WPIAL bracketology: HSSN’s Chris Harlan, Don Rebel forecast girls basketball playoff seeds

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Sunday, February 21, 2021 | 10:28 PM


The WPIAL basketball regular season is entering its final days, but there’s no need for playoff scenarios this winter.

There are no win-and-you’re-in games this week. No anxious moments for players and coaches on the bubble, knowing their postseason fate rests in hands of others.

This year, there’s no bubble.

The WPIAL will hold an open tournament in all six classifications this season with all teams choosing to take part. The deadline to join was Thursday, and the vast majority of schools decided to participate.

The big question now: Where will teams be seeded?

The WPIAL basketball committee will meet Tuesday to pair the tournament. Those brackets will be announced at 7 p.m. that night on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

The WPIAL chose an open tournament because covid-related cancellations made it nearly impossible to identify playoff qualifiers from unbalanced standings.

Here’s an early look at what the girls brackets could look like, according to TribLive HSSN’s Don Rebel and Chris Harlan. The teams that opted out are not included.

There’s a full slate of games Monday night, some that have seeding implications, so this list will see some updates again before Tuesday.

Class 6A (15 teams)

Don Rebel’s bracket

First round

No. 8 Peters Township vs. No. 9 Pine-Richland

No. 4 Mt. Lebanon vs. No. 13 Shaler

No. 5 Norwin vs. No. 12 Canon-McMillan

No. 2 Upper St. Clair vs. No. 15 North Hills

No. 7 Penn-Trafford vs. No. 10 Baldwin

No. 3 Bethel Park vs. No. 14 Seneca Valley

No. 6 Butler vs. No. 11 Hempfield

Don’s take: Some good teams near the top, but North Allegheny is the heavy favorite to repeat despite 30-game win streak ending in loss to Trinity. Trying to figure out seeds 3 through 6 is tough. Man, it would have helped if Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon played each other. BP gets the edge with losses to No. 2 USC (twice) and 5A No. 1 Trinity. Norwin played North Allegheny tough on Monday, but we keep the Knights at No. 5. Butler beats Penn-Trafford on Monday and those two flip-flop at No. 6 and No. 7.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

First round

No. 1 North Allegheny – bye

No. 8 Peters Township vs. No. 9 Shaler

No. 4 Mt. Lebanon vs. No. 13 Seneca Valley

No. 5 Norwin vs. No. 12 Hempfield

No. 2 Upper St. Clair vs. No. 15 North Hills

No. 7 Penn-Trafford vs. No. 10 Pine-Richland

No. 3 Bethel Park vs. No. 14 Canon-McMillan

No. 6 Butler vs. No. 11 Baldwin

Chris’ take: Mt. Lebanon didn’t play Upper St. Clair or Bethel Park in the regular season because of their schools’ conflicting mask policies. However, to participate in the WPIAL playoffs, teams must agree to play opponents with varying mask policies. Norwin could improve its seed with a win Monday against North Allegheny. The Knights lost the first matchup by 16 points. No Class 6A teams opted out of the playoffs.

Class 5A (26 teams)

Don Rebel’s bracket

Preliminary round

No. 1 Trinity – bye

No. 16 Moon vs. No. 17 Indiana

No. 8 Fox Chapel vs. No. 25 Ringgold

No. 9 Penn Hills vs. No. 24 Kiski Area

No. 4 Woodland Hills – bye

No. 13 Armstrong vs. No. 20 Connellsville

No. 5 Latrobe – bye

No. 12 Albert Gallatin vs. No. 21 Greensburg Salem

No. 2 Chartiers Valley – bye

No. 15 Mars vs. No. 18 Lincoln Park

No. 7 McKeesport vs. No. 26 Uniontown

No. 10 Oakland Catholic vs. No. 23 Franklin Regional

No. 3 Hampton – bye

No. 14 Plum vs. No. 19 Gateway

No. 6 Thomas Jefferson – bye

No. 11 South Fayette vs. No. 22 Laurel Highlands

Don’s take: By far, the toughest bracket to put together. You could make a good argument for ten teams to be slotted in at No. 3. This team beat that team twice, but lost to this team and that team. That is the common theme between seeds 3 and 12. I gave an edge to Hampton, Woodland Hills and Latrobe as leaders or co-leaders of their section. Thomas Jefferson was next because of their tough out of section schedule. When you decide to play quality 6A teams on your schedule instead of opponents from smaller classifications, to me, that’s an advantage when all things else are equal.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

Preliminary round

No. 1 Trinity – bye

No. 16 Mars vs. No. 17 Connellsville

No. 8 Fox Chapel vs. No. 25 Uniontown

No. 9 South Fayette vs. No. 24 Laurel Highlands

No. 4 Hampton – bye

No. 13 Albert Gallatin vs. No. 20 Lincoln Park

No. 5 Latrobe – bye

No. 12 Armstrong vs. No. 21 Greensburg Salem

No. 2 Chartiers Valley – bye

No. 15 Moon vs. No. 18 Indiana

No. 7 McKeesport vs. No. 26 Kiski Area

No. 10 Penn Hills vs. No. 23 Ringgold

No. 3 Woodland Hills – bye

No. 14 Plum vs. No. 19 Gateway

No. 6 Thomas Jefferson – bye

No. 11 Oakland Catholic vs. No. 22 Franklin Regional

Chris’ take: The WPIAL basketball committee will spend a lot of time here. This was the hardest bracket to seed, boys or girls. Trinity solidified its spot as the No. 1 seed with nonsection wins over Chartiers Valley and North Allegheny. Chartiers Valley is a lock for the No. 2 seed. But then it gets confusing. In Section 2, for example, Hampton (13-4) leads, but the Talbots lost twice to Fox Chapel (9-7), which lost twice to Armstrong (9-4), which lost its only meeting so far with Hampton. Woodland Hills (10-4), Latrobe (10-2) and McKeesport (14-3) are mapping out a similar scenario in Section 4. And then Oakland Catholic (9-9) added another wrinkle by upsetting Chartiers Valley last week. West Allegheny opted out of the playoffs.

Class 4A (19 teams)

Don Rebel’s bracket

Preliminary round

No. 1 Beaver – bye

No. 16 New Castle vs. No. 17 Highlands

No. 8 Montour – bye

No. 9 Deer Lakes – bye

No. 4 Knoch – bye

No. 13 Central Valley – bye

No. 5 Blackhawk – bye

No. 12 Mt. Pleasant – bye

No. 2 Southmoreland – bye

No. 15 Burrell vs. No. 18 Ambridge

No. 7 West Mifflin – bye

No. 10 Belle Vernon – bye

No. 3 Quaker Valley – bye

No. 14 Hopewell vs. No. 19 Yough

No. 6 Freeport – bye

No. 11 Elizabeth Forward – bye

Don’s take: With North Catholic moving down to 3A after four straight 4A championships, this field became wide open after realignment. However after settling for silver in 3A a year ago, Beaver has moved up and looks like the clear choice for the team to beat. A lot of new faces are looking to add that elusive pot of gold from girls 4A. Last year’s runner-up, Southmoreland, gets the nod at No. 2 while Quaker Valley has earned a spot on the opposite side with two tough losses to Beaver. A West Mifflin win over Southmoreland gives the Titans the No. 7 seed, beating out Montour and Deer Lakes.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

Preliminary round

No. 1 Beaver – bye

No. 16 Mt. Pleasant vs. No. 17 Burrell

No. 8 Belle Vernon – bye

No. 9 Deer Lakes – bye

No. 4 Knoch – bye

No. 13 Hopewell – bye

No. 5 Blackhawk – bye

No. 12 Central Valley – bye

No. 2 Quaker Valley – bye

No. 15 Highlands vs. No. 18 Ambridge

No. 7 West Mifflin – bye

No. 10 Montour – bye

No. 3 Southmoreland – bye

No. 14 New Castle vs. No. 19 Yough

No. 6 Freeport – bye

No. 11 Elizabeth Forward – bye

Chris’ take: Beaver (14-0) finished first and Quaker Valley (11-4) second in Section 2, but they might be the two best teams in WPIAL Class 4A this season. Would the WPIAL basketball committee give the No. 2 seed to the second-place Quakers? Or does that belong to Section 3 champion Southmoreland (13-3), the WPIAL runner-up a season ago? QV lost twice to Beaver, but by nine points combined. Knoch faced a temporary late-season shutdown but is still in position for the fourth seed. Derry, Ligonier Valley and Valley opted out.

Class 3A (18 teams)

Don Rebel’s bracket

Preliminary round

No. 16 Steel Valley vs. No. 17 Brownsville

No. 15 McGuffey vs. No. 18 South Allegheny

First round

No. 1 North Catholic vs. Steel Valley/Brownsville winner

No. 8 Waynesburg vs. No. 9 East Allegheny

No. 4 South Park vs. No. 13 Ellwood City

No. 5 Laurel vs. No. 12 Washington

No. 2 Brentwood vs. McGuffey/South Allegheny winner

No. 7 Avonworth vs. No. 10 Freedom

No. 3 Mohawk vs. No. 14 Charleroi

No. 6 Keystone Oaks vs. No. 11 Beaver Falls

Don’s take: After four straight 4A titles, North Catholic has been No. 1 in 3A since realignment. The list is not long of possible Trojans slayers, thus making the possibilities of dark horses or Cinderella’s a long shot in this particular open tournament. Two of the biggest threats for North Catholic might be section foes Mohawk and Laurel. Brentwood gets the two with a perfect regular season … thus far. Keystone Oaks is rising up the ladder to No. 6 with five wins in their last six games.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

Preliminary round

No. 16 Beaver Falls vs. No. 17 South Allegheny

No. 15 Steel Valley vs. No. 18 Brownsville

First round

No. 1 North Catholic vs. Beaver Falls/South Allegheny winner

No. 8 Avonworth vs. No. 9 Freedom

No. 4 South Park vs. No. 13 Ellwood City

No. 5 Laurel vs. No. 12 Washington

No. 2 Mohawk vs. Steel Valley/Brownsville winner

No. 7 Keystone Oaks vs. No. 10 McGuffey

No. 3 Brentwood vs. No. 14 Charleroi

No. 6 Waynesburg vs. No. 11 East Allegheny

Chris’ take: North Catholic (14-2) won four consecutive WPIAL Class 4A titles before dropping this season to 3A. The Trojanettes share a section with Mohawk (13-3) and Laurel (15-2) and have one regular-season game left against each. Brentwood (12-0) is undefeated and alone atop Section 3. South Park (9-2) hosts Waynesburg (12-4) on Wednesday. Bentworth, Shady Side Academy and Riverside opted out.

Class 2A (21 teams)

Don Rebel’s bracket

Preliminary round

No. 1 Serra Catholic – bye

No. 16 Aliquippa vs. No. 17 Springdale

No. 8 California – bye

No. 9 Fort Cherry – bye

No. 4 Winchester Thurston – bye

No. 13 Chartiers-Houston vs. No. 20 Jeannette

No. 5 Burgettstown – bye

No. 12 Seton LaSalle vs. No. 21 Northgate

No. 2 Neshannock – bye

No. 15 Sto-Rox vs. No. 18 South Side

No. 7 Shenango – bye

No. 10 Apollo-Ridge – bye

No. 3 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart – bye

No. 14 Carlynton vs. No. 19 Frazier

No. 6 Sewickley Academy – bye

No. 11 Greensburg Central Catholic – bye

Don’s take: This might be the most wide open girls basketball field. There are some very good teams, but none of the top teams are dominant. Section 1 is the deepest and best overall section in the class with the possibility of OLSH, Neshannock and Sewickley Academy all finishing with two section losses. Therefore we use a little creative bracketing here with the possibility of those three and fellow section foe Shenango facing each other in the quarterfinals in the bottom half of the bracket. Winchester Thurston has yet to lose to a 2A opponent, although they only faced seven of them.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

Preliminary round

No. 1 Serra Catholic – bye

No. 16 South Side vs. No. 17 Carlynton

No. 8 California – bye

No. 9 Fort Cherry – bye

No. 4 Burgettstown – bye

No. 13 Chartiers-Houston vs. No. 20 Jeannette

No. 5 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart – bye

No. 12 Apollo-Ridge vs. No. 21 Northgate

No. 2 Winchester Thurston – bye

No. 15 Aliquippa vs. No. 18 Springdale

No. 7 Shenango – bye

No. 10 Greensburg Central Catholic – bye

No. 3 Neshannock – bye

No. 14 Sto-Rox vs. No. 19 Frazier

No. 6 Sewickley Academy – bye

No. 11 Seton LaSalle – bye

Chris’ take: Serra Catholic, Winchester Thurston and Burgettstown are all undefeated in their sections. Neshannock has two losses, but Section 1 likely was the deepest of the four Class 2A sections. Neshannock (13-2), OLSH (11-4), Sewickley Academy (10-5) and Shenango (14-6) all have double-digit win totals. Beth-Center, Carmichaels and New Brighton opted out.

Class A (13 teams)

Don Rebel’s bracket

First round

No. 1 Rochester – bye

No. 8 St. Joseph vs. No. 9 Avella

No. 4 Aquinas Academy vs. No. 13 Jefferson-Morgan

No. 5 Clairton vs. No. 12 Mapletown

No. 2 West Greene – bye

No. 7 Monessen vs. No. 10 Union

No. 3 Eden Christian – bye

No. 6 Bishop Canevin vs. No. 11 Riverview

Don’s take: Kudos to two-time defending Class A champion Rochester for loading up and playing anybody and everybody outside of its section, including defending champions Bishop Canevin (in section), Mohawk and Chartiers Valley. West Greene is hoping not to be the WPIAL runner-up for a fifth straight year. Eden gets the nod over Aquinas after beating them earlier this season. Clairton finishing strong on a third straight double-digit win season edges out defending 2A champ Bishop Canevin and Monessen for No. 5 seed.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

First round

No. 1 Rochester – bye

No. 8 Monessen vs. No. 9 Riverview

No. 4 Aquinas Academy vs. No. 13 Jefferson-Morgan

No. 5 Bishop Canevin vs. No. 12 Mapletown

No. 2 West Greene – bye

No. 7 Avella vs. No. 10 St. Joseph

No. 3 Eden Christian – bye

No. 6 Clairton vs. No. 11 Union

Chris’ take: This is the smallest WPIAL bracket with only 13 teams after Cornell, Geibel Catholic, Leechburg and Propel Andrew Street opted out. Rochester, West Greene and Aquinas Academy are all undefeated in their sections. Rochester and West Greene, familiar foes in the WPIAL finals, are Nos. 1 and 2 again in this year’s bracket.

More High School Basketball

Mars scores 24 consecutive points in WPIAL 5A quarterfinal win over Trinity
Mt. Lebanon edges Bethel Park in Class 6A battle
Big 2nd half allows Norwin girls to pull away from Butler
Greensburg Central Catholic boys advance to WPIAL semifinals
High school roundup for March 6, 2021: Laurel Highlands, Chartiers Valley move on in 5A bracket

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