What to watch for in high school sports for March 19, 2022: Teams chasing PIAA finals berths

Friday, March 18, 2022 | 7:23 PM

Welcome to Semifinals Saturday in the PIAA basketball playoffs.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart has beaten many different boys basketball teams these last two years during a winning streak that is now two shy of the state record.

The Chargers picked up the “Lemieux” win in the state quarterfinals on Wednesday when they cruised past Ridgway, 54-27, for their 66th straight. However, the one team OLSH has not crossed paths with during this incredible run is District 10 and PIAA powerhouse Kennedy Catholic.

The Golden Eagles are 24-4 after beating District 6 champion Portage in the quarterfinals, 64-55.

Both OLSH’s and Kennedy Catholic’s scoring leaders on Wednesday registered 28 points, Jake DeMichele for the Chargers and Malik Lampkins Rudolph for the Golden Eagles.

Watch the game from Armstrong at 1:30 p.m. Saturday on Trib HSSN.

Chopping Wood

Despite losing seven games this season, Archbishop Wood has been ranked in the Trib HSSN Class 6A Top 5 state rankings for most of this season. They have been showing why in these PIAA playoffs.

The District 12 power Vikings raced past Plymouth-Whitemarsh in the first round of the state postseason by 27 points.

Following a close six-point victory in the second round over defending state champion Reading, Archbishop Wood laid the wood on WPIAL 6A runner-up North Hills.

Bethea Jalil scored 39 points for the Vikings, who outscored the Indians, 46-17, in the second and third quarters combined.

Senior Eli Yofan has led Fox Chapel with a combined 43 points in state playoff wins over Cumberland Valley, Allderdice and Northampton.

The Foxes and Archbishop Wood will play at Chambersburg Saturday with the winner advancing to the finals to face the Roman Catholic vs. Lower Merion winner.

Glads and Quips

Both teams were section co-champions this year, but neither team reached the WPIAL boys 3A finals.

Yet the winner of Saturday’s South Allegheny vs. Aliquippa game at Highlands will be playing in the state championship game.

This marks the second straight season the Gladiators and Quips have met in a semifinals game.

Last year, South Allegheny beat Aliquippa, 62-50, in the WPIAL final four to earn a trip to the 3A finals. There, SSA lost to Ellwood City.

The Gladiators’ Bryce Epps and the Quips’ D.J. Walker have been leading the way for each team on the Road to Hershey.

Epps has scored 71 points in wins over Seneca, Shady Side Academy and Bishop Guilfoyle while Walker has tallied 60 points in victories over Brookville, Neshannock and Avonworth.

The winner will face either Holy Redeemer or Devon Prep in the state finals in Hershey on March 26.

Kisses to the winner

There will be plenty of Hershey’s Kisses candies both on the floor at Peters Township and in the locker room for the winner of the girls 5A semifinals game between Chartiers Valley and McKeesport.

The fact the Colts are here was somewhat expected. They are a decorated bunch that has two WPIAL gold, one district silver as well as one gold and one silver in the state playoffs from the last three seasons.

But the Tigers’ tale has been a little surprising.

After finishing as co-champs in Section 4-5A with Latrobe, No. 6 seed McKeesport reached the semifinals in the WPIAL playoffs where the Tigers lost to South Fayette.

In the state playoffs, the Tigers have tamed three local teams — Obama Academy, Oakland Catholic and Moon.

These two programs last met in the 2021 WPIAL 5A quarterfinals as the Colts beat the Tigers, 65-47.

The winner heads to Hershey to play in the state title game on March 25 against the winner of the Mechanicsburg vs. Cardinal O’Hara game.

State swimming concludes

It’s the fourth and final day of swimming events in the PIAA Class 2A championships at Bucknell.

The Saturday boys and girls swimming lineup includes Class 2A events in girls diving, 100-yard freestyle, 500-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard breaststroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay.

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