What to watch for in WPIAL sports for Jan. 15, 2024: 5A girls basketball contenders vie for 1st

Sunday, January 14, 2024 | 5:00 PM

The 2022-23 McKeesport girls basketball team had an outstanding season, winning double-digit section games, reaching the district semifinals and state quarterfinals and finishing with an overall record of 23-6.

As memorable as the season was for the Tigers, the thorn in their paw that prevented them from greatness came in the form on an Eagle.

Oakland Catholic defeated McKeesport four times — twice in the regular season which allowed the Eagles to win the Section 3-5A section crown by two games, once in the WPIAL final four and the final time in the PIAA elite eight.

All four games were close, with the Eagles beating the Tigers by 8 and 6 points in the regular season, 7 points in the district semifinals and by only 1 point in the state quarterfinals.

This season, Oakland Catholic is ranked No. 1 in Class 5A and McKeesport is No. 2.

To the surprise of nobody, the first meeting of the year between the 5A powers at Oakland Catholic on Monday is for first place with both teams tied with 5-0 section records.

The Eagles are one of three WPIAL girls basketball teams that are still undefeated. Oakland Catholic is 14-0 with an average margin of victory of 30 points.

The Tigers come into this showdown with a record of 11-1 and have won six straight games since suffering their only loss of the season Dec. 21 to 6A power Norwin.

Watch the Monday afternoon holiday special in Oakland at 2:30 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Another 5A girls hoops showdown

The McKeesport at Oakland Catholic anticipated matchup isn’t the only battle for first place in 5A girls basketball Monday.

The top spot in Section 1-5A is up for grabs when Indiana visits Plum.

Both the Little Indians and the Mustangs are tied for first place with 5-0 section records.

Indiana is 10-2, has won three straight games and has been victorious in 10 of its last 11 contests.

Plum has an overall record of 9-4 and is on a two-game winning streak since losing to 6A Peters Township.

A year ago, the Little Indians won the section with a record of 11-1, finishing five games ahead of the Mustangs, who ended up in third place with a 6-6 mark.

Watch this contest on Trib HSSN at 7:30 p.m.

Class 3A fight for first

Monday marks the end of the first half of section play for most girls basketball teams in the WPIAL.

Besides the two 5A showdowns mentioned above, there is one more fight for first place between teams that have not lost in section play.

First place is up for grabs in Section 1-3A when Beaver Falls visits Neshannock.

The Tigers and Lancers are both 4-0 atop the section.

Beaver Falls is 9-3 and has won five straight since losing in the SoCal Swish tournament before Christmas in Anaheim, Calif.

Neshannock has a record of 9-4 and has won its last six games since losing to West Middlesex in the Hickory Holiday Tournament.

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