Trib HSSN 2020-21 WPIAL Class 4A boys basketball preseason breakdown

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Monday, December 7, 2020 | 9:29 PM


This will surely be a boys basketball season like no other.

WPIAL teams are set to tip off Friday and embark on a masked journey through a schedule likely to change many times as the year progresses.

Teams all have hopes of hoisting a WPIAL championship trophy in March, much like last year’s boys basketball champions — Butler (Class 6A), Laurel Highlands (5A), Highlands (4A), North Catholic (3A), OLSH (2A) and Vincentian Academy (A).

Here is a rundown of players to watch, team rankings and other notable facts for Class 4A boys basketball. Check out a breakdown of each class this week on the TribLive High School Sports Network. Click here to see Class 6A and 5A.

WPIAL Class 4A

Preseason Player of the Year

Devin Whitlock

Belle Vernon

5-9, Jr., G, 19.9 ppg

Players to watch

Dakari Bradford

Lincoln Park

6-4, Sr., F, 12.0 ppg

Markus Frank

Quaker Valley

6-5, Jr., F, 17.1 ppg

Ryan Lang

Knoch

5-11, Jr., G, 17.2 ppg

LA Pratt

Lincoln Park

6-3, Jr., G, 14 ppg

Adou Thiero

Quaker Valley

5-10, Jr., G, 17.5 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Quaker Valley (17-6 last season)

Junior guard Adou Thiero will make this team go, but the Quakers have talent around him. Juniors Markus Frank and Jack Gardinier and senior James Davis all played significant minutes a season ago. Frank was the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 17.4 points and also 6.7 rebounds. The Quakers lost New Castle from their section but added Lincoln Park.

2. Lincoln Park (23-5)

The Leopards were the WPIAL Class 3A runners-up a season ago, before the PIAA competitive-balance rule forced them into a higher classification. Dakari Bradford and LA Pratt give the Leopards two talented scorers to build around, but they must replace a strong 2020 graduating class led by Isaiah Smith and Andre Wilder.

3. Belle Vernon (20-8)

Also nicknamed the Leopards, Belle Vernon brings back two starters from last season’s WPIAL Class 4A runner-up team: Whitlock and senior Jake Haney, a 5-9 guard. The lineup doesn’t match the height of last winter’s roster, but 6-3 freshman Quinton Martin should make an immediate impact. The multi-sport athlete already has a football scholarship offer from Pitt.

4. North Catholic (26-2)

The Trojans won the WPIAL Class 3A title last season but graduated almost everybody from that senior-heavy championship lineup. But don’t count out coach Dave DeGregorio’s team. They’ll rely on seniors Connor Maddalon, Owen DeGregorio, Isaiah Jackson and Andrew Ammerman, a 6-7 forward.

5. Knoch (19-4)

The Knights return all-section guard Ryan Lang, who was instrumental in the team tying Highlands for the Section 1 title last season. Lang is back for his junior season but the team must find scoring to replace Scott Fraser, a 17-point guard who graduated.

Notable

• There will be a new champion in WPIAL Class 4A. Defending champion Highlands moved up to Class 5A this season.

• New Castle also jumped to Class 5A, eliminating another recent champion from the classification. The Red Hurricanes won three consecutive WPIAL Class 4A titles from 2017-19.

• North Catholic and Lincoln Park combined to win the past four WPIAL Class 3A titles. North Catholic won last season and in 2017. Lincoln Park won consecutive titles in 2019 and ’18.

2020-21 Alignment

Section 1: Burrell, Deer Lakes, Derry, Freeport, Keystone Oaks, Knoch, North Catholic

Section 2: Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell, Lincoln Park, Montour, Quaker Valley

Section 3: Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Mt. Pleasant, South Park, Southmoreland, Uniontown, Yough

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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