A-K Valley WPIAL basketball playoff capsules: Games for Feb. 27, 2023

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Sunday, February 26, 2023 | 4:34 PM


WPIAL basketball playoffs

Boys

Class 4A

Semifinals

1-Lincoln Park (23-1) vs. 5-Highlands (21-3)

8 p.m. Monday at Fox Chapel High School, Fox Chapel

Winner plays: Winner of 2-Laurel Highlands (21-2)/6-North Catholic (18-6) in championship game at 9 p.m. Friday at Petersen Events Center

Players to watch: Meleek Thomas, Lincoln Park; Jimmy Kunst, Highlands

Layup lines: Lincoln Park is seeking its fourth WPIAL title in the past six years. It lost to eventual champion Quaker Valley in the semifinals last season. The Section 2 champion Leopards advanced to the semifinals with a 50-40 win over No. 8 South Allegheny in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Lincoln Park is led by guards Meleek Thomas and Brandin Cummings, who both average 23-plus points per game. Cummings has committed to Pitt, while Thomas has offers from Indiana, Pitt, St. John’s and Villanova, among others. The Leopards are the highest-scoring team in Class 4A at 75.8 ppg. … Highlands is coming off a 58-41 victory over section rival Hampton in the quarterfinals, avenging two of its losses from the regular season. Cam Reigard (14 points), Jimmy Kunst (13) and Bradyn Foster (13) led the scoring for Highlands in victory. The Golden Rams won the 2020 WPIAL Class 4A title.

Class 3A

Semifinals

1-Steel Valley (14-9) vs. 5-Deer Lakes (15-8)

8 p.m. Monday at Bethel Park High School, Bethel Park

Winner plays: Winner of 2-Neshannock (18-5)/6-OLSH (18-5) in championship game at 5 p.m. Friday at Petersen Events Center

Players to watch: Makhai Valentine, Steel Valley; Bryce Robson, Deer Lakes

Layup lines: Top-seeded Steel Valley is in the semifinals for the first time since winning the 2002 WPIAL Class 3A title. Guard Makhai Valentine leads the Ironmen at 36.6 ppg. He had 37 in a 56-54 quarterfinal victory over Seton LaSalle, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win the game. Steel Valley is being coached by assistant Lauren Varacalli after head coach Dale Chapman was suspended for the rest of the season after a Feb. 3 incident where Valentine took a hard fall in a game, was checked for a concussion and reinserted into the game. … Deer Lakes is in the WPIAL semifinals for the second time in program history. The Lancers lost to Ellwood City in 1985. Robson scored 24 points, including five 3-pointers, and Nate Litrun added 14 in the Lancers’ 59-45 quarterfinal win over No. 4 Mohawk. Deer Lakes leads Class 3A in scoring at 69.3 points per game. Steel Valley beat Deer Lakes, 62-61, at the Lancers’ holiday tournament Dec. 28.

Girls

Class A

Semifinals

5-St. Joseph (20-4) vs. 1-Union (16-6)

6 p.m. Monday at North Allegheny High School, McCandless

Winner plays: Winner of 2-Bishop Canevin (11-7)/3-Aquinas Academy (15-8) in championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Petersen Events Center

Players to watch: Kylie Fruehstorfer, Union; Julie Spinelli, St. Joseph

Layup lines: St. Joseph returns to the WPIAL semifinals after suffering a 42-29 loss to Aquinas Academy in the round of four last season. The Spartans seek their first trip to a WPIAL championship game. St. Joseph punched its ticket to the semifinals with a 53-46 victory at Monessen on Thursday. The Spartans have won eight of nine games with the only loss coming to Class 3A No. 1 Shady Side Academy. Spinelli, a junior, led the way against Monessen with 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three steals, while junior Emma Swierczewski scored 16. Junior Ana Kreinbrook had 17 rebounds and 13 blocks. … Union, the champion of Section 1, is one of three teams from that section still alive for a shot at a WPIAL title. The Scotties, like St. Joseph, are seeking their first WPIAL championship. Last year, they made the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals. Union rolled past West Greene, 64-20, in the WPIAL quarterfinals Thursday behind a game-best 21 points from Fruehstorfer, 15 from junior Kelly Cleaver, and 10 more from Zoe Lepri. Cleaver, a 6-foot forward added 12 rebounds and six assists. The Scotties have won 10 games in a row since a loss to Class 3A No. 3 Neshannock on Jan. 15. … Union and St. Joseph have the two top scoring defenses in Class A. The Scotties are surrendering 33.9 points a game, second only to the Spartans (32.3). The loser of Monday’s game will face the loser of Bishop Canevin and Aquinas Academy in the third-place consolation game Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

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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