What to watch for in WPIAL sports on Jan. 14, 2022: Big-school battles in Section 1-6A

Friday, January 14, 2022 | 12:47 AM

How good is Section 1-6A in WPIAL boys basketball?

The answer is very good.

Through the first month of the season, North Hills has proven to be the top team, sitting on its first-place perch with a 5-0 section record and a perfect 10-0 overall mark.

The fight for second place will take shape Friday when the other four teams go head-to-head.

Butler (2-3 in section) will travel to rival Seneca Valley (1-4) while Pine-Richland (2-2) hosts North Allegheny (2-3).

Because of its size, with only five teams, Section 1-6A boys is the only district section in which teams play their section foes three times instead of two, so all five teams are on their second go-around.

While North Hills is slowly pulling away, the “rest of the pack” contains no weak links.

The total combined out-of-section records of all five Section 1 teams is an impressive 24-5.

By comparison, Section 2 teams are a combined 31-15 out of section and Section 3 is 23-23.

You can watch the North Allegheny at Pine-Richland game and listen to Butler at Seneca Valley on Trib HSSN, both starting at 7:30 p.m.

A golden worldly matchup

One of the big contests on a busy Friday of district boys basketball is the battle for first place in Section 4-5A as Mars visits Highlands.

A year ago, these teams finished first and section in the section with Highlands at 9-1 and Mars 9-2 in section play.

The Golden Rams swept the two games, edging the host Fightin’ Planets by one point on the road before winning by 13 points when the two teams met at Highlands.

While there were no section championships awarded by the WPIAL last season with some sections unable to complete their schedules, 2021 marked the first time Mars had not won its section outright in five years and the first time since the 2012 season the Fightin’ Planets did not finish in a tie for or outright in first place.

Both teams are 4-0 in the section and are averaging over 70 points per game. They are second and third in Class 5A in scoring, trailing only Laurel Highlands.

Mars has won eight of its nine games including four straight while Highlands is 8-3 overall and winners of three of its last four games.

You can watch Mars at Highlands on Trib HSSN at 7:30 p.m.

Staying on top in 3A

There are six teams in Class 3A boys basketball that have perfect section records.

Four of them collide Friday.

First place is at stake in Section 1 defending WPIAL champion Ellwood City visits Beaver Falls. Both the Wolverines and Tigers are 3-0 in the section.

While Ellwood City won district gold last season, the Wolverines and Tigers both tied for second place in the section, three games behind Neshannock.

EC and BF split their two games in 2021, each winning on the road.

Seton LaSalle will host Aliquippa in a battle for the top spot in Section 2.

The Rebels are 3-0 in the section while the Quips won their only section game played thus far.

Both teams ended up losing to South Allegheny in the 2021 WPAIL 3A playoffs. The Rebels lost to the Gladiators in the quarterfinals while the Quips fell in the semifinals.

These two split their season series a year ago with each winning on their home floor.

You can watch Aliquippa at Seton LaSalle and listen to Ellwood City at Beaver Falls on Trib HSSN at 7:30 p.m.

More Basketball

Westmoreland high school notebook: Area players to take part in upcoming Roundball games
Tim McConnell accepts Bishop Canevin job after resigning as Chartiers Valley coach
WPIAL trio earns all-state honors in Class 6A boys basketball
Ford City grad Lizzie Suwala-Sheaffer ‘honored’ to take spot in A-K Valley HOF
St. Gabriel’s comes together to win Diocese of Pittsburgh girls hoops crown