Jeannette boys basketball team awarded No. 3 seed for WPIAL playoffs

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | 9:51 PM


One of the hottest teams since Christmas was the Jeannette boys basketball squad.

After beginning the season 1-6, the Jayhawks went 14-1, with the only loss coming against Class 6A Penn-Trafford.

The WPIAL awarded Jeannette a No. 3 seed in Class 2A behind No. 1 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and No. 2 Sto-Rox on Tuesday at the basketball pairings meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree.

The Jayhawks receive a first-round bye and will face the winner of the California/Shenango game Feb. 21.

“I’m happy that we got a bye,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “I thought, being a section champ, that we’d get the two seed. They gave the two seed to a co-champ.

“Hey, it is what it is. We’re in the tournament. We’ve been playing well together during this run. We’ve been really defending without fouling, and we’re doing a lot of little things.”

Jeannette clinched the section title with a hard-fought win Feb. 7 at Serra. The Jayhawks defeated Serra twice this season.

Jackson Pruitt, Keith Rockmore, Toby Cline and Zach Crutchman are a few of the standouts for Jeannette.

“We’re winning the battle at the free-throw line, which has hampered us in the past,” Batts said. “Hopefully, I won’t jinx us. Our guys have been really focused and keeping each other accountable.

“I expect us to run on all cylinders. These guys are hungry. I’m proud of our group.”

Hempfield, meanwhile, qualified for the WPIAL tournament for the first time since 2016, and coach Bill Swan was ecstatic.

“It’s awesome,” Swan said. “I didn’t care who we played or where we played. I’m just happy to be here. It beats being home complaining to my wife.”

Hempfield (12-10) will face Peters Township, a team it defeated earlier this season, Tuesday at Mt. Lebanon.

“If we shoot the ball well, I feel we have a chance,” Swan said. “Peters Township is very good, very talented. If we hang in there early and get used to the playoff atmosphere, we have a chance.”

Hempfield is a senior-dominated team, and this will be a first for seniors Marcus McCarthy, Drew Coletta, Nick Suchko, Mikey Gaffney and Blake Remaley.

The winner of the Hempfield vs. Peters Township game gets No. 1 Butler.

Even though Greensburg Central Catholic lost its final two games, the basketball committee seeded the Centurions fourth in Class A behind Vincentian, Bishop Canevin and Cornell.

Returning champion Nazareth Prep was seeded fifth.

The Centurions face Eden Christian on Saturday at Fox Chapel.

This is GCC coach Christian Hyland’s first playoff trip.

Derry coach Tom Esposito said Monday that he expected to play Belle Vernon in the first round.

And even though the WPIAL is spending two Westmoreland County teams to Fox Chapel on Wednesday, he’s pleased to be in the Class 4A tournament.

“We’re very happy,” Esposito said. “It’s a testament to our guys how we got here. After losing Justin (Huss) in our first section game, I don’t know how many teams gave a chance to get back here.

“We worked hard as a coaching staff to regroup, and we got our guys to refocus. Here we are, and it’s an exciting night for us. We have a few days to prepare for a very good Belle Vernon team.”

Also in Class 4A, Mt. Pleasant (12-10) will face New Castle on Wednesday at North Allegheny.

Penn-Trafford opens the Class 6A tournament against Central Catholic on Tuesday at Norwin.

In Class 5 A, Franklin Regional (11-11), a team that got hot late in the season, will face South Fayette on Monday at Peters Township.

In Class 3A, Southmoreland (11-11) goes against Beaver Falls at Mt. Lebanon on Friday.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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