What to watch for in WPIAL sports on Dec. 14, 2023: Section play tips off in girls basketball

Wednesday, December 13, 2023 | 10:30 PM

Welcome to the start of section play in four of the six classifications in WPIAL girls basketball.

Section play tips off Thursday in Section 2-6A, Sections 1, 2 and 3 in 5A, Section 1 and 3 in 4A and Section 1, 3 and 4 in 2A.

One of the highlights of the Thursday schedule is the top two teams from a year ago in Section 1-4A colliding when top-ranked North Catholic visits Highlands.

The Trojans won the section last season by three games over both the Golden Rams and Knoch.

North Catholic went on to win another WPIAL championship before falling in the state semifinals.

Highlands lost both games last year to North Catholic, by 28 points on the road and by 14 points at home.

Thus far this season, North Catholic is 1-1 after beating Upper St. Clair and losing to Mt. Lebanon.

Highlands is 3-1 in the early going with wins over Fox Chapel, Apollo-Ridge and Montour and a five-point loss to Plum.

Other section openers

Besides the North Catholic at Highlands game, there are seven other girls basketball section lid-lifters Thursday featuring two teams that qualified for the playoffs last season.

• In Section 2-6A, 2023 district runner-up Upper St. Clair (3-2) visits Baldwin (2-1). A year ago, the Panthers were section champs and the Highlanders finished tied for fourth place.

• In Section 1-5A, Indiana (3-1) hosts Penn Hills (0-3). Last season, the Little Indians were section champions and the Indians finished tied for third place.

• In Section 2-5A, Shaler (1-4) heads northeast to face Armstrong (3-1). In 2023, the Titans finished tied for third place while the River Hawks were co-section champs with Mars.

• In Section 3-5A, unbeaten Oakland Catholic (3-0) travels to Latrobe (2-2). Last year, the Eagles finished alone in first place while the Wildcats ended up in fourth place.

• In Section 3-4A, West Mifflin (2-3) is at Belle Vernon (3-1). A year ago, the Titans ended up in third place while the Leopards were two games in front in second place.

• In Section 1-2A, Rochester (2-2) is home to 2023 WPIAL champion Shenango (1-2). Last season, the Rams finished in fourth place while the Wildcats were co-section winners with Freedom.

• In Section 4-2A, Chartiers-Houston (2-2) challenges host California (1-3). In the 2022-2023 season, the Buccaneers finished in second place while the Trojans were three games behind the Bucs in third place.

Hitting the road … again

‘Tis the season for folks to be traveling here, there and everywhere to visit and spend time with loved ones.

One district boys basketball team truly will be happy to be home for the holidays.

North Allegheny begins a three-day trip to Orlando, Fla., on Thursday in the opener of the KSA Invitational.

The Tigers will battle Homewood, Ala., at 9 a.m.

NA enters the game with a record of 1-3 while the Patriots began their season in early November and are already 9-4.

North Allegheny will conclude its trip with games Friday and Saturday before heading home.

This is the second trip for the Tigers, who split two games in the York Suburban Tournament.

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