A-K Valley WPIAL basketball playoff capsules: Games for Friday, Feb. 23, 2024

Thursday, February 22, 2024 | 4:31 PM

WPIAL basketball playoffs


Class 4A


5-Laurel Highlands (19-2) at 4-Highlands (16-6)

8 p.m. Friday

Winner plays: Winner of 8-Greensburg Salem (16-7)/1-Blackhawk (20-2) Tuesday in semifinals (site/time TBD)

Coaches: Shawn Bennis, Highlands; Stewart Davis, Laurel Highlands

Players to watch: Kate Myers, Highlands; Sierra Jenkins, Laurel Highlands

Layup lines: Highlands is in the WPIAL playoffs for the fourth year in a row. The Golden Rams were 2-20 just five years ago. Highlands, guard-heavy with four senior starters, lost in the quarterfinals two years ago but made it to the semifinals last year before falling to rival North Catholic. The Golden Rams finished second to the Trojanettes in Section 1 this year. North Catholic’s section win streak surpassed 100 games this season, but Highlands seriously threatened that streak in a four-point loss Jan 18. The Golden Rams won six of seven to end the regular season. …. Laurel Highlands took care of business in the first round Tuesday, rolling past Quaker Valley, 65-29. The Mustangs survived early foul trouble and led by 21 at halftime. Junior guard Miya Harris hit six 3-pointers and finished with a game-best 24 points. Junior guard/forward Aryianna Sumpter added 22. Laurel Highlands’ only two losses came at the hands of Section 3 champion Elizabeth Forward. … Friday’s game is a rematch of a first-round matchup last year won by Highlands, 54-34. The winner moves into the semifinals and clinches a PIAA playoff spot, but the losing team is not done as it will play in the consolation bracket with a chance to grab one of the six PIAA berths from WPIAL Class 4A.

6-Knoch (14-9) at 3-Elizabeth Forward (20-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Winner plays: Winner of 2-North Catholic (14-7)/7-Central Valley (12-10) Tuesday in semifinals (site/time TBD)

Coaches: Shane McGraw, Knoch; Noah Yartin, Elizabeth Forward

Players to watch: Karlee Buterbaugh, Knoch; Alyssa Terza, Elizabeth Forward

Layup lines: Knoch made a statement in a first-round victory over Belle Vernon. The Knights were solid defensively and took advantage of 25 Belle Vernon turnovers. On the offensive end, Buterbaugh, a 6-foot junior forward, scored 10 points in the second quarter and finished with a game-best 16. Sophomore Neah Ewing hit a trio of 3-pointers for nine points, and senior Naturelle Ewing also collected nine points. The Knights have won four of their last five games. … Elizabeth Forward went 12-0 to win Section 3. The Warriors started 2-2 with losses to Class 6A Chartiers Valley and Class 2A power Serra Catholic before going on their current 18-game win streak. EF averages 60.2 points a game. The Warriors beat section runner-up Laurel Highlands by 29 on Jan. 29 behind a game-best 28 points from Terza, a 6-1 senior and Clarion commit. The Warriors won their only WPIAL title in 1975. …The winner also clinches a spot in the PIAA playoffs. The loser still can reach the state tournament in the consolation bracket.


Class 4A

Consolation tournament

8-Knoch (15-9) at 5-North Catholic (14-9)

8 p.m. Friday

Winner plays: Winner of 7-South Allegheny (17-7)/3-Montour (20-4) Tuesday in second consolation round (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Teegan Finucan, Knoch; Max Hurray, North Catholic

Layup lines: Knoch dropped an 81-58 decision to top-seeded Lincoln Park in the quarterfinals. Teegan Finucan had 14 points, Jackson Bauman scored 13 and Derek Lang tallied 11. The Knights started the season 10-2. … Max Hurray had 23 points in North Catholic’s 59-37 loss to Uniontown in the quarterfinals. The Trojans finished second in Section 2 and average 72.6 ppg. They have lost three of their past four games.

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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