Highlands, Knoch take top 2 seeds for WPIAL Class 4A bracket

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | 8:50 PM

After jockeying back and forth this season atop the WPIAL Class 4A boys basketball rankings, Highlands and Knoch claimed the top two spots in the tournament when the WPIAL revealed the brackets Tuesday night at the annual pairings meeting in Green Tree.

Fox Chapel and Springdale also earned top-four seeds. Despite losing to Upper St. Clair last Friday, the Foxes nabbed the No. 2 seed in Class 6A. The Dynamos, who finished the season with a record of 19-3 and went 13-1 in Section 1-2A, received the No. 4 seed.

Other A-K Valley teams that learned their seedings and playoff matchups Tuesday were Deer Lakes (No. 16 in Class 3A), Apollo-Ridge (No. 8 in Class 2A) and Leechburg (No. 7 in 1A).

The Golden Rams received the No. 1 seed, and the Knights were given the No. 2 seed in Class 4A.

“We’re definitely excited about this, but the reality about it is we are 0-0, and so is everybody else,” Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski said. “But we’re getting ready to go back to work and go from there.”

The Golden Rams will receive a first-round bye and will play the winner of Ambridge and Ringgold, who play Feb. 19 at Peters Township. Highlands also will be on the same side of the bracket as Uniontown, Blackhawk and Elizabeth Forward. As the No. 4 seed, Uniontown will face the winner of Blackhawk and Elizabeth Forward.

The Knights finished the regular season by losing two of their final five games but still produced an overall record of 19-3. They could have landed anywhere in the top four seeds.

But they will play the winner of New Castle and Mt. Pleasant next Saturday. Knoch coach Ron McNabb was happy with how the brackets turned out.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” McNabb said. “We kinda thought we would be the No. 3 seed, but getting the two is nice. It’s good for the kids, but you know, there is no easy games anymore. There’s Mt. Pleasant, New Castle, Quaker Valley — there aren’t any easy games. But I think we’re a tough draw, too.”

In Class 6A, the Foxes held the top spot for a majority of the season as they were the only undefeated team until last Friday. But they bounced back with a win over Plum on Monday.

Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar was excited about the opportunity his team has in front of it but knows it’s a whole new season.

“We’re excited to be here. We’re excited to be section champs again, and we’re excited to move forward in the playoffs,” Skrinjar said. “Everyone is 0-0 now. Even if we would’ve beaten Upper St. Clair, everyone is still 0-0.”

Highlands, Knoch and Fox Chapel have a week off via first-round byes and won’t play until Feb. 22. Springdale, Leechburg, Deer Lakes and Apollo-Ridge weren’t as lucky.

Springdale takes Sewickley Academy at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Shaler. Springdale coach Aaron Epps said he had a feeling the Dynamos would be matched up with Sewickley Academy and was looking forward to the opportunity.

“Once 13 teams got into the bracket, we kind of had a feeling that we were going to play Sewickley,” Epps said. “It was funny, I was just talking to their coach (Win Palmer) and we’ve been exchanging film for the past two weeks and now we’re going to play each other. So, it’s kind of an advantage because we had a feeling we we’re going to play each other. So, we’ll see, we’re excited.”

Deer Lakes, Apollo-Ridge and Leechburg will all have first round matchups as well. As the No. 16 seed in the Class 3A bracket, the Lancers will be matched up against No. 1 seed Lincoln Park. They will play on Friday at Fox Chapel at 8 p.m.

Apollo-Ridge and Leechburg will play Saturday. The Vikings face Brentwood at 2:30 p.m. at Fox Chapel. The Blue Devils take on Geibel Catholic at 1 pm. at Thomas Jefferson.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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