George Guido: A-K Valley teams set to make run in basketball playoffs

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | 5:12 PM


The 108th WPIAL basketball tournament is set to start this weekend with seven boys and seven girls teams from the Alle-Kiski Valley qualifying. Brackets are available on tribhssn.triblive.com.

Seeding is always interesting as Fox Chapel, Knoch, Highlands and Springdale have been ranked in the Trib HSSN boys top five for most of the season.

Leechburg’s boys were the last local school to win a WPIAL title, defeating California in 2007.

Much of the local attention in the girls brackets will be focused on if Plum or Knoch can earn long-awaited playoff victories. Plum, which was a contender for the Section 2-5A title until the final second of the final game of the regular season, lost out on a shot at the school’s first girls basketball section title.

Gateway’s Dynasty Shegog made a full-court sprint and beat the buzzer last Friday to clinch the section.

The Mustangs are seeking their first playoff win since Feb. 16, 2002, when, as the No. 14 seed, the Mustangs defeated No. 3 Ambridge, 50-49.

Knoch has had four consecutive opening-round losses, and the Knights will be looking to halt that streak. The last Knoch playoff win was Feb. 14, 2009, when the Knights defeated Laurel Highlands, 49-45.

Playoff frequency

Some notable playoff streaks are intact.

The Monessen boys are in the playoffs for a WPIAL-record 39th consecutive season. The Greyhounds last came up short in 1981 and will be a playoff participant for the 64th time.

The Alle-Kiski’s longest playoff qualification is streak is 13, shared by Ford City (1927-39) and St. Joseph (2003-15).

Meanwhile, Shady Side Academy barely kept its playoff streak alive. It looked like the Indians would miss the postseason. But a victory Friday at Deer Lakes extended the streak to 18 straight playoff berths.

Uniontown is in the WPIAL postseason for the 69th time.

Aliquippa has made the boys playoffs 40 times in the last 41 seasons, missing only the 1996 tournament.

In girls basketball, North Catholic never has been on the postseason sidelines. The Trojanettes have made the playoffs 45 straight years — or, every year the program has been a WPIAL member.

Ford City’s girls made the playoffs 20 straight times, a streak halted by the school’s closing in 2015.

Greensburg Central Catholic’s girls have missed the playoff once (2000) in the past 40 years.

The finals will be Feb. 27-29 at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

Attendance

There’s nothing like a packed house for a high school basketball game, and it will be interesting to see if the uptick in attendance keeps up in the postseason.

The atmosphere at the Highlands-Knoch game Jan. 28 and the Fox Chapel-Upper St. Clair game last Friday was sensational. Some latecomers were sitting in the aisles.

The weather has been nicer this season than most. If that keeps up, it will be interesting to see what kind of draw some of these games will get.

It will also be interesting to see if the WPIAL will get a chance to play any games at the region’s newest major sports venue: Robert Morris’ UPMC Center.

It is a gorgeous facility. I had a chance to stop in there after covering a Robert Morris football game last fall while the Colonials were hosting a volleyball game.

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