WPIAL basketball semifinals come with intriguing storylines

Monday, February 24, 2020 | 10:26 PM

Mars will face Chartiers Valley in a WPIAL Class 5A boys basketball semifinal Tuesday at Moon.

This marks the fifth straight trip to the final four for Rob Carmody’s Fightin’ Planets.

In 2016, Mars lost to Beaver Falls in a Class AAA semifinals thriller by one point.

In 2017, in another dandy, the Planets lost to Hampton by two points.

The tide finally turned for Mars in 2018, when they crushed Trinity by 17 on their way to the school’s first WPIAL championship.

Last season, on their way to a second straight district crown, Mars defeated Chartiers Valley in the final four 53-44.

Andrew Recchia had a game-high 25 points for Mars in what turned out to be a physical contest.

Expect more of the same Tuesday.

Gold vs. Newbies

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart has become a district powerhouse in boys basketball.

After coming up short in the WPIAL finals in 2017 and ’18, the Chargers finally made it to the top of the mountain with the school’s first championship last season.

OLSH is 22-1 this year, the top seed in the Class 2A playoffs and a heavy favorite to repeat.

On the other side of the floor Tuesday is a Winchester Thurston team that had zero WPIAL postseason success before this year.

The Bears never had won a District 7 boys basketball playoff game before they upset No. 5 Laurel in the opening round 47-45.

They needed just six days to pick up the program’s second district playoff win, stunning section rival and No. 4 seed Springdale, 57-54 in the quarterfinals.

Langston Moses continued his hot postseason run with 21 points in the upset of the Dynamos.

Winchester Thurston and OLSH square off in a No. 1 vs. No. 12 semifinals game at North Hills.

Girl powers

Two of the top girls basketball programs in the WPIAL square off Tuesday with a berth in the WPIAL Class 6A championship game on the line when Bethel Park battles Mt. Lebanon.

The two are no strangers to each other and no strangers to success.

This will be the third meeting of the season between the two. Bethel Park won at home in December, 65-52, then Mt. Lebanon returned the favor, handing BP its only section loss 52-51 on a buzzer-beater.

One of these teams will reach the final this year, marking the 10th time in 20 years that either the Black Hawks or Blue Devils reached the WPIAL title game in the highest classification.

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