What to watch for in WPIAL sports on March 17, 2023: Penn Hills to meet Cathedral Prep

Friday, March 17, 2023 | 12:08 AM

Cathedral Prep once owned the WPIAL and City League in the PIAA boys basketball playoffs.

In a four-year span from 2012-15, the Ramblers were a combined 8-1 against Districts 7 and 8 teams with the only loss coming in the 2013 Class 4A quarterfinals to New Castle, 80-70. However, Cathedral Prep has come back to Earth and is 1-2 against WPIAL teams in the state playoffs since.

On Friday, the District 10 champion squares off with the WPIAL champion when Cathedral Prep (23-3) faces Penn Hills (23-3) at Sharon at 7 p.m.

This is the fourth time the Ramblers and Indians have met in the PIAA basketball postseason. Penn Hills has won twice, beating Cathedral Prep in the 1987 first round, 65-64, and knocking out the Ramblers in the 1999 opening round, 52-48.

The lone Ramblers victory was in a 1994 semifinals game as they plowed the Indians, 62-43.

Recent Cathedral Prep vs. WPIAL matchups include a 52-50 overtime victory against New Castle in the 2021 PIAA bracket that had only district champions. In 2017, the Ramblers’ season ended with a 72-61 loss to Mars. In 2018, they lost to Trinity, 45-42.

The other 5A quarterfinal game on the “western” side of the bracket has WPIAL runner-up Peters Township (24-4) facing District 3 champion Exeter Township at Bald Eagle at 6 p.m.

Home cooking

The Road to Hershey has become the road hardly traveled for WPIAL 4A boys champion Lincoln Park.

The Leopards were home in the first round against WPIAL No. 7 seed South Allegheny and won, 80-63.

In the second round, Lincoln Park met WPIAL No. 4 seed Highlands at North Allegheny and prevailed, 84-72.

Now Lincoln Park (27-1) heads east … to Norwin to battle the WPIAL No. 3 seed Laurel Highlands (24-3) at 7:30 p.m..

These powers met back over the holidays in the Central Valley Holiday Tournament with the Leopards edging the Mustangs, 70-66.

In the other quarterfinal on the western half of the bracket, Uniontown (22-5) will challenge North Catholic.

Four-game sweep?

Carlynton (19-7) has had a fantastic boys basketball season, winning 19 games, reaching the WPIAL final four and now participating in the PIAA sweet 16.

However, the one puzzle the Cougars have not been able to solve is WPIAL champion Union (24-3).

Carlynton has lost seven games, three of them to Union.

The Scotties swept the two regular season Section 1-A games, winning two dandies by scores of 62-60 and 57-54.

When the teams battled in the district semifinals, it wasn’t as close as Union won big, 80-58.

Meeting No. 4 comes Friday at North Allegheny at 7:30 p.m.

It will be the nightcap of a Class A state doubleheader at North Allegheny.

In the first game, it’s WPIAL champ vs District 10 winner when Imani Christian (20-6) takes on Farrell (22-4) at 6 p.m.

Looking to even the score

After Upper St. Clair earned the top seed in the 6A playoffs by winning Section 2 outright and putting together an impressive resume, the debate began about who should be No. 2.

North Allegheny (22-5) and Norwin (23-4) had tied for the section crown and split their two regular season meetings with each winning at home.

Norwin won by 21 points in early January while North Allegheny prevailed by seven points in late January. Using the “what have you done for me lately” tiebreaker, the Tigers were No. 2 and the Knights No. 3.

The rubber game came in the WPIAL semifinals when North Allegheny came back to edge Norwin at Fox Chapel in a defensive struggle, 38-36. NA would later beat Upper St. Clair to win the district title.

Now Norwin looks to even the score as they two collide again at Fox Chapel on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with a berth in the PIAA semifinals up for grabs.

District 7 runner-up Upper St. Clair (23-3) remains alive after two state playoffs win and will mess with perfection on Friday. The Panthers battle District 3 champion Cedar Cliff (28-0) at Altoona at 6 p.m.

Strange turn

Four WPIAL 3A girls basketball teams survived the first round of the PIAA playoffs and advanced to the second round Tuesday.

Two of them were winners and two saw their seasons end.

However, the interesting twist was the two WPIAL finalists, Avonworth and Laurel, came up short.

In fact, the two teams Avonworth beat in the quarterfinals and semifinals are now advancing to the third round of the state playoffs.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (21-7) will face District 6 runner-up Westmont-Hilltop (27-2) at 6 p.m. in the first game of a 3A girls doubleheader at Armstrong.

The second game pits Shady Side Academy (25-3) against District 6 champion River Valley (27-2) at 7:30 p.m.

Only two

After two rounds of the PIAA postseason, the WPIAL only has two Class 2A girls basketball teams alive and that will be sliced to one after they go head to head.

Greensburg Central Catholic (23-5) will challenge WPIAL champion Shenango (24-4) at Fox Chapel at 6 p.m.

The winner will face the Kennedy Catholic/Bishop McCort winner in the semifinals Monday.

3A state splashing

Friday marks the first of two days for Class 3A swimmers and divers in the 2023 PIAA championships at Bucknell University.

Friday will consist of six preliminary races starting at 8:10 a.m. for the 3A girls and 10:45 a.m. for the 3A 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 3A diving championships are scheduled for 12:35 p.m.

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