What to watch for in WPIAL sports on March 16, 2022: Avonworth, Aliquippa square off

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 | 12:05 AM

Welcome to Quarterfinals Wednesday in the PIAA basketball playoffs.

The Avonworth boys basketball team has accomplished a lot this season.

• The Antelopes reached the WPIAL championship game as the No. 8 seed before falling to Shady Side Academy.

• They reached the 20-win mark by advancing to the state quarterfinals, this after finishing in third place in Section 2-3A

• The ‘Lopes have mastered defeating Ellwood City. They upset the defending 3A champs in the WPIAL quarterfinals, 66-55. They then proved that was no fluke when they ousted the Wolverines from the state playoffs with a 66-50 triumph in the PIAA second round.

Now can Avonworth find a way to solve the Aliquippa puzzle?

The Antleopes and Quips meet for a third time this year in a 3A quarterfinals game at New Castle on Wednesday.

In the two section meeting this season, Aliquippa won by 13 points and by 10 points.

The winner advances to the state semifinals Friday to play the winner of the South Allegheny vs. Bishop Guilfoyle game.

WPIAL 6A finalists head east

The two teams that played in the WPIAL 6A boys basketball championship game this season could meet again in the PIAA semifinals.

But first, Fox Chapel and North Hills head east to face two teams that finished third in their districts.

District 7 champion Fox Chapel will battle Northampton, the third team out of District 11.

The Konkrete Kids have won 17 of their last 20 games, including a pair of overtime victories in the state playoffs over Methacton and Warrick.

Despite an ankle injury in the first round, Foxes top scorer Eli Yofan bounced back to score 19 points in a second round win over City League champion Allderdice.

The Fox Chapel-Northampton game is the second game of a doubleheader at Chambersburg starting at 6:30 p.m.

At 5 p.m., North Hills will take on Archbishop Wood, the No. 3 team out of a loaded District 12.

The Vikings knocked off District 3 power Reading in the second round, 64-58. Archbishop Wood led 36-15 at halftime, but had to hold on for the six-point win.

North Hills had its second-round game bumped back to Sunday because of weather. The delay didn’t hurt Alex Smith, who scored 27 points in a 20-point win over Norristown.

The Indians and Vikings tip off at 5 p.m.

Clash of champs

Last year, because of covid-19 protocols, the PIAA basketball tournament was shortened and only included district champions.

The western side of the 2A boys basketball bracket is looking like 2021 all over again.

The four teams left in the quarterfinals are all district champions on the west side of the state.

Defending PIAA champion Our Lady of the Sacred Heart takes its perfect record and 65-game win streak north to Oil City where the Chargers face District 9 champion Ridgway.

Also on Wednesday, District 6 champion Portage will square off with District 10 champion Kennedy Catholic.

A near-perfect matchup

Blackhawk is the only WPIAL girls basketball team with a perfect record at 26-0 and the lone District 7 team left in the PIAA 4A tournament.

While not undefeated, the Cougars’ opponent Wednesday is close.

District 10 champion and traditional state power Villa Maria Academy out of Erie has a record of 23-2.

The Victors’ only losses came on a holiday trip west to teams from Las Vegas and California.

VMA has won 19 straight since, including two state playoff wins by a combined 69 points.

After fighting to a six-point win in the first round, Blackhawk rolled to a 20-point win over Southmoreland in the second round.

More success in 5A

While the WPIAL is guaranteed to have a team in the PIAA Class 5A boys basketball championship game, a Chartiers Valley win Wednesday will guarantee the district a team in the girls 5A finals in Hershey as well.

Senior Perri Page has led the way in two Chartiers Valley one-sided state playoff wins.

Now Page and her Fab 5 senior starters will face District 3 champion Gettysburg on Wednesday at Altoona.

The other western quarterfinals game between WPIAL foes will be a Tigers tale at Peters Township.

Moon (21-5) will battle McKeesport (22-5) for a spot in the PIAA final four.

Rachel Manfredo has led the way for McKeesport in its PIAA postseason wins over Obama Academy and Oakland Catholic while the dynamic duo of Emma Theodorsson and Reilly Sunday had guided Moon past Slippery Rock and South Fayette.

Getting defensive

Union has tightened the screws on an already impressive defense on the Road to Hershey.

The Scotties have allowed 33 and 35 points in their wins over Farrell and Elk County Catholic.

However, Union isn’t the only girls Class A team getting defensive in the state playoffs.

The Scotties’ opponents Wednesday, District 6 champion Portage, has also been stingy in its state playoff wins.

The Mustangs have allowed a total of 86 points in wins over West Greene and Berlin-Brothersvalley.

Don’t expect a lot of points when the two meet at Clarion University.

A semifinals hockey

The PIHL Penguins Cup Playoffs continue Wednesday with a pair of Class A semifinals games at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island.

In the first game at 6:45 p.m., Fox Chapel takes on Norwin.

Two days after beating them in the WPIAL 6A boys basketball title game, Fox Chapel rolled past North Hills in the PIHL quarterfinals. Tommy Healy had two goals and an assist for the Foxes.

Norwin edged Westmont Hilltop, 3-2, in the quarterfinals. Jake Meier, Ty Shigo and Logan Fear each had a goal and an assist for the Knights.

In the second game, Quaker Valley faces off against Erie McDowell.

Quaker Valley skated past Moon, 5-2, in its playoff opener. Luke Flowers scored a pair of goal and Noah Mattie had a goal and two assists for the Quakers.

Erie McDowell squeezed past North Catholic, 3-2 in the Class A quarters. Trojans goaltender Cam Baniewiz stopped 30 of 32 shots in the victory.

State swimming opening day

The first day of swimming events in the PIAA Class 3A championships are schedule for Wednesday at Bucknell University.

The Wednesday boys and girls Class 3A events include boys diving, 200-yard medley relay, 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley, 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard freestyle relay.

The PIAA swimming championships continue through Saturday.

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