WPIAL Class 4A girls basketball preseason breakdown

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Monday, December 2, 2019 | 6:17 PM


WPIAL girls basketball season will tip off next weekend.

Preparing to defend their district championship from a year ago are Peters Township (6A), Chartiers Valley (5A), North Catholic (4A), Neshannock (3A), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (2A) and Rochester (A).

North Catholic is looking for a fourth straight district crown while Chartiers Valley hopes to win a third WPIAL title in the last four years.

Also last year, Peters Township and Chartiers Valley capped off perfect seasons with PIAA championships.

Here is a rundown of players to watch, team rankings and other notable facts for Class 4A girls basketball. Check out a breakdown of each class this week on the TribLive High School Sports Network. Click here for the Class 6A preview and 5A preview.

WPIAL Class 4A girls basketball

Preseason Player of the Year

Kylee Lewandowski

North Catholic

6-1, senior, guard

16.7 ppg in 2018-19

Players to watch

Mackenzie Amalia

Blackhawk

5-5, Sr., G, 19.6 ppg

Jhayla Bray

McKeesport

5-7, Sr., F, 14.8 ppg

Christiane Frye

Central Valley

5-7, Sr., G, 14.2 ppg

Tess Myers

North Catholic

5-10, Sr., G, 16.0 ppg

Sidney Shemanski

Freeport

5-10, Sr., G, 14.8 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. North Catholic (26-4)

After capturing the past three WPIAL Class 4A championships, the Trojanettes again find themselves as a favorite to hoist district gold. Seniors Kylee Lewandowski (16.7 ppg), a Richmond recruit, and Tess Myers (16.0 ppg), a Duquesne recruit, have been all-state selections the past two seasons and return to lead North Catholic, which won Section 1 at 14-0 last season before beating Central Valley in the WPIAL final and falling to Bethlehem Catholic in the PIAA championship game.

2. Central Valley (23-3)

Central Valley put together an impressive run last season, going 20-1 in the regular season before falling to North Catholic in the WPIAL title game. Led by senior all-section guard Christiane Frye (14.2 ppg), a Seton Hill recruit, the Warriors again have high expectations. Senior 6-1 guard/forward Allyson Kirby, a Clarion commit, also returns for the Warriors, though all-section forward Kaelyn Underwood (14.4 ppg) graduated.

3. Blackhawk (20-6)

Although her backcourt running mate Mady Aulbach graduated and moved on to Youngstown State, Blackhawk’s Mackenzie Amalia (19.2 ppg) is primed for another promising season for the Cougars. Amalia, a senior guard and Robert Morris commit, was a first-team all-state selection last season, when she helped Blackhawk reach the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA second round. Junior forward Alivia Thompson also is expected to make an impact.

4. Freeport (18-5)

The Yellowjackets have high expectations after finishing second in Section 1 last season behind North Catholic. Four starters return, including senior all-section guard/forward Sidney Shemanski, who averaged 14.6 points, 9 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season. Guards Harley Holloway and twins Madeline and Samantha Clark also return.

5. McKeesport (13-10)

The Tigers tied for third in Section 3 last season but earned a spot in the PIAA playoffs with a postseason win over Greensburg Salem. McKeesport graduated just two players from a young roster and returns senior all-section forward Jhayla Bray (14.8 ppg).

Notable

• Sophomore forward Bailey Kuhns averaged 10.7 points and 7.4 rebounds for Southmoreland (18-6), which reached the WPIAL quarterfinals. The Scotties graduated Maggie Moore (Navy), but return four starters.

• Defending Section 3 champion Elizabeth Forward (17-9) reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA playoffs but will miss graduate Bri Spirnak (19.6 ppg).

• Promising sophomore guards Corrine Washington and Bailey Garbee return to lead Quaker Valley (13-11), which finished fourth in Section 2 a year ago.

• Greensburg Salem (12-11) has to replace all-state guard Megan Kallock, who graduated after averaging 24.9 points, but the Golden Lions return three starters from a playoff team, including sophomore guard Abby Mankins (10 ppg).

• Belle Vernon (14-9) finished third in Section 3 last season behind graduated Lindsay Steeber. Now, the Leopards will lean on senior captains Vienna Bertram and Rachel Wobrak.

• Eve Fiala, a 6-4 freshman forward at Indiana (8-14), enters the season with an offer from Ohio State.

• Mike Monstrola takes over as coach for Apollo-Ridge (15-8), which reached the postseason last year while playing up a classification. He replaces Jim Callipare, who was 73-65 in six seasons.

Alignment

Section 1: Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Freeport, Greensburg Salem, Highlands, Indiana, Knoch, North Catholic

Section 2: Ambridge, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell, Keystone Oaks, New Castle, Quaker Valley

Section 3: Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, McKeesport, Mt. Pleasant, Ringgold, Southmoreland, West Mifflin, Yough

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the┬áTribune-Review. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.

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