What to watch for in WPIAL sports for March 4, 2021: Top scorers step into spotlight

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 | 11:46 PM

We have reached the final night of the first round. On Thursday, all of the brackets will be sliced from the sweet 16 to the elite eight in the 2021 WPIAL boys and girls open basketball playoffs.

Round 1 action Thursday will feature games from boys 4A, boys 3A, girls 5A and girls A.

Boys last of the lid lifters

• The two top scorers in WPIAL Class 4A boys basketball will lead their teams into first-round games Thursday, but they will do so as underdogs.

Junior Ryan Lang averages over 25 points per game in leading Knoch. The Knights head to Midland to face No. 2 seed Lincoln Park.

Lang scored 30 points in a 75-43 preliminary round victory Monday over Yough.

Sophomore Damon Astorino averages over 22.5 points per game for Ambridge. In Round 1, the Bridgers head to South Park to play the No. 8 Eagles.

• A tired old cliché in sports says it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season.

Usually after that is said, the brooms come out.

Three Class 3A teams will try to beat a section foe for a third time Thursday in the first round.

Two of the rematches are from Section 3-3A.

South Allegheny will look for a third win this season over Ligonier Valley while Shady Side Academy hopes to sweep three from Apollo-Ridge.

Also, Aliquippa will try to defeat New Brighton for a third time.

South Allegheny and Aliquippa are home in their quests for a “three-peat” while Shady Side Academy hosts Apollo-Ridge down the street at Fox Chapel.

All eight Class 4A and Class 3A boys playoff games on Thursday can be seen or heard only here on Trib HSSN.

Girls first-round finales

• When the Latrobe Wildcats host the South Fayette Lions on Thursday, the king of this hardwood jungle will advance to the quarterfinals with some nice momentum.

Latrobe won the final three games of the regular season with wins over still-active playoff teams Southmoreland, Albert Gallatin and Woodland Hills.

South Fayette won its final three regular season games, also against postseason squads that are still playing in Moon, Thomas Jefferson and again, Southmoreland.

The Lions added a fourth straight win in the preliminary round with a 48-30 triumph over Connellsville.

• What a difference five years makes. In this case, a 14-win difference.

Five years ago, Mapletown and Clairton combined for three wins. The Maples were 3-17 while the Bears finished the 2015-2016 campaign with an 0-22 record.

Fast forward five years and both programs finished over .500.

Mapletown is 6-5 while Clairton is 11-3.

The Bears host the Maples in the No. 12 vs. No. 5 game in the girls Class A bracket.

All seven Class 5A and five Class A first round games can be seen or heard Thursday on HSSN.

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