WPIAL basketball realignment wipes out several Westmoreland rivalries
Saturday, February 24, 2018 | 7:03 PM
WPIAL basketball underwent another facelift, and the results substantially will change the look of sections involving Westmoreland County teams.
Its current playoffs are just getting good, but the WPIAL already is looking ahead to next year. The league this week announced realignment as part of its biannual cycle, which follows the PIAA's reallocation of schools based on enrollment figures. With many schools moving up or down in classification, sections will be quite different moving forward.
It will be a meet-and-greet in the first year as teams become more familiar with schools they have not played before.
Geography did not win out. In some cases, sections will have only one Westmoreland team. Some will have a melting pot of teams from multiple counties, increasing travel.
Some sections will be smaller, which means less section games. Conversely, some will be larger, which will increase section games.
Greensburg Central Catholic's boys and girls will drop to Class A. The Penn-Trafford and Latrobe girls will drop to 5A, the Greensburg Salem girls will play in 4A and Derry's girls move to 3A.
Jeannette will be the county's lone 2A boys team. But its longtime section rivalry with Greensburg Central Catholic ends. The schools' girls teams also will be in separate sections.
The Jeannette and GCC boys had played up.
“We're going to be doing some major traveling,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “I'm not even sure where Carmichaels is.”
Section 2-2A will have Jeannette, Bentworth, Brentwood, California, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston and Serra Catholic.
Section 3-A consists of: Greensburg Central Catholic, Propel Andrew Street, Clairton, Imani Christian, Leechburg, St. Joseph and Trinity Christian.
GCC boys coach Jim Nesser said, “It's really going to be competitive.”
Boys Section 3-6A loses Penn Hills, Plum and Woodland Hills. All three are going to 5A. So that leaves Fox Chapel, Hempfield, Latrobe, Norwin, Penn-Trafford and newcomer Connellsville.
Franklin Regional and Highlands had the makings of a budding rivalry in boys Section 3-5A, but Highlands dropped to 4A so that is gone.
Franklin Regional remains in the section, but Greensburg Salem moves out, joining Section 1.
Section 1-4A keeps Derry, Freeport, Mt. Pleasant and Yough. New teams include Highlands and Knoch. Deer Lakes and Valley dropped to 3A.
On the girls side, all those nonsection games on Norwin's schedule will be section games next year. The Knights are in Section 1-6A with Butler, Fox Chapel, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley and Shaler.
Section 2-6A has Hempfield, Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Connellsville, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair.
Latrobe and Penn-Trafford will stay together but in Section 3-5A.
Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas is sad to see some local rivalries get ripped apart.
“Splitting us from Franklin Regional, which is right down the street, was a surprise,” he said. “It doesn't seem like the Westmoreland County rivalries will exist as much anymore. I am really shocked they split up Norwin and Hempfield.”
Section 3-5A looks like this: Latrobe, Penn-Trafford, Albert Gallatin, Laurel Highlands, Oakland Catholic, Penn Hills, Uniontown and Woodland Hills.
“I like our section,” Latrobe coach Mark Burkhardt said. “We are geographically located in the middle of the schools we will be playing. It is also nice that we stay with Penn-Trafford and Penn Hills. I also prefer having 14 section games next year as opposed to the 10 we had this past season.”
Franklin Regional, Kiski Area, Armstrong, Gateway, Hampton, Mars and Plum make up Section 2-5A.
Greensburg Salem joins Section 1-4A with Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, CW North Catholic, Freeport, Highlands, Indiana and Knoch.
Jeannette's girls are in Section 2-2A with Braddock Hills, Brentwood, Ellis, Riverview, Serra Catholic, Springdale and Winchester Thurston.
GCC moves into Section 3-A with Aquinas Academy, Clairton, Leechburg, Propel Andrew Street and St. Joseph.
“Tell us where to play and when,” GCC coach Joe Eisaman said. “(Realignment) doesn't matter to me. It never has.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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