A-K Valley basketball preview capsules: Games of Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019
Friday, February 22, 2019 | 11:16 PM
No. 3 Mt. Lebanon (19-3) vs. No. 6 Fox Chapel (16-7)
3 p.m. Saturday at Canon-McMillan
Winner plays: No. 2 Latrobe (18-2) or No. 7 Canon-McMillan (15-8) on Wednesday in the semifinals.
Coaches: Joe David, Mt. Lebanon; Zach Skrinjar, Fox Chapel
Points scored/allowed: Mt. Lebanon, 68.4/55.2; Fox Chapel, 59.3/52.3
Players to watch: Jake Hoffman, Mt. Lebanon (jr., F); Arnold Vento, Fox Chapel (jr., G)
About Mt. Lebanon: The Blue Devils won the Section 2-6A title, its lone defeat a 26-point loss to Upper St. Clair on Feb. 5. That snapped a 10-game winning streak. Mt. Lebanon’s other two losses came to top-seeded Pine-Richland and against Harvest Prep (Ohio) at a holiday tournament. A statement win on Mt. Lebanon’s schedule came Feb. 9, when it beat City League power Allderdice, 52-50.
About Fox Chapel: The Foxes are in the quarterfinals for the third consecutive season, but this is the first time they needed to win a game to get there — they had a bye the last two years. The team is seeking its first semifinal appearance since 2015. Fox Chapel played three of the top four seeds in the Class 6A bracket during the regular season, beating No. 1 Pine-Richland and No. 4 Upper St. Clair and losing twice to No. 2 Latrobe. The one top-four seed the Foxes didn’t play? Mt. Lebanon.
No. 4 Uniontown (19-3) vs. No. 5 Highlands (16-7)
Noon Saturday at Norwin
Winner plays: No. 1 New Castle (18-4) or No. 9 Ringgold (14-8) on Wednesday in the semifinals.
Coaches: Rob Kezmarsky, Uniontown; Tyler Stoczynski, Highlands
Points scored/allowed: Uniontown, 71.8/53.0; Highlands, 66.4/57.3
Players to watch: Billy DeShields Jr., Uniontown (jr., G); Johnny Crise, Highlands (jr., F)
About Uniontown: The Raiders finished the regular season as the top-scoring team in Class 4A, the only one to average more than 70 points. The 5-foot-10 DeShields powers the attack, averaging 21 ppg. He scored 29 in Uniontown’s 72-53 first-round win over Beaver. The Raiders have won 15 consecutive games. Their lone losses this season came to 6A schools Baldwin and Hempfield and 5A school Thomas Jefferson. Uniontown holds the WPIAL record for playoff appearances at 68.
About Highlands: The Golden Rams outlasted Belle Vernon, 75-67, in the first round, getting a career-high 29 points and 16 rebounds from the 6-foot-7 Crise, who has offers from Robert Morris and USC Upstate. A win would put Highlands into the semifinals for the third time in four seasons. Highlands beat Uniontown 50 years ago in the 1969 WPIAL quarterfinals at the Civic Arena. That was the first year of the school’s existence.
No. 3 Quaker Valley (18-3) vs. No. 6 Knoch (18-5)
Noon Saturday at North Hills
Winner plays: No. 2 Ambridge (14-8) or No. 7 Blackhawk (10-13) on Wednesday in the semifinals.
Coaches: Mike Mastroianni, Quaker Valley; Ron McNabb, Knoch
Points scored/allowed: Quaker Valley, 66.0/48.7; Knoch, 64.3/48.8
Players to watch: Ryan Stowers, Quaker Valley (sr., G/F); Scott Fraser, Knoch (jr., G)
About Quaker Valley: The Quakers, who tied for second place in Section 2-4A, beat Knoch, 68-53, in a nonsection game in late January. They beat top-seeded New Castle twice during the regular season but lost twice to No. 3 Ambridge and once to Blackhawk. Quaker Valley, the back-to-back WPIAL runner-up, led Class 4A in scoring defense. The Quakers’ three losses came when they gave up 70 points or more. The 6-foot-5 Stowers averages 22.4 ppg. Quaker Valley is seeking its second title and first since 1997.
About Knoch: Fraser scored 27 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in Knoch’s 62-33 rout of South Park in the first round, the Knights’ first playoff victory since the 2015 preliminary round. Their most recent quarterfinal appearance came in 2006. Knoch finished just behind Quaker Valley in scoring defense this season; South Park became the sixth team the Knights held below 40 points this season. Knoch has won 16 of its past 18 games, with the only losses coming to Quaker Valley and Highlands.
No. 2 South Park vs. No. 7 Deer Lakes (17-6)
1:30 p.m. Saturday at North Allegheny
Winner plays: No. 3 Shady Side Academy or No. 6 Beaver on Wednesday in the semifinals.
Coaches: Marty Matvey, South Park; Dave Petruska, Deer Lakes
Points scored/allowed: South Park, 55.9/38.1; Deer Lakes, 47.0/33.0
Players to watch: Maura Huwalt, South Park (sr., F/C); Reese Hasley, Deer Lakes (fr., G)
About South Park: The Eagles begin the postseason on a 12-game winning streak, their last loss coming Jan. 5 against Chartiers Valley, the top seed in the Class 5A postseason. All but one of the wins during the winning streak came by double digits. South Park’s lone loss against a Class 3A team was a one-point defeat at Washington on Dec. 17. The 6-foot Huwalt is an Auburn track and field commit. South Park is seeking its fourth WPIAL title (1998, 2008, 2013). The Eagles last played Feb. 11.
About Deer Lakes: Hasley, a starter from the beginning of the season, scored a game-high 15 points in Deer Lakers’ 47-32 first-round win over Seton LaSalle. It was the Lancers’ first postseason victory since 2013. Deer Lakes had the second-best scoring defense in Class 3A during the regular season, and the Lancers showed why by holding Seton LaSalle to one third-quarter field goal in the first round. Only two teams reached 50 points against the Lancers this season.