WPIAL notebook: Class 4A boys basketball crowded with champions after realignment

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Monday, June 13, 2022 | 10:06 PM


Lincoln Park and North Catholic have met in the WPIAL boys basketball finals four times in the past six seasons, but they won’t wait that long to face one another again.

The WPIAL board on Monday approved a new section alignment for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons that has them sharing a section in Class 4A. There’s a new look in a number of WPIAL basketball classifications, but especially in 4A boys where the number of sections is increasing from three to four.

WPIAL administrator Vince Sortino said the basketball committee’s intent was to make all four sections equally competitive. That task was made harder when defending WPIAL Class 5A champion Laurel Highlands dropped to 4A next season. The Mustangs join a section with Belle Vernon.

Also dropping to 4A are Hampton, Indiana, Greensburg Salem and Highlands, which won a WPIAL title in 2020.

“Every time the basketball committee meets, they’re talking about competitiveness and also travel within schools,” Sortino said. “They tried to come up with sections that met both of those areas.”

North Catholic moves from Section 1 to Section 2 and joins Lincoln Park in a grouping with Beaver County schools Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley and Hopewell. However, defending WPIAL 4A champion Quaker Valley and runner-up Montour leave Section 2 for 4.

The top four teams from each section will qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.

Among the other notable decisions by the basketball committee:

• The WPIAL placed the Penn Hills and Kiski Area girls in the same Class 5A section despite lingering issues between the schools from last winter. Penn Hills accused Kiski Area fans of making racist taunts at a middle school volleyball game in March, allegations that led Penn Hills to refused to play Kiski Area teams during spring seasons.

Kiski Area later asked the WPIAL to keep the schools separate next school year, but the WPIAL didn’t grant that wish Monday. The two schools join Franklin Regional, Gateway, Indiana, Plum and Woodland Hills in Section 1-5A.

“It was discussed,” Sortino said. “We looked at it and that’s the sections we came up with. We told them that we would take a look at it. That’s what we came back with. We’re going to expect that all of the teams in that section play each other.”

• The Fox Chapel and North Hills boys ended up in separate Class 5A sections after finishing as WPIAL finalists in 6A last season. Fox Chapel joins Section 2 centered in northeastern Allegheny County. North Hills joins Section 4, mostly with teams from the western side of the county.

• The New Castle boys jumps to Class 6A and join Section 1 after finishing as the WPIAL and PIAA runner-up in 5A.

• The North Catholic girls return to Class 4A and join Section 1 after winning the WPIAL 3A title.

WPIAL board election

West Allegheny athletic director David McBain was elected WPIAL board president Monday, replacing Scott Seltzer, who takes over as executive director July 1.

In an 11-6 vote, McBain was elected president over Fox Chapel athletic director Mike O’Brien. WPIAL board members vote for the executive officers. McBain was previously WPIAL treasurer.

The board elected Peters Township athletic director Brian Geyer as vice president, re-elected Hopewell principal Michael Allison as treasurer and tabbed Mars athletic director Scott Heinauer as secretary. All three ran unopposed.

A Robert Morris graduate, McBain has served as West Allegheny’s athletic director since 2000. He’s a certified athletic trainer and worked in that field for 28 years before retiring.

McBain also serves as a member of the PIAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

Return of play-in games?

The WPIAL could bring back play-in games for determining state basketball qualifiers this winter, replacing the traditional follow-the-winner format the league uses now. The idea, discussed recently by the basketball committee, would need approval from the WPIAL board later this year.

The consolation rounds were popular with coaches and players when the league used them for two seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16. However, the WPIAL eliminated them after the sport expanded to six classifications.

Under the follow-the-winner format, a team’s postseason fate is determined by its opponent’s success.

For example, in Class A boys basketball, the WPIAL sent five teams to the state playoffs last winter. The four semifinalists qualified and the fifth spot went to Rochester because it had lost to eventual WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin in the quarterfinals.

WPIAL boys basketball alignment 2022-23, 2023-24

Class 6A (12 teams)

Section 1: Butler, Central Catholic, New Castle, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley

Section 2: Baldwin, Canon-McMillan, Hempfield, Mt. Lebanon, Norwin, Upper St. Clair

Class 5A (24 teams)

Section 1: Bethel Park, Connellsville, Peters Township, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity

Section 2: Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Penn Hills, Plum, Shaler, Woodland Hills

Section 3: Franklin Regional, Gateway, Kiski Area, Latrobe, McKeesport, Penn-Trafford

Section 4: Chartiers Valley, Mars, Moon, North Hills, South Fayette, West Allegheny

Class 4A (25 teams)

Section 1: Freeport, Greensburg Salem, Hampton, Highlands, Indiana, Knoch

Section 2: Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell, Lincoln Park, North Catholic

Section 3: Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Laurel Highlands, Southmoreland, Uniontown

Section 4: Avonworth, East Allegheny, Montour, Quaker Valley, South Allegheny, West Mifflin

Class 3A (28 teams)

Section 1: Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Freedom, Mohawk, Neshannock, New Brighton, Riverside

Section 2: Brentwood, Keystone Oaks, Seton LaSalle, South Park, Steel Valley, Sto-Rox, OLSH

Section 3: Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Derry, Ligonier Valley, Shady Side Academy, Valley

Section 4: Brownsville, Charleroi, McGuffey, Mt. Pleasant, Washington, Waynesburg, Yough

Class 2A (26 teams)

Section 1: Aliquippa, Laurel, Northgate, Sewickley Academy, Shenango, South Side

Section 2: Bishop Canevin, Eden Christian, Nazareth Prep, Propel Braddock Hills, Propel Montour, Winchester Thurston

Section 3: Clairton, Greensburg C.C., Jeannette, Leechburg, Riverview, Serra Catholic, Springdale

Section 4: Bentworth, Beth-Center, Burgettstown, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, Frazier

Class A (18 teams)

Section 1: Avella, Carlynton, Cornell, Rochester, Union, Western Beaver

Section 2: California, Geibel, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, Monessen, West Greene

Section 3: Aquinas Academy, Hillel Academy, Imani Christian, Neighborhood Academy, St. Joseph, Summit Academy

WPIAL girls basketball alignment 2022-23, 2023-24

Class 6A (13 teams)

Section 1: Butler, Hempfield, North Allegheny, Norwin, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley

Section 2: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Chartiers Valley, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair

Class 5A (27 teams)

Section 1: Franklin Regional, Gateway, Indiana, Kiski Area, Penn Hills, Plum, Woodland Hills

Section 2: Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Mars, New Castle, North Hills, Shaler

Section 3: Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Latrobe, McKeesport, Oakland Catholic, Penn-Trafford, Thomas Jefferson

Section 4: Lincoln Park, Montour, Moon, South Fayette, Trinity, West Allegheny

Class 4A (20 teams)

Section 1: Derry, Freeport, Greensburg Salem, Highlands, Knoch, North Catholic, Valley

Section 2: Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell, Quaker Valley

Section 3: Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Laurel Highlands, Southmoreland, Uniontown, Ringgold, West Mifflin

Class 3A (24 teams)

Section 1: Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Laurel, Mohawk, Neshannock, Riverside

Section 2: Avonworth, East Allegheny, Keystone Oaks, OLSH, Seton LaSalle, South Allegheny

Section 3: Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ligonier Valley, Mt. Pleasant, Shady Side Academy

Section 4: Brownsville, Charleroi, McGuffey, South Park, Waynesburg Central, Yough

Class 2A (27 teams)

Section 1: Aliquippa, Freedom, New Brighton, Rochester, Sewickley Academy, Shenango, South Side

Section 2: Brentwood, Burgettstown, Carlynton, Fort Cherry, Northgate, Sto-Rox

Section 3: Clairton, Ellis School, Greensburg C.C., Serra Catholic, Springdale, Steel Valley, Winchester Thurston

Section 4: Bentworth, Beth-Center, California, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston, Frazier, Washington

Class A (16 teams)

Section 1: Aquinas Academy, Bishop Canevin, Cornell, Eden Christian, Union

Section 2: Avella, Geibel, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, Monessen, West Greene

Section 3: Hillel Academy, Jeannette, Leechburg, Riverview, St. Joseph

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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