
6:30 p.m. Friday at Butler
Winner plays: No. 2 West Greene (20-2) or No. 7 Rochester (13-7)
Layup lines: St. Joseph and Quigley Catholic, both nicknamed the Spartans, meet in the WPIAL playoffs for the second consecutive season and fifth time in the past six years. Quigley Catholic won the three meetings from 2013-15, but St. Joseph won, 69-65, in last season's WPIAL quarterfinals. ... St. Joseph, which holds a three-game winning streak in its series against Quigley, is coming off a 76-35 win over Geibel in the first round. Chloe Kurpakus scored 27 points and Alex Jones added 22. Kurpakus averages a team-high 19.1 ppg, with 50 3-pointers. She has 949 career points. Jones, a 1,000-point scorer, averages 17.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 4.7 steals per game. ... Section 1-A champion Quigley Catholic won seven out of its final eight games entering the playoffs. Taylor Kirschner averages a team-high 19.1 points, and Hailey Drutarosky averages 16.5. Kirschner scored 29 points in last season's quarterfinal against St. Joseph.
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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