What to watch for in WPIAL sports for Jan. 23, 2023: Section play heats up in girls basketball

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Sunday, January 22, 2023 | 8:04 PM


Last year, the Freedom girls basketball team reached the WPIAL Class 3A title game before falling to North Catholic, 48-43.

Also in the 2022 playoffs, the Shenango girls hoops team reached the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Neshannock.

On Monday, the Bulldogs and Wildcats meet for a second time with a share of first place in Section 1-3A up for grabs.

Freedom (12-2) is a perfect 7-0 in the section and has a one-game lead over Shenango (12-4) at 6-1.

The two squared off in Beaver County right before the holidays with the Bulldogs defeating the Wildcats, 56-48.

Freedom has a tough one-two punch on offense in junior Shaye Bailey (19.7 ppg) and senior Julia Mohrbacher (18.4 ppg).

More Monday dandies

The second half of section play continues for some sections in district girls basketball Monday. Besides Freedom at Shenango, here are three other games that carry significance in their respective sections.

In Section 1-5A, Plum (10-6) and Franklin Regional (5-9) are tied for third place.

Both the Mustangs and Panthers are 4-3, one game behind Woodland Hills (8-9, 5-2) and three games behind front-running Indiana (11-4, 7-0). Plum edged visiting Franklin Regional by two points in their first meeting last month. Their rematch is Monday in Murrysville.

In Section 1-4A, Highlands (9-5) visits Knoch (9-6). At 5-2 in the section, the Golden Rams have a half-game lead over the 4-2 Knights in the battle for second place behind North Catholic (12-3, 7-0). Highlands won the first meeting at home over Knoch by 10 points.

The two teams fighting for third place in Section 4-2A collide again when California (7-8) visits Carmichaels (5-11).

The Trojans are 4-3 in the section, a half-game ahead of the 3-3 Mighty Mikes. California won the first meeting at home by four points over Carmichaels in December.

Boys nonsection hoops

One of the top Class 5A boys basketball teams will square off with one of the top schools in 4A in a nonsection dandy on Monday when Mars visits South Allegheny.

The Fightin’ Planets are 10-3 overall and had a four-game winning streak snapped last week by Moon.

The Gladiators have been one of the great stories in district boys hoops this season. After moving up to 4A, they had a 13-game winning streak come to an end when they suffered their first loss of the season Saturday, 61-56, in a nonsection game against 6A power New Castle.

Union (14-0) is now the only WPIAL boys team with an unblemished record.

Two of the top scorers in the WPIAL lead their respective teams in this nonsection showdown.

Seniors Tasso Sfanos for Mars averages 26.7 points per game while Bryce Epps of South Allegheny is averaging 23 points per game.

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