WPIAL basketball teams must choose: Playoffs or no?

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Sunday, February 14, 2021 | 4:38 PM


Many are going. Some are not. Others have stipulations, and a couple more are on the fence.

The decision to enter the WPIAL open basketball playoffs is not as easy as you might think, at least for some schools.

Opinions are being weighed in the decision-making process. Are we good enough? Do we deserve to go?

All teams are eligible this season because of unbalanced records and games played — a result of covid stops and starts — but not every team plans to accept a postseason invitation.

The WPIAL asked all schools to inform the league of their playoff intentions by Thursday.

In Westmoreland County, 11 schools are certain they will send both boys and girls teams: Hempfield, Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Greensburg Salem, Latrobe, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Burrell, Belle Vernon, Yough and Monessen.

Franklin Regional’s boys are headed to the playoffs, but a decision on the girls will be made this week.

Ligonier Valley will send only its boys team, Kiski Area only its girls.

Southmoreland’s girls will go to the tournament, but the boys team is undecided.

Derry has set a standard for postseason qualification: Its teams must have a record of .500 or better to advance.

That means the girls (1-8) will not take part, although coach Gene Brisbane said he will schedule additional games for his team.

“I have always believed that you should have a winning record to be in the playoffs,” Brisbane said.

Derry boys coach Tom Esposito used to coach Homer-Center in District 6, which uses an open tournament each year. He said it was an unwritten rule that only teams with .500 or better records went to the playoffs.

Derry’s boys were 4-4 heading into the weekend, so the Trojans have something for which to play.

“That’s our goal,” Esposito said. “We have a big week starting with Mt. Pleasant (Saturday), then (at) Keystone Oaks and Knoch.”

Mt. Pleasant is following similar guidelines. The Vikings boys are 4-7 after two straight wins, and the girls have a 5-6 mark.

“We are still letting another week of the season play out,” Mt. Pleasant athletic director Chris Brunson said. “I just think there are more factors in the process in determining playoffs than when you would you have made it in a non-covid year. Some teams have played a lot of games in a short amount of time, and others have barely played. Some have been paused and started again, and some have not.”

Franklin Regional girls coach Anthony Kobus hopes his team can play beyond the regular season.

“I think everyone should go,” Kobus said. “After all everyone has been through, the girls deserve this. It doesn’t matter what their record is, let them play. I mean, look at them. They’re out here wearing masks and doing everything we say. They should be rewarded.”

Valley is the only county school that did not respond to a survey.

The playoffs are scheduled to start Feb. 26-27.

Higher-seeded teams will get home games through the semifinals if their gyms meet WPIAL requirements.

The WPIAL finals are slated for March 12, 13 and 15 at high school venues yet to be selected.

Teams that don’t participate in the playoffs are allowed to continue to play games after Feb. 26.

The annual playoff pairings meeting in Green Tree was canceled because of social-distancing guidelines.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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