GCC boys keep an eye on OLSH as WPIAL playoff brackets revealed

Monday, February 14, 2022 | 7:08 PM

Greensburg Central Catholic and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart will not meet again in the WPIAL Class 2A boys basketball championship game.

No, their rematch will have to come in the semifinals after GCC was given the No. 4 seed in this year’s tournament. The Centurions (16-3) will play on the same side of the bracket as defending champion OLSH (18-0), something they were hoping to avoid.

“At the end of the day, you’re probably going to have to go through (OLSH) at some point,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “We could see them earlier than expected. That’s what (the WPIAL) decided, so we just have to roll with it.”

After losing two of their final four games, including a 69-53 setback against Serra Catholic on Friday, GCC dropped from the once-expected No. 2 spot. A bounce-back Saturday at Jeannette and a third straight section title did not boost their argument.

“It didn’t help us,” Hyland said of the Serra loss. “I thought they might drop us one or two (spots). I thought our body of work, winning 14 in a row to start the season, might be worth more.”

GCC opens next Tuesday at home against South Side Beaver (8-13).

New faces in the bracket — Fort Cherry (19-2) and Carlynton (17-2) — are Nos. 2 and 3. All gunning for OLSH.

“We really want to get them back,” GCC senior guard Brevan Williams said of OLSH, which beat GCC, 71-52, in last year’s title game. “We’ve been thinking about that game for a while.”

With covid restrictions and spectator limits last year, GCC had to play away as a No. 2 seed. It will be at home this time.

“It was a little strange last year,” Hyland said. “We’re a No. 2 seed playing on the road while everyone else is at home.”

The Class 2A tournament will offer an all-Westmoreland County matchup in the first round. The winner could see GCC.

Jeannette (10-11), the No. 12 seed, will travel to play No. 5 Monessen (17-4), just as Jayhawks coach Adrian Batts expected. That game is set for 7 p.m. next Tuesday.

Monessen seemed like a team that could land in the top four after winning 14 straight.

In Class 4A, Belle Vernon (18-3) is the No. 3 seed and has a first-round bye. The Leopards will host a quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

They made the final two years ago and the semifinals last season.

“When we lost to Bishop Canevin and Montour, I thought we might drop to a four,” Belle Vernon coach Joe Salvino said. “Then with North Catholic losing (to Deer Lakes), I wasn’t sure what to expect. We’re grateful. I have been doing this for a lot of years. You play who you have to play.”

Norwin (8-10), Penn-Trafford (8-12) and Hempfield (7-13), who finished tied for third in their section, are the Nos. 11, 12 and 13 seeds in 6A and will travel next Tuesday.

Norwin gets a first-round rematch with Butler (11-9). The Knights beat Butler ealier this season, 69-61.

Other No. 1 seeds for the boys are North Hills (21-0) in 6A, Laurel Highlands (20-0) in 5A, Quaker Valley (19-0) in 4A, Ellwood City (20-2) in 3A, and Bishop Canevin (16-4) in Class A.

Girls’ draw

On the girls’ side, it wasn’t a surprise that Southmoreland (17-3) secured the No. 2 seed in Class 4A. But the Scotties won’t play for 15 days with a first-round bye.

A semifinalist last year, Southmoreland will get the winner of West Mifflin (7-15) and Highlands (18-4) next Friday at home.

“We’re happy with where we’re at,” Scotties coach Amber Cernuto said. “We thought two and three would be a toss-up. We hoped our nonsection schedule might favor us.”

The bye will have the Scotties looking for scrimmages and creative practice time.

“It’s nice to get a bye, but we didn’t think we would be off that long,” Cernuto said. “It will give us some time to fine-tune some things. Hopefully, we can get a couple scrimmages in now and then.”

Norwin (15-5) is the No. 4 seed in Class 6A and will host No. 5 Bethel Park (10-9) in the quarterfinals of the nine-team bracket at 7 p.m. next Wednesday.

No. 6 Penn-Trafford (12-8) will visit No. 3 Upper St. Clair (17-4) Wednesday in another quarterfinal.

Another Westmoreland County No. 4 is Greensburg Central Catholic (16-4), which will be at home next Monday against Chartiers-Houston (10-10) in the 2A first round.

Monessen (16-5), one of five Westmoreland County schools with their girls and boys teams in the postseason, is No. 5 in Class A and will host Riverview (5-13) at 7 p.m. Monday.

Latrobe (16-3) is the No. 7 seed in 5A and will host No. 10 Mars (17-5) at 7 p.m. next Tuesday in the opening round.

The Wildcats were a No. 6 seed last year when they reached the semifinals.

“We thought we’d be anywhere from five to seven,” Latrobe coach Mark Burkhardt said. “It’s one game at a time. You can’t look past anyone. We’re happy to be playing at home.”

The top girls’ seeds are Mt. Lebanon (20-1) in 6A, Chartiers Valley (20-1) in 5A; Blackhawk (20-0) in 4A; North Catholic (16-4) in 3A; OLSH in 2A; and Rochester (15-4) in Class A.

Higher-seeded teams will host first round and quarterfinals, and the semifinals will be played at neutral sites.

The WPIAL finals will return to Pitt’s Petersen Events Center on March 3-5.

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

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