Westmoreland County HS notebook: WPIAL pushes back playoff pairings due to timing of Hempfield-Seneca Valley game

Wednesday, May 10, 2023 | 11:01 AM

It is rare for a section game, especially one with such potential significance on a tournament bracket, to be played on the same day as the WPIAL playoff pairings meeting.

But that will be the case Thursday when No. 2-ranked Hempfield (15-2, 12-2) visits No. 1 Seneca Valley (15-1, 14-1) in Class 6A softball.

The game should decide the section champion — 6A has only one section this season — and, perhaps, the No. 1 seed. That is, unless the WPIAL already has the top seed figured out.

The game was bumped back because of rescheduling to work in postponed games.

WPIAL chief operating officer Vince Sortino said there were no plans to hold up the brackets Thursday to wait for the Hempfield-Seneca Valley result, but that plan has changed.

He said the committee will meet at noon. The brackets will be released at 7 p.m. only at tribhssn.triblive.com.

The league could have done an either-or option on the bracket, listing the Hempfield-SV winner as No. 1 and the loser as No. 2, and went ahead with the afternoon reveal. But it will instead wait for the result to unveil the brackets.

Seneca Valley, the returning WPIAL champion and PIAA runner-up, has one loss, and it is to Hempfield.

Would a Hempfield sweep make a difference? One would imagine so.

“We just want to take care of our business against Butler (on Wednesday), then see what happens from there,” Hempfield coach Tina Madison said. “We want to win the section.”

Ring chasin’

Belle Vernon won WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A football titles last fall, and the players and coaches received their championship rings last week.

The diamond-encrusted silver, gold and green rings say “state champions” around the face and have a football-shaped diamond on top.

Each player received a ring in a box. They waited for a countdown from coach Matt Humbert to open the boxes.

“I didn’t really see anyone else’s reaction because I was admiring my ring,” junior quarterback Braden Laux said. “The rings are massive. I like the gold on there because it’s like the Beach.”

Norwin staff

New Norwin football coach Mike Brown has filled out his staff for the upcoming season.

Assistants will be Conner Schultheis, Rocco Yauger, Anthony Giansante, Diandre Cooper, Joe Lauricia, Jon Lochiatto, Josh Lugai, Matt Gornall, Ray Reitz, Jackson Pruitt, Justin Hall and Bill Brown, his father.

Brown did not announce the coaches’ positions or specialization.

Lauricia, Reitz and Bill Brown coached with Brown at Hempfield.

Giansante is a former Norwin lineman. Zugai played linebacker for the Knights and Pruitt played receiver and defensive back at Jeannette. Gornall was a lineman at Hempfield.

Yauger is a strength coach who has worked with multiple local programs.

Cooper, Hill and Lochiatto, another Norwin grad, played at Mercyhurst. Schultheis coached receivers at Westminster.

First-year success

A number of WPIAL baseball teams that have qualified for the playoffs have something in common: rookie head coaches.

Five first-year coaches are going to the postseason in Craig Spisak (Norwin), Dan Palm (Yough), Lou Cortazzo (Penn-Trafford), John Boyle (Greensburg Central Catholic) and Michael Manning (Kiski Area).

Wildcats second

The Latrobe boys volleyball team came home from Rhode Island with a runner-up finish after playing in a 25-team tournament at the Rhode Island College Event Center.

Sam Kiesel was named to the all-tournament team for the Wildcats.

La Salle Academy also played in the event and is the reason Latrobe made the trip north.

La Salle is is coached by Nikolai Wojciechowski, a 2008 Latrobe graduate who played for longtime Wildcats coach Drew Vosefski.

The tournament included teams from New England, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Sowers to W&J

Hempfield basketball standout Harry Sowers will continue his playing career at Washington & Jefferson College.

Sowers, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, averaged 18 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Spartans last season. He made 47 3-pointers.

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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