What to watch for in WPIAL sports on March 12, 2024: Underdogs collide when Fox Chapel meets Bethel Park

Monday, March 11, 2024 | 10:14 PM

The second round on the Road to Hershey tips off Tuesday featuring boys Class 5A, 4A and A games as well as girls Class 6A, 3A and 2A PIAA basketball contests.

Two WPIAL boys 5A teams that have seen their fair share of up and downs this season collide for a spot in the state quarterfinals, 13 days after they squared off for the No. 5 seed in the district consolation round.

Both Fox Chapel (16-11) and Bethel Park (14-13) pulled off first-round stunners and now do battle at Peters Township at 7:30 p.m.

Fox Chapel went to Erie and jumped on District 10 champion Cathedral Prep early, only to fall behind heading into the fourth quarter. However, the Foxes rallied and pulled off the upset of the Ramblers, 57-52.

Junior Asher White had five 3-pointers and led the Foxes with 23 points while senior Jefferson Moorefield-Brown scored 19 points and senior Will Siegel led the way on the boards with 13 rebounds.

Bethel Park traveled to Hershey to face the District 3 runners-up. The Black Hawks led by four points at the half and built on the lead in the final two quarters to pull away and win, 59-45.

Senior Mike Mathias hit six 3-pointers and led the Hawks with 22 points while senior Shawn Davis added 20 points for BP.

When these teams met two weeks ago, Fox Chapel outscored Bethel Park by 20 in the final three quarters to win, 57-36. Siegel had 16 points to lead the Foxes while Davis had a game-high 18 points for the Black Hawks.

There are three other second-round Class 5A boys games involving WPIAL teams:

• WPIAL champion Moon (24-3) will face York Suburban (21-6) at Hollidaysburg at 6 p.m. Senior Elijah Guillory and junior Michael Santicola each had 16 points in the Tigers’ win over Obama Academy in the opening round, 52-34.

• WPIAL runner-up Franklin Regional (24-3) takes on District 4 champion Selinsgrove (18-7) at Altoona at 7:30 p.m. Seniors Cooper Rankin and Fin Hutchinson each scored 16 points for the Panthers in their first-round win over Warwick, 68-53.

• In the first game at Altoona at 6 p.m., Shaler (24-3) battles District 3 champion Mechanicsburg. The Titans had three players in double-digit scoring in their 73-58 first-round win over Greencastle-Antrim. Senior Keegan Smetanka scored 21 points while seniors Kaden Orga and Brandon London each chipped in 13 points.

Another postseason showdown

Last year, they met in the fourth round with a berth in the state championship game at stake. Now they collide in the second round with a trip to the PIAA quarterfinals up for grabs.

Two of the top teams in District 7 go at it in the postseason again as Lincoln Park (24-3) battles Uniontown (23-4) in a rematch of this year’s WPIAL 4A semifinals clash between hardcourt heavyweights.

Last March, the dynamic duo for Lincoln Park was on full display as the Leopards crushed the Red Raiders, 85-64, in a PIAA semifinal.

Senior Brandin Cummings scoring 25 points and junior Meleek Thomas added 20 points for the eventual state champion Leopards.

In the district semifinals over two weeks ago, Lincoln Park led by 10 points at halftime before Uniontown cut the deficit to only two points heading into the fourth quarter. The Leopards outscored the Red Raiders 19-10 in the final quarter to win, 74-63.

Thomas had 28 points to lead the Leopards while Jamire Braxton scored 24 points for the Red Raiders.

Both teams rolled to victory in Round 1, Lincoln Park beating Montour by 17 points and Uniontown crushing Grove City by 34 points.

Tipoff at Canon-McMillan is at 7 p.m.

There are two other second-round 4A boys games involving District 7 teams:

• Longtime rivals Avonworth (18-9) and North Catholic (17-9) collide at Gateway at 7:30 p.m. This is the first meeting of the season between these northern foes that feature two of the top scorers in the district. Junior Rowan Carmichael scored 34 points to lead the Antelopes past District 9 champion Punxsutawney, 65-43, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs while senior Max Hurray dropped 21 points on District 10 champion Warren as the Trojans prevailed, 67-58.

• WPIAL runner-up Hampton (23-4) is pitted against District 6 champion Johnstown (22-4) at Hempfield at 7:30 p.m. Senior Peter Kramer scored 24 points and junior Liam Mignogna added 22 points as the Talbots crushed Hickory in the state opener, 63-43.

Flip the script, same results?

Last year, when Imani Christian won the PIAA Class A championship, its first two victims on the Road to Hershey were Clarion and Union-Rimersburg, a pair of teams from District 9.

This winter, following a victory over Union-Rimersburg in the state opener by 23 points, the Saints prepare for another matchup with D-9 runner-up Clarion.

The Saints pounded the Bobcats last year in the state playoffs, 78-43.

Imani Christian (15-10) has won nine of its last 10 games as it faces Clarion (18-9) at Armstrong at 6 p.m.

In the other two second-round Class A boys games involving WPIAL teams:

• The WPIAL Class A runner-up will once again be under the same roof as Imani Christian, this time in separate games. Neighborhood Academy (19-6) will face District 6 champ Bishop Carroll (16-10) in the second game of a doubleheader at Armstrong at 7:30 p.m. Junior Courtney Wallace scored 25 points in the Bulldogs’ first-round win over Rocky Grove.

• Union (16-11) takes on District 9 champion Elk County Catholic (25-2) at Clarion University at 7:30 p.m. Junior Lucas Stanley scored 25 points to lead the Scotties past Turkeyfoot Valley in the state opener.

District perfection

The WPIAL sent four WPIAL Class 6A girls teams to the PIAA playoffs, and all four were victorious in the first round.

The most they will send to the quarterfinals is three because two go head to head in Round 2.

WPIAL champion Norwin (22-3) will battle Chartiers Valley (17-8) at Peters Township at 6 p.m.

They met in the WPIAL semifinals with the Knights defeating the Colts, 63-47.

Junior Kendall Berger had a big game for Norwin, scoring a game-high 22 points.

In the state first round, Norwin cruised past York William Penn, 54-29. Senior Lauren Palangio scored 14 points and senior Ava Kubus added 13 points for the Knights.

Meanwhile, Chartiers Valley stunned District 6 champion Altoona, 44-43.

The Colts started quickly and led by 13 points at the half before holding on down the stretch for the road upset.

Junior Lilah Turnbull scored 18 points to lead Chartiers Valley.

In the other two second-round 6A girls games involving district teams:

• WPIAL runner-up North Allegheny (23-3) will face Lansdale North Penn (23-4) at Bald Eagle at 7 p.m. The Tigers bounced back from the WPIAL title game loss with a 34-point win over District 10 champion Erie, 57-23. Senior Caroline Henderson led NA with 19 points.

• Peters Township (24-2) goes up against District 1 runner-up Spring-Ford (22-5) in the first game of the doubleheader at Bald Eagle at 5:30 p.m. The dynamic duo of senior Gemma Walker (30) and junior Natalie Wetzel (21) dominated in the state opener, scoring a combined 51 points in the win over District 3 Lebanon, 69-49.

Golden memories

Led by the McConnell sisters, Kathy and Suzie, Seton LaSalle won the 1984 PIAA Class 4A championship, defeating Strath Haven in the state finals, 55-53.

Ten years ago, the Rebels won their third and most recent state championship, beating Neumann-Goretti, 58-50, to win the 2014 2A crown.

Here in 2024, the Rebels are four wins away from repeating history, but they will do so as a longshot.

Seton LaSalle (16-10), the No. 6 seed out of the WPIAL, will take on District 6 runner-up Westmont-Hilltop at Hempfield at 6 p.m.

The Rebels eliminated District 9 champion Karns City in the first round, 66-46.

Senior Mallory Daly scored 25 points while junior Tiara Curry scored 21 points and sophomore Addie Lonergan added 16.

Here are the other Class 3A second-round games involving WPIAL teams:

• WPIAL champion Shady Side Academy (25-2) will face District 10 runner-up Northwestern (22-4) at Sharon at 7:30 p.m. Sophomore sensations Karis Thomas (27) and Maggie Spell (16) combined for 43 points as the Bulldogs edged River Valley, 55-50.

• In the opening game of the girls 3A doubleheader at Sharon, Neshannock (19-8) faces District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep (22-3) at 6 p.m. The Lancers defeated Chestnut Ridge in the state opener, 72-62, as sophomore Payton Newman scored 24 points.

• WPIAL runner-up Avonworth (23-2) will be challenged by District 6 champion Forest Hills (25-3) at Gateway at 6 p.m. The Antelopes bounced back from the district title loss to SSA with a 14-point victory over Wilmington as junior Greta O’Brien scored 25 points for the ‘Lopes.

Ram tough

South Side raised some eyebrows with a deep run in the WPIAL girls 2A playoffs from its No. 12 seed, reaching the district final four. Now the Rams hope to continue raising eyebrows on the Road to Hershey.

South Side (16-11) stunned District 10 runner-up Maplewood in the opening round of the PIAA postseason, 34-33.

The Rams look to reach the state quarterfinals if they can knock off District 5 champion Everett (19-7) at Greensburg Salem at 7 p.m.

The Warriors eliminated another Rams team from the WPIAL in the first round when they knocked out Rochester, 36-35.

In the other two second-round 2A girls games involving WPIAL teams:

• WPIAL champion Greensburg Central Catholic (21-6) plays West Middlesex (20-5) at North Allegheny at 7 p.m. Sophomore Erica Gribble scored 20 points and senior Mya Morgan had 16 as GCC defeated Bellwood-Antis in the opening round, 59-27.

Clairton (20-6) will go up against Bishop McCort (25-2) at Norwin at 7:30 p.m. Bears junior scoring machine Iyanna Wade pumped in 39 points in a first round state playoff win over District 9 champion Redbank Valley, 55-51.

Double-A doubleheader

Tuesday is Day 2 of the PIHL Penguins Cup semifinals with the Class 2A final four taking center stage.

In the opener at the RMU Island Sports Complex on Neville Island at 7 p.m., upset-minded Penn-Trafford (8-9-4) faces Norwin (12-9).

In the quarterfinals last week, the Warriors stunned top-seeded South Fayette, 4-3. P-T goalie Tyler Funk stopped 31 of the 34 shots fired by the Lions.

Norwin knocked off Fox Chapel last week, 5-2, to advance to the semifinals. Dom Costantino had a goal and three assists for the Knights.

The two Westmoreland County rivals split their two regular season games, each winning one-goal, high-scoring games.

In October, the Warriors won, 5-4, while in the rematch in December, the Knights were victorious, 6-5.

In the second semifinal Tuesday, Franklin Regional faces regular season co-champion Thomas Jefferson at 9 p.m.

Franklin Regional squeaked past Latrobe, 4-3, in the quarterfinals. Shawn Sinclair scored a pair of goals for the Panthers.

Also last week, Thomas Jefferson knocked out Hempfield, 5-3. Andrew Oliver scored a power-play goal early in the third period to break a 3-3 tie and advance the Jaguars to the semis.

TJ swept the season series from Franklin Regional, winning 6-1 in October and 8-5 in January.

Both games can be seen on Trib HSSN.

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