Alle-Kiski Valley high school notebook: Apollo-Ridge girls teams to ‘play up’ next season

Thursday, December 7, 2017 | 8:15 PM

The WPIAL realignment brought on last season by the PIAA's increase in classifications in many sports forced Apollo-Ridge to take what athletic director Ray Bartha called a “South Hills tour” in girls basketball.

That should change as early as next season.

Apollo-Ridge chose to “play up” in girls basketball and girls soccer for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 competition years, according to official PIAA classifications released Thursday. Girls soccer now will play in Class AA, and girls basketball in Class 4A.

Bartha said the primary motivation came down to travel: The Vikings' girls basketball team is currently a member of a section with Avonworth, Bishop Canevin, Carlynton, Seton LaSalle, Shady Side Academy and Steel Valley, and the girls soccer team is in a section with Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Riverview, Serra Catholic, Shady Side Academy and St. Joseph.

“By playing up, we feel we'll get at least three or four schools within our range,” said Bartha, who called some of the current trips “ridiculous.”

“ … When you have to travel on a school night, for kids, that's tough.”

In girls basketball, Apollo-Ridge could join fellow Alle-Kiski Valley schools Burrell, Freeport and Highlands in Class 4A. Local Class AA teams include Burrell, Deer Lakes, Freeport, Highlands and Valley.

“We like to play in the Valley,” Bartha said.

As expected, Apollo-Ridge chose not to play up in Class 3A after doing so the past two seasons. Allegheny Conference rivals Valley and Shady Side Academy dropped to 2A, giving the Vikings two potential local rivals in a new conference. The WPIAL will release new alignments in mid-January.

Tom terrific

A familiar face will attempt to help Quaker Valley win the PIAA Class 3A football title Saturday in Hershey.

Former Valley basketball star Tom Pipkins coaches the wide receivers and defensive backs at Quaker Valley, which won the first WPIAL title in school history last month against Aliquippa.

Pipkins led Valley to the only WPIAL basketball title in school history in 1993, helping the Vikings reach the PIAA championship game. He scored 2,838 points, graduating as the No. 1 scorer in WPIAL history.

After Valley Pipkins starred at Duquesne, scoring more than 1,800 points with the Dukes. He was inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Taking to the mat

Basketball season tips off Friday, but wrestlers will get their first bouts in this weekend as well.

Kiski Area will look to defend its team title at the Eastern Area Invitational Wrestling Tournament, which begins Friday at Gateway. Plum and Valley also are competing.

Fox Chapel and Riverview, with young rosters, will compete in the Hampton Duals on Saturday, with an opportunity to get five team matches in. Highlands will go to the Carrick Duals.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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