WPIAL bracketology: Chris Harlan, Don Rebel predict boys basketball playoff pairings

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Sunday, February 10, 2019 | 3:48 PM


The WPIAL basketball brackets will be released Tuesday and everybody has their two cents.

Many will guess, taking stabs at what they think should be the matchups, before the district makes them official at 7 p.m.

Well the TribLive High School Sports Network is no different. Our two cents will be thrown into the fountain by Chris Harlan and Don Rebel.

Class 6A

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Pine-Richland (19-2) – Bye

No. 2 Mt. Lebanon (18-3) – Bye

No. 3 Latrobe (18-2) – Bye

No. 4 Fox Chapel (15-6) – Bye

No. 5 Upper St. Clair (19-3) vs. No. 12 Connellsville (7-14)

No. 6 Butler (16-4) vs. No. 11 Peters Township (14-7)

No. 7 Canon-McMillan (13-8) vs. No. 10 Seneca Valley (10-10)

No. 8 Penn-Trafford (13-8) vs. No. 9 North Allegheny (12-8)

Rebel: This is a strong and balanced field with Pine-Richland the deserved kings. The Rams could face one of the teams that knocked them off in the semifinals in either Fox Chapel or Upper St. Clair. Speaking of USC, impressive resume for the Panthers with wins over No. 1 and No. 2. The Panthers could have finished as high as No. 3 if not for a loss to Fox Chapel this past Friday.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 Pine-Richland (19-2) – Bye

No. 2 Latrobe (18-2) – Bye

No. 3 Mt. Lebanon (18-3) – Bye

No. 4 Fox Chapel (15-6) – Bye

No. 5 Upper St. Clair (19-3) vs. No. 12 Seneca Valley (10-10)

No. 6 Butler (16-4) vs. No. 11 Connellsville (7-14)

No. 7 Canon-McMillan (13-8) vs. No. 10 North Allegheny (12-8)

No. 8 Peters Township (14-7) vs. No. 9 Penn-Trafford (13-8)

Harlan: It’s easy to imagine the WPIAL basketball committee debating two through six. Here I awarded Latrobe the two seed for finishing undefeated in Section 3, even thought the Wildcats struggled on the road down the stretch (two-point wins at Norwin and Hempfield, one-point win at Connellsville). The committee might not be so generous. Butler could make an argument for the No. 4 seed, but Fox Chapel and USC both have something the Tornado does not this season — a win over Pine-Richland.

Class 5A

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Mars (21-1) – Bye

No. 2 Moon (21-1) – Bye

No. 3 Penn Hills (19-3) – Bye

No. 4 Chartiers Valley (16-4) vs. No. 13 Albert Gallatin (5-13)

No. 5 Woodland Hills (16-5) vs. No. 12 West Allegheny (9-13)

No. 6 Franklin Regional (16-6) vs. No. 11 Thomas Jefferson (11-10)

No. 7 Montour (14-8) vs. No. 10 Hampton (12-8)

No. 8 McKeesport (11-9) vs. No. 9 Shaler (15-7)

Rebel: This is a fun bracket that has the potential to be great. You have your top teams that have proven they are consistently very good, then you have several teams that were not as consistent in the regular season but they have the talent to put together any eyebrow-raising two-week run to the winner’s circle.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 Mars (21-1) – Bye

No. 2 Moon (21-1) – Bye

No. 3 Penn Hills (19-3) – Bye

No. 4 Chartiers Valley (16-4) vs. No. 13 Albert Gallatin (5-13)

No. 5 Woodland Hills (16-5) vs. No. 12 West Allegheny (9-13)

No. 6 Franklin Regional (16-6) vs. No. 11 Thomas Jefferson (11-10)

No. 7 Montour (14-8) vs. No. 10 Hampton (12-8)

No. 8 McKeesport (11-9) vs. No. 9 Shaler (15-7)

Harlan: The additions of Penn Hills and Woodland Hills, who dropped from Class 6A after last season, make this a brutal bracket. Moon’s almost-perfect record could be enough to claim a No. 1 seed many seasons. Its only loss was to Chartiers Valley in two overtimes. Even defending Class 6A champ Penn Hills could make an argument. Mars’ only loss came in Las Vegas, so the defending 5A champion Planets receive the top spot here.

Class 4A

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 New Castle (16-4) – Bye

No. 2 Ambridge (14-8) – Bye

No. 3 Quaker Valley (17-3) – Bye

No. 4 Uniontown (17-3) vs. No. 13 Beaver (6-14)

No. 5 Highlands (14-7) vs. No. 12 Belle Vernon (8-14)

No. 6 Knoch (16-5) vs. No. 11 South Park (10-11)

No. 7 Derry (12-7) vs. No. 10 Blackhawk (9-13)

No. 8 Ringgold (13-7) vs. No. 9 Freeport (11-8)

Rebel: Section 2 has been the strongest section all year and the top three teams have earned the top three spots. While the jury is out on the other section winners, it will be interesting to see if Uniontown, Knoch or Highlands can reach The Pete. Watch out for Blackhawk of all the nonsection winners not named Ambridge or Quaker Valley.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 New Castle (16-4) – Bye

No. 2 Ambridge (14-8) – Bye

No. 3 Quaker Valley (17-3) – Bye

No. 4 Uniontown (17-3) vs. No. 13 Beaver (6-14)

No. 5 Highlands (14-7) vs. No. 12 Blackhawk (9-13)

No. 6 Knoch (16-5) vs. No. 11 Belle Vernon (8-14)

No. 7 Ringgold (13-7) vs. No. 10 Freeport (11-8)

No. 8 Derry (12-7) vs. No. 9 South Park (10-11)

Harlan: Uniontown ran through Section 3 undefeated, but it doesn’t own a marquee nonsection win to boost its seed any higher than fourth. Highlands and Knoch split their two-game series and tied for the Section 1 title. Highlands won the most recent matchup 54-45, so the Rams are seeded ahead of the Knights.

Class 3A

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Lincoln Park (18-3) vs. No. 16 Shady Side Academy (9-11)

No. 2 Seton LaSalle (17-3) vs. No. 15 Valley (8-10)

No. 3 North Catholic (17-4) vs. No. 14 Southmoreland (12-9)

No. 4 Aliquippa (14-7) vs. No. 13 Charleroi (11-9)

No. 5 Washington (13-7) vs. No. 12 Avonworth (12-9)

No. 6 Deer Lakes (14-6) vs. No. 11 Beaver Falls (9-12)

No. 7 Neshannock (16-5) vs. No. 10 Keystone Oaks (11-10)

No. 8 Steel Valley (13-7) vs. No. 9 McGuffey (14-7)

Rebel: We go a little old school with a full 16-team tournament. This is a top-heavy bracket, but the rest of the field doesn’t fall off a cliff like some of the other brackets do. Committee members may want to break up the top four so the section foes are on opposite side of the brackets, but I like the idea of possible section rematches in the semifinals with a fresh title game if this goes chalk.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 Lincoln Park (18-3) vs. No. 16 Shady Side Academy (9-11)

No. 2 Aliquippa (14-7) vs. No. 15 Valley (8-10)

No. 3 North Catholic (17-4) vs. No. 14 Southmoreland (12-9)

No. 4 Seton LaSalle (17-3) vs. No. 13 Beaver Falls (9-12)

No. 5 Washington (13-7) vs. No. 12 Avonworth (12-9)

No. 6 Deer Lakes (14-6) vs. No. 11 Charleroi (11-9)

No. 7 Neshannock (16-5) vs. No. 10 Keystone Oaks (11-10)

No. 8 Steel Valley (13-7) vs. No. 9 McGuffey (14-7)

Harlan: The biggest variable here is Aliquippa, which could be seeded second, third or fourth. A 12-point loss to Neshannock cost the Quips a share of the Section 1 title, so the WPIAL committee could rightfully slot Section 2 co-champions North Catholic and Seton LaSalle ahead of them if it chooses.

Class 2A

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (18-2) – Bye

No. 2 Serra Catholic (17-3) – Bye

No. 3 Sewickley Academy (12-7) – Bye

No. 4 Winchester Thurston (16-5) – Bye

No. 5 South Side Beaver (16-6) vs. No. 12 Brentwood (11-10)

No. 6 Jeannette (12-10) vs. No. 11 Springdale (12-8)

No. 7 Shenango (10-11) vs. No. 10 Summit Academy (10-8)

No. 8 Sto-Rox (13-8) vs. No. 9 California (12-8)

Rebel: The two top seeds have been consistently dominant, but don’t count out the defending champions from Sewickley Academy. Their three-peat hopes took a hit with Nate Ridgeway leaving the team, but they proved they are still in the hunt with a win over OLSH on Friday. Shenango has been hot down the stretch, winning 5 of 6 including victories over Sewickley Academy and South Side Beaver.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 OLSH (18-2) – Bye

No. 2 Serra Catholic (17-3) – Bye

No. 3 Sewickley Academy (12-7) – Bye

No. 4 Winchester Thurston (16-5) – Bye

No. 5 South Side Beaver (16-6) vs. No. 12 Brentwood (11-10)

No. 6 Jeannette (12-10) vs. No. 11 Springdale (12-8)

No. 7 Sto-Rox (13-8) vs. No. 10 Shenango (10-11)

No. 8 California (12-8) vs. No. 9 Summit Academy (10-8)

Harlan: Might OLSH’s loss Friday to Sewickley Academy make the committee consider Serra Catholic for the No. 1 spot? It’s possible but probably unlikely. OLSH reached the WPIAL and PIAA finals last season with a young roster that returned mostly intact. California’s leading scorer, Malik Ramsey, is ineligible for the postseason under the PIAA’s new transfer rules. Will that impact the team’s seed?

Class A

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Vincentian Academy (14-7) – Bye

No. 2 Cornell (18-4) – Bye

No. 3 Nazareth Prep (15-3) – Bye

No. 4 Monessen (14-8) – Bye

No. 5 St. Joseph (17-5) vs. No. 12 West Greene (7-13)

No. 6 Union (16-5) vs. No. 11 Clairton (9-9)

No. 7 Greensburg C.C (15-6) vs. No. 10 Geibel Catholic (11-11)

No. 8 Bishop Canevin (14-7) vs. No. 9 Leechburg (12-9)

Rebel: I have to give lots of deserved love to Section 1 with four strong representatives, including the two finalists from a year ago. No Joe Salvino, no problem for Monessen as Dan Bosnic leads the Greyhounds to another section crown. Good teams up and down should make for some good first-round and quarterfinals games leading up to a competitive Final Four.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 Vincentian Academy (14-7) – Bye

No. 2 Cornell (18-4) – Bye

No. 3 Nazareth Prep (15-3) – Bye

No. 4 Monessen (14-8) – Bye

No. 5 Union (16-5) vs. No. 12 Clairton (9-9)

No. 6 St. Joseph (17-5) vs. No. 11 West Greene (7-13)

No. 7 Greensburg C.C. (15-6) vs. No. 10 Geibel Catholic (11-11)

No. 8 Bishop Canevin (14-7) vs. No. 9 Leechburg (12-9)

Harlan: A year ago, three of the four semifinalists came from Section 1. With teams seeded one, two, three and five, it’s possible Section 1 could claim all four semifinal spots this time — unless Monessen, St. Joseph or someone else makes a run. Vincentian defeated Union in the WPIAL finals last season. The new name in this bracket is Nazareth Prep, which was known as Holy Family Academy before this season. Clairton is probably a little better than the 12 seed, but the Bears end up there to avoid section rematches in the first round.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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