The high school basketball season tipped off locally a week ago.
Today, one writer will glance into a different ball -- this one made of crystal.
Here are some predictions on what will transpire in the WPIAL and City League over the next few months.
First off, let's get to some championship picks. For the boys, look for Hampton, Elizabeth Forward, Seton-LaSalle and Lincoln Park to win WPIAL titles, with Obama claiming the City League title.
On the girls side, the WPIAL winners will be Mt. Lebanon, Blackhawk, Seton-LaSalle and Vincentian, while Westinghouse will take home the City League crown.
On the PIAA level, no WPIAL boys teams will win a championship, however, three girls teams -- Blackhawk, Seton-LaSalle and Vincentian -- will finish on top of the state.
The Post-Gazette's Fabulous Five teams will look like this: (Boys) Hampton's Ryan Luther, New Castle's Malik Hooker, Fox Chapel's Matt D'Amico, and Lincoln Park's Elijah Minnie and Maverick Rowan. (Girls) Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias, Blackhawk's Chassidy Omogrosso, Seton-LaSalle's Yacine Diop, Seton-LaSalle's Naje Gibson and Vincentian's Brenna Wise.
And some random predictions ... Rowan and Omogrosso will lead the WPIAL in scoring. ... The New Castle and Hampton boys will meet for the WPIAL championship for the third season in a row. ... The Blackhawk girls will go undefeated.
Here are a few highlights from opening weekend of the season.
Big scorers. Vincentian's Ryan Wolf and Central Valley's Kiana Law put up the biggest two-game totals. Wolf scored 33 and 38 points in leading the Royals to the Butler tournament championship. Law tallied 40 and 28 points as the Warriors split a pair of games in the Fort Cherry/Montour tournament. Exploding for huge single-game totals were Western Beaver's Nick Miller (43), Mt. Lebanon's Jonny David (42), Hopewell's Nate Bell (39) and Obama's D.J. Porter (37).
Records falling. Hampton's Ryan Luther became his school's all-time leading scorer by scoring 30 points in a 74-34 win against Norwin in the Penn-Trafford tournament. Luther broke the record held by his uncle, Brian Shanahan.
Making statements. The Burrell girls are expected to be a strong contender for the WPIAL Class AA title. If anyone had any doubts about how good the Bucs are, the team put them to rest with an 18-point win against Class AAAA No. 2 Fox Chapel in the Seneca Valley tournament. The Bucs held Fox Chapel star Erin Mathias to five points.
The Seton-LaSalle boys appear to be Beaver Falls' biggest threat in Class AA, and the Rebels flexed their muscles by taking down Class AAAA No. 3 Gateway, 68-66, in the Peters Township tournament. Seton-LaSalle point guard Dale Clancy poured in 31 points.
Late heroics. Maura Wallace's jumper with two seconds left propelled Class AAAA No. 4 Mt. Lebanon to a 60-58 win against No. 1 North Allegheny in the North Allegheny tournament championship. Hempfield's Lexi Irwin drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Spartans a 63-60 victory against Class AAA No. 2 South Park in the Bethel Park tournament. Mount Pleasant's Ryan Gumbita knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to help Mount Pleasant edge Penn-Trafford, 37-36, in the Penn-Trafford tournament.
A 'national schedule'
No WPIAL girls team may have more talent than Seton-LaSalle, which has two players -- Naje Gibson and Yacine Diop -- ranked among the top 100 seniors in the country by ESPN HoopGurlz. Athletic director John Ashalou has the Rebels playing an aggressive non-section schedule against some top talent from around the nation.
The Rebels opened the season against Virginia power Paul VI Catholic in a tournament in Fairfax, Va. Paul VI Catholic, which defeated the Rebels by five points, is ranked No. 6 in the country by USA Today.
Next week, Seton-LaSalle heads to Myrtle Beach, S.C. for a tournament that includes South Carolina's Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, a team led by the nation's top-ranked player, A'ja Wilson.
Section play begins tonight
Many teams will play their first section games today (girls) and Friday (boys). Among the top girls games are North Allegheny at Seneca Valley and Vincentian at St. Joseph.
Some of the best boys games are Norwin at Hempfield, Franklin Regional at Central Catholic, North Hills at Hampton and Steel Valley at Elizabeth Forward.