Westmoreland WPIAL basketball playoff capsules: Games for Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023

Wednesday, February 22, 2023 | 2:01 PM


Class 4A


10-Belle Vernon (11-11) vs. 2-Laurel Highlands (20-2)

8 p.m. Thursday, AHN Arena, Peters Township

Winner plays: Winner of 6-North Catholic (17-6)/3-Uniontown (19-3) on Monday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Quinton Martin, Belle Vernon; Rodney Gallagher, Laurel Highlands

Layup lines: Belle Vernon advanced to the quarterfinals for the fourth straight year with an 81-55 victory over defending WPIAL champion Quaker Valley. Sophomore Zion Moore scored 32 points in his first playoff game with the Leopards, and Martin had 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Leopards have made the semifinals three years in a row, including an appearance in the finals in 2019-20. This will be the third meeting between the Leopards and Mustangs. Laurel Highlands won both section games by scores of 69-64 and 78-59. Gallagher had 24 points, and Keondre DeShields had 22 in the first meeting as the Mustangs held Martin to 19 and Moore 17. Trevor Kovatch had 16 for Belle Vernon. In the rematch at Belle Vernon, six players scored in double figures, with DeShields (34) and Gallagher (25) combining for as many points as Belle Vernon. Moore had 19 and Martin 17. … Laurel Highlands rolled past Freeport in the first round 69-45 as Gallagher scored 26, Mason Bolish added 15, and DeShields chipped in 12. The Mustangs have nine straight wins and are averaging 66.8 points. Gallagher, a West Virginia football commit who had Division I college offers in both sports, has helped Laurel Highlands to two WPIAL titles and 78 wins in his career. Last year’s team finished 27-1, falling to Gateway in the PIAA quarterfinals.

Class 3A


7-Yough (16-7) vs. 2-Neshannock (17-5)

6 p.m. Thursday, North Hills Middle School, Ross Township

Winner plays: Winner of 6-Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (17-6)/3-Shady Side Academy (21-2) on Monday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Terek Crosby, Yough; Jack Glies, Neshannock

Layup lines: Yough, a section title winner for the first time since 2005, celebrated its first playoff victory since that season with a 46-26 win over visiting Burrell in the first round. Crosby scored 15 points, and Parker Rost added 13 for the Cougars, who have won 11 straight. Both guards had dunks in the win, but defense stood out as the Cougars held a sixth opponent to fewer than 30 points. Their 38.6 points-allowed average is the best in 3A. … Neshannock defeated Keystone Oaks in the opening round 56-43 as David Kwiat scored 20, including five 3-pointers, and Glies scored 13. Section 1 co-champs with Mohawk, the Lancers have six straight wins and are scoring 62.7 points per game. They reached the quarterfinals last year. Glies had a 38-point game against Mohawk. The winner clinches a spot in the PIAA playoffs.


Class 6A


6-Baldwin (9-12) at 3-Norwin (19-3)

6 p.m. Thursday, Norwin High School, North Huntingdon

Winner players: Winner of 7-Pine-Richland (11-11)/2-North Allegheny (17-5) on Monday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Lauren Palangio, Norwin; Katie Lucarelli, Baldwin

Layup lines: Norwin is looking for a return to the semifinals after falling short in the quarterfinals last year. The Knights shared the Section 1 title with North Allegheny and lead the classification with a 33.2-point defensive average. Norwin has won five straight since dropping two in a row. It has held four straight opponents to fewer than 30 points. Palangio is a pure post player who is surrounded by talented guards, including emerging scorer Kendall Berger, a sophomore. Junior Ava Kobus is a 3-point shooter. … Baldwin tied Peters Township for fourth in Section 2. The Highlanders have wins over Mt. Lebanon, Shady Side Academy, Belle Vernon and Elizabeth Forward. They lost to Penn-Trafford, 54-50. Lucarelli, Gianna Schoeb and Mary Vargo are scoring options. Lucarelli, who is drawing Division II college attention, had six 3-pointers in a game this season. The Highlanders made the quarterfinals two years ago and lost to North Allegheny. The winner qualifies for the PIAA playoffs.

Class A


5-Saint Joseph (19-4) at 4-Monessen (15-5)

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

Winner plays: Winner of 8-West Greene (13-9)/1-Union (15-6) on Monday in semifinals (time, site TBD)

Players to watch: Hailey Johnson, Monessen; Julie Spinelli, St. Joseph

Layup lines: St. Joseph posted a dominant 64-26 victory over Geibel Catholic to open the tournament. Spinelli led the Spartans with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Anne Kreinbrook, a 6-foot-2 center, added 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. She had 102 blocks this season. St. Joseph reached the semifinals last year and lost to Aquinas Academy, 42-29. It also played a PIAA playoff game. … Monessen, coming off a first-round bye, is done celebrating its first section title since 2012. The Greyhounds’ last regular-season game was postponed, so they have not played since Feb. 11. They rely heavily on defense and are allowing just 33.9 points. Coach Janine Vertacnik won a WPIAL title when she coached Jeannette in 2009-10. The winner advances to the PIAA playoffs. The loser will drop into the play-in bracket.

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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