A-K Valley boys basketball notebook: All 14 boys teams opt into WPIAL playoffs

Thursday, February 18, 2021 | 7:22 PM

The WPIAL basketball playoffs are approaching, and teams had until Thursday afternoon to decide whether they were going to play in this year’s open tournament format.

In December, after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf put a three-week pause on winter sports, the WPIAL decided to use an open tournament format that would allow all teams to participate.

With the number of stops and starts for each teams because of covid-related cancellations, the WPIAL believed it might be difficult to pick playoff qualifiers because of unbalanced section standings.

All 14 boys teams from the Alle-Kiski Valley chose to play. Nine of the 14 teams were ranked in the top four of their sections, but only Class 6A No. 2 Fox Chapel (14-2, 8-1) was leading its section.

The Foxes earned the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL Class 6A tournament last season after going 21-2. Their two losses came in their final three games last year, and Central Catholic upset them in the quarterfinals.

Of the A-K Valley teams in the playoffs, six have records of .500 or worse.

Finding themselves

In the past week, Highlands has been mixing and matching its schedule to get as many games in as possible.

The Golden Rams were supposed to face Mars for the second time this season last Tuesday, but the weather had other ideas, and it was rescheduled for Saturday.

Then, their game this past Saturday was changed twice before they ended up playing OLSH. They originally were supposed to play Armstrong on Tuesday, but after a day-off cancellation, the Golden Rams scrambled and found a matchup with Central Catholic.

“We want to know who we are, and we have a long way to go, an awful long way to go,” Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski said. “We have a long way to go, but we still have a lot of time to grow. The season is coming to an end, so we’ll see how focused we are going to be in practice, how much we are going to pay attention to detail and we’ll go from there.”

Another long streak

In three years, Fox Chapel has been no stranger to long stretches of winning. In 2018-19, the Foxes won 11 of 13 games during the regular season and finished 16-9.

Last season, the Foxes won their first 20 games before losing to Upper St. Clair, 61-46.

Now, the Foxes are back at their old tricks.

Since losing two straight games after the restart in January, the Foxes have won 12 in a row. Four of those wins came by one or two points, but they’ve scored 62 points per game and allowed 53.3.

After graduating four starting seniors, the Foxes have started to find their rhythm while players are settling into their new roles compared to last season. Junior guard/forward Eli Yofan is averaging 22.6 points and 7.7 rebounds, and junior JP Dockey is scoring 11.2 points and 5.7 rebounds.

All five of the Fox Chapel starters are averaging seven or more points.

Turnaround season

One year ago, Burrell won one game, a 40-35 victory over Shady Side Academy in its third game of the season.

The Bucs have turned it around and have a record of 9-7, 5-5 in Section 1-4A. Their win over Knoch on Wednesday was their fifth straight and avenged a loss to the Knights earlier in the season.

Junior guard Brandon Coury scored 34 points in the 54-44 victory.

Donovan Callahan also added 12 points in the win.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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