Breaking down the 2020 WPIAL girls basketball playoffs

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | 7:48 PM


Here is a breakdown of the 2019-20 WPIAL girls basketball playoffs:

Class 6A

Favorite: Bethel Park (19-2) looked like it might be the top seed, but the Black Hawks lost to Class 4A North Catholic Monday. Bethel Park allows just 37.7 points per game and has a pair of formidable double-digit scorers in 5-9 junior Olivia Westphal and 5-11 senior Maddie Dziezgowski, both of whom average 15 points. The latter had a 31-point game. The Black Hawks have one girls basketball title which came in 2013.

Challengers: North Allegheny (19-3) has captured two of the last three WPIAL championships and was the runner-up last year. It is allowing 38.8 points. The Tigers shared the Section 1 title with Norwin (18-4), the team it barely beat in last year’s semifinals but thumped in their second meeting of this season. Junior guards Lizzy Groetsch (17 ppg) and Paige Morningstar lead the Tigers. Senior guards Olivia Gribble (16 ppg) and Jayla Wehner pace Norwin, which could be the deepest team in the bracket and leads Class 6A with 61.4 ppg. Norwin dropped a late-season nonsection game to Class 5A Penn-Trafford.

Don’t overlook: Mt. Lebanon (17-5) finished a game behind Bethel Park in Section 2 after a loss to Upper St Clair. Sophomore Ashleigh Connor (22 ppg) is an up-and-coming standout.

Prediction: Bethel Park over North Allegheny

Class 5A

Favorite: Nobody will argue this: Chartiers Valley (22-0) is the hands-down favorite. The Colts, guided by second-year coach Tim McConnell, have won 58 consecutive games, including victories in last year’s WPIAL and PIAA title games. They average 66.9 points and won Section 1 by three games. Senior guard Megan McConnell, a Duquesne recruit, averages 15 points. The Colts have quality nonsection wins over Mt. Lebanon, Oakland Catholic and North Catholic.

Challengers: Woodland Hills (18-4) finished ahead of good teams in Oakland Catholic (16-6), Penn Hills (11-11) and Penn-Trafford (15-7) to win Section 3. Gateway (16-5), led by senior Lexi Jackson, also won a section title (Section 2) and allowed just 35.8 points. But Chartiers Valley’s toughest competition could be from its own section in Trinity (17-4) and Thomas Jefferson (16-6). Led by Alyssa DeAngelo (16 ppg), Thomas Jefferson gave Chartiers Valley its closest game (42-41). Fordham recruit Riley DeRubbo (17 ppg) is the top scorer for Trinity.

Don’t overlook: Oakland Catholic (16-6), which was second in Section 3, averages 58 points. Penn-Trafford ended up fourth in Section 3, but the Warriors have wins over Class 6A Norwin and Gateway. Sophomore Division I prospect Reilly Sunday (20 ppg) and Bella Pelaia (16 ppg), a Mount St. Mary’s recruit, help to make Moon and Mars others to watch.

Prediction: Chartiers Valley over Woodland Hills

Class 4A

Favorite: Three-time defending champion North Catholic, the PIAA runner-up last year, has not lost to a WPIAL Class 4A team in the six-classification era. Senior Duquesne recruit Tess Myers averages 16 points to lead the Trojanettes (21-1), who have won 58 consecutive section games. Teammate Kylie Lewandowski committed to Richmond. The Trojanettes’ loss is to unbeaten Chartiers Valley (22-0).

Challengers: Southmoreland finished 22-0 and cut down the nets. It earned quality wins over Baldwin and Mercyhurst Prep, but the Section 3-champion Scotties never have made it past the WPIAL quarterfinals. The Scotties, led by sophomore Gracie Spadaro (16 ppg), senior Sarah Pisula and freshman Olivia Cernuto, surrender 30 points a game. Blackhawk (19-3) and Central Valley (17-3) shared the Section 2 title again and split their season series. Mackenzie Amalia, a Robert Morris recruit, leads Blackhawk, which has wins over Norwin and Trinity. She is fifth in the WPIAL in scoring at 22 ppg. She broke the school’s career assists record with 579. Seton Hill commit Christiane Frye (20.2 ppg) is the top scorer for Central Valley.

Don’t overlook: McKeesport (15-7) played a fairly strong schedule and can give teams trouble with senior forward Jhayla Bray (18 ppg), who had a 29-rebound game against Penn-Trafford. Knoch and Freeport tied for second in Section 1. Quaker Valley is a good third-place team.

Prediction: North Catholic over Southmoreland

Class 3A

Favorite: Mohawk or Beaver. The teams are somewhat of a toss-up after they split the Section 1 title and split in head-to-head matchups. Beaver (19-3) made the WPIAL and PIAA quarterfinals last season. Mohawk (19-3) averages a Class 3A-best 64.9 points. Beaver, led by Emma Pavelek (16 ppg), allows 29.9. Nadia Lape (18 ppg) and Karly McCutcheon (17 ppg) lead Mohawk, which edged Central Valley Monday.

Challengers: Avonworth (16-6) was third in Section 1 behind Mohawk and Beaver and also could make for a strong contender. The Antelopes split with Beaver. South Park was the Section 2 champion and features senior guard Danielle DeProspo (15 ppg), while Carlynton (14-8) took the Section 3 title. Derry (14-8), under coach Gene Brisbane, is back in the postseason after a three-year absence.

Don’t overlook: Charleroi (14-7), led by Bella Skobel (19 ppg), was third in Section 2 and won four straight to close the regular season.

Prediction: Mohawk over Beaver

Class 2A

Favorite: Serra Catholic (16-3) won Section 2 behind senior 5-10 guard Rayna Andrews (16 ppg) and is scoring nearly 60 points per game. The Eagles had won nine in a row before a nonsection loss to Sewickley Academy on Saturday. Serra Catholic is looking for its fifth WPIAL girls basketball championship.

Challengers: Bishop Canevin has won championships in three of the last four years, two of them in Class 3A. The Crusaders (16-6) cruised through Section 3, scoring 56.2 points and giving up 37.5. Alyssa Pollice (18.4 ppg) and Diajha Allen (15 ppg) average in double figures. The Crusaders have won six of their past seven games. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (18-3) is the returning WPIAL champion and won the Section 1 title while allowing just 33.2 points. Laurel (15-7) won 8 of its last 9 games, including a victory over OLSH, and also relies on a defense that allows 36 ppg.

Don’t overlook: Riding a six-game winning streak, Burgettstown was the runner-up behind Bishop Canevin and has limited opponents to 30 ppg.

Prediction: Bishop Canevin over Serra Catholic

Class A

Favorite: Defending champ Rochester (21-1) rolled through Section 1 with a perfect 12-0 record and is scoring 62 points a game. The Rams played a formidable nonsection schedule with a win over Blackhawk and a two-point loss to Central Valley. Junior Alexis Robison (20 ppg) leads the team in scoring but keep and eye on sophomore Coryanne Hauser. The Rams last year became the first public school to win a WPIAL girls basketball title since Monessen in 2006.

Challengers: West Greene (22-0), which won Section 2 by three games, made the WPIAL finals last year for the second straight time but fell to Rochester. West Greene, the highest-scoring team in Class A (64.9 ppg), has a notable win against Bishop Canevin. Junior 5-3 guard Jersey Wise leads the Pioneers with 18.4 points per game. Vincentian (17-5) finished second behind Rochester and has a strong enough nonsection schedule to prove it’s ready for a playoff run. Avella finished second in Section 2, while Monessen, back in the playoffs after a five-year drought, was third. Monessen senior Qitarah Hardison averages a double-double and has 1,000 career rebounds.

Don’t overlook: Clairton (18-3) and Greensburg Central Catholic (14-7) tied for the Section 3 title and split a pair of two-point games. Clairton gives up a minuscule 28.7 points. Iyauna Chapman (15 ppg) is a scorer for the Bears.

Prediction: West Greene over Rochester

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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