What to watch for in WPIAL sports on Jan. 5, 2024: Butler, New Castle square off in heavyweight bout

Thursday, January 4, 2024 | 11:43 PM

One of the great WPIAL boys basketball rivalries highlights the first Fray-day of 2024 as New Castle hosts Butler.

In their first Section 1-6A meeting a year ago, Ne Ca High was ranked No. 1 and Butler was No. 2.

The Red Hurricane beat the Golden Tornado on Jan. 6, 71-60, and then won again in the rematch on the last day of January, 64-49.

A year later, the first clash between 6A heavyweights pits No. 2 Butler at No. 3 New Castle.

The Golden Tornado are 8-1 and have won six straight games since losing to North Hills in overtime in their only loss of the season.

The Red Hurricane is 9-2 and coming off a section-opening loss Wednesday at North Allegheny, 57-45.

Before the loss to the Tigers, the Red Hurricane had been victorious in seven straight games since suffering their first loss of the season to Kiski Area, 56-45.

It was 31 years ago when New Castle defeated Butler to win the 1993 WPIAL 4A championship. Since then, there has been some extra special juice when these championship programs collide, especially when they are section rivals.

A-K Valley showdown

While two of the top three teams meet in Class 6A, the top two teams in Class 3A battle in an A-K Valley showdown.

Defending 3A champion and top-ranked Deer Lakes hosts No. 2 and undefeated Burrell in a battle for first place in Section 1-3A.

The Lancers had won six straight games before losing to Knoch over the holidays. They are 2-0 in the section and 7-2 overall.

The Bucs are 3-0 in the section and a perfect 7-0 overall. They have outscored their opponents by an average of 58-39 this season.

The two split in their section meetings a year ago.

Burrell beat Deer Lakes at home by one point, 48-47, on Jan. 6. The two met again 25 days later and the Lancers crushed the Bucs, 72-52.

Won’t you be my neighbor?

It’s always a special matchup when neighbors Keystone Oaks and Seton LaSalle meet in a sporting event.

The two schools are right across the street from each other on McNeilly Avenue in Dormont.

However, the first of two Section 2-3A boys basketball clashes this season carries the extra spice of being for at least a share of first place in the section.

The Golden Eagles are 1-6 out of section, but they are flying high in section play with a 3-0 record, including a win over South Park on Wednesday, 53-50.

The Rebels are 2-0 in section play and 7-3 overall. They are coming off a 2-1 trip to Belfrey, Ky., over the holidays in which they won their final two games by a combined 33 points.

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