What to watch for in WPIAL sports on Feb. 2, 2024: Rivals Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair to meet with 1st place on the line

Friday, February 2, 2024 | 12:04 AM

The biggest question on this Groundhog Day among district basketball fans isn’t whether Phil sees his shadow or not, it’s who will end the day in first place in Section 2-6A.

Like Punxsutawney Phil on Feb. 2, it seems routine to have the Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon boys basketball teams fighting for first place late in the regular season.

It has been a decade of dominance. The Panthers and Blue Devils have won outright or earned a share of the section championship the last 10 years.

The winner of Friday’s game at Mt. Lebanon takes over sole possession of the top spot with one week left.

USC is 6-1 in the section and 13-4 overall. The Panthers have won three straight and 10 of their last 11 games.

Lebo is 6-1 in 2-6A and 15-3 for the season. The Blue Devils have also won three games in a row and five of their last six.

The first meeting Jan. 9 was a back-and-forth affair in which Upper St. Clair prevailed, 44-39.

Senior Brett Meinert had a big second half and led the Panthers with 16 points while sophomore Lam Sheely had 16 points and senior Riley Farabaugh had 11 points for the Blue Devils.

The two coaches have a combined 52 years of experience and have combined to win six championships at their respective schools.

Danny Holzer is in his 29th year at USC and won district gold in 1996, 2005 and 2021.

Joey David is in his 23rd season as Lebo head coach and led his team to WPIAL titles in 2006, 2010 and 2019.

A Mt. Lebanon victory puts the Blue Devils one game up on USC and Baldwin with two section games remaining next week against Norwin and at Canon-McMillan.

A Upper St. Clair win puts the Panthers a game in front of Lebo and Baldwin, but gives the Highlanders control of their own destiny as Baldwin hosts USC next Friday.

Rematch of the rematch

The two top boys basketball teams in Section 1-2A have a combined overall record of 28-7 as Aliquippa (14-4) visits Northgate (14-3) with first place in the section up for grabs Friday.

The Quips lead the section with a record of 7-0 and the defending district 2A champs have won four games in a row and 10 of their last 11 games.

The host Flames have been red hot, winning six straight contests and 12 of their last 13 games. Their only loss since Dec. 17 was at Aliquippa on Jan. 9, 55-50.

Josh Pratt had a game-high 21 points for the Quips while Josh Williams had 20 points for the Flames. Williams recently became the all-time leading scorer in school history.

These teams were the last two standing in the 2023 WPIAL 2A boys basketball playoffs.

Aliquippa defeated Northgate in the title game, 52-40.

Cameron Lindsey led the Quips with 19 points and 17 rebounds. Williams scored 11 points to lead the Flames, who led by seven points after one quarter and three points at halftime before Aliquippa took control in the second half.

You can watch Friday’s game on Trib HSSN at 7:30 p.m.

Showdown in Greene County

The landscape of Section 2-A changed when second-place West Greene handed front-running Monessen its first section loss last week in the Mon Valley.

Nine days later, the teams with 6-1 section records meet again in Greene County with first place and the possible section crown up for grabs.

The Greyhounds are 14-3 overall and since racking up an 11-game winning streak this season, they are 2-2 in their last four games.

The Pioneers were 3-4 earlier this year but are now 11-6 and had a six-game winning streak snapped in their most recent game, a nonsection loss to Waynesburg.

In the game last Wednesday, Lane Allison scored 21 points for the Pioneers, who outscored the Greyhounds 18-9 in the fourth quarter. Timothy Kershaw had 17 points to lead the ‘Hounds.

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