The last time Elizabeth Forward played for a WPIAL championship (1990), Buster Douglas had just weeks earlier rocked the sports world by knocking out what had seemed to be an invincible Mike Tyson.
On Wednesday, Elizabeth Forward knocked what had appeared to be an unbeatable Blackhawk team out of the WPIAL playoffs.
The Warriors will now try to do something Douglas never did.
Follow up one big win with another.
Heavy underdogs again, No. 5 Elizabeth Forward (23-2) will look to win its second WPIAL title in school history and first since 1975 when the Warriors face No. 3 South Park (22-2) in the Class AAA championship at 3 p.m. Saturday at Palumbo Center, the site of all eight WPIAL title games.
Elizabeth Forward stunned No. 1 seed and previously unbeaten Blackhawk, 78-64, in the semifinals. Blackhawk had won all but three of its games by double digits, but Elizabeth Forward took control of the game early and never let go.
The 78 points were the most the Warriors had scored all season.
"We put so much hard work and effort into this," said Elizabeth Forward junior Natalie Fekula, who scored 18 points. "It's an amazing feeling. It's unexpected of us to get to the championship as the No. 5 seed. We wanted it bad."
Elizabeth Forward and South Park are no strangers to one another, having played in the same section the previous two seasons. South Park won all four meetings and also defeated Elizabeth Forward, 60-35, in a non-section game to close the regular season on Feb. 11.
South Park avenged a regular-season defeat and a loss in last year's championship game by defeating No. 2 Hopewell, 75-55, in the semifinals. The Eagles other loss this season was to Pflugerville, Texas, in a tournament in Florida. Pflugerville is ranked No. 12 in the country by USA Today.
Senior Shelby Lindsay, junior Halie Torris and freshman Allison McGrath all average more than 14 points a game and combined to score 65 against Hopewell.
"To me, all of them should be all-state, let alone just All-WPIAL. They have that kind of talent," South Park coach Reggie Wells said.
South Park's last WPIAL title came in 2008, when the Eagles won the Class AA championship.
When Chartiers Valley upset defending champion and perennial power Mt. Lebanon in the semifinals, the path was paved for a new champion to be crowned.
Chartiers Valley (19-6) and Bethel Park (22-3), which like Mt. Lebanon hail from Section 4, will square off at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Both teams are looking to win their first championship. No. 5 Chartiers Valley is in the final for the first time, while No. 3 Bethel Park is playing in its second title game and first since 2005.
Chartiers Valley lost to two WPIAL teams in the regular season, falling twice to both Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park. So, after avenging the losses to Mt. Lebanon, Chartiers Valley will try to do the same against Bethel Park. The Black Hawks beat the Colts by scores of 37-36 and 46-33.
"Bethel is so good. Bethel is so well coached. Bethel is so battle tested. I can go on and on," Chartiers Valley coach Spencer Stefko said. "They're just such a good fundamental team. There's a reason they're in the WPIAL championship game. A large piece of that is Megan Marecic."
Marecic, a 5-foot-11 junior guard, is averaging 15.3 points per game and has already committed to Duquesne. Chartiers Valley is led by Mariah Wells, who scored 17 points in the semifinals.
Top-seed Seton-LaSalle (24-1) will shoot for its third title in a row when it takes on Section 4 rival and No. 2 seed Bishop Canevin (21-4) at 5 p.m. today.
Seton-LaSalle has had Bishop Canevin's number in recent years, having won the past eight meetings. Seton-LaSalle topped Bishop Canevin, 73-60, in last year's championship game and knocked off the Crusaders in the 2011 semifinals. This season, the Rebels have beaten the Crusaders, 66-35 and 66-58.
"We kind of knew all along it would be the two of us," Bishop Canevin coach Tim Joyce said. "It was my whole thing at the pairings meeting just being on the other side of the bracket as them."
Seton-LaSalle junior guard-forward Naje Gibson scored 19 and 20 points in the two games against Bishop Canevin this season, and scored 17 and grabbed 11 rebounds in last season's final.
Seton-LaSalle has won 66 games in a row against WPIAL teams.
Carly Forse (23) and Duquesne recruit Erin Waskowiak (22) combined to score 45 points in Bishop Canevin's 55-19 semifinal win against Burrell.
Defending champion Vincentian (24-1) has only one loss, but one of its wins was a hotly contested battle against the team it will play at 11 a.m. Saturday, Serra Catholic (23-2).
Vincentian beat Serra in the opening weekend of the season, 67-59.
"They're a great team and our game with them was a great game for the second game of the season," Serra coach Bill Cleary said. "It was six points back and forth. We were up six and then they were up six. So we'll see if we can come back and not have the last hiccup this time."
No. 2 Serra, which is making its first finals appearance since 2006, rallied from a 10-point third-quarter deficit to defeat No. 3 North Catholic, 56-45, in the semifinals.
No. 1 Vincentian has won two of the past three championships. The Royals are led by the WPIAL's fifth-leading scorer, sophomore guard Brenna Wise (23 ppg).
First Published March 1, 2013 5:00 AM