What to watch for in WPIAL sports for Jan. 29, 2024: Girls basketball teams chase section titles

Sunday, January 28, 2024 | 5:43 PM

Welcome to the stretch run of the 2023-24 high school basketball season and the final two weeks of section play.

While there are key girls basketball games Monday in all six classifications, four sections will have games with first place on the line.

All four games pit a team alone in first place against a school that is in second place, but only one game off the lead.

Thus, if the leading team wins, they all but seal the deal on a section championship. If the second place team wins, the two are deadlocked for first place.

In Section 3-4A, Elizabeth Forward is 9-0 in the section while Laurel Highlands is 7-1. The Warriors host the Mustangs. EF won the first meeting, 55-41.

In Section 3-3A, Shady Side Academy is 6-0 while Burrell is 5-1. The Bulldogs visit the Buccaneers after SSA won the first meeting, 55-24.

In Section 3-2A, Greensburg Central Catholic has a section record of 9-0 and Serra Catholic is 6-1. The Centurions welcome the Eagles 25 days after GCC won the first contest between the two, 66-53.

Finally in Section 4-2A, Charters-Houston is 9-0 in section play and has a one-game lead over 7-1 Washington. The Buccaneers hit the road to face the Little Prexies after the Bucs won the first meeting, 64-40.

Trying to stay off the bubble

Indiana and Plum are the top two teams in Section 1-5A girls basketball and will square off next week with likely section championship ramifications.

However, the next four teams in the section are jammed up, fighting for two playoff spots with only two games separating them.

All four schools will clash to either force some distance between themselves or muddy the waters even more.

Penn Hills and Woodland Hills are 4-4, Franklin Regional is 4-5 and Kiski Area is hanging in the race at 2-6, but in need of a strong finish.

On Monday, the Indians visit the rival Wolverines while the Panthers host the Cavaliers.

Playoff pins

The WPIAL team wrestling playoffs begin with four preliminary round matches Monday.

In Class 3A, Moon (6-4) visits Kiski Area (7-9) at 7:15 p.m. for the No. 16 seed. The winner advances to the first round Wednesday to face top-seeded Trinity (8-0).

Earlier at Kiski Area, Pine-Richland (4-3) takes on Hempfield (3-8) at 6 p.m. for the No. 15 seed and a chance to face No. 2 Franklin Regional (16-0) on Wednesday.

In Class 2A, Avonworth (6-5) will host Hampton (6-5) at 7:15 p.m. for the No. 15 seed and a chance to face No. 2 Burrell (9-2) in the first round Wednesday.

Before that match, Laurel (8-9) battles Central Valley (5-4) at 6 p.m. with the winner earning the No. 16 seed and a match against top-seeded Burgettstown (8-0) in the opening round.

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