Westmoreland high school girls basketball notebook: Playoff picture clearing up

Wednesday, February 8, 2023 | 8:35 PM

The WPIAL will announce playoff pairings beginning at 3 p.m. Monday via Trib HSSN, and postseason games could begin as early as next Thursday, according to the league calendar.

Local teams that have clinched spots in the playoffs are: Norwin (18-3) in Class 6A, Penn-Trafford (13-5) and Latrobe (14-7) in 5A, Belle Vernon (14-7) and Greensburg Salem (13-8) in 4A, Mt. Pleasant (14-7) and Yough (10-10) in 3A, Greensburg Central Catholic (17-4) in 2A and Monessen (13-4) and Jeannette (2-18) in A.

The remaining playoff picture will become clearer Thursday night.

Hempfield can get in if it upsets North Allegheny or if Pine-Richland loses to Butler.

If Hempfield (9-11, 3-6) and Pine-Richland (9-11, 3-6) remain tied for fourth in Section 1-6A, they both will advance.

In Section 3-3A, the Deer Lakes (5-16, 3-6) at Burrell (9-12, 3-6) winner Thursday goes to the playoffs.

Home-court advantage

As it has in recent years, the WPIAL will award higher-seeded teams with home games in the first round.

Teams with byes will play at home in the next round.

The WPIAL has reserved the right to move “home” games if schools have small gyms that are not suitable for the playoffs.

The practice of giving teams home games over neutral sites began in 2021, a result of the covid pandemic.

That year, higher seeds played at home through the semifinals.

Jeannette gets in

Jeannette not only posted multiple wins for the first time in three seasons, but the Lady Jays (2-18) secured a playoff berth for the first time since 2013-14.

The top four teams out of five in Section 3-A qualified. Two wins over Hillel Academy allowed Jeannette to advance.

First-year coach Anna Leonard said the postseason is a sign of her team’s progress.

“One thing is certain: No scoreboard can measure the growth I have seen this year,” she said. “It feels like we have taken the first stride in the right direction in a season full of many close games. These girls are the foundation of the change in culture for Jeannette girls basketball.”

Jeannette played in the postseason in 2020-21 when the WPIAL had an open tournament.

Scotties win

Playing its best game of the year, on senior night, Southmoreland finally had a reason to celebrate.

Senior forward Maddie Moore had a career-high 28 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Scotties to a 62-53 victory over Ringgold to break a 19-game losing streak.

“It was definitely a team effort,” Southmoreland coach Amber Cernuto said.

“The intensity the girls brought, even when we were down at some points, was the energy I knew they had in them and have been waiting to come out. We had many girls in foul trouble, so everyone on the team had to step up in one way or another to help out.”

Southmoreland, which lost standout point guard Olivia Cernuto to a knee injury she suffered during soccer season, moved to 2-19 overall and 1-10 in section.

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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