Westmoreland high school basketball playoff preview capsules for Feb. 22, 2024

Wednesday, February 21, 2024 | 8:38 PM

WPIAL basketball playoffs


Class 5A


7-Gateway (17-6) vs. 2-Franklin Regional (21-2)

8 p.m. Thursday at Norwin

Winner plays: Winner of 11-Bethel Park (12-11)/3-Shaler (21-2) on Monday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Coaches: Alvis Rogers, Gateway; Jesse Reed, Franklin Regional

Players to watch: Alex Lowry, Gateway; Cooper Rankin, Franklin Regional

Layup lines: This will be the third matchup of the season between these teams, who finished 1-2 in Section 3-5A; Franklin Regional won by two games with its only loss coming against Gateway. Each won on the road: The Gators held back the Panthers, 58-48, then lost 49-41. … The Panthers, winners of 10 in a row, haven’t been to the quarterfinals since 2018-19 when they lost to Moon, 64-48. They advanced this year with a 67-50 win over Mars as Colin Masten scored 20 points, Rankin added 19 and Cam Rowell had 18. The 21 wins are the most for the Panthers since 1997. … Gateway won its third straight game, defeating No. 10 Penn Hills, 70-59, at home in the first round. Mykel Bruce-McCrommon had a career-high 23 points, Lowry added 13 and Bryson Pavlik chipped in 11 in the win. … The winner qualifies for the PIAA playoffs. The loser will drop into the consolation bracket to play back for a PIAA playoff spot.

Class 3A


12-Derry (14-6) vs. 4-Neshannock (18-3)

6 p.m. Thursday at North Hills Middle School

Winner plays: Winner of 9-Ellwood City (16-7)/1-Deer Lakes (18-4) on Monday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Coaches: Tom Esposito, Derry; John Corey, Neshannock

Players to watch: Nate Papuga, Derry, Talan Anderton, Neshannock

Layup lines: Upstart Derry stunned No. 5 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 54-53, for its first first-round playoff win in school history. The Trojans beat Southmoreland in the preliminary round during the playoffs of the covid season of 2020-21 for its maiden postseason victory. Against OLSH, Papuga scored a game-high 26 points and the Trojans allowed only two field goals in the fourth quarter. OLSH was seeking an eighth straight trips to the WPIAL finals. Freshman 6-foot-6 forward Stanley Rajkovich added 16 points and 12 rebounds for Derry. … Neshannock powered its way back to the quarterfinals with a 66-40 win over Mt. Pleasant as David Kwiat scored 22 points, including four 3-pointers, and Jaxon Mozzocio had 11 off the bench. The Lancers made it to the semifinals last year and lost to OLSH, 53-50, before falling to Deer Lakes, 69-56, in the PIAA quarterfinals.

7-Yough (19-4) vs. 2-Mohawk (16-7)

7 p.m. Thursday at Pine-Richland

Winner plays: Winner of 11-Burrell (14-5)/3-Shady Side Academy (16-7) on Monday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Coaches: Jim Nesser, Yough; Mike O’Lare, Mohawk

Players to watch: Austin Matthews, Yough; Bobby Fadden, Mohawk

Layup lines: Yough moved into the quarterfinals for the second straight season with a 53-30 victory over No. 10 South Park in the opening round as Terek Crosby scored a game-high 25 points and Matthews added 14. Yough lost to Neshannock in the quarterfinals last year 53-49. They went on to play Mohawk in the seventh-place game of the consolation bracket and lost, 70-67. … Mohawk clobbered McGuffey, 74-39, to reach the quarters as Fadden made seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points. Jay Wrona added 12 points on four 3s, and JJ Nail (12) and Justin Boston (10) also scored in double figures. Mohawk, which averages 64.1 points, has won 13 of 14 with its lone loss a 69-67 setback to Neshannock in overtime. … The winner qualifies for the PIAA playoffs, whereas the loser moves into the consolation tournament, where it could play two more games.


Class 6A


8-Seneca Valley (12-10) at 1-Norwin (18-3)

6 p.m. Thursday

Winner plays: Winner of 5-Chartiers Valley (15-6)/4-Mt. Lebanon (12-10) on Monday in semifinals

Section finish: Seneca Valley T-3rd, Section 1; Norwin 1st, Section 1

Players to watch: Natalie Hambly, Seneca Valley; Lauren Palangio, Norwin

Layup lines: Seneca Valley is trying to reverse course after losing five in a row and 6 of 7 heading into the playoffs. One of the losses came against Norwin, 46-39, for a season sweep by the Lady Knights, who are ranked No. 5 in the state. The Raiders also lost to Hempfield, a team that didn’t make the 6A playoffs. Hambly averages 15 points and can be deadly from the 3-point line. … Norwin is primed for a title run led by an experienced starting five that includes the 6-foot Palangio, junior Kendall Berger, senior Ava Kobus, senior Baily Snowberger and sophomore Ava Christopher. The Lady Knights have not lost to a WPIAL team since last year’s semifinals against North Allegheny, a string of 16 wins in a row. Norwin is 9-1 at home this season.

Class A

5-Monessen (18-5) vs. 4-Riverview (15-6)

6 p.m. Thursday at Fox Chapel

Winner plays: Winner of 8-West Greene (10-13)/1-Union (16-5) on Monday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Coaches: Janine Vertacnik, Monessen; Jill Catanzaro, Riverview

Players to watch: Madison Johnson, Monessen; Katerina Tsambis, Riverview

Layup lines: Monessen met little resistance in the first round as the Greyhounds handled Leechburg, 63-15, jumping out to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. Hailey Johnson had 15 points, Madison Johnson added 13 and Na’Jaziah Carter put in 11 for the Greyhounds, who lost to St. Joseph in last year’s quarterfinals 53-46. Monessen has not been to the semifinals since 2011. … Riverview, which owns a 50-25 win over Monessen from earlier this month, had a first-round bye. The Raiders have won 4 of their last 5 games with the loss coming against St. Joseph (54-32). Tsambis, Lily Bauer and soccer star Lola Abraham are among the key scorers for the Raiders, who lost to Avella in the first round last season 62-38.

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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