Girls basketball showdown between TJ-Oakland Catholic part of 3 things to watch Monday in WPIAL athletics

Sunday, January 7, 2018 | 11:06 PM

Who's the best team in WPIAL Class 5A girls basketball?

So far, it's proven to be the WPIAL's deepest classification with upwards of a dozen teams that could claim to be early title contenders.

Two of them meet Monday night.

No. 1-ranked Thomas Jefferson (9-1, 2-0) hosts No. 2 Oakland Catholic (6-2, 2-0) in a battle for first place in Section 2. It's also a matchup between the highest-scoring offense in WPIAL Class 5A and the stingiest defense.

Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.

Led by junior Jenna Clark (17.1 ppg) and senior Marina Petruzzi (15.8), Thomas Jefferson has won nine in a row since a loss to Beaver in the season opener.

Under second-year coach George Vlassich, the Jaguars average 63.2 points, best in 5A. They're coming off an 80-52 win over Keystone Oaks and a 73-53 victory against Woodland Hills.

But nobody has scored more than 44 points against Oakland Catholic this season.

The Eagles on average allow 32 points per game and held two opponents below 20.

Their only losses are to Class 6A's Penn Hills and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, the top-ranked team in Class 4A.

Soccer sections realigned

The WPIAL realignment effort continues Monday when the soccer committee meets and divides teams into new sections for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

The committee, chaired by Peters Township baseball coach Joe Maize, must decide how the 109 boys teams and 105 girls teams are arranged for the next two years.

The new-look sections will be revealed Jan. 15 at the WPIAL board's monthly meeting.

In WPIAL boys soccer, there are 23 teams in Class 4A (three sections), 29 in 3A (four sections), 28 in 2A (four sections) and 29 in A (four sections). Girls soccer has 22 teams in Class 4A (three sections), 30 in 3A (four sections), 24 in 2A (three sections) and 29 in A (four sections).

Warming up after a frigid Friday

A few of Friday's postponements were rescheduled for Monday, including a key boys basketball matchup in Class 5A between Franklin Regional (7-2, 1-0) and Gateway (4-5, 1-0). The early leaders in Section 3 meet at 7:30 p.m. in Monroeville.

Extreme cold weather canceled a large portion of Friday's basketball schedule.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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