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

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Thursday, December 10, 2020 | 10:09 PM


Getting to the WPIAL girls basketball finals will take 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 the 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 2A girls basketball. Check out a breakdown of each class this week on the TribLive High School Sports Network. Click here to see Class 6A, Class 5A, Class 4A, Class 3A and Class 2A.

Girls Class A

Preseason Player of the Year

Corynne Hauser, Rochester

5-7, Jr., guard

16.0 ppg last season

Players to watch

Jersey Wise, West Greene

5-4, Sr., G, 18.3 ppg

Elizabeth Brudnock, West Greene

5-6, Sr., G, 10.7 ppg

Alexis Robison, Rochester

5-7, Sr., G, 19.1 ppg

Taylor Jackson, Clairton

5-8, Sr., G, 13.0 ppg

Savanah Abbott, Bishop Canevin

5-9, Sr., G, 7.2 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Rochester (26-1 last season)

Rochester has won back-to-back WPIAL Class A girls basketball championship and is favored to make it three straight with several key pieces back. Among the Rams’ returning starters are 5-foot-7 senior Alexis Robison, 5-7 junior Corynne Hauser and 5-7 junior Mekenzie Robison. Rochester has won 24 straight games since their only loss last year, 58-56 to Central Valley on Dec. 9.

2. West Greene (24-2)

The silver lining is nice but probably getting old for West Greene after three consecutive runner-up district trophies. There is plenty of talent back to make a serious run at that elusive title with 5-4 senior Jersey Wise, 5-6 junior Anna Durbin, 5-7 senior Elizabeth Brudnock, 5-10 senior Kaytlynn Walls and 5-7 junior Brooke Barner.

3. Clairton (20-5)

Clairton was riding high on an 11-game winning streak last year after edging California in the WPIAL quarterfinals before back-to-back losses ended its golden dreams. The Bears lost to eventual champion Rochester in the semifinals and fell to Blacklick Valley in the state playoffs. Taylor Jackson, a 5-5 senior, averaged 13 points per game in leading Clairton to a share of the Section 3-A crown.

4. Bishop Canevin (19-7)

Graduation hit the 2020 Class 2A district champions hard with Alyssa Pollice (18.5 ppg) and Diajha Allen (17.7 ppg) moving on to play college ball. Senior Savanah Abbott and junior Lauren Kirsch will be relied on to pick up the offense for the Crusaders. It was only three years ago that Bishop Canevin won its third straight WPIAL title and back-to-back Class 3A championships before dropping to 2A and now A.

5. Eden Christian (8-13)

Eden Christian Academy gets the nod over Avella and Monessen for a spot in the top five despite the fact that it’s been eight years since the program finished with a winning record. Eden Christian does return several starters from a playoff team that finished 8-13 a year ago. Leading the way is 5-6 senior Taylor Haring and 5-3 senior Haylee Fleischman.

Notable

• Six WPIAL Class A teams qualified for the PIAA basketball playoffs last season. However, only one advanced to the second round. District champion Rochester defeated Otto-Eldred and Tussey Mountain and was set to face District 9 runner-up North Clarion in the state quarterfinals when the season ended due to the pandemic. West Greene, Clairton, Sewickley Academy, Aquinas Academy and Avella all lost in the PIAA opening round.

• No. 1 Rochester and No. 2 West Greene could be on a collision course for a third straight championship battle with Rochester winning 62-56 in 2019 and 59-43 last season. The same teams playing in back-to-back WPIAL Class A girls basketball title games has happened six times in the 42-year history of the classification, but it has never happened three straight years. Serra Catholic faced Monessen in three of four years between 2003-2006.

• While the Rams are trying to join St. Francis Academy (1989-91), Avonworth (1992-94) and Vincentian Academy (2012-16) as the only Class A girls teams to three-peat, the Pioneers are trying to avoid making forgettable history. Last year, West Greene joined North Allegheny (1997-99), North Catholic (1990-92) and Greensburg Central Catholic (1994-96) as the only WPIAL girls basketball teams to lose three straight district championship games. Nobody has lost four straight.

• There are only a couple of new faces in new places in girls Class A hoops. Not only does the boys basketball team at Cornell have a new coach, so does the girls team. Frank Deutsch takes over for Mark Bolla. Deutsch was the Raiders boys basketball coach for two years in 2001-2002 before Bill Sacco took over. Jarred Rodriguez is the new coach at Jefferson-Morgan, replacing Brian Virgin.

• There were only a couple of changes in alignment this offseason in Class A girls basketball with three teams moving up to 2A and two teams replacing them coming down. The biggest change is defending WPIAL 2A champion Bishop Canevin moving down to Section 1-A. Also dropping in class is Riverview in to Section 3-A. Moving up to 2A were Sewickley Academy, California and Greensburg Central Catholic.

2020-2021 Alignment

Section 1: Bishop Canevin, Cornell, Eden Christian Academy, Rochester, Union

Section 2: Avella, Geibel Catholic, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, Monessen, West Greene

Section 3: Aquinas Academy, Clairton, Leechburg, Propel Andrew Street, Riverview, St. Joseph

More Basketball

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What to watch in WPIAL sports Jan. 18, 2021: Chartiers Valley girls chasing history
Winter sports season heats up this week on Trib HSSN
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