Franklin Regional, Belle Vernon, Jeannette boys awarded byes in WPIAL opening round
By: Bill Beckner Jr.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 | 10:04 PM
Section championships carried plenty of significance for area boys teams Tuesday night at the WPIAL basketball playoff pairings meeting in Green Tree.
Four Westmoreland teams either won outright or shared section titles and all were rewarded with top-3 seeds.
The coaches did the customary walk to the front of a standing-room-only ballroom at the DoubleTree Hotel to accept section plaques.
Hold the applause until the end.
Franklin Regional (Class 5A), Belle Vernon (4A) and Jeannette (2A) all were tabbed with No. 3 seeds. All three have first-round byes but will have to wait a week or more to play their first game.
Franklin Regional (18-4), fresh off its first section title since 2008, is eyeing a rubber match with stranger-turned-rival Highlands (17-4), the No. 2 seed. The teams shared the Section 3 title and split their two section games, the second one getting heated at Highlands.
“We beat McKeesport, Belle Vernon, Jeannette — we beat some pretty good teams out of section,” said Franklin Regional first-year coach Steve Scorpion, whose team is on a seven-game winning streak. “We're not upset about not getting the 2. I mean, you're probably going to have to play (Highlands) anyway.”
Franklin Regional plays the winner of Moon (17-5) and Albert Gallatin (12-10) on Feb. 23. Should the Panthers and Highlands advance, they would meet Feb. 27.
Jeannette, trying to become the first school to win WPIAL baseball, football and basketball titles in a year's time, is looking forward to a bye. The Jayhawks get the winner of Shenango (14-8) and Frazier (9-12) on Feb. 23.
Jeannette, which won nine of its final 10 regular-season games, has made the WPIAL playoffs 17 straight times.
“It's good to get everyone healthy; we haven't had everyone together since Dec. 29,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “We can see where we're at and get everyone together. We could be a lot better team two weeks from now. You can't get to the second one unless you win the first one.”
Belle Vernon (17-5) won't play until Feb. 24. Monessen, No. 2 in Class A, will sit until Feb. 22. Monessen and Clairton, entangled in a late-season fight that led to both schools being put on probation for five years, are on opposite sides of the bracket.
Monessen made the playoffs for a WPIAL-record 37th straight time.
After sitting through a bye last year, 6A No. 9 seed Latrobe (15-7) will be in action Saturday when it takes on No. 8 Butler (18-4), the team it lost to in the first round last year, at 1:30 p.m. at Fox Chapel.
“The personnel has changed, but the familiarity is there,” Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel said. “We know their style, and they know ours.”
If Latrobe wins, it gets No. 1 Mt. Lebanon (19-3).
Greensburg Salem (12-10) is the No. 12 seed in 5A and opens against Trinity (18-4) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Peters Township.
All playoff games are at neutral sites. The finals are March 1-3 at Pitt's Petersen Events Center.