What to watch for in WPIAL sports on March 15, 2023: Central Catholic to face stern test from State College

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 | 12:33 AM

The Road to Hershey continues Wednesday with more PIAA second-round basketball action.

Class 6A district champions collide at Central Cambria as WPIAL winner Central Catholic (17-9) goes up against District 6 champ State College (24-2) at 6 p.m.

The Little Lions have won 10 consecutive games since losing to District 3 power Harrisburg on Jan. 20. Their only other loss was to Erie McDowell in mid-December.

In the opening round, State College crushed Upper St. Clair, 72-42. Senior Braeden Shrewsberry had 20 points for the Little Lions, who outscored the Panthers 46-17 in the second and third quarters combined.

The other 6A second-round game involving a District 7 team pits WPIAL runner-up New Castle (23-3) against Downingtown West (20-7) from District 1 at Bald Eagle at 5:30 p.m.

Defending champs face good Knights

Two-time defending state champion Our Lady of the Sacred Heart needed overtime to beat Westmont-Hilltop in the opening round of the PIAA 3A playoffs. Now the Chargers face the challenge of the District 10 champions.

Franklin has won 17 consecutive games and hasn’t lost since December. The Knights jumped out to a 23-point halftime lead and cruised past Shady Side Academy in the first round, 75-43.

In Round 1, the Chargers beat the Hilltoppers, 71-69, behind 16 points each from seniors Bryson Kirschner and Rocco Coladonato.

The last time OLSH lost a PIAA playoff game was March 19, 2019 when it fell to Bishop Guilfoyle in the Class 2A semifinals, 62-61.

Here are the other three 3A boys second round games Wednesday involving WPIAL teams:

• Brookville (23-2) vs. Neshannock (19-7) at Clarion University at 7:30 p.m.

• Loyalsock Township (16-11) vs. Deer Lakes (18-8) at Altoona at 7 p.m.

Steel Valley (16-10) vs. Penn Cambria (22-5) at North Allegheny at 7:30 p.m.

Rough start for champions

Five district champions from the western side of the state took to the court Saturday top open up the PIAA Class 2A boys basketball playoffs.

Only two were winners.

On a rough day to be a top seed out of a district, only WPIAL champion Aliquippa and District 10 winner Erie First Christian survived to the second round. The Quips crushed Karns City by 32 points while the Eagles beat Clairton by 20 points.

Conemaugh Township (District 5), United (D-6) and Clarion-Limestone (D-9) all lost to WPIAL teams.

Eden Christian Academy beat Conemaugh Township by eight, Serra Catholic surprised United by 13 points and Bishop Canevin eliminated Clairion-Limstone by three points.

Here is the lineup for 2A boys second-round games Wednesday involving WPIAL teams:

Serra Catholic (16-11) vs. Otto-Eldred (24-2) at DuBois at 5:30 p.m.

Northgate (20-7) vs. Erie First Christian (15-10) at Sharon at 6 p.m.

Bishop Canevin (21-6) vs. Mercer (21-5) at Hampton at 7 p.m.

• West Branch (20-8) vs. Aliquippa (21-6) at Armstrong at 6 p.m.

Eden Christian Academy (20-6) vs. Lancaster Mennonite (17-8) at Hollidaysburg at 6 p.m.

Third time a charm?

They met twice in the regular season as Section 3-5A rivals and McKeesport beat Penn-Trafford both times by 24 and 15 points.

Now their paths will cross again in the PIAA playoffs as the Tigers battle the Warriors again, this time on the neutral floor at Norwin at 7:30 p.m.

Both teams were impressive on their Road to Hershey debuts Saturday.

McKeesport (22-5) trailed early but outscored Northern York 35-15 in the second half to win, 54-40. Junior Rachel Manfredo had a game high 19 points for the Tigers.

Penn-Trafford (18-9) raised some eyebrows when it traveled to District 3 champion Greencastle-Antrim and handed the Blue Devils only their third loss in 26 games. Lilly Palladino scored 12 points and Lauren Marton added 11 points as the Warriors prevailed, 40-39.

Here are the other three 5A girls second-round games Wednesday involving WPIAL teams.

South Fayette (25-2) vs. Mechanicsburg (20-7) at Altoona at 5:30 p.m.

Mars (18-8) vs. Cathedral Prep (22-1) at Sharon at 7:30 p.m.

Hollidaysburg (24-0) vs. Oakland Catholic (23-4) at Armstrong at 7:30 p.m.

2022 WPIAL championship rematch

A postseason rivalry continues Wednesday in Class 4A girls basketball as Blackhawk takes on Knoch for a third straight year in the playoffs.

In 2021, Blackhawk defeated Knoch in the WPIAL quarterfinals, 51-45.

Last winter, the Cougars and Knights met again, this time in the 2022 WPIAL 4A championship game. Blackhawk won again, 55-35.

Now the two teams collide in the PIAA playoffs.

Both teams were impressive on defense in the first round, each limiting their opponent to single-digit points in three of the four quarters.

Blackhawk defeated Warren, 51-32, while Knoch stunned Punxsutawney, 53-44.

The game Wednesday is at Hampton at 5:30 p.m.

The only other 4A girls game involving a district team has WPIAL champion North Catholic facing Harbor Creek at Westminster College at 6 p.m.

Only two

The 2023 WPIAL Class A girls basketball finalists are the only two District 7 teams to survive the PIAA opening round.

WPIAL champion Union opened the state playoffs with a dominant win over Clarion, 47-9.

The Scotties face another District 9 team in Elk County Catholic on Wednesday at Clarion University at 6 p.m.

WPIAL runner-up Aquinas Academy was impressive as well, defeating Juniata Valley, 59-45 on Saturday.

The Crusaders face Berlin-Brothersvalley at Norwin at 6 p.m.

Pens Cup A semifinals

Last year, Norwin defeated Westmont-Hilltop, Fox Chapel and Erie McDowell to win the PIHL Penguins Cup A championship.

It was the Knights’ first high school hockey title.

Now they face the same team they beat in the semifinals a year ago in Fox Chapel in the first of two Class A final four games Wednesday at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island.

There are a lot of new faces vying for the Single-A cup this year as the other three semifinalists have never won a PIHL Penguins Cup championship.

Here are the two semifinals games, both of which can be viewed here on Trib HSSN.

• Fox Chapel (19-2-0) vs. Norwin (17-4-1) at RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island at 7 p.m.

Greensburg Salem (18-3-0) vs. Kiski Area (17-5-0) at RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island at 9 p.m.

Going state splashing

Wednesday marks the first of four days of the 2023 PIAA swimming and diving championships at Bucknell University.

The first day will consist of six preliminary races starting at 8:10 a.m. for the 2A girls and 10:45 a.m. for the 2A boys.

The consolations and finals in those events will take place at 3:25 p.m. for the girls and 6:05 p.m. for the boys.

The girls 2A diving championships are scheduled for 12:35 p.m.

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