Westmoreland boys basketball notebook: Belle Vernon itching for another crack at Montour

Thursday, February 24, 2022 | 6:56 PM

Belle Vernon was short a couple of key pieces when it played Montour the first time this season.

That had a lot to do with the Leopards losing, 65-48, to the Spartans in a late-season matchup at the Hoops for a Cure showcase at North Allegheny.

But when the teams meet again at noon Saturday in the WPIAL 4A semifinals at Bethel Park, the third-seeded Leopards (19-3) plan to be at full strength.

Sophomore standout and leading scorer Quinton Martin missed the first meeting because he was in Las Vegas for a football event. Senior point guard Devin Whitlock missed the second half of the game with tightness in his back.

Montour (19-4) took advantage, outscoring the Leopards in the second half, 31-22.

Martin averages 19 points and Whitlock 15. Whitlock was limited to nine in the first game.

“We’ve been hoping to get another shot to play them,” Leopards coach Joe Salvino said. “We know we have to take care of business first.”

Salvino has never been a moth to the limelight, but he could get a lot of attention Saturday. If the Leopards get past Montour, Salvino will have 700 career wins, third-most in WPIAL history. Of his 699 victories, 640 came at Monessen, where he coached for more than three decades.

Home away from home

Greensburg Central Catholic thought it might get two playoff games at home and, after advancing to the WPIAL 2A quarterfinals, that seemed like a strong possibility.

The WPIAL awarded home games to higher-seeded teams for the first two rounds.

But the fourth-seeded Centurions (17-3) will play at a neutral site Friday night against No. 5 Monessen (18-4). The 7 p.m. game will be at Norwin, a much larger venue than GCC to support a larger crowd.

Norwin is probably the next-best site for GCC considering it played two postseason games there last year and won them both. The Centurions beat Sewickley Academy, 48-41, in the quarterfinals, then dispatched Sto-Rox, 56-51, in the semis.

Oddly, the GCC girls, also a No. 4 seed, got to play first round and quarterfinal games at home.

Release the Hounds

Monessen should provide GCC with a tough test Friday. The Greyhounds have won 16 straight and have not lost in 2022.

They also have not lost to a WPIAL 2A team. Their losses — they started 0-3 — are to South Allegheny (3A), McKeesport (5A), Charleroi (3A) and Linsley School (W.Va.).

“They have been on a roll,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “They are playing confident and (coach) Dan (Bosnic) gets them to play really hard. They’re active on defense, with hands everywhere, and rebound the ball really well.”

The winner could see No. 1 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (20-0), which has a 60-game winning streak, in the semifinals.

GCC lost to OLSH in last year’s WPIAL championship.

Monessen and OLSH would be a matchup of teams with a combined 78 straight wins.

More teams in states

Last year, only WPIAL champions advanced to the PIAA tournaments.

But the follow-the-winner plan is back in place, meaning a number of teams will get a second chance to make a postseason run.

In Class 6A, four teams will go on to states — the semifinalists — while the WPIAL will send seven teams in 5A and 3A, six in 4A and 3A and five in A.

Teams that make the semifinals and those that lose to the finalists in the six-team classes move on while the same goes for the seven-qualifier brackets, adding the team that lost to the champion in the quarterfinals.

Couple of coaches

A husband and wife are coaching teams in the WPIAL playoffs.

Chris Giles coaches the Penn Hills boys while his wife, Jordan Giles, is in charge of the girls at Seton La Salle.

Both teams earned wins Monday. Penn Hills topped Chartiers Valley, 72-57, while Seton La Salle downed Sto-Rox, 48-35.

Jordan Giles will lead her Rebels against Greensburg Central Catholic Thursday in the 2A quarterfinals at GCC.

Local fans will remember Chris Giles as the all-time leading scorer at Seton Hill. He played at West Mifflin.

Marinchak to UPG

Ligonier Valley senior standout guard Matthew Marinchak committed to play at Division III Pitt-Greensburg.

Marinchak has more than 1,200 career points and led the Rams this season with a 24-point average.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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