Valley, Leechburg opt out of WPIAL girls basketball playoffs

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Thursday, February 18, 2021 | 8:53 PM


Earlier this week, Valley girls basketball coach Ernie Sipolino said he was optimistic his team, despite only having five players able to take the court, would enter the open WPIAL Class 4A playoffs.

However, one of those five, freshman guard Ryleigh Kasten, has been trying to play through a condition with one of her knees that is causing pain.

It led Sipolino to reevaluate the desire to have the Vikings take the court in the postseason.

After talking to athletic director Muzzy Colosimo following Tuesday’s game with Springdale, he said he decided not to declare his team for the playoffs.

“I told Muzzy we just couldn’t do it,” Sipolino said. “We just couldn’t have that girl playing like that with the pain she’s experiencing. We had four healthy players (Tuesday), and one out there with tears in her eyes. She wouldn’t take herself out of the game.

“She is such a dedicated player to the team and her teammates. She tried to move up and down the floor. She said she’s not hurt, but it’s just painful.”

Later Thursday night, the WPIAL announced the Leechburg girls have also withdrawn from the playoffs.

Leechburg and Valley are two of 14 girls teams over the six classifications to opt out of the playoffs.

Valley is 1-5 overall and 0-4 in section play. The Vikings are scheduled to host Burrell on Friday, and Sipolino said he doesn’t know if Kasten will be able to play.

Leechburg is 2-8 overall and 2-5 in Section 3-A.

The Blue Devils earlier this week had designs on being a WPIAL playoff participant.

Coach Andre Carter on Friday morning confirmed the team opted out of the Class A tournament and said injuries to team members made the change of course necessary.

“We hoped to be healthy this last week going into the playoffs and get a couple games under our belt at full strength, however, per our update report, we would not be ready,” Carter said.

“Plus, we added another player to the IR list.”

Carter said Thursday’s scheduled game with Aquinas Academy and a rematch between the teams Saturday were canceled because Aquinas Academy is on a covid-19 pause.

Leechburg is scheduled to play Monday at Springdale. The Blue Devils also are slated to host St. Joseph on Thursday.

“We are going to continue to seek games with teams that opt out and/or lose in the playoffs,” Carter said.

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

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