What to watch for in WPIAL sports on March 18, 2023: New Castle, Reading to meet for 1st time in state playoffs

Friday, March 17, 2023 | 11:54 PM

Two state boys basketball powers will collide for the first time in the PIAA postseason Saturday afternoon when New Castle takes on District 3 champion Reading.

The Red Hurricane are looking for their 50th all-time state playoff victory (49-24) when they meet the Red Knights at Altoona at 2 p.m.

With all their wins, New Castle only has one PIAA tournament victory against a District 3 opponent.

That came last year when the ‘Canes defeated Northeastern York in the first round, 63-50.

New Castle were 0-2 against D-3 teams in the postseason before that win.

They lost to Harrisburg in the 1998 Class 4A state championship game, 69-53 and fell to Bishop McDevitt in the 2016 quarterfinals, 77-68.

Co-champs collide

One was a co-champion in Section 1-3A, the other shared a title in Section 3-3A.

Now they collide, one step away from the PIAA final four.

Neshannock (20-7) enjoyed winning streaks of six and seven games this season. After falling to defending district champion Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the WPIAL semifinals, 53-50, the Lancers have won their first two state playoffs games by a combined six points over Oil City and Brookville.

Deer Lakes (19-8) defeated OLSH to win its first WPIAL championship two weeks ago and has eliminated Seneca and Loyalsock Township to extend its postseason winning streak to six games.

The teams meet at North Allegheny at noon in the PIAA 3A quarterfinals.

Finally they meet

When the WPIAL playoff brackets were announced in mid-February, Aliquippa was the top seed and defending champion Bishop Canevin was the No. 2 seed.

A showdown between Section 1-2A and Section 2-2A champions never materialized in the district playoffs, though, as BC lost to Northgate in the semifinals, 63-54.

However, after two wins in the state playoffs, we finally get the showdown between the Quips and the Crusaders at Peters Township at 1:30 p.m.

Eagles vs. Tigers: Take 4

The McKeesport girls basketball program has enjoyed an incredible season, winning 23 of 28 games.

However, the Tigers have no district gold and no section crown to show for all their success thanks to one team, Section 3-5A foe Oakland Catholic (24-4).

The Tigers lost both of their section games to the Eagles and finished two games behind them in the standings.

The third time was no charm for McKeesport, when they lost to Oakland Catholic again in the WPIAL semifinals, 58-51.

The fourth meeting of the year between the two 5A powerhouses takes place at Peters Township at noon.

In the other girls 5A state quarterfinals game on the “western” side of the bracket Saturday, WPIAL champion South Fayette (26-2) will battle District 10 champion Erie Cathedral Prep at Sharon at 1 p.m.

WPIAL finalists vs. district champs

The two finalists in the WPIAL 4A girls basketball playoffs are still alive heading into the state quarterfinals.

Now they go up against a pair of district champions.

District 7 winner North Catholic (24-3) will take an 18-game winning streak into a game Saturday against District 3 champion Wyomissing (28-2) at Bald Eagle at 2 p.m.

WPIAL runner-up Blackhawk (23-4) squares off with District 10 champion Fairview (21-8) at Sharon at 2:30 p.m.

Blackhawk and Camp Hill Trinity are the only teams left in 4A that did not win their district championship.

District champs survive

Only district champions are left on the western side of the state bracket in the Class A girls basketball playoffs.

It will be WPIAL vs. District 6 and District 5 against District 9.

Union (20-6) is the lone District 7 team left in the bracket. The WPIAL champs have defeated a pair of District 9 teams in Clarion and Elk County Catholic.

The Scotties have been defensive, only allowed a combined 44 points in the two wins.

They will face a Williamsburg (28-1) team that beat St. Joseph from the WPIAL in the first round by 46 points.

The game takes place at Armstrong at 1 p.m.

The other game has Berlin-Brothersvalley out of D-5 against Otto-Eldred from D-9.

Final swim

Saturday marks the final day of the 2023 PIAA Class 3A swimming and diving championships at Bucknell University.

Saturday will begin with five 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 boys 3A diving championships are scheduled for 12:35 p.m.

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