WPIAL Basketball Playoff Recaps From Wednesday, February 27th

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013 | 11:40 PM


Eye-brows were being raised on Semifinals Wednesday in Girls Class AAA where both the undefeated and top-seed Blackhawk Cougars along with the defending champion and #2-seed Hopewell Vikings were eliminated. Elizabeth Forward and South Park will be joined by Vincentian Academy and Serra Catholic girls and New Castle, Hampton, Beaver Falls and Burrell boys in playing for district gold on Saturday. Here are recaps from the Semifinals in Boys AAAA, Boys AA, Girls AAA and Girls A.

A special thanks to Mike Azadian, Dennis Fischer, Sam Hall, Mike Krcil, Josh Rowntree, Melissa Carle, Bob Barrickman and Mark Schaas for their help on all of these recaps.

WPIAL CLASS AAAA Semifinals:

New Castle Red Hurricane 71 – Seneca Valley Raiders 46 
New Castle will meet Hampton for the second consecutive year, this time in the Quad-A championship game on Saturday night at the Palumbo Center. The  Red Hurricanes never trailed in defeating Seneca Valley for a third time on Wednesday night at the Bridger Field House. It was the Red Hurricanes third straight trip to the semifinal round, the Raiders fell in just their second ever semifinal game. The Canes pulled away in the first quarter, outscoring the Raiders 12-4 after Seneca Valley had cut the lead to 12-11. Senior Shawn Anderson scored 12 of his game high 28 points in the opening stanza. New Castle survived some foul trouble in the second quarter as junior Malik Hooker picked up his third foul and was parked for the remainder of the half. But Seneca Valley did not take advantage, the Raiders were 2 of 8 from the foul line in the second, and finished 5 of 15 for the game. New Castle took a 36-24 lead into the locker room, helped by three-pointers by Anthony Richards and Anderson. New Castle got a scare in the third, Hooker picked up his fourth foul forty seconds into the quarter, the Red Hurricanes extended their lead to sixteen points at 51-36 on a pair of trey’s by Richards and a three ball for Antonio Rudolph. The Red Hurricanes have not trailed entering the final quarter all season and have used some long scoring runs to build their record to 25-0, the fourth period was no exception. New Castle scored the first seven points of the quarter, the 13-2 run sealed the victory for the Canes. New Castle has now won 52 of 53 straight games; the only loss was in the second round of state play last season to PIAA runner-up Montour. New Castle will attempt to win its ninth WPIAL crown, four of which were in Quad-A(1993,97-98-99). Richards finished with 13 points, Rudolph scored 11. Hooker was held to just 8 points in limited time. The Red Hurricanes hit 24 field goals, including eight three-pointers and were 15 of 19 from the line. New Castle turned the ball over just 8 times, two below their season average. Seneca Valley falls to 17-8, seven of those losses coming to Section 3 opponents. The Raiders were led by Easton Bazzoli with 18 points. Seneca Valley had 19 field goals, with 3 three-pointers and turned the ball over 16 times. The Raiders will enter the PIAA tournament as either the third or fourth seed from the WPIAL, a week from Saturday. New Castle has won the last four meetings with Hampton, 75-54 on January 15 at home and a nail-bitting 54-50 win at Hampton on February 8. That win for New Castle was the only one out of the 52 wins that was decided by less than 10 points. The Red Hurricanes won both meetings last season, 78-61 at New Castle and 57-44 in the title game. Hampton last defeated New Castle on December 14, 2010 at home 53-46.

Hampton Talbots 66 – North Allegheny Tigers 62 
In a wonderfully entertaining basketball game, the #3 seeded Hampton Talbots defeated the #2 seeded North Allegheny Tigers 66-62 at Chartiers Valley High School on Wednesday night to advance to the Boys Quad A basketball championship game where they'll take on the New Castle Red Hurricane at the Palumbo Center on Saturday night.  The teams were tied at 16 at the end of the first period with the lead changing hands throughout the quarter.  North Allegheny forged into a four point lead at the half, 31-27.  But the Talbots dominated the third period, outscoring the Tigers 21-10 to take a 48-41 lead with eight minutes to play.  NA fought back to retake the lead only to see Hampton regain control and seal the win with key free throw shooting in the closing minutes.  Hampton (21-4) was led by junior forward Ryan Luther with 27 points, including 10 each in both the first and fourth quarters, sophomore forward David Huber with 12, and sophomore guard Joey Lafko with 11.  North Allegheny (21-4) was paced by senior guard James Meeker with 19, 12 coming on three point baskets, senior guard Adam Haus with 15, and senior guard Sean Hennigan with 13.  Both teams will advance into the PIAA state tournament which will get underway on Saturday, March 9.

WPIAL CLASS AA Semifinals:

Beaver Falls Tigers 71 – Apollo-Ridge Vikings 39 
The magic ran out for 12th seed Apollo-Ridge on Wednesday night as Beaver Falls rolled to a 71-39 victory over the Vikings in the WPIAL AA Boys semifinals.  Apollo-Ridge overcame a 24-6 deficit after the first quarter in the quarterfinals last Saturday to beat Jeannette, 56-52.  There was no comeback this time around for the Vikings after trailing the Tigers at the end of the initial period, 25-6.  Beaver Falls poured it on in the second stanza at North Allegheny and led at the half, 51-12.  The mercy rule kicked in early in the third quarter and Beaver Falls once led by as many as 45 points at 64-19.  The Vikings closed the gap after the Tigers cleared their bench but not before their pressure defense and shooting prowess proved too much for Apollo-Ridge to handle.  The Tigers were led by Drew Cook with 16 points while Elijah Cottrill and Cadee Akins added 14 each.  Lucas Burrell paced the Vikings with 14 points, as Apollo-Ridge appeared in its first semifinal game in 25 years.  Apollo-Ridge dipped to 18-8 on the season and will wait ten days before competing in the PIAA playoffs.  The defending champion Tigers have now won 12 straight and will take a 22-3 record into the A.J. Palumbo Center at Duquesne University on Saturday for a 1p.m. tip off against Burrell.  Beaver Falls is seeking its ninth WPIAL crown and defeated Burrell, 55-54 to win the championship in 1979.    

Burrell Buccaneers 43 – Quaker Valley Quakers 32 in Overtime 
The Burrell Bucs outscored the Quaker Valley Quakers 13-2 in overtime to win their WPIAL AA semi-final game at North Allegheny high school Wednesday night 43-32. Tied at 30 at the end of regulation Quaker Valley actually struck first in the overtime period with sophomore Chris Conlan hitting a pair of free throws to give the Quakers a 32-30 lead. Quaker Valley would not score again as the Bucs rattled off 13 straight for the win. Burrell was led by senior Cole Bush the only player for either team to reach double figures with 16 on the night. Burrell also got seven points from senior Peter Spagnolo all of which came in the overtime. The Bucs were playing in the semi-finals for the first time since 1979, and with the win improved their season record to 19-6 on the year. They will play for the WPIAL Championship in AA Saturday at A.J. Palumbo Center on the campus of Duquesne University. The Quakers fall to 20-5 on the year. Quaker Valley was led by Nelson Westwood who scored eight points on the night, while Conlan chipped in with six. Burke Moser scored four points before fouling out late in regulation and the 6'3'' senior was sorely missed by the Quakers in the overtime period. Bothe teams have qualified for the PIAA playoffs.  

WPIAL CLASS AAA Semifinals:

Elizabeth Forward Warriors 78 – Blackhawk Cougars 64 
Elizabeth Forward scored the game's first points at the 7:30 mark of the first quarter and would never look back.  Natalie Fekula and Alison Pastore led the offensive attack for the Warriors throughout much of the first half.  Blackhawk trailed 19-10 at the end of the first quarter.  The Cougars had no answer for Fekula, who proved her versatility both in the paint and beyond the arc, scoring 19 first half points.  Pastore was also impressive defensively, holding Blackhawk's star sophomore point guard Chassidy Omogrosso to only seven first half points, all coming from the foul line.  Elizabeth Forward headed to the locker room with a comfortable 39-29 lead.  Omogrosso hit a big three-pointer for Blackhawk to start things off in the third quarter–her first field goal of the game, but the Warriors responded, killing the Cougars momentum.  Elizabeth Forward extended its lead to 12, 57-45 through three quarters.  Blackhawk rallied late, scoring 19 fourth quarter points and pulling within eight behind key three pointers from Alexis Graham and Omogrosso, but an unfavorable foul situation sent the Warriors to the line in the bonus for the remainder of the game.  Elizabeth Forward held off top-seeded and previously undefeated Blackhawk, 78-64.  The Cougars dropped to (24-1) behind double digit performances from Alexis Graham (19 points), Chassidy Omogrosso (16 points), Bridgette Shaffer (13 points), and Halle Denman (10).  As a team, Blackhawk went 17/20 from the free throw line.  Graham is the only senior on the Cougars young roster.  Elizabeth Forward was led by Alison Pastore's 20 points.  Natalie Fekula finished with 20 points, and Dana Buck chipped in 14 points for the Warriors, who went 17/20 from the line as a team.  The Warriors improve to (23-3) and will face South Park in the WPIAL Class AAA Championship.  

South Park Eagles 75 – Hopewell Vikings 55 
In WPIAL Girls AAA semi final action at West Allegheny high school, the South Park Eagles defeat last year’s champion Hopewell Vikings 75-55 to move to the finals for the 2nd year in a row.The Eagles ran out to an 8-0 early lead getting three pointers from Junior Halie Torris and Freshman Allison McGrath and had a 16-4 lead before the Vikings cut the lead to 8 at the quarter 18-10. The Eagles dominated early in the 2nd quarter holding the Vikings to 3 points in the 1st 4:30 of the quarter and at one point led 34-15 on the way to a 35-20 halftime lead. The Vikings couldn't solve the 2/3 zone defense of South Park, and turned the ball over 10 times in the first half. Into the 3rd quarter it was more of the same as Hopewell only scored 4 points in the first 4:00 and trailed by 31 points mid quarter. South Park played great defense all game though Viking Star Shatori Walker Kimbrough would end up with 39 points, 70% of her teams points. The Eagles were led by their big three as Torris, and Shelby Lindsay both had 23 points, and McGrath had 19 to lead them. The Eagles had lost to Hopewell 4 times the last three years and finally avenged last year’s loss in the championship game. South Park improves to 22-2 and will face Elizabeth Forward in the Championship game this weekend at Duquesne University's Palumbo Center. Hopewell falls to 21-4 and will play next week in the PIAA state playoffs. 

WPIAL CLASS A Semifinals:

Vincentian Academy Royals 57 – Quigley Catholic Spartans 38 
Vincentian Academy scored less than five seconds after the opening tip-off sparking a game-opening 9-0 run and it was never close after that as the Royals thumped the Quigley Catholic Spartans 57-38 Wednesday night at Keystone Oaks High School.  The top-seeded Royals have punched their ticket to the Girls Class A Finals Saturday morning at the A.J. Palumbo Center, where they'll try to defend their title against the second-seeded Serra Catholic Eagles.  As with the rest of Vincentian's postseason, sophomore sensation Brenna Wise led all scorers with 22 points, scoring 14 in the decisive first half.  Senior Abbey Bartoszewicz, whom head coach Ron Moncrief calls the team's "quarterback" chipped in 10, but was devastating on defense, creating multiple turnovers leading to Vincentian points.  The Royals overcame a lackluster shooting night, converting just over 30% from the field.  Quigley, meanwhile, could never get into a rhythm.  They were led by their freshman guard Gabrielle Smith, who scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half.  However, Junior Kristin Jackson, who has scored in double figures in each game this postseason, was held to just four third-quarter points on 2-of-15 shooting, and Senior Morgan Dillon did not record a point.  As a team, the Spartans shot below 25%.  Vincentian improves to 24-1, while Quigley falls to 18-6.  The Spartans will participate in the PIAA tournament when it begins March 9.

Serra Catholic Eagles 56 – North Catholic Trojanettes 45 
No. 2 Serra Catholic used a big second half, balanced scoring and smothering defense to defeat No. 3 North Catholic 56-45 in a Girls Class A Semifinals matchup at Keystone Oaks High School. The Lady Eagles (23-2) would struggle early, overcoming a 10-point 2nd Quarter deficit and rallying to advance to the WPIAL Class A Championship Game on Saturday. North Catholic (15-10) would come out of the gates strong, building a 26-16 lead and, despite 13 first half turnovers, would lead 27-19 at halftime. But Serra Catholic, behind Nicole Pero's 12 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocks, would chip away, taking their first lead with 1:20 left in the 3rd Quarter, 35-33. The basket was part of a 17-5 run for Serra Catholic, who kept the Trojanettes out of the WPIAL Championship Game for the first time since 2008. The Lady Eagles also got strong performances from Leslie Hoye, who scored a team-high 15 points, as well as Katie Seig, who chipped in 12 points. North Catholic was led by Central Connecticut recruit Lauren Wolosik, who scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Wolosik, who averages 27.1 points, would struggle in the second half, scoring just 8 points. The 15-10 record for North Catholic is their worst since 2006, when they went 14-12. Coincidentally, that was the same year that the Lady Eagles made their last trip to the A.J. Palumbo Center. Serra Catholic will meet top-seeded Vincentian (24-1) on Saturday at 11am. The two teams played in Serra Catholic's Tipoff Tournament on December 8, 2012, a game which Vincentian won 67-59. Serra's only other loss this season was to AAA Quarterfinalist Belle Vernon. North Catholic, despite the loss, advances to the PIAA playoffs as either the third of fourth seed from District 7.     

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