WPIAL basketball first round concludes Wednesday with boys 4A, girls 3A matchups

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 | 10:53 PM

There were four first-round byes award by the WPIAL basketball steering committee in the boys Class 4A playoffs. They went to Uniontown, winners of Section 3 with the No. 4 seed, Section 1 co-champions Highlands and Knoch, which drew the top two seeds, and Section 2 co-champion Quaker Valley at No. 3.

The only section champion to not receive an opening-round pass to the quarterfinals hits the court Wednesday for the final night of WPIAL Round 1 playoff action.

Blackhawk, which shared the tough Section 2 crown with the Quakers, will face Elizabeth Forward in a first-round game at West Allegheny.

In fairness, the Cougars had the worst overall record of the five section champions in 4A. While none of the others had more than five losses, Blackhawk finished 11-10 overall.

Last year ended a four-year playoff drought for the once-powerful Cougars, as they beat Derry in the first round before falling to section rival Ambridge in the quarterfinals.

Lucky seven?

New Castle won six WPIAL boys basketball championships this past decade. Now they set their sights on starting the new decade off with a fourth straight district crown.

However, the Red Hurricane begin defense of their most recent championship as the No. 7 seed in the 12-team Class 4A tournament.

The problem for the ‘Canes is they never have won a title under coach Ralph Blundo unless they were the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the brackets.

New Castle was the top seed in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019 and the No. 2 seed when it won gold in 2018.

The Red Hurricane open up this year’s postseason against Mt. Pleasant on Wednesday at North Allegheny.

Deja vu

If Seton LaSalle and Deer Lakes have a feeling of déjà vu when they hit the court Wednesday at North Allegheny, that will be because they should.

The battle of green in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game in the 2020 WPIAL Class 3A first round is a rematch of the No. 7 vs. No. 10 game last year.

The Rebels and Lancers met last year at Fox Chapel in an opening-round game with Deer Lakes prevailing, 47-32.

Then freshman Reese Hasley had a game-high 15 points for the Lancers in the win.

Deer Lakes advanced to the quarterfinals, where it lost to South Park.

The Lancers’ win over the Rebels combined with the Deer Lakes boys victory over Charleroi marked the first time in 34 years that the Lancers boys and girls basketball teams advanced to the second round.

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