Westmoreland boys and girls basketball teams ready for PIAA playoffs

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Sunday, March 6, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.


Some say luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

For many WPIAL basketball teams, luck has a lot to do with their playoff fate. It was, after all, in the hands of other teams.

With the league winner tracking format for determining PIAA qualifiers and their rankings in place this season, several Westmoreland teams have been drawn into state tournaments.

For many of them, it will be like innovating.

Take the Catholic Boys of Greensburg Central.

The Centurions (18-4) lost in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs two years ago — coach Christian Hyland’s first year — and didn’t advance to the United States last year because the WPIAL sent only district champions.

This year, however, more teams qualified across all classifications, including GCC in Class 2A.

GCC earned a spot in the PIAA Tournament by reaching the WPIAL Semi-Finals. They lost to the top-seeded and fourth-champion Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur, 77-42.

WPIAL third-place team GCC will visit District 5 champion Conemaugh Township (21-3) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a first-round match.

“It will be good to take a little break. We’re going to give them a few days off and then come back to it,” Hyland said. “The kids love that we’re still playing and that we want to come back. They like to be around each other. This group has never been in the States. It’s gonna be a fun vibe.

GCC’s last appearance in the PIAA playoffs was in 2017-18.

“Who knows what can happen? said senior GCC guard Brevan Williams.

For the other local teams, it was much longer.

• The Latobe girls last made the PIAA playoffs in 1998-99. The Wildcats lost to Altoona in the first round of Class AAAA, 53-42.

Latrobe (18-4) made the WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinals this year and qualified for the state tournament when South Fayette advanced to the WPIAL finals. The Wildcats play Hollidaysburg (23-1), the District 6 champion, at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

• The Monessen girls (17-6) advance to the PIAA Class A playoffs and travel to face Elk County Catholic (24-3) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Greyhounds haven’t been to the states since 2010-11. Monessen coach Janine Vertacnik saw the last PIAA action in 2009-10, when she guided WPIAL champion Jeannette girls.

• The Burrell boys (14-9) return to the national team for the first time since 2012-13 when Rob Niederberger coached the Buccaneers. They will play in the Class 4A tournament and visit Fairview (23-2) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The PIAA asks the top-ranked teams to host matches in the first round. The rest of the tournaments will be held at neutral venues.

The five qualifiers from the region will be on the road for the duration of their stay in the state brackets.

The Southmoreland Girls (18-4) return after reaching the second round of the PIAA two years ago. In crowded Bedford, the Scotties lost to Lancaster Catholic, 64-56, just before the pandemic hit Pennsylvania.

The Scotties are looking to rebound after falling to Knoch, 56-45, on Tuesday in the WPIAL 4A semifinal.

They will travel to face District 6 top seed Tyrone (22-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“(Knoch) really studied the tape on us,” Southmoreland coach Amber Cernuto said. “They knew our tendencies. They doubled and tripled our position. It was not our evening. We have just been dominated. We were a bit shocked and they came out on fire.

Cernuto said motivation should come naturally to her daughters.

“They have every right to be upset,” she said after WPIAL lost. “There is no time to sulk. We have to get back to work. »

Senior Gracie Spadaro had 14 of his 19 fourth-quarter points against Knoch, but, like last year’s semifinal loss to Quaker Valley, the Scotties had fallen too far behind and didn’t have enough time. to come back.

They are looking for a sharper start in the first round of the state.

• The Belle Vernon boys had a run in the state playoffs two years ago, reaching the second round before losing to Lancaster Catholic, 84-82, in a four-overtime thriller at Altoona .

This year’s Leopards (19-4) are still reeling from a 64-53 loss to Montour in the WPIAL Class 4A semi-final. Leopards coach Joe Salvino needs one more win for 700 in his career. He coached at Monessen for 34 years.

Victory could come on Tuesday when the Leopards make the shortest local trip to meet a district champion. They will face City League winner Obama Academy (12-8) at 7 p.m.

Bill Beckner Jr. is an editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Key words: CC of Greensburg, Latrobe, Monessen, Southmoreland