A-K Valley high school basketball playoff preview capsules for Feb. 17, 2024

Friday, February 16, 2024 | 4:01 PM

WPIAL basketball playoffs


Class 3A

First round

9-Burrell (16-4) vs. 8-Keystone Oaks (15-6)

Noon Saturday, South Park High School

Winner plays: Winner of 16-Apollo-Ridge (8-13)/1-Avonworth (19-1) Wednesday in quarterfinals (time, site TBD)

Section finish: Burrell 2nd, Section 3; Keystone Oaks, T-2nd, Section 2

Players to watch: Julianna Fisher, Burrell; Bailey Reig, Keystone Oaks

Layup lines: Burrell is in the WPIAL playoffs for the second year in a row. The Bucs also made a long trip last year and fell to No. 2 Laurel, 64-36, in the first round. Burrell finished runner-up to Shady Side Academy in Section 3 with an 8-2 record. The Bucs averaged 47.4 points a game while giving up 29.9 in the regular season. Burrell enters the playoffs winners of nine of its last 10 games. Fisher, a junior forward; sophomore guard Casey Brancato; and junior guard Anna Clark have paced the Bucs’ offense at different times this season. … Keystone Oaks finished tied with Our Lady of the Sacred Heart for second in Section 2 behind No. 1 Avonworth. The Eagles and Chargers split their season series. Keystone Oaks built momentum with wins in its final two games of the regular season. Reig leads the scoring attack for the Eagles at 16 points a game. Keystone Oaks is in the WPIAL playoffs for the fourth year in a row. The Eagles, as the No. 7 seed last year, fell to Laurel in the quarterfinals but rebounded in the consolation bracket to take sixth place in Class 3A and make the PIAA playoffs.

16-Apollo-Ridge (8-13) at 1-Avonworth (19-1)

2 p.m. Saturday

Winner plays: Winner of 9-Burrell (16-4)/8-Keystone Oaks (15-6) Wednesday in quarterfinals (time, site TBD)

Section finish: Apollo-Ridge 4th, Section 3; Avonworth 1st, Section 2

Players to watch: Sophia Yard, Apollo-Ridge; Rebecca Goetz, Avonworth

Layup lines: Apollo-Ridge, under the leadership of first-year coach Jeff Zelonka, swept Ligonier Valley and Deer Lakes twice to secure fourth in Section 3 behind Shady Side Academy, Burrell and Mt. Pleasant. The Vikings are in the WPIAL playoffs for the fourth straight season. The team made Apollo-Ridge basketball history last year by hosting its first WPIAL playoff game, boys or girls. However, the No. 6 Vikings were upended by No. 11 Mohawk in the first-round matchup. Senior guard Sophia Yard is the heart and soul of the Apollo-Ridge offense. She has scored in double figures in most of her team’s games this season. … Avonworth is favored to defend its WPIAL Class 3A title, its seventh WPIAL crown overall and first since 2005. The Antelopes, 39-7 combined the past two seasons, have given up an average of just 32.6 points over their 20 games. Second-year coach Nick Dizon spent four seasons as the girls coach at Kiski Area from 2018-22. Goetz, a senior, averages 15.3 points to lead Avonworth, which suffered its only loss to 5A Armstrong.

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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