Westmoreland County boys basketball notes: Playoff field nearly set

Friday, February 11, 2022 | 12:48 AM

The Westmoreland County WPIAL boys basketball playoff field is nearly complete.

All that remains in Section 3-6A is the postseason fate of Hempfield and Norwin, who head into Friday night’s action tied for fourth place.

Hempfield (6-13, 3-6) will finish section play at home Friday against Greensburg Salem (2-18, 0-9), while Norwin (7-10, 3-6) plays host to Penn-Trafford (8-11, 4-5).

If Hempfield and Norwin finish tied, they both will qualify because they split their head-to-head series.

Teams that have clinched playoff berths include Penn-Trafford (8-11, 4-5) in 6A; Belle Vernon (17-3), Burrell (12-8) and Yough (11-9) in 4A; Ligonier Valley (10-10, 6-4) in 3A; and Greensburg Central Catholic (15-2), Jeannette (9-10) and Monessen (15-4) in 2A.

Franklin Regional (7-12, 5-6) is still alive for a spot in Section 3-5A. The Panthers, who are tied for third with Kiski Area (14-7, 5-6) and Woodland Hills (8-12, 5-6), likely needs a win over Gateway (12-5, 8-3) Friday night to get in.

Southmoreland (7-11, 4-7) can still qualify out of Section 3-4A. The Scotties can clinch with a win Friday over visiting Yough.

Playoff pairings will be announced virtually at 5 p.m. Monday on TribLive HSSN.

Whitlock’s scoring

Belle Vernon senior Devin Whitlock puts the point in point guard.

The standout could be on his way to 1,700 career points — and a lot more if the Leopards make a deep playoff run.

Whitlock has 1,682 points, 1,195 of which have come at Belle Vernon. He had 487 as a freshman at Monessen.

Whitlock could finish in the top four on Belle Vernon’s scoring list with just three years in a Leopards’ uniform. Right now, he is fifth behind Vinnie Graham (2,394), Jacob Dudzinski (1,436), Matt Rowland (1,407) and Josh Pohlot (1,239).

Foul ball

Penn-Trafford coach Doug Kelly wasn’t happy with his team after they had two key players pick up three fouls and also sent Hempfield to the foul line 15 times in Tuesday night’s 50-42 loss to the Spartans.

Kelly had an interesting idea, even it was slightly tongue in cheek.

“We got into foul trouble and that was a problem,” Kelly said. “I don’t know, maybe it’s time to bring in some (referees) to our practices. They’ve said they would come in and help with contact.”

An official at a practice? There aren’t any rules against it.

“You have to be prepared for what you’re going to see,” Kelly said. “This was like a playoff game for us.”

Next man up

Hempfield (6-13) did not let an injury to a key player disrupt its run at a playoff spot.

Senior guard Joe Fiedor, a glue player and team leader, injured his knee in the first meeting against Penn-Trafford on Jan. 14 and has not played since.

He is likely shut down for the season. Fiedor is a Seton Hill baseball commit.

“Losing Joe was big and we had to step up,” senior forward Chaz Ewer said. “I have tried to be more of a ball handler. Dom Hipps, Brandon Learn and Harrison Sowers have all played bigger scoring roles.”

Section chase

Greensburg Central Catholic has two Section 3-2A games left as it chases a section three-peat. The Centurions (15-2, 8-0) host Serra Catholic (9-9, 7-2) on Friday and visit Jeannette on Saturday.

GCC has a 1½-game lead over Serra.

Belle Vernon has secured the Section 3-4A title, while Monessen clinched its 46th section crown, the first since 2019, with a 60-47 win over Carmichaels on Tuesday.

The Greyhounds have won 12 games in a row.

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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