Breaking down the 2018 WPIAL boys basketball playoffs
By: Chris Harlan
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 | 10:33 PM
Here's a breakdown of the WPIAL boys basketball playoffs:
Favorite: Led by Antonio Garofoli (17 ppg), Mt. Lebanon shoots 3-pointers by the dozen. If the outside shots are falling, the Blue Devils are hard to stop. Their only losses were to Allderdice; Byron Nelson, Texas; and Canon-Mac.
Challengers: Woodland Hills' success starts with senior point guard Amante Britt, a 20-point scorer. The Wolverines, who reached the WPIAL semifinals last season, climbed to the top of Section 3. Pine-Richland finished second in Section 1 but can't be overlooked as two-time defending WPIAL champions. Junior guard Dan Petcash averages 17 points, while 6-foot-5 senior Phil Jurkovec (15 ppg) and 6-6 junior Andrew Kristofic form a frontcourt that's tough to match. Fox Chapel behind Carson Cohen (19 ppg) finished with late wins over Woodland Hills and Penn Hills. Central Catholic split with Butler and Pine-Richland and swept the rest of Section 1 behind Luke Nedrow, a 6-foot-7 Marist recruit who averages 16 points. Butler sophomore Ethan Morton (24 ppg), a 6-5 point guard with D1 offers who reached the WPIAL finals last season, makes his team a tough matchup. Versatile forward Daivon Stephens (18 ppg) makes Penn Hills a real threat.
Don't overlook: Seneca Valley beat Pine-Richland and Butler, as well as Woodland Hills.
Prediction: Pine-Richland over Penn Hills
Favorite: One item missing from Robby Carmody's remarkable 2,000-points resume is an appearance in the WPIAL finals. Mars lost in the semifinals each of the past two seasons and the quarterfinals in 2015. That could change this year for the Notre Dame recruit who averages a WPIAL-best 33.6 points. Mars started 5-0 before a pair of loses at the City of Palms Classic in Florida. They also dropped a nonsection test to Allderdice and a Section 2 battle at Moon.
Challengers: Franklin Regional and Highlands tied for the Section 3 title with each team winning on its home floor. FR boosted its playoff stock with a 70-51 victory over Section 2 champion McKeesport on Friday. The Panthers have become a more energetic group this season under first-year coach Steve Scorpion. McKeesport has two top scorers is Terron Taylor (20 ppg) and Layton Jordan (16 ppg), a Temple football recruit. Moon is the defending WPIAL champion and split with section rival Mars. The Tigers also own a win over Franklin Regional but lost to Trinity by one point.
Don't overlook: Laurel Highlands finished third in Section 1, but the team has senior St. Francis, Pa., recruit Bryce Laskey, the second-leading scorer in the WPIAL at 33.3 ppg.
Prediction: Mars over Franklin Regional
Favorite: Quaker Valley just finished the first undefeated regular season in team history, and now the Quakers are favored to win at least a few more. Drexel recruit Coletrane Washington averages 23 points for the Quakers, who have as much scoring power as anyone in the WPIAL. Ryan Stowers is a 16-point scorer and Danny Conlan averages 15.
Challengers: New Castle and Marcus Hooker (16 ppg) defeated Quaker Valley in the WPIAL finals last season. The Red Hurricanes lost twice to their section rivals this season with each a nine-point loss. Indiana senior Carlos Carter, a 23-point scorer, gives the Indians hope for their second title in four years. Belle Vernon won its final seven section games to take the Section 3 title.
Don't overlook: Central Valley and Ambridge finished third and fourth in Section 2. But a year ago, all four teams from that section reached the semifinals, an achievement they'll try to copy. Forward Josh Kline averages 16 points for Central Valley, while guard Aaron Hilzendeger averages 19 for Ambridge.
Prediction: Quaker Valley over New Castle
Favorite: Lincoln Park extended its section winning streak to 76 consecutive games, a testament to the team's recent dominance, but the Leopards are hungry for their first WPIAL title in four years. The team finished as runner-up in each of the past two seasons after winning the Class A championship in 2012 and 2014. Keeno Holmes is a 22-point scorer for the Leopards, who lead WPIAL Class 2A in scoring at 62.9 points.
Challengers: Seton LaSalle, which averages 62.5 points, won the Section 2 title behind Jakob Richardson, a 16-point scorer. Burrell, East Allegheny and Shady Side Academy finished as tri-champions in Section 3. Washington, the Section 4 winner, already won a WPIAL football title this school year. Aliquippa, which won WPIAL titles in 2015 and 2016, exited in the quarterfinals last season.
Don't overlook: Section 2 runner-up Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, the defending WPIAL champion, has an ugly overall record. But it also owns the classification's stingiest defense at 43.2 ppg.
Prediction: Lincoln Park over Seton LaSalle
Favorite: Sewickley Academy is the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion, but this year's team relies on a trio of high-scoring sophomores: Jett Roesing (16.6), Isaiah Smith (15.9) and Isiah Warfield (15.6), who received a Duquesne offer Saturday. The Panthers average 77.9 points, the most in the WPIAL.
Challenges: OLSH split its two-game section series with Sewickley and the two teams shared the Section 3 title. Both contests were close, decided by two and five points. OLSH's Donovan Johnson, whose brother plays for North Carolina, averages 19 points, Daren DiMichele averages 17 and Dante Spadafora averages 15. Jeannette defeated Serra Catholic twice to claim the Section 1 title, but the margin of victory was slim. Their first matchup was a one-point game in double overtime. Jeannette's Anthony Johnson is a 19-point scorer and teammate Tre' Cunningham averages 17. Jimmy Moon leads Serra with 16 ppg. Chartiers-Houston won the Section 2 title behind Cameron Hanley, a 21-point scorer.
Don't overlook: Shenango, which finished third behind Sewickley and OLSH, has a 17-point scorer in Brandon Bennett.
Prediction: Sewickley Academy over OLSH
Favorite: Vincentian Academy is the top scoring team in WPIAL Class A behind Zach McDonough, a 19-point scorer. The Royals topped 90 points four times to take a slight edge over Monessen, which averages 71.0. Vincentian defeated Monessen, 83-72, on Feb 2 in a tournament at New Castle.
Challengers: Monessen, the defending champion, is trying to move forward from last week's on-court brawl with Clairton that earned a one-game suspension for a number of players. If those distractions aren't too much, Monessen has the talent to win another title behind Lyndon Henderson, a 22-point scorer. Union and 22-point scorer Tre Charles defeated section foe Vincentian Academy, 83-72, on Feb. 2. The Scotties finished a game behind Vincentian in Section 1. Clairton, led by Khori Fusco (17 ppg), lost 59-56 to Monessen in January. Their fight-marred matchup was ruled a no-contest. Propel Andrew Street, Eden Christian and Imani Christian finished at tri-champions in Section 3.
Don't overlook: Imani Christian was the WPIAL runner-up last season and has two top scorers with Sam Fairley (18.1) and Deshawn Hubbard (16.5).
Prediction: Union over Vincentian Academy
Butler (18-4) vs. Latrobe (15-7) at Fox Chapel, 1:30 p.m.; Penn Hills (19-3) vs. Upper St. Clair (11-11) at Baldwin, 1:30 p.m.; Canon-McMillan (20-2) vs. Seneca Valley (14-8) at West Allegheny, 1:30 p.m.; Pine-Richland (17-5) vs. Bethel Park (13-9) at North Hills, 1:30 p.m.
Byes: Mt. Lebanon (19-3), Woodland Hills (19-3), Fox Chapel (17-5), Central Catholic (14-8)
Hampton (10-12) vs. Gateway (12-10) at Fox Chapel, 8 p.m.; McKeesport (14-8) vs. Armstrong, TBD; Trinity (18-4) vs. Greensburg Salem (12-10) at Peters Township, 6:30 p.m.; West Allegheny (10-11) vs. Laurel Highlands (14-8) at Peters Township, 8 p.m.; Moon (17-5) vs. Albert Gallatin (12-10) at Baldwin, 8 p.m.
Byes: Mars (18-4), Highlands (17-4), Franklin Regional (18-4)
Valley (13-4) vs. South Park (12-9) at North Hills, 8 p.m.; Central Valley (14-7) vs. Uniontown (13-9) at Peters Township, 8 p.m.; South Fayette (15-7) vs. Freeport (15-6) at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 8 p.m.; Ambridge (12-9) vs. Deer Lakes (12-9) at Fox Chapel, 8 p.m.
Byes: Quaker Valley (21-0), New Castle (18-4), Belle Vernon (17-5), Indiana (17-5)
Brownsville (11-11) vs. Carlynton (8-14) at Charleroi, 8 p.m.
Aliquippa (15-6) vs. South Side Beaver (9-12) at Ambridge, 8 p.m.; Burrell (10-12) vs. Riverside (12-9) at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 8 p.m.; Washington (17-5) vs. Brentwood (8-12) at Peters Township, 7 p.m.; Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (11-11) vs. Ellwood City (14-8) at Ambridge, 6:30 p.m.
Lincoln Park (15-6) vs. Brownsville/Carlynton at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 8 p.m.; East Allegheny (11-9) vs. Burgettstown (15-6) at Peters Township, 6:30 p.m.; Seton LaSalle (16-5) vs. South Allegheny (11-11) at Peters Township, 8 p.m.; Shady Side Academy (13-8) vs. Avonworth (12-10) at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Leechburg (13-6) vs. Fort Cherry (9-13) at North Hills, 5:30 p.m.; Chartiers-Houston (17-5) vs. Neshannock (8-14) at West Allegheny, 8 p.m.; California (13-8) vs. Springdale (12-8) at North Hills, 8:30 p.m.; Shenango (14-8) vs. Frazier (9-12) at West Allegheny, 6:30 p.m.
Byes: Sewickley Academy (18-4), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (20-2), Jeannette (18-3), Serra Catholic (18-4)
Propel Andrew Street (16-5) vs. Holy Family Academy (13-8) at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 6:30 p.m.; Cornell (16-6) vs. Winchester Thurston (8-11) at Northgate, 8 p.m.; Imani Christian (11-9) vs. West Greene (8-14) at Charleroi, 6:30 p.m.; Eden Christian Academy (15-5) vs. Geibel (7-15) at Baldwin, 8 p.m.
Byes: Vincentian Academy (15-7), Monessen (13-8), Union (15-5), Clairton (16-4)