Westmoreland County basketball playoff preview capsule: Game of Feb. 26, 2020

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020 | 9:03 PM


Today’s game

Boys

Class 4A

Semifinals

No. 6 Belle Vernon (18-6) vs. No. 7 New Castle (17-7)

6 p.m. Wednesday at North Allegheny

Winner plays: No. 1 Highlands (20-3) or No. 5 Blackhawk (13-10) at 1 p.m. Saturday in championship at Petersen Events Center

Coaches: Joe Salvino, Belle Vernon; Ralph Blundo, New Castle

Points scored/allowed: Belle Vernon 70.2 ppg/61.7; New Castle 65.1/54.9

Players to watch: Devin Whitlock, Belle Vernon (so., G); Mike Wells, New Castle (so. G)

About Belle Vernon: It’s only been two years since Belle Vernon played in the WPIAL semifinals but the finals, now that is a different story. The Leopards have not appeared in a WPIAL title game in four decades — 1972 at the old Civic Arena. After knocking off No. 3 Quaker Valley on Saturday, they will get a shot to advance. Whitlock averages 20.3 points but senior guard Cam Nusser, who played with a bum ankle in the quarters, is another scoring threat. Seniors Mitchell Pohlot, Jared Hartman and Thomas Hepple know their roles and play them well.

About New Castle: The three-time defending champion Red Hurricanes are a playoff fixture and one of the more daunting matchups in the bracket. They could be playing for their seventh WPIAL title in nine years if they get past the Leopards. Watch for a quick-to-the-ball defense to pressure Belle Vernon deep in the backcourt. Wells is a proven scorer (21.3 ppg) but look for 6-2 junior Sheldon Cox and 6-foot senior Demetris McKnight to make an impact. There aren’t many better coaching matchups than Blundo vs. Salvino, who have combined for 943 wins and 12 WPIAL titles. Salvino is 664-277. He coached Monessen for 34 years. Blundo has won six titles since taking the coaching duties in 2010.

—Bill Beckner Jr.

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

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