WPIAL Quarterfinals Preview: Girls Basketball

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GIRLS PREVIEW

CLASS AAAA

Tonight's games: North Allegheny (21-1) vs. Shaler (16-6) at North Hills, 8 p.m.; Bethel Park (17-5) vs. Hempfield (15-8) at Charleroi, 6:15 p.m.; Mt. Lebanon (16-5) vs. Penn-Trafford (17-6) at North Hills, 6:15 p.m.; Fox Chapel (18-4) vs. Norwin (17-5) at North Allegheny, 6:15 p.m.

Leading scorers: Monica Burns, Hempfield, 20.1; Maria Palarino, Penn-Trafford, 17.9; Alayna Gribble, Norwin, 17.6; Erin Mathias, Fox Chapel, 16.8; Christine Ehland, Mt. Lebanon, 15.9.

The scoop: North Allegheny has won six in a row against Section 3 rival Shaler, but both games this season have been relatively close, 66-57 and 53-46. North Allegheny (20 games) has the second-longest winning streak in the WPIAL. ... Defending champion Bethel Park has struggled offensively in recent weeks, and might be hard pressed to keep pace with Hempfield, which averages 63.8 points per game. ... Mt. Lebanon has advanced to the semifinals a WPIAL-best six years in a row. ... Penn-Trafford, which shared the Section 1-AAAA title with Norwin, had won 12 games in a row before losing to Norwin in its section finale, then lost to Blackhawk in a non-section game to close the regular season. The Warriors rebounded to defeat Plum, 46-43, in a first-round game last Friday. ... Norwin is one of three teams from Section 1 in the quarterfinals, the first time that has ever happened. The Knights will have their hands full with Fox Chapel's Mathias, a 6-3 senior center headed to Duke.

CLASS AAA

Saturday's games: Blackhawk (20-2) vs. Mount Pleasant (15-8) at North Allegheny, noon; Ringgold (13-9) vs. West Mifflin (17-5) at Peters Township, 3 p.m.; Elizabeth Forward (19-3) vs. Central Valley (15-7) at West Allegheny, 1:30 p.m.; South Park (19-4) vs. Trinity (17-6) at West Allegheny, 3 p.m.

Leading scorers: Seairra Barrett, Central Valley, 24.5; Chassidy Omogrosso, Blackhawk, 21.4; Kiana Law, Central Valley, 19.8; Alexa Szelong, Mount Pleasant, 18.6; Allison McGrath, South Park, 17.6; Halie Torris, South Park, 16.2; Taylor Thomas, West Mifflin, 15.9; Ciarra Patterson, West Mifflin, 15.0.

The scoop: Led by Omogrosso, a junior point guard and Duquesne recruit, Blackhawk averages a WPIAL-best 69.1 points per game. ... West Mifflin has won six in a row, including a triumph against Class AA No. 1 Seton-LaSalle in the regular-season finale and an upset of No. 5 Indiana in the first round. West Mifflin and Ringgold split a pair of regular-season meetings. ... Elizabeth Forward defeated Central Valley in last season's quarterfinals. Central Valley's Barrett and Law form the WPIAL's top scoring tandem. ... South Park is a heavy favorite against section rival Trinity, which it has beaten by 39 and 37 points this season.

CLASS AA

Tonight's games: Seton-LaSalle (19-4) vs. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (16-7) at Cornell, 6:15 p.m.; Neshannock (22-1) vs. Bishop Canevin (18-5) at Ambridge, 6:15 p.m.; Burrell (23-0) vs. McGuffey (20-3) at Montour, 6:15 p.m.; Greensburg Central Catholic (18-4) vs. Carlynton (19-3) at Baldwin, 6:15 p.m.

Leading scorers: Sammie Weiss, McGuffey, 23.9; Conor Richardson, Carlynton, 21.2; Carolyn Appleby, Greensburg Central Catholic, 20.2; Madison McHale, Neshannock, 19.9; Sydney Bordonaro, Burrell, 15.6.

The scoop: OLSH coach Don Eckerle has to make a tough decision: Which Seton-LaSalle players do you focus on slowing down? The Rebels are talented and deep, their best player likely being Yacine Diop, one of three Pitt recruits on the team (Cassidy Walsh and Naje Gibson are the other two). ... Should Section 4-AA rivals Seton-LaSalle and defending champion Bishop Canevin both win, they'll meet in the semifinals. They played in the title game the previous two seasons. ... Burrell, the only undefeated team in the girls tournament, topped McGuffey, 61-41, in last year's quarterfinals. McGuffey's Weiss scored 34 in a first-round victory against Brentwood. Burrell has allowed more than 45 points in a game just once this season. ... Carlynton, the Section 6 champion, is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2005.

CLASS A

Saturday's games: Vincentian (19-3) vs. Frazier (16-5) at West Allegheny, noon; St. Joseph (19-4) vs. Quigley (17-5) at Ambridge, 1:30 p.m.; Serra Catholic (21-2) vs. Aliquippa (13-10) at North Allegheny, noon; Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (16-7) vs. California (18-3) at Peters Township, noon.

Leading scorers: Mallory Heinle, St. Joseph, 23.7; Brenna Wise, Vincentian, 18.4; Sam Breen, North Catholic, 17.1; Kylie Huffman, California, 15.9.

The scoop: Vincentian and Frazier both gave up only 14 points in the first round. The similarities might end there, though. Vincentian is the two-time defending champion and is expected to roll into the semifinals. ... St. Joseph has won 11 games in a row and gets a chance to avenge a 29-point loss to Quigley in last year's quarterfinals. Quigley has given up 26.5 points per game during its eight-game winning streak. ... Serra Catholic has been dominant, with all but one of its wins coming by double digits. ... Aliquippa is back in the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. The Quips had qualified for postseason play four seasons ina row prior to that. ... Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic's Breen, a 6-1 center, leads all WPIAL freshmen in scoring. California boasts the No. 1 scoring defense in the WPIAL (29.9 ppg). ... California, which blew through Section 3-A with an unbeaten record, has won 12 games in a row.


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