A-K Valley teams adjust to changes in basketball alignment

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022 | 10:20 AM


Basketball in the A-K Valley will have a bit of a different look next winter.

The WPIAL board of directors approved section alignments for the next two-year cycle in boys and girls basketball on June 13.

Several A-K Valley teams were impacted. Here’s a look at some of the changes:

Boys basketball

• Both finalists for the 2021 Class 6A boys title — Fox Chapel and North Hills — are now part of Class 5A.

Fox Chapel will be playing in Section 2 for the next two seasons against Armstrong, Penn Hills, Plum, Shaler and Woodland Hills.

“I was saying to someone to have the 6A defending champion and or the runner-up both gone is kind of interesting,” Fox Chapel boys coach Zach Skrinjar said. “I think the WPIAL did a good job in going with competitive balance, separating teams from different areas. The quality of play of the 24 teams in Class 5A should provide for some great playoff games.”

• Also in Class 5A, Kiski Area will have a new opponent, as Penn-Trafford joins Section 3 while Penn Hills and Woodland Hills moved out.

Highlands dropped from Class 5A to 4A and will join Section 1 with Freeport, Greensburg Salem, Hampton, Indiana and Knoch.

• Former Section 1-4A teams Burrell and Deer Lakes dropped down to compete in Section 3-3A with A-K Valley rivals Apollo-Ridge and Valley, as well as Derry, Ligonier Valley and Shady Side Academy.

Leechburg will move up to Class 2A and play in Section 3 with Riverview and Springdale, as well as Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette and Serra Catholic.

St. Joseph remains in Section 3-A and will welcome Hillel Academy to the WPIAL as a section opponent.

Girls basketball

• The WPIAL placed the Penn Hills and Kiski Area girls in the same Class 5A section despite lingering issues between the schools from last winter. Penn Hills accused Kiski Area fans of making racist taunts at a middle school volleyball game in March, allegations that led Penn Hills to refuse to play Kiski Area teams during spring seasons.

Kiski Area later asked the WPIAL to keep the schools separate next school year, but the WPIAL didn’t grant that wish. The two schools join Franklin Regional, Gateway, Indiana, Plum and Woodland Hills in Section 1-5A.

“It was discussed,” WPIAL administrator Vince Sortino said. “We looked at it, and that’s the sections we came up with. We told them that we would take a look at it. That’s what we came back with. We’re going to expect that all of the teams in that section play each other.”

• Fox Chapel remains in Section 2-5A but will be joined by newcomers New Castle, North Hills and Shaler, with holdovers Armstrong, Hampton and Mars.

• In Class 4A, Freeport, Highlands, Knoch and Valley stayed in Section 1 with Derry but will welcome North Catholic and Greensburg Salem.

Burrell and Deer Lakes dropped out of Section 1-4A and will join Section 3 in Class 3A with Ligonier Valley, Mt. Pleasant and Shady Side Academy. Apollo-Ridge also will join that section after bumping up from Class 2A.

Springdale will move from Section 4 to Section 3 in Class 2A with Clairton, Serra Catholic, Steel Valley, Ellis School and familiar foes Greensburg Central Catholic and Winchester Thurston.

Leechburg, Riverview and St. Joseph will stay in Section 3-A and will be joined by newcomer Hillel Academy and Jeannette.

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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