WPIAL reveals updated section alignments for winter sports including basketball, wrestling

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | 11:48 AM

The big-school classification in WPIAL boys basketball is getting a little bigger this winter, but not big enough for more than two sections.

The addition of Fox Chapel, North Hills, Connellsville, Woodland Hills and Imani Christian gave the WPIAL 16 boys teams in Class 6A, which the basketball committee chose to divide into two eight-team sections. Winter sports teams got their first look at their new sections for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons when the WPIAL board approved updated alignments Tuesday.

In basketball, the WPIAL preferred to make larger sections than smaller ones.

“There was discussion of going to three sections rather than two (in 6A boys),” WPIAL administrator Vince Sortino said. “The reason that we stayed with two was to make the section games more meaningful. If you go to three, you’re talking five or six teams per section. There’s not enough emphasis put on the actual section games (in a 22-game schedule).”

In all, there are a dozen eight-team sections this winter.

Last season, there were none.

“I love it,” Upper St. Clair boys coach Danny Holzer said. “I think it makes for an exciting season to have so many games where the outcomes are extremely important. Fourteen out of 22 games are section games. That’s great.”

His Upper St. Clair boys now share a section with Imani Christian, which voluntarily moved up after winning consecutive state titles in Class A. Three other reigning WPIAL boys champions also are changing sections. Lincoln Park, Deer Lakes and Aliquippa all moved up one classification. Lincoln Park was pushed to Class 5A by the PIAA competitive-balance rule, and enrollment numbers moved up the two others.

In girls basketball, traditional powers Oakland Catholic and North Catholic will share Section 1-4A with Burrell, Derry, Freeport, Highlands, Knoch and Valley.

Section realignment is a process the WPIAL undertakes every two years. Winter sports include basketball, swimming, wrestling, rifle and gymnastics. Fall alignments were released in February. Spring sports are expected in August.

Sortino said the WPIAL put the basketball sections together with competitive balance in mind, as was done previously with fall sports, but that idea ultimately didn’t affect much here. Grouping teams geographically worked overall.

“There wasn’t a lot of talk (of moving teams) because, in each section, there are two or even three strong teams that could win that section,” Sortino said. “Each section is pretty competitive.”

The boys classification with the fewest teams is Class A, which shrunk from 18 to 12. Among the dozen, nine are private or charter schools with the addition of Environmental Charter.

Class 2A boys has the most teams with 32. Class 5A has 29, 4A has 20 and 3A has 25.

There are 12 teams in Class 6A girls, one fewer than last season. Class 5A has 28 teams, 4A has 23, 3A has 22, 2A has 25 and A has 16.

Sortino said WPIAL basketball schedules and postseason details will be released after the PIAA board meets July 17 to finalize state playoff plans. WPIAL schedules for other winter sports will be released earlier.

The WPIAL took a different approach with wrestling realignment, choosing to create more sections for next season with fewer teams in each. Wrestling will have 18 sections evenly divided between Class 3A and 2A.

There were 12 sections last season.

The 18 sections will be combined to form six sectionals — Southern, Northern and Eastern — with three sections in each. The top six wrestlers from each sectional advance to the WPIAL individual tournament.

The WPIAL team tournaments qualify the top two teams from each section and two wild cards chosen by the wrestling committee.

Boys basketball

Class 6A

Section 1: Butler, Fox Chapel, New Castle, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Woodland Hills

Section 2: Canon-McMillan, Central Catholic, Connellsville, Hempfield, Imani Christian, Mt. Lebanon, Norwin, Upper St. Clair

Class 5A

Section 1: Albert Gallatin, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Latrobe, Laurel Highlands, McKeesport, Penn-Trafford, Uniontown

Section 2: Armstrong, Hampton, Indiana, Kiski Area, Penn Hills, Plum, Shaler

Section 3: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Peters Township, Ringgold, South Fayette, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity

Section 4: Blackhawk, Chartiers Valley, Lincoln Park, Mars, Montour, Moon, West Allegheny

Class 4A

Section 1: Burrell, Deer Lakes, Freeport, Highlands, Knoch, North Catholic, Valley

Section 2: Ambridge, Avonworth, Beaver, Central Valley, Hopewell, Quaker Valley

Section 3: Belle Vernon, Derry, East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward, Greensburg Salem, West Mifflin, Yough

Class 3A

Section 1: Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Freedom, Mohawk, New Brighton, Riverside

Section 2: Bishop Canevin, Carlynton, Keystone Oaks, McGuffey, Sto-Rox, Washington

Section 3: Apollo-Ridge, Seton LaSalle, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny, South Park, Steel Valley

Section 4: Brownsville, Charleroi, Ligonier Valley, Mt. Pleasant, Southmoreland, Waynesburg

Class 2A

Section 1: Bentworth, California, Clairton, Frazier, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Riverview, Springdale

Section 2: Brentwood, Eden Christian, Leechburg, Northgate, Propel Braddock Hills, Propel Montour, Sewickley Academy, Winchester Thurston

Section 3: Beth-Center, Burgettstown, Chartiers-Houston, Carmichaels, Fort Cherry, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene

Section 4: Laurel, Neshannock, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Rochester, Shenango, South Side, Union, Western Beaver

Class A

Section 1: Aquinas Academy, Avella, Beaver County Christian, Cornell, Nazareth Prep, Summit Academy

Section 2: Environmental Charter, Geibel, Monessen, Neighborhood Academy, Serra Catholic, St. Joseph

Girls basketball

Class 6A

Section 1: Butler, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Woodland Hills

Section 2: Canon-McMillan, Connellsville, Hempfield, Mt. Lebanon, Norwin, Upper St. Clair

Class 5A

Section 1: Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Penn Hills, Plum, Shaler

Section 2: Latrobe, Greensburg Salem, Indiana, Kiski Area, McKeesport, Penn-Trafford, West Mifflin

Section 3: Chartiers Valley, Mars, Montour, Moon, New Castle, South Fayette, West Allegheny

Section 4: Albert Gallatin, Baldwin, Bethel Park, Peters Township, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity, Uniontown

Class 4A

Section 1: Burrell, Derry, Freeport, North Catholic, Highlands, Knoch, Oakland Catholic, Valley

Section 2: Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hampton, Hopewell, Lincoln Park

Section 3: Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Laurel Highlands, Mt. Pleasant, Ringgold, South Park, Southmoreland, Yough

Class 3A

Section 1: Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Mohawk, New Brighton, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Quaker Valley, Riverside, Sto-Rox

Section 2: Avonworth, Deer Lakes, East Allegheny, Ligonier Valley, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny, Steel Valley

Section 3: Brownsville, Charleroi, Keystone Oaks, McGuffey, Seton LaSalle, Washington, Waynesburg

Class 2A

Section 1: Aliquippa, Freedom, Laurel, Neshannock, Rochester, Shenango

Section 2: Brentwood, Burgettstown, Carlynton, Fort Cherry, Northgate, South Side

Section 3: Bentworth, Beth-Center, California, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston, Frazier, Jefferson-Morgan

Section 4: Apollo-Ridge, Ellis School, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Riverview, Winchester Thurston

Class A

Section 1: Aquinas Academy, Eden Christian, Leechburg, Sewickley Academy, Springdale, St. Joseph, Union, Western Beaver

Section 2: Avella, Bishop Canevin, Clairton, Geibel, Mapletown, Monessen, Serra Catholic, West Greene


Class 3A

Southern Sectional

Section 1: Blackhawk, Montour, Moon, West Allegheny

Section 2: Canon-McMillan, Chartiers Valley, South Fayette, Trinity, Waynesburg

Section 3: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair

Northern Sectional

Section 4: Butler, Mars, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley

Section 5: Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Indiana, Kiski Area

Section 6: Central Catholic, North Hills, Penn Hills, Shaler

Eastern Sectional

Section 7: Belle Vernon, McKeesport, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, West Mifflin

Section 8: Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Latrobe, Hempfield

Section 9: Franklin Regional, Gateway, Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Plum

Class 2A

Southern Sectional

Section 1: Chartiers-Houston, McGuffey, Washington, West Greene

Section 2: Avella, Burgettstown, Hopewell, Lincoln Park, South Side

Section 3: Bentworth, Beth-Center, Brownsville, Frazier, Jefferson-Morgan

Northern Sectional

Section 4: Ellwood City, Knoch, Laurel, North Catholic, Summit Academy

Section 5: Ambridge, Beaver, Central Valley, Freedom

Section 6: Avonworth, Carlynton, Keystone Oaks, Quaker Valley

Eastern Sectional

Section 7: Elizabeth Forward, South Allegheny, South Park, Southmoreland, Yough

Section 8: Derry, Greensburg Salem, Ligonier Valley, Mt. Pleasant

Section 9: Burrell, Highlands, Neighborhood Academy, Riverview, Valley

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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