Westmoreland County basketball playoff preview capsules: Games for Feb. 18, 2020

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Monday, February 17, 2020 | 4:59 PM


Boys

Class 6A

First round

No. 8 Hempfield (12-10) vs. No. 9 Peters Township (13-9)

8 p.m. Tuesday at Mt. Lebanon

Winner plays: No. 1 Butler (17-4) Saturday in quarterfinals

Coaches: Bill Swan, Hempfield; Gary Goga, Peters Township

Points scored/allowed: Hempfield 58.1 ppg/55.2; Peters Township 57.7/57.7

Players to watch: Marcus McCarthy, Hempfield (Sr., F); Sam Petrarca, Peters Township (Sr., F)

About Hempfield: The Spartans are back in the WPIAL postseason for the first time since 2015-16, but they have not won a playoff game or had a winning season since 2014-15. A six-senior roster features balanced scoring and team defense. McCarthy, Mikey Gaffney and junior Christian Zilli are scorers to watch.

About Peters Township: The Indians used a big fourth quarter to get past Penn-Trafford in the first round last year at the same location. They almost upset Pine-Richland in the quarterfinals. Most of the Indians’ top players are back, including Colin Cote (16 ppg). Peters Township lost at Hempfield on Jan. 17, 57-52.

No. 10 Penn-Trafford (14-8) vs. No. 7 Central Catholic (12-10)

8 p.m. Tuesday at Norwin

Winner plays: No. 2 Fox Chapel (21-1) Saturday in quarterfinals

Coaches: Jim Rocco, Penn-Trafford; Brian Urso, Fox Chapel

Points scored/allowed: Penn-Traffford 59.2/55.2; Central Catholic 58.1/56.4

Players to watch: Zach Rocco, Penn-Trafford (Sr., PG); Ben Sarson, Central Catholic (Sr., F)

About Penn-Trafford: The Warriors are back in the playoffs, but they are seeking their first postseason victory since 2001, before senior point guard Zach Rocco was born. Rocco (23.7 ppg) is an Army commit and a 1,000-point scorer. A supporting cast has developed steadily with big minutes from sophomores Ben Myers (6-5) and Nick Crum, and juniors Josh Kapcin and Chase Vecchio, among others.

About Central Catholic: The Vikings finished third in Section 1, five games behind top-seeded Butler. Sarson is one of the WPIAL’s top scorers who averages 25.7 points per game. The 6-foot-5 standout has an offer from Division II Shippensburg. Central has a 62-59 win over Latrobe. The winner will play second-seeded Fox Chapel. Urso is a Fox Chapel graduate.

Girls

Class 5A

First round

No. 6 Gateway (16-5) vs. No. 11 Penn-Trafford (15-7)

6:30 p.m. at Norwin

Winner Plays: No. 3 Trinity (17-4) Saturday in quarterfinals

Coaches: Curtis Williams, Gateway; John Giannikas, Penn-Trafford

Points scored/allowed: Gateway, 46.1/35.6; Penn-Trafford, 52.3/42.5

Players to watch: Lexi Jackson, Gateway (Sr., F); Bella Long, Penn-Trafford (Sr., G/F)

About Gateway: A buzzer-beater by Dynasty Shegog propelled Gateway to a 31-29 win over Plum in a game that decided the Section 2 title on the final night of section play. The Gators have the top defense in Class 5A. Jackson is a Kent State recruit. The Gators won the WPIAL title in 2018.

About Penn-Trafford: The Warriors beat Gateway, 59-58, in an early season contest Dec. 10. Sophomore Maura Suman, who hit a buzzer-beater to beat the Gators, injured her shoulder in the season finale and is questionable for the postseason. The Warriors finished fourth in Section 3. Half of Penn-Trafford’s games have been decided by less than 10 points. Long, a Slippery Rock commit, averages 14 points.

Class A

First round

N0. 5 Greensburg Central Catholic (14-7) vs. No. 12 California (12-10)

8 p.m. Tuesday at Peters Township

Winner plays: No. 4 Clairton (18-3) or No. 13 Eden Christian (8-12) Friday in quarterfinals

Coaches: Sam Salih, GCC; Chris Niemec, California

Points scored/allowed: GCC, 44.5/40.8; California, 41.5/35.5

Players to watch: Gia Scala, GCC (Sr., G); Makayla Boda, California (Jr., G)

About GCC: The Centurions split the Section 3 title with Clairton, whom they lost to, 49-47, on the final night of section play. They’ll look to earn a playoff win after being upset by Quigley Catholic in the quarters last year. Scala is a Point Park commit. Southmoreland transfer Bailey Kuhns, who had 22 points in the team’s last game against Monessen, is ineligible for the playoffs.

About California: The Trojans returned four starters and finished fourth in Section 2. Boda leads the team in scoring, averaging 9.8 points per game. California won three of its last four section games to solidify a playoff berth.

No. 8 Monessen (15-7) vs. No. 9 Aquinas Academy (9-11)

6 p.m. Tuesday at Peters Twp.

Winner plays: No. 1 Rochester (21-1) Friday in quarterfinals

Coaches: Janine Vertacnik, Monessen; Chris Lebakken, Aquinas Academy

Points scored/allowed: Monessen, 47.8/37; Aquinas Academy, 36.5/40

Players to watch: Qitarah Hardison, Monessen (Sr., G/F); Elizabeth Russell, Aquinas Academy (So., F)

About Monessen: The Greyhounds are seeking their first playoff victory since 2012 after finishing third in Section 2. Breakthrough senior Hardison averages a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds). She has more than 1,000 rebounds and over 800 points in her career. Sophomore guard Kendelle Wilson averages 12 points.

About Aquinas Academy: The Crusaders made it 3-for-3 in playoff appearances since joining the WPIAL in 2017-18 by finishing third in Section 3. They have one playoff win in school history, which came in 2018. Nine of the 11 girls on Aquinas Academy’s roster are freshmen or sophomores.

— By Bill Beckner Jr. and Jerin Steele

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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