Westmoreland County high school notebook: Hockey teams join madness

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Saturday, March 16, 2024 | 11:01 AM


There has been plenty of March Madness around here — on the hardwood and now, on the ice.

After five Westmoreland County teams played for WPIAL basketball championships earlier his month, three underdog hockey teams from the county have reached the finals of the PIHL Penguins Cup playoffs.

Greensburg Salem (15-5-1) has pulled off three straight upsets in the Class A bracket and will play for a title at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday night against unbeaten Chartiers Valley (21-0-0) at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

Penn-Trafford (9-9-0), meantime, also will make its first appearance in the PIHL finals. The eighth-seeded Warriors play No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (19-2-0) at 6:15 p.m. Monday at the same site for the Class 2A championship.

And lastly, Burrell (18-3-0), the No. 2 seed in the Gold Division, will play for a Division 2 championship at 8:45 p.m. Monday against the No. 1 seed from the Blue Division, Carrick (15-4-1). That faceoff will be at 8:45 at UPMC Lemieux.

Burrell, which played rival Deer Lakes in the semifinals — the schools’ basketball teams met in the WPIAL 3A boys final — reached the finals in 2019 but has not won a title.

A Westmoreland team has won a Class A title in four of the last seven years: Kiski (2023), Norwin (’22), and Franklin Regional (’16, ’17).

Gridiron grids

WPIAL football schedules came out last week, and area teams will see some new opponents in the fall.

The season is a long way off, but the second week has some intriguing matchups.

Week 1 nonconference games include Franklin Regional at Hempfield, Plum at Latrobe, Norwin at Kiski Area, Mt. Lebanon at Penn-Trafford, Belle Vernon at Montour, Ligonier Valley at Greensburg Salem, East Allegheny at Southmoreland, Freeport at Derry, Yough at Charleroi, Mt. Pleasant at Greensburg Central Catholic, and Apollo-Ridge at Jeannette.

Belle Vernon, which has won back-to-back WPIAL and PIAA 3A championships, bumps up to 4A.

Norwin and Hempfield are back in 6A after two years in 5A.

A notable Week 9 matchup features Penn-Trafford against Latrobe, the latter of which bumps up from 4A to 5A.

Eastern Conference rivals Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic will play in Week 6 instead of later in the season.

Derry and Latrobe will not play in Week Zero, breaking a long tradition.

Leonard resigns

Jeannette girls basketball coach Anna Leonard resigned after two seasons.

Leonard said her decision was based on “differences in ethics, standards and expectations” around the program.

Leonard finished with a 10-30 record but guided the short-handed Jayhawks (10-11) to the WPIAL Class A playoffs this season despite a roster whose high point of players was six and whose low point was four.

She often referred to her core group as the “Fab 5.”

Mat stars

Six wrestlers from Westmoreland programs were selected to compete in the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic set for March 30 at Peters Township’s AHN Arena.

Tyler Kapusta of Franklin Regional (121 pounds), Cooper Hornack of Burrell (139), Hayden Coy of Penn-Trafford (145), Eli Carr of Hempfield (152), Nate Campbell of Norwin (189) and Juliano Marion of Franklin Regional (215) made the WPIAL all-star roster.

A girls team from Pennsylvania will wrestle the Ohio team at 3 p.m., followed by the WPIAL All-Stars vs. New Jersey All-Stars at 4 and the Pennsylvania vs. USA all-stars at 6.

Net gains

Five teams from the county are ranked in the first Western PA Volleyball Coaches Association Top 10 polls of the season.

Norwin is No. 4, Penn-Trafford No. 5 and Hempfield No. 6 in Class 3A. Latrobe is No. 3, and Derry is No. 8 in 2A.

Turner time

Greensburg Central Catholic’s Tyree Turner finished his basketball career with 1,445 career points, which puts him third on the program scoring list.

Turner also had 4,009 passing yards in football, and 48 touchdowns.

It’s been quite a career for the senior, who now turns his attention to baseball.

Recruiting

• Penn-Trafford football players Riley McCraw and Vito Scarcelli signed to play at the Division III level. McCraw is headed to Washington & Jefferson, Scarcelli to Marietta.

• Latrobe senior Nick Stump will continue his lacrosse career at Westminster.

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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