The Dribbler: These picks are from the heart

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His eyes blurry and head aching from an intense two-day stretch of prognosticating, The Dribbler faced a serious dilemma last night.

What should he do today: Celebrate the beginning of the WPIAL basketball playoffs by taking in a game or take Mrs. Dribbler out on a belated Valentine's Day date?

"Celebrating two holidays on one day is for the birds," The Dribbler mumbled to himself.

Ironically, The Dribbler was trying to choose between two birds -- Watching the South Park Eagles play Steel Valley or eating chicken parmigiana at his favorite Italian restaurant, Pasta Too in Bethel Park.

Well, The Dribbler has decided to do both. You could say he, umm, killed two birds with one stone.

After wining and dining his lady, The Dribbler plans on doing something unprecedented in his long, illustrious career -- he's going to take her to a game.

And when Mrs. Dribbler opened her Valentine's Day card, guess what was inside? Tickets to the WPIAL championships, of course.

The Dribbler loves the playoffs. He believes it's the best time of the year. When The Dribbler gazed into his crystal ball, here's who he saw hoisting championship trophies at Duquesne University's Palumbo Center two weeks from now.

Boys -- New Castle, Montour, Beaver Falls and Lincoln Park.

Girls -- Mt. Lebanon, Hopewell, Seton-LaSalle and Vincentian.

The Dribbler finished the regular season with a record of 66-35 (.653). Here's his take on the opening games of the WPIAL playoffs.

Top boys games

Central Catholic vs. Seneca Valley, 3 p.m. Saturday, at North Hills -- Central Catholic didn't wait until Lent to give something up. The Vikings gave up losing a month ago. The Vikings won their final eight regular-season games to win the Class AAAA Section 2 title. Seneca Valley is talented and battle-tested enough to pull an upset, but ... Winner: Central Catholic.

Bethel Park vs. McKeesport, 3 p.m. Saturday, at Baldwin -- It's déjà vu time for these two. Five days after meeting in a non-section game with minimal meaning, they lock horns again. There's obviously quite a bit more at stake this time around. McKeesport won at Bethel Park, 58-51, on Monday. After a 14-1 start, Bethel Park has lost four of seven. Winner: Bethel Park.

Hempfield vs. Fox Chapel, Wednesday, site and time to be determined -- The Dribbler thinks Hempfield guard Kason Harrell is an excellent player, maybe even the best sophomore in the WPIAL. But Fox Chapel doesn't have just one standout guard -- the Foxes have two. Matt D'Amico and Brian Papich will be too much for Hempfield to handle. Winner: Fox Chapel.

Other top boys games

Deer Lakes over Shady Side Academy (Noon, Saturday, at North Hills); South Fayette over West Mifflin (Tuesday, site and time to be determined); Blackhawk over Uniontown (Tuesday, site and time to be determined); Wilkinsburg over Carmichaels (Tuesday, site and time to be determined).

Top girls games

Hempfield vs. Upper St. Clair, 6:30, today, at North Allegheny -- You can bet Hempfield has been waiting for another shot at Upper St. Clair, which ended the Spartans season in last year's quarterfinals on a last-second basket by Jordan Serio. Since Jan. 12, Hempfield is 9-1, while Upper St. Clair is 3-8. Winner: Hempfield.

Fox Chapel vs. Butler, Tuesday, site and time to be determined -- What a turnaround it's been for both teams. Fox Chapel (3-19 last season) is the Class AAAA Section 2 co-champion. Butler (7-15 last season) placed second in Section 3. Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias is one of the WPIAL's top post players. The Foxes have won seven of their past eight games. Winner: Fox Chapel.

Greensburg Salem vs. Belle Vernon, Wednesday, site and time to be determined -- It's been a sister act at Greensburg Salem, with guards Jayne (17.2) and Claire Oberdorf (16.4) pouring in more than 33 points per game. But Belle Vernon has a taller set of sisters in forwards Jessica and Kaitlyn Slagus. Jessica Slagus averages 19.8 points per game. Winner: Belle Vernon.

Other top girls games

Steel Valley over Avonworth (6:30, today, at Peters Township); Gateway over Oakland Catholic (Tuesday, site and time to be determined); Elizabeth Forward over Mars (Wednesday, site and time to be determined); Monessen over Rochester (Wednesday, site and time to be determined).

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