Westmoreland WPIAL basketball playoff capsules: Games for Friday, Feb. 24, 2023

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Thursday, February 23, 2023 | 5:33 PM


WPIAL basketball playoffs

Boys

Class 6A

Quarterfinals

8-Norwin (14-8) at 1-New Castle (20-2)

7 p.m. Friday, New Castle High School, New Castle

Winner plays: Winner of 5-Butler (14-7)/4-Mt. Lebanon(15-7) Tuesday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Adam Bilinsky, Norwin; Isaiah Boice, New Castle

Layup lines: Norwin returns to the court after 10 days off, but the Knights have won three straight, including a 56-46 win against Mt. Lebanon. The Knights have not won a playoff game since 2007-08 when Mike Shanahan was a senior. Third-year coach Lance Maha was a playoff regular when he coached the West Mifflin boys. He won 289 games and six section titles with the Titans and made the WPIAL playoffs 17 times in 20 seasons. Bilinsky is one of the WPIAL’s prolific dunkers, but there is much more to his game, like a smooth mid-range jumper. He averages 20.8 points and recently topped 1,000 career points. … New Castle is good again. What else is new? The Red Hurricanes have nine straight wins and average 63.5 points. The 6A newbies have a WPIAL-record 14 championships, seven of which came under coach Ralph Blundo. Boice and Jonathan Anderson both average 17 points a game. New Castle doesn’t blow a lot of teams out, but it finds ways to win. Its losses are to Mars and Central Catholic. The winner makes the PIAA playoffs. Only three WPIAL teams advance out of 6A.

Class 2A

Quarterfinals

5-Eden Christian (17-5) vs. 4-Greensburg Central Catholic (16-5)

8 p.m. Friday, Fox Chapel High School, O’Hara Township

Winner plays: Winner of 8-Shenango (15-8)/1-Aliquippa (17-6) Tuesday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Ryan Merrick, Eden Christian; Franco Alvarez, Greensburg Central Catholic

Layup lines: Eden Christian advanced to the quarters by defeating No. 12 Burgettstown, 66-43. Merrick had 19 points, and David Ryan added 13 for the Warriors. Eden Christian beat Propel Braddock Hills, the team Greensburg Central Catholic handled in the first round, twice in section play by scores of 64-50 and 73-53. The Warriors, who finished second in Section 2 behind Bishop Canevin, allow just 43 points per game. Eden Christian reached the quarterfinals last year but lost to Geibel Catholic, 57-55. This is a rematch from the first round four years ago when Eden Christian upset GCC, 66-56, at Fox Chapel. The Warriors’ coach is former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith. … Greensburg Central Catholic started off slow, with 28 points in the first half, but ripped off 33 in the third quarter to topple Propel Braddock Hills, 65-45, for its ninth straight win. GCC has won by an average of 20 points. Tyree Turner had 22 points, and Alvarez added 21 in the first-round victory, with Turner connecting on four 3-pointers and Alvarez racking up 13 in the third. Freshman Samir Crosby has been a bright spot in the backcourt. The winner qualifies for the PIAA playoffs. The loser will move into the play-in bracket to compete for a spot in the state playoffs.

Class A

Consolation round

Aquinas Academy (19-5) at Monessen (21-3)

7 p.m. Friday, Monessen High School, Monessen

Winner plays: Winner of Rochester (11-13)/Neighborhood Academy (18-5) Tuesday in fifth-place game (time, site TBD). Loser is eliminated.

Players to watch: Vinnie Cugini, Aquinas Academy; Lorenzo Gardner, Monessen

Layup lines: This is an elimination game for state-playoff inclusion. The winner will advance to a second elimination game to play for fifth place. Only five teams qualify for the state tournament from Class A. Monessen, a No. 6 seed despite a section title and 20 wins, is looking to rebound from a 62-39 loss to Carlynton, the No. 3 seed, in the quarterfinals. Gardner, a 1,000-point career scorer, had 22 in the loss. … Aquinas Academy features Cugini, the all-time leading scorer in WPIAL history with more than 3,000 points. He had 36 in a 100-47 loss to Union in the quarters. Cugini, a Pitt-Johnstown commit, averages 44 points a game. Aquinas did not play another Westmoreland team this season.

Girls

Class 5A

Quarterfinals

8-Penn-Trafford (16-7) vs. 1-South Fayette (21-2)

6 p.m. Friday, AHN Arena, Peters Township

Winner plays: Winner of 12-Woodland Hills (12-11)/4-Trinity (16-6) Tuesday in semifinals (site, time TBD)

Players to watch: Olivia Pepple, Penn-Trafford; Maddie Webber, South Fayette

Layup lines: Penn-Trafford had to grind to get its first playoff win since 2014-15, holding back No. 9 Shaler, 29-28, in the first round at home. Pepple, a talented junior guard, scored the winning layup with just under four seconds left. Pepple and Lauren Marton combined for 17 points. Penn-Trafford will lose only two seniors to graduation, so playoff experience is good for the Warriors. … South Fayette is the defending WPIAL champion. The Lions rolled past Plum in the first round as Webber scored 13 points, Ava Leroux added 12 and Juliette Leroux had 11. Webber is a Villanova commit and a nominee for the McDonald’s All-American Game. The Leroux girls are the daughters of former NHL defenseman Francois Leroux, who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins for three seasons. The winner qualifies to the state playoffs. The loser will move into the play-in bracket to compete for a PIAA playoff spot.

Class 4A

Quarterfinals

8-Belle Vernon (15-8) at 1-Blackhawk (19-3)

6 p.m. Friday, Blackhawk High School, Beaver Falls

Winner plays: Winner of 5-Knoch (15-8)/4-Quaker Valley (15-7) Tuesday in semifinals

Players to watch: Jenna Dawson, Belle Vernon; Alena Fusetti, Blackhawk

Layup lines: Blackhawk won the WPIAL title last year and finished second in the state. The Cougars have not played since Feb. 11 when they lost to Erie Cathedral Prep, 40-36, at the Bash with the Bronx at North Allegheny. The Section 2 champs averaged 57.9 points and give up 32.0. Fusetti averaged 18 points. Senior 5-foot-10 forward Quinn Boroni will not play after suffering an injury in a scrimmage. The Cougars’ lone defeat is to 6A Norwin. … Belle Vernon pieced together its first playoff win since 2018, 33-27 over Greensburg Salem, in the first round. Presleigh Colditz and Kenzi Seliga made key 3-pointers, and Farah Reader had 10 of her 12 points in the second half. The Leopards are allowing just 39.9 points. The top six WPIAL teams make the PIAA playoffs, so the winner of this game qualifies. The loser will move into the play-in bracket.

Class 2A

Consolation round

Greensburg Central Catholic (19-5) vs. Brentwood (13-10)

6 p.m. Friday, Serra Catholic High School, McKeesport

Winner plays: Winner of Serra Catholic (17-3)/Chartiers-Houston (16-8) Tuesday in fifth-place game

(time, site TBD)

Loser plays: Loser of Serra Catholic (17-3)/Chartiers-Houston (16-8) Tuesday in seventh-place game (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Mya Morgan, Greensburg Central Catholic; Paige Boehm, Brentwood

Layup lines: Both teams are already in the state playoffs. This bracket will sort out seeding for the PIAA tournament. … GCC, the No. 4 seed, is coming off a 50-45 loss to No. 5 Burgettstown in which it made 10 3-pointers. The Centurions have not been to the PIAA postseason since 2017-18. … Paige Boehm scored 14 points, and Mia March had 11 for Brentwood in a 49-39 loss to top-seeded Shenango in another quarterfinal. The Lady Spartans last made the state postseason in 2018-19.

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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