Westmoreland girls basketball notebook: Follow-the-winner plan gives teams 2nd chance

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 | 7:31 PM

With capacity rules decreased and crowds back in gyms, postseason basketball is beginning to feel normal again.

But hand-stamp season will really reconnect with normalcy in the PIAA playoffs with the old qualifying format returning.

Last year, only WPIAL champions advanced to the state brackets.

But the follow-the-winner plan is back in place, meaning a number of teams will get a second chance to make a postseason run.

The highest classification will be the toughest to advance out of.

In Class 6A, four teams will go on to states — the semifinalists — while the WPIAL will send seven teams in 5A and 2A, six in 4A, 3A and A.

Teams that make the semifinals, and those that lose to the finalists in the six-team classes move on, while the same goes for the seven-qualifier brackets, adding the team that lost to the champion in the quarterfinals.

Passing the time

Southmoreland has one of the longest layoffs of any team in the WPIAL playoffs.

The Scotties girls (17-3), who are the No. 2 seed in Class 4A and have a first-round bye, will not have played since Feb. 10 when they finally take the court again Friday in the quarterfinals.

They will host No. 7 Highands (19-4).

So what have the Scotties done to stay in tune?

Aside from practices, they went to the movies and had team dinners.

“We try to do some team-bonding things to keep it fun,” coach Amber Cernuto said. “You don’t have to like everyone on your team, but you have to learn to work with them for the whole season.”

Senior guard Delaynie Morvosh said the team makes practice fun, too. It’s not all about monotonous drills and fundamentals.

“Sometimes we play basketball baseball or we play games blindfolded,” she said.

Carrying the load

Greensburg Salem managed just 28 points in a first-round loss to South Fayette on Tuesday (63-28). Senior guard Abby Mankins had 24 of them.

Mankins scored the team’s first 15 points, which the Golden Lions put up over the first three quarters. With her high school career complete, Mankins will focus on a college career at Seton Hill.

Nice pick-ups

Two area Division III programs landed two of the WPIAL’s better players in the recruiting race.

Pitt-Greensburg, which had seen an uptick in wins since coach former Burrell and UPG standout Kelsey Oddis took over, got a commitment from West Greene guard Anna Durbin.

Durbin is a 19-point scorer and a talented ball-handler who can add to the Bobcats backcourt.

Saint Vincent, meanwhile, added size and skill with a commitment from Butler senior Makenna Maier. The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 20 points this season.

Division II Seton Hill previously landed commitments from the Cowan sisters at Chartiers Valley,

Hallie and Helene. Both can run the offense, score and defend.

Man up

If Greensburg Central Catholic continues to advance in the 2A bracket, defense could be the accelerator.

GCC relies mostly on man-to-man defense with its quick guards and senior 6-footer Bailey Kuhns chasing players around.

The Centurions forced Chartiers-Houston into a number of open-court mistakes Monday in the first round, and it led to transition baskets.

They plan to stay with what works.

“We haven’t had to use much (zone),” Centurions coach Chris Skatell said. “We can if we need to, but the girls have done a nice job in man.”

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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