High School Basketball: Boys' Brackets Breakdown

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Class AAAA

The seeds: New Castle first, North Allegheny second, Hampton third and Upper St. Clair fourth.

Leading scorers: Matt D'Amico, Fox Chapel, 22.7; Ryan Luther, Hampton, 21.3; Shawn Anderson, New Castle, 20.0; David Urso, Central Catholic, 19.1; Malik Hooker, New Castle, 17.5; Brett Haney, Canon-McMillan, 17.1; Jordan Grabowski, Upper St. Clair, 17.1.

The winner will be: New Castle. The Red Hurricanes don't have much size, but have just about everything else from good shooters and quickness to tremendous defenders. A key will be how well opponents handle New Castle's defensive pressure. Is New Castle unbeatable? Well, Hampton lost to the Red Hurricanes Friday, 54-50. No other WPIAL team has come within 16 of New Castle.

Sleeper: Hempfield. The Spartans hail from Section 1, which usually doesn't fare well come playoff time. But the Spartans, led by sophomore Kason Harrell, are better than some other Section 1 teams in past years. Kiski Area tied Hempfield for the Section 1 title and also could open a few eyes.

The scoop: Three Section 3 teams got the top three seeds -- New Castle, North Allegheny and Hampton. Upper St. Clair takes a 16-game winning streak into the postseason and if the Panthers are hitting outside shots, they will be a tough out. ... Hampton might be playing as well as anyone right now, beating North Allegheny and Seneca Valley in recent weeks and only losing to New Castle by four. ... Don't forget about Gateway. The Gators are the two-time defending WPIAL champions and finished only a game behind Central Catholic in the race for the Section 4 title. ... Central Catholic also is playing well and could have a chip on its shoulder after getting the No. 5 seed. ... Best first-round game is Central Catholic vs. Seneca Valley.

Class AAA

The seeds: Chartiers Valley first, Mars second, Montour third and Beaver fourth.

Leading scorers: JaQuan Davidson, Elizabeth Forward, 22.2; Aaron Barlow, Beaver, 21.3; Jordan Pratt, Uniontown, 18.8; Ajan Smith, Steel Valley, 18.6; Michael Boulos, Chartiers Valley, 18.6; Lance Maha, West Mifflin, 18.0.

The winner will be: Montour. The Spartans are on a roll, winning 10 in a row. Included in the streak are victories against Chartiers Valley and Thomas Jefferson. Senior point guard Devin Wilson, his calmness in big games and the way he controls tempo, gives Montour an advantage.

Sleeper: Thomas Jefferson. The Jaguars might not be good enough to win a title, but certainly could make some noise.

The scoop: Many wonder exactly how good is Mars? The Planets won only their second section title in school history (first outright). But they have good shooters and 6-foot-8 senior Josh Goetz is a strong inside presence most teams don't have. ... Don't forget about Chartiers Valley. The Colts' defensive pressure and ability to go on scoring runs make them a title contender. ... Beaver and Central Valley tied for the Section 2 title and neither can be overlooked. Central Valley had a few big wins in the past two weeks.

Class AA

The seeds: Beaver Falls first, Greensburg Central Catholic second, Seton-LaSalle third and Jeannette fourth.

Leading scorers: Tanner Huffman, California, 23.4; Tim Jaczesko, Deer Lakes, 22.7; Josh Wise, Washington, 22.2; Brian Graytock, Greensburg Central Catholic, 21.5; Ernie Burkes, Neshannock, 20.8; Zach Herman, Greensburg Central Catholic, 20.7; Duke Brown, Jeannette, 19.3; Jason Pilarski, Brentwood, 19.2; Anthony Rocco, West Shamokin, 19.1; Brian Fisher, California, 18.0.

The winner will be: Seton-LaSalle. It's hard to pick a winner in this classification because there isn't an overwhelming favorite. But Seton-LaSalle has some size with 6-5 Levi Masua and 6-4 Malik White, as well as a talented guard in Dale Clancy.

Sleeper: Jeannette. The Jayhawks are a playoff-tested team and have only three WPIAL losses -- two to Greensburg Central Catholic and one to South Fayette.

The scoop: This classification features two outstanding backcourt combinations. For Beaver Falls, it's Elijah Cottrill and Drew Cook. For Greensburg Central Catholic, it's Graytock and Herman. Those combos could lead a team to a WPIAL title. ... Can Deer Lakes or Burrell make an impact in the postseason? They tied for the Section 1 title, but competition in that section was suspect. ... Keep an eye on Sto-Rox and Quaker Valley. They both have had better teams in recent years, but always seem to do well in the postseason.

Class A

The seeds: Lincoln Park first, Vincentian second, North Catholic third and Union fourth.

Leading scorers: John Arcuri, St. Joseph, 25.3; Maverick Rowan, Lincoln Park, 23.6; Nick Miller, Western Beaver, 23.5; John Wallace, Trinity Christian, 22.6; Dereck Riggleman, Mapletown, 22.4; Brandon Lawless, Carmichaels, 21.3; Danny Savulchak, North Catholic, 20.9; Ryan Wolf, Vincentian, 20.7; Elijah Minnie, Lincoln Park, 20.3; Jay Fyda, Quigley, 19.4; Nate Lieb, Quigley, 19.1; Markell Peace, Union, 18.6; Bryan Clifford, Clairton, 18.4.

The winner will be: Lincoln Park. The Leopards already were good, but when 6-8 Minnie became eligible in January, they became the team to beat in Class A. Lincoln Park also has one of the best shooters in the WPIAL in Rowan.

Sleeper: Clairton. The Bears might not be good enough to win a WPIAL title, but with so many football players on this team, you know Clairton has athletes who are used to winning playoff games.

The scoop: Many are anticipating a Lincoln Park-Vincentian final. Vincentian isn't big, but plays at a fast pace offensively and traps on defense all over the court. Vincentian averages 82 points a game, tops in the WPIAL. ... St. Joseph's Arcuri was the second-leading scorer in the WPIAL. ... Don't discount North Catholic. A tough non-section schedule may pay off in the postseason.

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