What to watch for in WPIAL sports on Feb. 29, 2024: It’s win or go home in the consolation bracket

Thursday, February 29, 2024 | 12:34 AM

We leap into championship weekend in the WPIAL basketball playoffs with the first three titles games in boys Class 4A and A and girls Class 2A at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center with audio coverage here on Trib HSSN.

However, there is still work to be done to finalize the last few qualifiers and their order in the upcoming PIAA postseason with one final night of district consolation round games.

For the second straight year, the Mt. Lebanon boys find themselves in a win-and-in game following a semifinal loss.

A year ago, following a final four loss to New Castle, Lebo played South Hills rival Upper St. Clair for the third and final boys 6A state playoff seed.

The Blue Devils’ season ended on the road in a 55-54 loss to the Panthers.

Mt. Lebanon (19-5) hopes some home cooking will help avoid the same fate this season as it welcomes 2023 Class 6A champion Central Catholic (15-9).

In the 6A semifinals Tuesday, Lebo lost to Baldwin, 54-52, while the title reign ended for Central Catholic when it fell to Upper St. Clair, 61-46.

The last time these teams played was in the 2021-2022 season opener with the Vikings winning at home, 59-37.

You can watch the game on Trib HSSN at 7 p.m.

The only other boys consolation game Thursday is a 2A battle for the No. 3 seed as Northgate (18-6) hosts Fort Cherry (19-6) at 7 p.m.

No Pete for you

When the brackets were announced, many felt the top two teams in the girls Class 5A field were strong choices to meet for a third time in Oakland.

Well, top seed Oakland Catholic (24-1) and No. 2 McKeesport (20-4) are meeting again Thursday, but the game will be at Oakland Catholic, not down the road at The Pete.

The Eagles and Tigers were stunned in the semifinals with Oakland Catholic falling to Armstrong while McKeesport was upset by two-time defending champion South Fayette.

Both teams have qualified for the state playoffs and will play for the No. 3 seed at 7 p.m.

Also, it’s win or go home as Indiana (18-7) hosts North Hills (14-10) in the seventh-place game at 7 p.m..

There are two girls 4A consolation games.

Laurel Highlands (20-3) visits Elizabeth Forward (21-3) at 7 p.m. for the No. 3 seed. The Warriors beat the Mustangs twice in the regular season by 14 and 29 points.

In the fifth-place consolation game, Highlands (17-7) welcomes Knoch (15-10). The Golden Rams swept the regular series from the Knights, winning by 14 and four points.

Hockey playoffs

The 2024 PIHL Penguins Cup postseason wraps up first-round play Thursday with a pair of Class A openers.

North Catholic squares off against Blackhawk at the Brady’s Run Arena at 6:45 p.m. The winner advances to play No. 4 Indiana in the quarterfinals.

Shaler welcomes Beaver to the Alpha Ice Complex in Harmarville at 7 p.m. in a game you can watch on Trib HSSN. The winner in the second round takes on No. 3 Avonworth.

The Penguins Cup playoff quarterfinals in 3A, 2A A and Division 2 take place next week.

On the mat and in the pool

Basketball isn’t the only gold teams and athletes will be competing for this weekend.

Thursday marks the first day of the 2024 WPIAL swimming championships at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Opening day of the 3A finals are at 9:30 a.m. and the 2A events begin at 3 p.m.

The event continues with the same times on the second and final day of the championships Friday.

On Friday and Saturday, the 2024 WPIAL Class 3A individual wrestling championships take place at Canon-McMillan.

Also on Friday and Saturday, the 2A southwest regionals take place at Altoona to set the field for the PIAA wrestling championships.

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