A-K Valley WPIAL basketball playoff capsules: Games for Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023

Monday, February 20, 2023 | 6:32 PM

Girls WPIAL Basketball Playoffs

Class 5A

First Round

16-Plum (13-10) at 1-South Fayette (20-2)

Tuesday, 8 p.m. at South Fayette High School, Bridgeville

Winner plays: Winner of 9-Shaler (16-6) at 8-Penn-Trafford (15-7) on Friday in quarterfinals (site/time TBD)

Players to watch: Pascale Olczak, Plum; Maddie Weber, South Fayette

Layup lines: Plum defeated Montour, 46-38, in a preliminary round game last Thursday to punch its ticket to the first round. Junior guard Megan Marston led all scorers with 23 points, and Olczak, a junior forward, added 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Mustangs played the game with just one senior in the lineup — guard Cam Rogers — as senior forward Dannika Susko missed the game because of injury. Plum, with an upset of the Lions, would secure a spot in the quarterfinals for only the second time in program history (2002). … South Fayette, the defending Class 5A champ, captured the Section 4 title at 10-0. The Lions’ two losses came against Class 6A third-seeded Norwin and to a team from New Jersey at a tournament in Delaware between Christmas and New Year’s Day. South Fayette averaged 60.7 points a game during the regular season. Weber led the Lions during the regular season at 17.2 points a game. South Fayette is gunning for its third WPIAL title in program history having captured the Class AAA title in 2016, the final year before the WPIAL/PIAA went to six classifications.

15-Kiski Area (9-12) vs. 2-Oakland Catholic (19-3)

Tuesday, 6 p.m. at Fox Chapel High School, O’Hara Township

Winner plays: Winner of 10-Lincoln Park (18-4) at 7-Mars (15-6) on Friday in quarterfinals (site/time TBD)

Players to watch: Abbie Johns, Kiski Area; Alexa Washington, Oakland Catholic

Layup lines: Kiski Area finished in a three-way tie for third place in Section 1 with Plum and Penn Hills. A four-game win streak in section — victories over Gateway, Franklin Regional, Woodland Hills and Plum — allowed the Cavaliers to rally in the section standings. Senior Lexi Colaianni and junior Johns have paced the Kiski Area offense this season. Kiski Area earned a trip to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2012. … Oakland Catholic, a WPIAL quarterfinalist and PIAA qualifier last year, swept Section 3 with a 12-0 record and had won 17 in a row overall before a 10-point setback at North Catholic to close out the regular season. The Eagles have won six WPIAL titles in program history, and they are going after their first since 2006 (Class AAAA). Oakland Catholic won four in a row and six of eight from 1999 to 2006. Senior guard Washington leads the Eagles in scoring at 16.3 points per game.

Class 4A

First Round

11-Laurel Highlands (11-11) at 6-Highlands (14-7)

Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Highlands High School, Natrona Heights

Winner plays: 3-Elizabeth Forward (17-5) on Friday in quarterfinals (site/time TBD)

Players to watch: Miya Harris, Laurel Highlands; Kate Myers, Highlands

Layup lines: Laurel Highlands earned the No. 4 spot from Section 3 behind Elizabeth Forward, Belle Vernon, and West Mifflin. The Mustangs gained a measure of momentum and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 19-point victory over Ringgold in the section finale Feb. 9. Harris, a sophomore guard, led the way with 14 points. Senior guard Alessandre Peccon added 13 and sophomore guard/forward Aryianna Sumpter tallied 11 in the win. Laurel Highlands made a big turnaround this season after winning just one game last year and a total of 12 games the previous five seasons overall. … Highlands bumped up one spot to the sixth seed for this year’s WPIAL playoffs after earning a No. 7 seed in last year’s Class 4A tournament. The Golden Rams seek a trip to the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. Highlands and Knoch tied for second place (9-3) in Section 1 behind champion and No. 2 seed North Catholic. The Golden Rams won their final four games of the regular season. Juniors Kate Myers, Kalleigh Nerone, Shelby Wojcik and Jocelyn Bielek and senior Ava Nitowski have led the team in scoring in games this season.

12 Hopewell (10-12) at 5-Knoch (14-8)

Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Knoch High School, Jefferson Township

Winner plays: 4-Quaker Valley (15-7) Friday at 7 p.m. in quarterfinals at Quaker Valley High School. Leetsdale

Players to watch: Lauryn Speicher, Hopewell; Nina Shaw, Knoch

Layup lines: Hopewell won three in a row, including the final two in Section 2 play, to close the regular season and clinch a playoff berth. The win streak came after four straight losses. The Vikings earned a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and are seeking their first postseason win since the PIAA first round in 2013. Speicher, a senior guard, scored a game-best 23 points in a 67-25 victory over Ambridge in the regular-season finale Feb. 9. … Knoch finished tied for second place with Highlands (9-3) in Section 1 behind champion and No. 2 seed North Catholic. Seniors Nina Shaw, Hattie McGraw and Megan Vasas, along with juniors Cece Kosecki and Naturelle Ewing, have paced the Knights’ offensive attack. Vasas is healthy this season after missing last year because of a knee injury. Knoch won 12 of 14 during a stretch in the regular season. The Knights hope to experience another strong postseason run after making it to last year’s WPIAL title game and the second round of the PIAA tournament.

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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