Trib HSSN 2020-21 WPIAL Class 6A girls basketball preseason breakdown

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Saturday, December 5, 2020 | 10:20 PM


Getting to the WPIAL girls basketball finals will take even more dedication and focus than ever this season.

Teams will have to navigate an invisible opponent in covid-19 that could test them more than a section rival.

But a reward of a WPIAL championship will drive girls basketball teams across Western Pennsylvania, much like it did for last year’s victors — North Allegheny (Class 6A), Chartiers Valley (5A), North Catholic (4A), Mohawk (3A), Bishop Canevin (2A) and Rochester (A).

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

Class 6A

Preseason Player of the Year

Lizzy Groetsch

North Allegheny

5-11, senior, guard

17.1 ppg last season

Players to watch

Mia Brown

Upper St. Clair

5-8, So., G, 11.0 ppg

Ashleigh Connor

Mt. Lebanon

5-10, Jr., G/F, 21.0 ppg

Meghan Dryburgh

Baldwin

5-10, Sr., F/C, 11.0 ppg

Paige Morningstar

North Allegheny

6-0, Sr., G, 10.0 ppg

Olivia Westphal

Bethel Park

5-9, Sr., G, 14.8 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. North Allegheny (24-3 last season)

North Allegheny is the defending Class 6A champion and has won three of the last four district crowns. The Tigers return two starters from a team that lost only once to a WPIAL team last season. Back are seniors Lizzy Groetsch and Paige Morningstar for a Tigers team that was second in Class 6A in both average points scored and average points allowed.

2. Upper St. Clair (14-9)

The young cats from Upper St. Clair made quite a splash last year. Maybe not the Fab 5 of the 90’s at Michigan, but this special group had the Panthers purring into the WPIAL Final Four and the PIAA playoffs. Peter Serio at times started four freshmen and a junior last year. The now-sophomore class consists of Mia Brown, Ava Keating, Kate Robbins and Sam Prunzik with Alex Prunzik as the senior vet.

3. Mt. Lebanon (18-7)

Perennial power Mt. Lebanon will once again be a factor in Section 2 after finishing in second place, a game behind champion Bethel Park. Junior Ashleigh Connor (21 ppg) finished as the leading scorer in 6A and was fourth in points scored in the entire WPIAL. Three other returning starters include senior Morgan Palmer and juniors Reagan Murdoch and Brooke Collins.

4. Norwin (18-5)

Norwin split with North Allegheny a year ago and finished as Section 1 co-champs with the Tigers with a 13-1 section record. The Knights were the No. 3-seed in the 6A playoffs but were upset by Upper St. Clair in the quarterfinals, 52-39. While Norwin will look to fill the void left by the graduation of leading scorer Olivia Gribble, the Knights do return senior guards Danielle Rosso and Mara Polczynski.

5. Bethel Park (23-3)

Bethel Park lost one half of its dynamic duo to graduation in leading scorer Madelyn Dziezgowski. However, senior Olivia Westphal returns. The Duquesne recruit averaged nearly 15 points per game in helping the Black Hawks win their section and reach the district final. Bethel Park will be buoyed by the return of junior Emma Dziezgowski, a starter who was injured and lost for the season last December.

Notable

• When the PIAA pulled the plug on the state basketball playoffs in March because of the covid-19 outbreak, the two WPIAL finalists were left standing. North Allegheny and Bethel Park had advanced to the state quarterfinals when the season abruptly ended.

• Upper St. Clair has the talented youth, but the Panthers begin the season a bit on the gimpy side. Mia Brown is just returning from an injury that may limit her at the start of the season while fellow sophomore Ava Keating is out and might not be back until the tail end of the season.

• A couple of other underclassmen to watch around Class 6A this season include Penn-Trafford junior Maura Suman, Peters Township juniors Journey Thompson and Avana Sayles, North Allegheny sophomore Jasmine Timmerson, Pine-Richland sophomore Kaili Doctor and Shaler sophomore Haley Kostorick.

• A team to watch is Baldwin. The Highlanders finished 13-11 last season and earned a postseason berth by finishing fourth in Section 1. After losing to NA in the district quarterfinals, they stunned one of the top teams in the state in the PIAA first round, a 42-35 win over Central Dauphin. The Highlanders return their top eight players, including seniors Meghan Dryburgh, Anna Lucarelli and Alexis Bernotas and have a new coach in Jamal Woodson.

• There were not a lot of changes in alignment this offseason in Class 6A girls basketball. A pair of teams, Fox Chapel from Section 1 and Connellsville from Section 2, dropped down to Class 5A, while Penn-Trafford moved up from 5A and was placed in Section 1.

2020-21 Alignment

Section 1: Butler, North Allegheny, North Hills, Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Shaler

Section 2: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Hempfield, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair

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