What to watch for in WPIAL sports for Feb. 21, 2022: Class 5A, 3A boys playoff matchups on tap

Sunday, February 20, 2022 | 5:46 PM

Welcome to Day 2 of Round 1 in the 2022 WPIAL basketball playoffs.

One of the highlights of the 2021 WPIAL hoops postseason was the incredible run to a championship by Ellwood City.

The Wolverines were the No. 11 seed in the Class 3A playoffs, but won five district playoff games on their way to a first boys basketball championship that made them the new poster children for all district dark horses.

Ellwood City (20-2) begins defense of its title as the Class 3A top seed Monday by hosting Summit Academy (7-8).

So will 11 be lucky again in 3A?

Beaver Falls (10-10) is the No. 11 seed this season. The Tigers will visit Washington (15-2) in a first-round matchup.

The Tigers have won at least one playoff game to reach the district quarterfinals for three straight seasons. On the flip-side, the Little Prexies have been one and done two years in a row despite being section champions both seasons.

There are eight opening round games Monday in boys 3A.

Opposite directions

The Laurel Highlands boys basketball team won a WPIAL title two years ago, finished off a perfect regular season with 21 wins in 21 games and is the top seed in the district 5A playoffs.

The Mustangs’ opponent Monday is Woodland Hills (8-14), a team that has lost four straight games and seven of its last eight.

Despite their February struggles, the Wolverines are participating thanks to winning a three-way tiebreaker in Section 3-5A.

Woodland Hills finished tied for fourth place in the section with Franklin Regional and McKeesport.

The Wolverines split with the Panthers, but swept the Tigers, giving them a 3-1 edge in the head-to-head tiebreaker.

They will need all the edges they can get as they head to Fayette County.

Twenty-nine years ago, the Wolverines upset the Mustangs in the 1993 WPIAL basketball playoffs on their way to Woody High’s first WPIAL semifinals appearance.

Woodland Hills at Laurel Highlands is one of eight 5A boys first-round games Monday.

Deja vu all over again

There are eight Class 2A and four Class A girls first-round games on the schedule for Monday, including a rematch from an opening round 2A game a year ago.

The South Side girls basketball team must feel like its postseason experience is like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

Last year, the Rams beat Sto-Rox on the road by eight points in a preliminary-round contest to advance to the No. 15 seed. There, they traveled to Serra Catholic and were eliminated by the Eagles, 53-35.

This year, South Side (14-9) traveled to Aliquippa for a preliminary-round game and beat the Quips, 39-31.

They have now earned the No. 14 seed, but will still have to make the long drive to battle Serra Catholic (18-1).

The Rams have won four straight and six of their last seven. As opposed to last year when they lost two of their last three and finished 5-14.

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