WPIAL basketball quarterfinals tip off in four brackets Thursday

Wednesday, February 19, 2020 | 9:05 PM

After nearly a week of first-round games, the Path to the Pete moves on to Round 2.

The WPIAL basketball playoffs continue Thursday with the first of three days of boys and girls quarterfinal basketball.

In the first round, it is win or go home. In the semifinals and championships, teams realize that even if they lose, their season is not over with a berth in the PIAA having already been clinched.

However, the quarterfinal round of the district playoffs puts losing teams in limbo.

Depending on the gender and classification, the WPIAL will be sending anywhere from five to seven teams from a class into the state basketball playoffs.

If the number is five, then the four semifinalists and the team that lost to the eventual champion in the quarterfinals qualify.

If the number is six, then the four semifinalists and the teams that lost to the two finalists in the quarterfinals qualify.

This one is tricky. If the number is seven, then the four semifinalists, the teams that lost to the two finalists and the team that lost to the team in the quarterfinals that the eventual champion beat in the semifinals qualify.

Another example is if A beat E, B beats F, C beats G and D beats H in the quarterfinals, then A beats C and B beats D in the semifinals and A beats B in the finals, A, B, C, D, E, F and G qualify because G lost to C, which lost to champion A in the semis.

Got it?

The best way to ease the confusion is for your favorite team to win in the quarterfinals, or else it’s follow the leader and root for the team that just beat you.

Old guard vs. new kids

The boys quarterfinals Thursday feature four games each in the Class 3A and Class A playoffs.

In one of the 3A second-round games, it will be No. 3 South Allegheny taking on No. 6 Beaver Falls in a contest that features a program having a breakout campaign against a team where a deep playoff run is expected every year.

Beaver Falls has played in a WPIAL quarterfinals game in nine of the last 10 years and won district gold in 2012, 2013 and 2016.

South Allegheny has never played in a quarterfinals game this century and had only won one playoff game in the last 20 years prior to this season, and that was a preliminary-round victory in 2001.

The Tigers are 14-7 after beating Southmoreland in the first round, 70-59.

The Gladiators are 22-1 and have won 14 straight but had to hold on to beat Avonworth in the opening round, 48-46, after the Antelopes had a couple of last-second chances to win or tie.

Rubber games

The girls quarterfinals Thursday feature four games each in the Class 4A and 2A playoffs.

Two of the Class 2A second-round games are battles between section rivals and in both instances, it’s the rubber game after a regular-season split.

Top-seed Serra Catholic will face Section 2 foe Winchester Thurston in the Eagles’ playoff debut after an opening-round bye.

Serra’s only section loss was a 43-39 win for the visiting Bears while the Eagles picked up a road win with a 72-45 victory at Winchester Thurston.

No. 4 seed Laurel comes off a first-round bye and will open up with No. 5 South Side.

Both teams won on their home floor with the Spartans winning, 46-29 at Laurel, and the Rams prevailing at South Side in the section finale, 46-41.

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