What to watch for in WPIAL sports on Feb. 6, 2024: Boys teams fight for 1st place, playoff berth in 6A section

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Tuesday, February 6, 2024 | 12:23 AM


The final week of the WPIAL boys basketball regular season begins with a big night of key games in each class.

Over the last couple of weeks, a bunched a Section 1-6A has been divided into three teams battling for the section championship and three schools in a fight for a postseason berth.

In the top half of the section, defending champion Central Catholic (11-8) and North Allegheny (9-11) enter the final week tied for first place with 6-2 section records, one game ahead of Butler (5-3, 15-4).

The rest of the section stacks up this way with two section games remaining: Pine-Richland (7-11) sits in fourth place at 3-5 in the section, one game ahead of both New Castle (2-6, 13-7) and Seneca Valley (2-6, 6-14).

On Tuesday, each half has a key head-to-head showdown.

With a possible share of first place at stake, Central Catholic hosts Butler while fourth place is up for grabs when New Castle visits Pine-Richland.

After winning five of their first seven games in the new year, the Vikings have dropped three of their last five contests, including a six-point loss to New Castle on Friday in a rematch of the 2023 6A finals.

Life for the Golden Tornado hasn’t been a breeze lately. Butler had won 11 of 12 games before dropping two of its last three games, including a Friday loss at North Allegheny.

In the first meeting between the two, Central Catholic raced out to a 26-7 lead after one quarter and coasted to a big win, 66-42, at Butler. Junior Bradley Gompers had 27 points to lead the Vikings while senior Braylon Littlejohn scored 22 for the Golden Tornado.

You can watch the second meeting on Trib HSSN at 7:30 p.m.

The Rams’ overtime victory at Seneca Valley on Friday ended a five-game losing streak while the Red Hurricanes ended a two-game skid with the victory over Central Catholic.

In their first meeting, Pine-Richland won at New Castle, 62-49, with senior Andrew Mendelovich leading the Rams with 16 points while junior Ralphie Blundo scored a game-high 24 points for the ‘Canes.

The other section contest pits North Allegheny at Seneca Valley.

Revenge in Gator country

The Franklin Regional boys basketball team has enjoyed a dominant regular season.

The Panthers sit alone in first place in Section 3-5A and have won 17 of their 19 games this season.

One of their two losses came Jan. 12 when they fell at home to Gateway, 58-48.

The game was tied after one quarter before the Gators outscored the Panthers 14-7 in the second quarter to take control.

Senior Taili Thompson led Gateway with 14 points. Senior Cam Rowell was the leading scorer for Franklin Regional with 18 points.

Revenge though isn’t the only thing fueling the Panthers in this rematch in Monroeville.

A victory by Franklin Regional (7-1, 17-2) clinches the Section 3-5A title outright and will boost its resume for one of the top seeds in a deep 5A playoff field.

If Gateway (6-2, 14-5) can pull off the sweep at home, the Gators will be tied for first place with one section game remaining and in control of earning at least a share of the section crown. It would also put them back in the conversation of 5A teams to beat.

You can watch the game at 7:30 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Three for one

There are three other district boys basketball games Tuesday where the section lead is up for grabs.

• In Section 4-4A, Montour (16-3) is hosting Avonworth (13-6).

The Spartans are alone in first place with a section record of 7-1. They have won two straight and seven of their last eight games.

The Antelopes sit in second place with a 6-2 record and are 3-3 in the last six games.

Avonworth defeated visiting Montour in their first matchup, 64-48. Senior Anthony Arlia led the Antelopes with 20 points while senior Jake Wolfe scored 20 points for the Spartans.

You can watch the ‘Lopes vs. Sparty at 7:30 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

• In Section 2-2A, Bishop Canevin (9-9) visits Eden Christian Academy (10-8).

The Crusaders, despite sitting at .500 overall and having gone through a coaching change, are a perfect 6-0 in the section.

The Warriors are 5-1 in section play and have won four straight games.

In the first meeting, Bishop Canevin held a big lead, and then had to hold on at home to edge Eden Christian, 65-62. Senior Michael Vaughn led the Crusaders with 18 points and senior Nathan Garrett dropped 33 points in the loss for the Warriors.

• In Section 1-A, the outright lead and clinching at least a share of the section championship is at stake when Rochester (13-5) travels to Union (11-9).

Both the Rams and the Scotties are 7-1 atop the section.

Both are on a roll. Rochester has won six straight while Union has been victorious in its last five games.

Union won the first meeting at Rochester, 50-36.

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