Having enjoyed its best season in more than a decade, the Seton-LaSalle boys basketball team had dreams of winning a WPIAL title.
Now that those hopes have disappeared, the Rebels have adjusted their focus to achieving other goals.
Seton-LaSalle, which won its first section title since 2000 this season, lost a heartbreaker to Quaker Valley, 62-61, in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals last Saturday.
Luckily for Seton-LaSalle (21-3), its season may not be over yet. The top seven teams in Class AA qualify for the PIAA playoffs, meaning only one quarterfinalist will not advance. If Quaker Valley beat Burrell in last night's semifinals, or if Burrell wins the WPIAL championship, then Seton-LaSalle will advance to the PIAA tournament for the first time since 2003.
Seton-LaSalle was the No. 3 seed in the WPIAL playoffs, but the Rebels just couldn't shake No. 6 Quaker Valley. Seton-LaSalle led by three points after the first quarter and by as many as eight in the second quarter, but Quaker Valley finished the half strong to take a 30-28 lead. The Rebels outscored the Quakers, 14-12, in the third quarter to forge a 42-42 tie.
Quaker Valley surged ahead, 62-58, before Dale Clancy's 3-pointer brought Seton-LaSalle within a point with a minute left. Quaker Valley then missed pair of free throws, leaving Seton-LaSalle an opportunity to grab the win. The Rebels misfired on a shot in the closing seconds, however, allowing the Quakers to close out the upset.
Ryan Norkus led Seton-LaSalle with 18 points, Eric Marasco had 14 and Clancy added 13.
Earlier in the week, Seton-LaSalle won its playoff opener against Mohawk, 62-39, marking the first time the Rebels advanced past the first round since 2002-03. Levi Masua (16 points), Clancy (14) and Dom DelGreco (11) scored in double figures for the Rebels.
This has been a breakout season for Seton-LaSalle, which won the Section 4 title and finished section play undefeated for the first time since 1989. The Rebels have won more games this season since they had 22 in 1999-2000.
Regardless of how much longer this season extends, Seton-LaSalle has to be considered a WPIAL title contender next season. Most of the regulars will return, including Clancy, Masua, DelGreco and Malik White, who are all juniors. Norkus is a sophomore.
South girls dominate
For the second season in a row, South Xtra area girls teams dominated the WPIAL semifinal landscape. After placing nine teams in the semifinals last year, the South produced eight this year. That accounted for half of the teams advancing to the Final Four among the four classes.
This season's semifinalists were Mt. Lebanon, Bethel Park and Chartiers Valley in Class AAAA; South Park and Elizabeth Forward in Class AAA; Seton-LaSalle and Bishop Canevin in Class AA; and Serra Catholic in Class A.
South girls teams went 8-3 in quarterfinal games. The only teams defeated were Upper St. Clair, Belle Vernon and McGuffey.
End comes for Monessen
A third consecutive trip to the WPIAL finals wasn't in the cards for the Monessen boys. The Greyhounds lost to No. 2 seed Vincentian, 81-42, in the Class A quarterfinals. The Greyhounds, who moved down to Class A this season, were Class AA champions in 2011 and runner-up last season.
It was a trying season for Monessen (10-14), which rallied from an 0-7 start to reach the playoffs for the 29th year in a row under coach Joe Salvino. Chavas Rawlins, expected to be the team's top returning player, did not play because he graduated early and chose to enroll early at West Virginia, where he will play football. Elijah Minnie, a talented 6-foot-8 junior who played at Monessen as a freshman, decided to attend Lincoln Park, a charter school in Midland.
Monessen's starters were juniors, so the Greyhounds could return to their winning ways next season.
On the up and up
The Bishop Canevin boys saw their season come to an end with a loss to Beaver Falls in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, but the Crusaders can hold their heads high after making a steady improvement from the previous season.
Bishop Canevin went 11-13 and finished in third place in Section 4, this after going 6-16 and finishing next-to-last in Section 3 a season earlier. Senior forward/center Jake Seligman led the Crusaders in scoring with 15.6 points per game in the regular season. The Crusaders will have to replace the bulk of its scoring punch next season, as most of the key contributors this season were seniors.