What to watch for in WPIAL sports on Dec. 12, 2023: Playoff rematch on tap in Class 3A boys basketball

Monday, December 11, 2023 | 10:01 PM

The 12th day of the 12th month of the year is a busy one for nonsection WPIAL boys basketball action, including a rematch from a Class 3A playoff game a year ago.

When the 2023 basketball brackets were unveiled, Mohawk was the No. 4 seed in 3A while Deer Lakes was given the No. 5 seed.

In the opening round, the Warriors defeated Derry, 66-56, while the Lancers knocked off 2021 champion Ellwood City, 76-57.

That set the stage for the two teams to meet in the quarterfinals.

Bryce Robson scored 24 points, including five 3-pointers, and Nate Litrun added 14 points for Deer Lakes as the Lancers eliminated Mohawk, 59-45. Devin Sudziak had 14 points to lead the Warriors.

Deer Lakes advanced to beat top seed Steel Valley in the semifinals and three-time defending district champion Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the title game to capture its first WPIAL championship.

This season, Mohawk was the preseason No. 1 team while Deer Lakes was ranked No. 4 in Class 3A.

On Tuesday, Mohawk hosts Deer Lakes at 7:30 p.m.

The Warriors are still searching for their first victory of the season after losses to Blackhawk and District 10’s Franklin.

Meanwhile, the Lancers are 3-1 with victories over Armstrong, Freeport and Yough and a loss to Kiski Area.

Butler County clash

Two of the top boys basketball teams in their respective classifications do battle Tuesday when Mars visits Knoch.

The host Knights are following in the footsteps of the Knoch football team, which celebrated a huge turnaround season this fall.

The bounce back might not be as big in hoops since the Knights did make the playoffs last season, but they finished 8-15 overall.

This year’s team is off to a 3-0 start with triumphs over Freedom, Grove City and perennial district power Quaker Valley.

The Fightin’ Planets are 2-1 after splitting with two District 10 teams to start the season, beating Franklin and losing to Sharon, then beating Plum in their most recent game.

The 19-point victory over the Mustangs was an historic one for veteran Planets coach Rob Carmody. It was career victory No. 400 for the 26th-year Mars coach.

The real deal?

A year ago, the Southmoreland boys basketball team started the season 4-0 and was 7-1 heading into its final games before the New Year.

The Scotties finished the season winning only six more games. They were 13-10 overall but only 3-7 in Section 3-4A.

Southmoreland is off to a 3-0 start this season with wins over Frazier, Greensburg Salem and Ligonier Valley, but the Scotties will be tested Tuesday when they host Yough at 7:30 p.m.

The Cougars are one of the top teams in 3A and enter the nonsection game with a 4-1 overall record that includes victories over Summit Academy, Derry, South Park and Monessen.

The Cougars’ lone loss was to defending 3A champion Deer Lakes.

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