What to watch for in WPIAL sports on March 13, 2024: Upper St. Clair makes WPIAL’s last stand in Class 6A

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 | 11:44 PM

The second round on the Road to Hershey concludes Wednesday with the spotlight shining on boys Class 6A, 3A and 2A games as well as girls 5A, 4A and A PIAA basketball contests.

And then there was one.

District 7 champion Upper St. Clair is one of the Sweet 16 teams remaining in the PIAA boys 6A playoffs and the only team left from the WPIAL.

It was nearly a clean sweep of the district in the first round as Baldwin and Mt. Lebanon lost and Upper St. Clair, trailing Central Dauphin 25-8 at one point, made a furious second-half comeback to survive and advance, 57-53.

Seniors Christian Ito and Brett Meinert led the way for the Panthers. Ito had 17 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, while Meinert added 15 points, with 10 of those points coming from the free throw line.

On Wednesday, Upper St. Clair (21-5) faces District 6 champion State College (13-12) at Pitt-Johnstown at 5:30 p.m.

The Little Lions finished the regular season 10-12 but have won three postseason games in a row.

State College defeated Mifflin County for the District 6 title, upset McDowell for PIAA seeding and stunned visiting Mt. Lebanon in the state opening round in triple overtime, 65-58.

The Lions had four players in double-digit scoring, led by 18 points by junior Reed Melvin.

Battle of the county

Lawrence County has been dripping with success stories in each sporting season in recent years.

The county will be beaming with pride Wednesday at New Castle when a spot in the boys 3A state quarterfinals is at stake when Mohawk (18-8) battles Ellwood City (18-9) for the third time this season at 7 p.m. in a game you can watch on Trib HSSN.

The Warriors hope to bring out the brooms after knocking off the Wolverines twice in Section 1-3A play this season.

In the game at Ellwood City on Jan. 2, Warriors sophomore Bobby Fadden scored 29 points but wasn’t the high scorer in the game as Wolverines senior Joseph Roth scored 30 points. Mohawk won, 77-64.

In the opening round of the PIAA playoffs, Mohawk senior Jay Wrona led the way with 21 points and Fadden added 13 points as the Warriors defeated host Moniteau, 56-42.

Also on Saturday, Roth scored 31 points as the visiting Wolverines eliminated District 6 champion Westmont Hilltop, 62-44.

There is one other second round 3A boys game involving a District 7 team:

• WPIAL champion Deer Lakes (22-4) will battle District 6 runner-up Forest Hills (21-4) at Armstrong at 5:30 p.m. The Lancers survived a district title letdown with a win over Mercyhurst Prep, 71-64. Deer Lakes bigs Wayne Love (21) and Nathaniel Moore (17) combined for 38 points in the win.

Old rivals collide

One of the top rivalries in the WPIAL takes center stage in the PIAA Class 2A second round when Jeannette (17-8) faces Greensburg Central Catholic (24-3) at Norwin at 7 p.m.

The two met twice in Section 3-2A action with GCC sweeping Jeannette in impressive fashion.

At Jeannette on Jan. 5, senior Tyree Turner scored 25 points, had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals as the Centurions cruised past the Jayhawks, 73-46.

Not much changed in the rematch at GCC on Jan. 30 as senior Franco Alvarez led the Centurions with 20 points and Turner added 13 points in the runaway win over the ‘Hawks, 73-51.

Defense was the key for both teams in their state playoff opening wins on Saturday.

Windber was limited to 13 first-half points as Greensburg Central Catholic rolled, 57-42. Turner had 25 points and Alvarez added 14 points for the Centurions.

The Jeannette defense held District 10 champion Iroquois to only 15 points through three quarters and won, 58-32. Senior Isaiah Mallich led the Jayhawks with 14 points while sophomore Kymon’e Brown added 11 points.

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

Fort Cherry (21-6) will face fellow District 7 foe Serra Catholic (18-9) at Peters Township at 7:30 p.m. Last week’s HSSN boys basketball player of the week was Rangers senior Derek Errett, who scored 26 points in an opening-round win over District 9 runner-up Karns City, 61-52. Serra Catholic stunned District 6 champion West Branch, 75-67. Senior Pete Burke led the Eagles with 29 points and senior Isaiah Petty added 24 points for the Eagles.

• WPIAL champion Aliquippa (22-5) faces the No. 3 seed out of District 10, Eisenhower, at Edinboro at 7 p.m. The Quips began what they hope is a state title run with a victory over Otto-Eldred, 56-27. Senior Cameron Lindsey had 13 points and sophomore QaLil Goode had 12 points for Aliquippa.

What might have been

During the entire regular season and halfway through the district playoff, it looked like Oakland Catholic was destined to become the new WPIAL Class 5A girls basketball champions.

Except nobody told two-time defending district champion South Fayette.

Dealing with a key injury, Oakland Catholic was stunned in the district semifinals by Armstrong while at the same time, South Fayette was surprising No. 2 McKeesport.

The Lions went on to beat Armstrong and capture a third straight district crown.

Now, the team that was expected to win faces the team that did hoist gold when Oakland Catholic (25-2) battles district champion South Fayette (19-8) at Peters Township at 6 p.m.

The Eagles snapped a two-game skid by beating Susquehanna Township in the PIAA playoff opener, 50-34.

Four players scored in double-digits for OC, led by freshman Mia LeDonne with 15 points.

South Fayette led 33-6 at halftime after blanking Red Land in the second quarter and cruised to a first-round win, 48-20. Senior Erica Hall led the Lions with 14 points.

In the other two second round 5A girls games involving district teams:

Indiana (20-7) squares off with McKeesport (22-4) at Gateway at 7:30 p.m. in a rematch of a WPIAL quarterfinal won by the Tigers, 50-41. HSSN girls Player of the Week senior Rachael Manfredo scored 16 points. Manfedo had a big game Saturday in a first-round win over west York, 62-31, as she led the ‘Port with 19 points. The Little Indians edged York Suburban in the opening round, 33-32, thanks to senior Bella Antonacci scoring nearly half of Indiana’s points with a game-high 16.

• WPIAL runner-up Armstrong (22-5) goes up against District 6 champion Hollidaysburg (23-3) at Pitt-Johnstown at 7 p.m. Senior Emma Paul continued her torrid postseason with 19 points to lead the River Hawks to a win over Palmyra, 44-33, for the first PIAA girls basketball win in school history.

Going for No. 2

Laurel Highlands made history Saturday when it picked up its first girls basketball state playoff victory.

Four days later, it goes for No. 2.

Laurel Highlands (21-4) will now take on District 10 champion Fairview (21-5) at North Allegheny at 6:30 p.m. in a girls 4A second-round matchup.

The Mustangs led by six points after three quarters, then went on to stun District 6 champion Johnstown, 51-48.

Junior Miya Harris led Laurel Highlands with 15 points, freshman Taylor Schwertlfeger scored 13 points, and junior Ayrianna Sumpter added 11.

Fairview trailed Knoch by seven points heading into the final quarter, but rallied to eliminate the Knights, 33-26.

Ella Garritty, Gabriella Pizzo and Riley Sholes scored eight points each for the Tigers.

Here are the other two Class 4A second round games involving WPIAL teams:

• WPIAL champion North Catholic (18-7) will face District 10 runner-up Warren (21-5) at Edinboro at 5:30 p.m. Freshman Brady Wehner had 13 points and senior Alayna Rocco had 12 points as the Trojans raced out to a 20-2 lead after one quarter on their way to a 47-29 victory over Conneaut.

• WPIAL runner-up Blackhawk (23-3) goes up against District 9 champion St. Mary’s at Keystone at 7 p.m. The Cougars outscored Harbor Creek 34-13 in the first and third quarters on their way to a first-round state playoff win, 54-38. Senior Alena Fusetti scored 19 points and sophomore Aubree Hupp had 18 for Blackhawk.

The team in the mirror

The much-anticipated PIAA Class A girls basketball first-round game between St. Joseph and St. Joseph was won by St. Joe’s.

District 7 St. Joseph’s defeated District 6 St. Joseph Catholic Academy, 57-35.

The host Spartans led by 11 points at halftime and then outscored the WolfPack 19-4 in the third quarter on their way to a 57-35 win.

Senior Julie Spinelli continued her outstanding postseason by scoring 23 points while senior Emma Swierczewski added 14 points for the Spartans.

St. Joseph (22-4) now moves on to play District 5 champion Berlin-Brothersvalley in the second round at Hempfield at 7 p.m.

The Mountaineers are coming off a first-round win over Clarion, 52-29.

In the other second-round A girls game involving a WPIAL team:

• WPIAL champion Union (20-5) plays District 5 runner-up Northern Bedford (17-9) at Hempfield at 5:30 p.m. In the Scotties’ state title defense opener, Kylie Fruehstorfer (21) and Kelly Cleaver (16) combined for 37 points in an easy win over Port Allegany, 59-18.

Pens Cup doubleheader

Wednesday is Day 3 of the PIHL Penguins Cup semifinals with the Class A final four taking the spotlight.

In the opener at the RMU Island Sports Complex on Neville Island at 6:45 p.m., Indiana (16-3-2) will look to pull off the upset as it faces top seed and undefeated Chartiers Valley (21-0).

In the quarterfinals last week, the Little Indians blanked North Catholic, 1-0. Indiana goalie Luke Rowe stopped all 28 shots fired by the Trojans while Jackson Albert scored the only goal of the game.

Chartiers Valley continued its perfect season in its playoff opener by shutting out Moon, 4-0. Noah Callender scored two goals for the Colts while goalie Matthew Colberg stopped all 20 shots he faced.

The two teams did not play in the regular season.

In the second semifinal Wednesday, Greensburg Salem (15-5-2) faces Shaler (17-3-2) at 8:45 p.m.

Greensburg Salem knocked off Plum in the first round, 5-1, and blanked Quaker Valley in the quarterfinals, 2-0.

Hunter Webb had a goal and an assist for the Golden Lions in the second round while goalie Tristan Gonzales stopped all 27 Quakers shots he faced.

Shaler owns postseason wins over Beaver, 4-0, and Avonworth in the quarterfinals, 6-2.

The Titans’ Matthew Stelitano scored four goals in the win over the Antelopes while in two games, netminder Shane Ciganik has stopped 43 of the 45 shots he has faced.

These two teams met twice in the regular season with Shaler taking both from Greensburg Salem.

In October, the Titans beat the Golden Lions, 8-4. Jacob Kunc registered a hat trick and Chase Irwin added two goals for Shaler while Carter Cherok had two goals for Greensburg Salem.

In January, the Titans cruised past the Golden Lions, 8-1. Kunc had two goals for the Titans while Chase Kushner scored the only goal for the Golden Lions.

Both games can be seen on Trib HSSN.

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