Westmoreland County boys basketball notebook: Teams still fighting for playoff spots

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Thursday, February 9, 2023 | 11:01 AM


A number of Westmoreland County teams still had a shot at the WPIAL boys basketball playoffs in the final week of the regular season.

Friday night’s action will fill out the full list of qualifiers.

County teams that already have clinched are Norwin (12-8) in 6A, Kiski Area (11-10) in 5A, Belle Vernon (10-10) in 4A, Burrell (12-9), Derry (10-8) and Yough (14-7) in 3A, Greensburg Central Catholic (14-5) and Jeannette (12-7) in 2A and Monessen (18-2) in A.

The top four finishers and ties that cannot be broken by head-to-head competition in each section qualify.

Hempfield (8-13, 3-6), fresh off two straight section wins, can clinch Friday with a win over Norwin (12-8, 4-5).

The jam-up in Section 3-5A, meantime, has Franklin Regional (9-11, 3-6), Latrobe (8-13, 3-6) and Penn-Trafford (6-15, 3-6) all still alive.

On Friday night, Franklin Regional plays at McKeesport, and Penn-Trafford hosts Kiski Area.

Latrobe plays at Gateway at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The game was moved because of a dance Friday at Gateway.

If all three teams win their last section game — or if they all lose — they all will qualify because they are 1-1 against one another. If two of them finish tied, they both will go.

Southmoreland (12-9, 2-7) can clinch a spot in Section 3-4A with a win Friday over Albert Gallatin and a Elizabeth Forward loss to Belle Vernon.

The WPIAL will announce playoff seedings and pairings at 3 p.m. Monday online via Trib HSSN.

Games could begin as early as Thursday but are more likely to begin Friday and Saturday.

Home-court advantage

As it has done in recent years, the WPIAL will award higher-seeded teams home games in the first round.

Teams with byes will play at home in the next round.

The WPIAL has reserved the right to move “home” games if schools have small gyms that are not suitable for the playoffs.

The practice of giving teams home games over neutral sites began in 2021, a result of the covid pandemic.

That year, higher seeds played at home through the semifinals.

Upset special

Two playoff-bound local teams scored upsets Tuesday night.

Norwin clinched a berth with a 58-46 victory over Class 6A No. 5 Mt. Lebanon as senior guard Adam Bilinsky scored 30 points, and Jake Murray came off the bench to hit two 3-pointers for the Knights.

“Our kids played well,” Norwin coach Lance Maha said. “It was a nice rebound from (a loss to Baldwin on Friday).”

Derry, meantime, held back Class 3A No. 4 Shady Side Academy, 65-59. Gabe Carbonara scored a game-high 27 points, and Nate Papuga added 22. The Trojans held Bulldogs standout Eli Teslovich to five points.

“I am just so happy for our guys,” Derry coach Tom Esposito said.

Team effort

Penn-Trafford’s third straight road win in Section 3-5A featured contributions from a number of sources up and down the roster.

While juniors Tyler Freas (19 points) and Jason Sabol (14) provided the bulk of the scoring in the 64-62 victory at Latrobe, sophomore Brayden Stone dished out nine assists, junior Ian Temple pulled down 10 rebounds, junior Carmen Metcalfe grabbed eight rebounds, freshman Zach Feldman came off the bench to score seven points and 6-foot-5 senior Andrew Kessler altered shots around the rim.

The Warriors have only two seniors to go with 10 sophomores, six juniors and two freshmen.

Bilinsky nears 1,000

Norwin senior standout Adam Bilinsky is on the verge of reaching the 1,000-point mark for his career.

The Mercyhurst commit needs six points Friday at Hempfield to achieve the milestone.

He would join Yough’s Terek Crosby, Southmoreland’s Ty Keffer and Landon Butler of Latrobe as county players who reached 1,000 points this season.

A-listers

With Vinnie Cugini of Aquinas Academy recently breaking Tom Pipkins’ long-standing WPIAL scoring record — and getting to an amazing 3,000 points — it’s worth taking a look at the top boys all-time scorers in Westmoreland County.

Pipkins, of course, is No. 1 with 2,838 points. He played at Valley.

His county record might last a lot longer.

Others in the top five are Westmoreland Christian’s Josh Tomson (2,572 points), Belle Vernon’s Vince Graham (2,429), Jeannette’s Terrelle Pryor (2,285) and Yough’s Ben McCauley (2,283). Southmoreland’s Eric Roslonski is the only other Westmoreland player to top 2,000 points. He had 2,192.

Flenory’s 81

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Valley great B.B. Flenory’s historic game against Deer Lakes.

Flenory poured in 81 points in a 124-52 JV victory in 1973. That March, the standout guard, who played at Duquesne and had a tryout with the Boston Celtics, was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd.”

Back then, freshmen could not play varsity basketball. Flenory probably would have been a factor in the WPIAL right away. He averaged 50.2 points as a ninth grader.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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