A-K Valley basketball playoff preview capsules for games of Feb. 18, 2023

Friday, February 17, 2023 | 3:34 PM

WPIAL basketball playoffs


Class 3A

First round

11-Mohawk (14-8) at 6-Apollo-Ridge (19-3)

Noon Saturday at Apollo-Ridge High School, Spring Church

Winner plays: Winner of 14-Charleroi (11-9) at 3-Neshannock (16-6) in quarterfinals Wednesday (site and time TBD)

Players to watch: Erynne Capalbo, Mohawk; Brinley Toland, Apollo-Ridge

Layup lines: Mohawk is just two years removed from back-to-back WPIAL Class 3A titles (2020, ’21). The Warriors made it to the quarterfinals last year before falling to Avonworth by a single point. Mohawk, which finished third in Section 1, won six of eight to close the regular season. The Warriors hung with Section 1 co-champion Neshannock, losing both games by a combined seven points. Capalbo, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, leads all Mohawk scorers at 16.5 points per game. The Warriors average 46.5 points and are giving up 40.0. … Apollo-Ridge will host a WPIAL playoff game for the first time in the history of both the boys and girls basketball programs. Two of the Vikings’ three losses in the regular season came to Section 3 champion and No. 1 seed Shady Side Academy (20-2). Apollo-Ridge hung with the Bulldogs in the second meeting Jan. 26 before falling by seven. Seniors Brinley Toland and Sydney McCray, junior Sophie Yard and sophomore Kylar Toland all have led the team in scoring in games this season. The Vikings advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals and PIAA playoffs last year.

15-Burrell (10-12) at 2-Laurel (20-2)

Noon Saturday at Laurel High School, New Castle

Winner plays: Winner of 10-South Park (11-11) at 7-Keystone Oaks (15-7) in quarterfinals Wednesday (site and time TBD)

Players to watch: Regan Atkins, Laurel; Emily Wojtczak, Burrell

Layup lines: Laurel finished tied with Neshannock for the Section 1 title. The teams split their season series. The Spartans rebounded to win their final five games of the regular season after a loss to Neshannock on Jan. 30. Their only other loss came against Class 5A Mars in the season opener. Laurel advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals last year before running into North Catholic. The Spartans also won a game in the PIAA playoffs. Senior guards Regan Atkins and Danielle Pontius lead the Laurel offense. Atkins averaged 15.9 points in the regular season. The Spartans are seeking their first WPIAL title. … Burrell earned a berth to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2017. The Bucs clinched the fourth-place spot in the Section 3 standings with a winner-take-all victory over rival Deer Lakes last week. Wojtczak led Burrell with 11 points, and the Bucs completed the sweep of the Lancers. Burrell averages 40.3 points and allows 42.3. The Bucs’ last playoff win came in the 2016 PIAA Class 2A second round, a 15-point victory over reigning WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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