Knoch draws highest seed among A-K Valley girls basketball playoff teams

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | 8:29 PM


Last year at this time, Knoch girls basketball coach Chris Andreassi and the Knights faithful were still exhaling from a WPIAL Section 1-4A playoff chase that went down to the final day of the regular season.

Knoch ended a hectic last couple of weeks in a three-way tie with Apollo-Ridge and Greensburg Salem for third place in the section. All three teams qualified.

This year, the Knights were able to breathe a little easier as they clinched with several games remaining before the section schedule concluded.

Now, Knoch, which finished the regular season 16-6 and in a tie for second in the section with Freeport at 11-3, hopes for a deep run in the playoffs. It will kick off postseason play as the No. 6 seed in Class 4A and will face No. 11 New Castle on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Fox Chapel.

“It was good to get the sixth seed,” Andreassi said. “Coming in, I think everyone knew who the top four seeds were going to be. Then it was a question of who the next four would be. Honestly, I thought it could be any order. Everyone you play is good now. The girls are excited and ready to go.”

Knoch and the 147 other boys and girls teams in this year’s WPIAL playoffs found out their playoff fates Tuesday evening at the WPIAL pairings meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree.

Freeport, which also finished the regular season 16-6 after Monday’s 57-38 victory over Deer Lakes, is the No. 7 seed in Class 4A and will face No. 10 Belle Vernon on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at North Hills.

“(The seed) is what it is,” Freeport coach Fred Soilis said. “Now, we will get ready to play the game. We’re happy we’re in the playoffs, and the girls will be ready to play.”

McKeesport is the fifth seed in 4A.

The WPIAL finals for the six girls classifications will be Feb. 27-29 at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

Plum (14-6) came up one game short of its first section championships with a last-second loss to Gateway in a winner-take-all battle in Section 2-5A last Friday. But the Mustangs rebounded Monday and gained momentum with a dominant victory over Burrell.

They enter the WPIAL playoffs hoping to snap a nine-game postseason losing streak. Their last playoff win came in the 2002 WPIAL Class AAAA tournament.

Plum is the No. 9 seed and will face former section rival Penn Hills on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Fox Chapel.

“First round, we had a feeling we would get Penn Hills, so now, we go one game at a time,” Plum coach Steve Elsier said.

Riverview, led by its six-member senior class, also hopes to get back in the playoff win column Friday when it, as the No. 10 seed in Class 2A, takes on No. 7 Burgettstown at Northgate.

Despite a couple of close calls, the Raiders haven’t been able to get past the WPIAL first round the past three years after reaching the quarterfinals and falling one game short of states in 2016.

“The girls feel they can play with anybody if they play the way they are capable, and I think they’ve proven that,” Raiders coach Keith Stitt said.

Deer Lakes (13-9) enters the WPIAL playoffs for the sixth straight year. The youthful Lancers, who finished tied for third in Section 3-3A with East Allegheny at 9-5, is the No. 9 seed and will face No. 8 Seton LaSalle on Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at North Allegheny.

“It was just as we thought,” Deer Lakes coach Dave Petruska said. “It’s great to now know who we are playing and who we can prepare for.”

Last year, Fox Chapel drew the No. 8 seed in the 6A bracket and lot to No. 1 Peters Township in the quarterfinals.

But the Foxes stayed alive for a trip to the PIAA tournament under the follow-the leader format when the Indians captured the WPIAL championship.

Fox Chapel (13-9) again is the No. 8 seed, and this year, it hopes for a different quarterfinal outcome as they face No. 1 Bethel Park (19-2). The teams won’t play their quarterfinal matchup until Feb. 21 at a site and time to be determined.

St. Joseph (3-19) finished tied with Propel Andrew Street (8-14) for fourth place in Section 3-1A, and the Spartans, as the No. 11 seed, will face No. 6 Sewickley Academy on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Northgate.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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