A-K Valley H.S. lookahead: Week of Dec. 17-23
Monday, December 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
• Plum and Franklin Regional battled for the last playoff spot from their section down to the final day of the 2017-18 regular season, with Plum securing it. They’ll meet in a Section 2-5A game at Franklin Regional, with Plum seeking to shake off a slow start against Franklin Regional and talented scorer Cali Konek.
• Rivals Freeport and Highlands will square off in a Section 1-4A game at Freeport Area Middle School. The Yellowjackets swept the Golden Rams each of the last two seasons, including a pair of Freeport wins by 40-plus points last season. New Highlands coach Courtney Udanis will try to lead the team to a better result against Freeport’s talented class of juniors.
• Riverview picked up its first win of the season in its Section 2-2A opener, but the Raiders (1-3) will face a difficult test as Class A No. 5 Greensburg Central Catholic (3-0) visits in a nonsection contest.
• The top two teams in the PIHL Division II meet as Burrell hosts Ringgold. The Bucs (11-0) won the first meeting with Ringgold, 4-2, as Tyler Stewart scored a pair of power-play goals in the third period.
• Every section game is important for playoff purposes, and Apollo-Ridge and Riverview — both seeking to end postseason droughts — meet in a Section 1-2A game. Riverview began the year with a pair of lopsided victories, and Apollo-Ridge lost its first four contests.
• Deer Lakes is adjusting to new competition in Section 3-3A, and after beginning section play at South Allegheny last week, the Lancers will host East Allegheny. Both teams advanced to the WPIAL playoffs last season, with the Lancers qualifying in Class 4A and the Wildcats sharing the Section 3-3A title with Burrell and Shady Side Academy.
• Highlands and Beaver Falls met in the WPIAL Class AAA championship game in 2016, with Beaver Falls securing the title, and they’ll face off in a nonsection game for the second consecutive year. The Golden Rams won at home last year, but Beaver Falls will look to answer.
• It won’t count in the section standings, but a nonsection game between Knoch and Valley holds plenty of intrigue. Knoch typically plays a grind-it-out style, but the Knights are showcasing plenty of scoring ability with senior guard Julian Sanks leading the way. Valley can score in bunches, too, especially if guards Nyjewel Carter and Deonte Ross get hot.
• Apollo-Ridge began the season with four consecutive wins, but the Vikings (4-0, 1-0) face their biggest challenge yet as they visit No. 1 North Catholic for a Section 1-4A game. The host Trojans (1-0, 1-0) won the WPIAL Class 4A title last season and advanced to the PIAA semifinals.
• Kiski Area and St. Joseph are seeking improvement as the season continues, and they’ll look for it against each other in a nonsection game. Kiski Area (1-3) begins the week looking to snap a three-game losing streak, and St. Joseph (0-3) is seeking its first win.
• Knoch will look to bounce back from a rough stretch as the Knights (4-8) visit last-place McDowell (1-7-0-2) in a Division II game. The Knights have lost six of their past seven games but beat McDowell, 3-2, earlier this season.
• Fox Chapel also will try to get back on the winning track as it hosts Beaver in a Class A North game. The Foxes, who enter the game on a three-game losing streak, beat Beaver, 8-4, earlier this season as Reed Troutman and Ricky Downey combined for seven goals.
• Class AAA No. 1 Kiski Area (1-0, 1-0) will host Penn-Trafford (0-1, 0-1) in a Section 1-AAA match that features some of the top wrestlers in the state. Kiski Area’s Jake Blumer and Cam Conner won WPIAL titles last season, and Penn-Trafford’s Nick Coy was a runner-up.
• After beginning the Section 1-AAA slate with a victory over Central Catholic, Plum (1-0, 1-0) visits Class AAA No. 6 Franklin Regional (1-0, 1-0), looking to make it two wins in a row. The Panthers lineup features senior Colton Camacho, the WPIAL Class AAA 132-pound champion and PIAA runner-up last season.
• Freeport visits Burrell for a Section 1-4A game. The Bucs dropped a heartbreaker to Apollo-Ridge in their section opener, losing by three points as a shot at the buzzer missed. Freeport swept Burrell last season en route to its second straight WPIAL playoff appearance.
• Deer Lakes will attempt to keep its early-season success going as the Lancers (4-0, 1-0) visit Carlynton in a Section 3-3A game. The Cougars (3-1, 0-1) represent a new opponent for Deer Lakes after the Lancers dropped to Class 3A in the offseason.
• Knoch began the week on a three-game win streak, and the Knights (3-1, 1-0) will look to keep it going in a Section 1-4A game at Greensburg Salem. The Golden Lions (1-3, 0-1) are led by Megan Kallock, a career 1,000-point scorer who averaged more than 20 points as a junior.
• Valley visits Shady Side Academy in a Section 3-3A matchup. The Vikings dropped to Class 3A this season after making the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs in 2017 and 2018; Shady Side Academy was one of three teams to split the Section 3-3A title last season.
• Freeport seeks its second consecutive victory as the Yellowjackets host North Hills in a Class A North game at Belmont Ice Complex. The Yellowjackets (5-5) lost 4-1 earlier this season to North Hills, but they can tie the Indians (6-4) in the division standings with a win.
• Burrell travels to East Allegheny in Section 3-3A. The Bucs and Wildcats made up two-thirds of the three-way section championship last season. They split the season series, with Burrell winning 51-50 and East Allegheny prevailing 62-49.
• Section 3-6A provided consistently entertaining basketball each of the last two seasons, with Fox Chapel and Latrobe providing plenty of highlights in back-to-back playoff campaigns. The Foxes, who already toppled Class 6A No. 1 Pine-Richland, now visit No. 2 Latrobe, which is led by star scorers Reed Fenton, a Lehigh recruit, and Bryce Butler, a West Liberty commit.
• Armstrong and Kiski Area had some rough and rugged basketball games in the past two seasons, featuring grind-down defenses, and they’ll square off in an early-season Section 3-5A matchup. Once again defense appears to be the strength for both teams.
• Kiski Area visits Class AAA No. 2 Canon-McMillan for their annual nonsection rivalry match. The No. 1 Cavaliers (1-0) beat the Big Macs in the WPIAL championship match each of the past two seasons. Plenty of talented wrestlers will take to the mat, including four 2018 WPIAL individual medalists: Kiski Area’s Jake Blumer, Cam Conner and Nick Delp, and Canon-McMillan’s Gerrit Nijenhuis.
• Plum faces a big challenge in Section 2-5A, as Class 5A No. 2 Mars — the defending PIAA champion — visits.
— Doug Gulasy
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at email@example.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
More High School Other• High school scores, summaries and schedules for Oct. 22, 2020
• High school scores, summaries and schedules for Oct. 21, 2020
• High school scores, summaries and schedules for Oct. 20, 2020
• High school scores, summaries and schedules for Oct. 19, 2020
• First year on job brings growth, surprises to Chartiers Valley athletic director