What to watch for in WPIAL sports on March 21, 2023: Aliquippa to play for spot in state finals

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Monday, March 20, 2023 | 11:58 PM


While spring has sprung, Tuesday will be another big day of winter sports semifinals and championship action.

Following a loss to District 3 power Harrisburg in the MLK Hoops for Hope event at Woodland Hills in mid-January, Aliquippa had an overall record of 7-4.

Since then, the Quips have only lost to Class 6A WPIAL runner-up New Castle and 4A champion Lincoln Park.

A 16-2 streak has led Aliquippa to WPIAL 2A gold and has the Quips one win away from playing for state gold in Hershey.

Aliquippa (23-6) will battle District 9 runner-up Otto-Eldred (26-2) at Clarion University at 6 p.m.

The Quips have knocked off District 9 teams in the opening round of the state playoffs the last two years.

Aliquippa defeated Brookville, 53-50, in the 2022 first round, then knocked out Karns City, 65-33, in this year’s PIAA postseason opener.

Otto-Eldred was 23-1 heading into the District 9 title game, when it was upset by Clarion-Limestone, 68-54.

The Terrors have bounced back with state playoff wins over Greensburg CentralCcatholic, Serra Catholic and Erie First Christian Academy.

Newbies to state final four

This has been a year of firsts for the Deer Lakes boys basketball team.

First trip to the WPIAL semifinals, first appearance in the WPIAL championship game, first district title and now a first-time opportunity to play in the PIAA final four.

The Lancers have defeated Seneca, Loyalsock Township and Neshannock on their way to the Class 3A semifinals Tuesday when they go up against District 6 champion Penn Cambria (24-5).

During the regular season, the longest winning streak Deer Lakes (20-8) enjoyed was five in a row. Now winners of seven straight games, the Lancers take on a Panthers team that has six consecutive wins coming into the game at Hempfield at 7:30 p.m.

All WPIAL final four

It’s guaranteed that two WPIAL girls teams will play for Class 5A and 4A state gold in Hershey.

That’s because it’s a pair of all-WPIAL semifinals with rematches of the district championship game in both classifications.

In 5A, WPIAL champion South Fayette (27-2) will battle the team it beat in the district finals, Oakland Catholic (25-4). The Lions beat the Eagles in the title game, 64-49.

Oakland Catholic led by one point at the half, but South Fayette outscored the Eagles 16-8 in the third quarter and 25-16 in the fourth quarter to capture a second straight WPIAL crown.

Ava Leroux led the Lions with 17 points while Maddie Webber scored 16 points and Lainey Yeter added 12 points.

Senior Alexa Washington scored 16 points and Rachel Haver added 15 points for the Eagles.

The game will be played at Peters Township at 6:30 p.m.

In 4A, WPIAL champion North Catholic (25-3) will face Blackhawk (24-4) in a rematch of the District 7 finals.

In their first meeting, the Trojans outscored the Cougars 31-19 in the second and third quarters combined to take control and win district gold for the 22nd time.

Alayna Rocco led the Trojans with 16 points while Ava Walker scored 11.

Alena Fusetti scored 13 points and Aubree Hupp added 12 points for the Cougars.

The district powers collide at New Castle at 6:30 p.m.

Solidarity

WPIAL girls basketball Class A champion Union remains alive, trying to do something no district team has done in a while: make it to Hershey to play in the PIAA Class A finals.

The last WPIAL team to reach the Single-A girls state championship game was North Catholic in 2016.

The Scotties were the last District 7 team standing last year as well, losing to Portage in the state quarterfinals.

Union (21-6) faces Berlin-Brothersvalley (23-5) at Hempfield at 6 p.m.

2A Pens Cup title game

The original Armstrong Central High School last only three years, but in one of those years, the hockey team won the PIHL Penguins Cup 3A title in 1991.

Now Armstrong hopes to win a third hockey championship and first since the River Hawks skated off with gold in 2018.

Armstrong (19-3) will face off against South Fayette (17-3-2) Tuesday in the Class 2A hockey title game at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Center in Cranberry at 6:15 p.m.

The Lions are looking for their first PIHL Penguins Cup championship.

The teams split their regular season meetings in a pair of one-goal games.

South Fayette won on Oct. 31, 3-2, while Armstrong won the second meeting on Jan. 19, 4-3.

D-2 gold

Bishop Canevin has won plenty of PIHL Penguins Cup championships in the last 40 years, but it has never won gold in Division 2.

The Crusaders were golden 40 years ago and again 30 years ago, winning PIHL Penguins Cup Class 2A titles.

They also hoisted the cup in 1984, 1985, 1989, 2011, 2014 and 2016 — eight times in total.

After losing in the D-2 finals last year to Neshannock, Bishop Canevin (19-1) will take on Ringgold (15-4-1) in the 2023 PIHL Division 2 finals at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry at 8:45 p.m.

The Rams have one Penguins Cup championship and one Division 2 title on their resume.

Ringgold won Class A gold in 1990 and picked up a Division 2 championship 29 years later in 2019.

Both the 2A and Division 2 PIHL championship games can be viewed here on Trib HSSN.

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