George Guido: A-K Valley teams set for intriguing holiday tournament matchups

Sunday, December 25, 2022 | 12:02 PM

Presumably, all of your presents are unwrapped by now, so it’s time to take a look at some of the holiday week high school tournaments on tap.

For those who don’t mind about 60-70 minutes of travel, the Highlands boys will be in the Central Valley Tournament at the Community College of Beaver County Dome. The Golden Rams, No. 3 in the latest Trib HSSN Class 4A rankings, will play Pine-Richland at 2:30 p.m. Thursday and Penn Hills, No. 1 in Class 5A, at an advertised starting time of 8:30 p.m.

We say advertised because there are five previous games with a 90-minute gap between starting times. The chances of the Highlands-Penn Hills game starting on time are about as good as me swimming across the Allegheny River this morning.

Still, it’s a rematch of last season’s WPIAL Class 5A quarter­final played at the Penn Hills gym, where Highlands held the Indians scoreless over the final 3 minutes, 43 seconds to pull out a 51-49 victory.

The tournament includes the likes of Archbishop Wood, last year’s PIAA Class 6A runner-up; Laurel Highlands and Lincoln Park, rated 1 and 2 in 4A; 2A No. 1 Aliquippa and West Philadelphia, the school whose previous record of 68 straight wins was broken by OLSH.

Speaking of OLSH: Deer Lakes, fresh off the stunning, 70-55 victory over OLSH to end the Chargers’ state record, 74-game winning streak, will take on Steel Valley as host of its own classic-formatted tournament at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Lancers will face Avonworth at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Another interesting matchup will be at Shady Side Academy’s Peter Sauer Memorial Tournament, where the host Bulldogs, No. 1 in 3A, will battle neighboring Fox Chapel, last year’s 6A champ that is off to a surprising start considering the entire starting lineup graduated.

That game will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Riverview, off to a hot start at 5-2, will play Indiana at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the St. Joseph Tournament. If the Raiders win, they will equal their victory total for last season.

Freeport also will be hosting a boys tournament this week.

Apollo-Ridge will have its long-standing Apollo Trust Tournament this week with boys and girls competition. St. Joseph also will have a girls tournament to complement the boys competition.

Highlands will host a girls tournament with the Golden Rams facing perennial WPIAL contender Mars at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Burke watch

Shady Side Academy coach Jonna Burke needs three victories to reach the 500 mark for her career.

In her 28th season, Burke has her team off to a 5-1 start. Shady Side was closed this past week for holiday break, but the Bulldogs will be back in action at 3:45 p.m. Thursday against vastly improved Fox Chapel in the Peter Sauer Memorial Tournament at Mellon Gym.

Peter Sauer helped lead Shady Side to the 1995 PIAA title and later played for Stanford and was part of the Cardinal’s Final Four team in 1998. He died in 2012 at age 35.

As a nice touch, two of the late Sauer’s daughters — senior Cate and freshman Cassie — will be playing for the Bulldogs in the event named for their father.

Burke is in her second season at Shady Side and had considerable previous success at Butler and Bethel Park.

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