In seeding basketball brackets, WPIAL asks: What have you done lately?

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021 | 7:57 PM


When it came time to seed the basketball playoff brackets, the WPIAL asked: What have you done lately?

Teams that finished hot were rewarded.

That made North Allegheny coach Dan DeRose wonder why his section played 12 games this winter if only the last four actually mattered. His Tigers clinched the Section 1-6A title, but a late-season slide saw them seeded below two teams from their own section when the WPIAL announced playoff brackets Tuesday night.

“How is that possible?” DeRose said. “I win the section and have a better section record, yet two teams from my section are ahead of me? I don’t get it.”

The WPIAL gave the No. 7 seed to North Allegheny (13-6, 8-4), a sixth seed to Pine-Richland (9-5, 6-4) and a fifth seed to Butler (9-9, 5-5) — in reverse order of the section standings. Teams in Section 1 played one another three times in the regular season rather than just twice.

“Does it even matter that we beat them two out of three?” DeRose asked.

Truthfully, it didn’t.

The basketball committee placed a greater emphasis on wins at the end of the season, said Hampton athletic director Bill Cardone, the committee chairman. North Allegheny started 8-0 in the section but finished 0-4. Butler started 1-6 before winning four in a row.

“I know NA beat everybody twice, but at the end, those teams turned around,” Cardone said. “Pine-Richland beat NA, Butler beat NA, Butler beat Pine-Richland. We were kind of in a quandary there. We went with who we thought was the hot team at the time.”

The committee also considered that defending champion Butler had two injured starters recently rejoin the lineup, he said.

Overall, the seeding process was more difficult than usual because the WPIAL is holding an open tournament this winter. Any team that wanted to enter could, regardless of record. At times, it was a challenge to determine seeding order from sections with unbalanced standings, Cardone said.

The committee met for five hours Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, with everything that went on this year, not everybody got to play a lot of games,” Cardone said. “We did not have clear section winners in some sections. Some people didn’t play a whole lot of games, so it was hard to figure out the body of work.”

There were few surprises among the No. 1 seeds. For the boys, Upper St. Clair was first in Class 6A, Chartiers Valley in 5A, Belle Vernon in 4A, South Allegheny in 3A, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in 2A and Bishop Canevin in A.

Among the girls, only Neshannock in Class 2A could be considered somewhat unexpected. The other top seeds went to North Allegheny in 6A, Trinity in 5A, Beaver in 4A, North Catholic in 3A and Rochester in A.

The committee chose Neshannock (13-2) over undefeated Serra Catholic (12-0), even though the Lancers had two section losses.

“That was a debate,” Cardone said. “Those teams were almost even. We looked at Neshannock’s strength of schedule — who they won, who they lost against — and we felt Neshannock had the edge.”

The postseason starts with preliminary-round games Saturday and Monday in some classifications. Saturday games are scheduled for noon or 2 p.m. Weekday games start at 6 p.m., a switch from recent years.

The championships are March 12, 13 and 15 at sites to be announced. The WPIAL plans to use multiple high school venues for the finals.

The hardest brackets to seed were the Class 6A boys and Class 4A boys, Cardone said.

In 4A, the committee had to decide what to do with the top three teams in Section 2, all closely grouped in the standings. The committee seeded Lincoln Park second, Montour third and Quaker Valley fourth. The committee chose that order after Montour defeated Quaker Valley in double overtime Monday.

“Up until (Monday) night, we had a different order than what he have right now,” Cardone said.

Once released, the Class 6A boys bracket drew the most reaction. After No. 1 Upper St. Clair, three teams from Section 3 occupied the next three spots: No. 2 Fox Chapel (17-2), No. 3 Hempfield (11-4) and No. 4 Penn-Trafford (11-5).

“I was hearing NA or us would be in the Top 4,” Pine-Richland coach Bob Petcash said. “From my standpoint — No. 6 — I’m good with that. But it’s hard to believe there’s no one from our section in that Top 4.”

DeRose agreed.

“I was just shocked to see the two, three and the four all came from that other section,” DeRose said. “And not one team from our section — which I thought was the best section — got one of the Top 4 seeds. How is that possible?”

Cardone said Upper St. Clair and Fox Chapel were immediately identified as the top seeds with USC first.

“From there, we kind of went on the body of work,” Cardone said. “We felt Hempfield was deserving of that three spot. They had a nice resume. And then if you look at Penn-Trafford, they’ve been playing really well lately.”

Penn-Trafford, which defeated North Allegheny in December, won its last three games, including a 73-66 victory over Chartiers Valley, the No. 1 seed in 5A.

However, the WPIAL didn’t exclusively reward recent success.

In Class 3A boys for example, Shady Side Academy (12-2, 10-1) won its section rematch with South Allegheny (13-4, 9-1) on Feb. 17, but the committee decided to keep South Allegheny at No. 1 because of its challenging nonsection schedule. Shady Side Academy was seeded third.

Click here for brackets.

Watch the archive of the WPIAL Basketball Playoff Pairings Show on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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