The WPIAL basketball playoff pairings meeting is tonight and it is, without question, one of my least favorite events to cover. In recent years, it's also become a celebration of teams with 7-14 or 8-13 records parading as postseason participants.
That's where I have a big problem.
The WPIAL basketball playoff field is overcrowded and it's created a watered-down tournament that's catered to nothing more than selling as many tickets to as many games as possible. This year's girls playoffs is the perfect example of why too many teams get to the playoffs.
In Class AAAA, 18 teams qualified - two more than a full bracket of 16 teams. That creates two preliminary or "pigtail" games. At 8-14, Pine-Richland is part of the tournament. In Class AAA, a total of 22 teams are in the playoffs, including 7-15 Belle Vernon. In Class AA, a 9-12 Freeport team is among the 24 in the bracket. Class A is the only 16-team field. Of course, it includes California at 6-15, union at 8-12 and a 9-12 Sewickley Academy.
Of the 133 girls basketball teams in the WPIAL, 80 qualified for the playoffs. That's an astonishing 60.1 percent.
What's the point?
Might as well have an open tournament where every WPIAL team plays in the playoffs. Or, a better solution, is to trim the excess. If the number of sections remain the same, qualify the top two or three for the playoffs. Another possibility would be to create larger sections and send the top four teams.
Anyway, as we prepare for a gluttony of pigtail games and mismatched first-round contests, here's a rundown of the 80 girls teams in the playoffs:
Baldwin (15-6), Bethel Park (20-2), Butler (19-2), Fox Chapel (17-4), Gateway (11-10), Hempfield (16-6), Kiski (12-9), McKeesport (12-10), Mt Lebanon (22-0), North Allegheny (13-9), Norwin (18-4), Oakland Catholic (15-7), Penn Hills (11-11), Penn-Trafford (11-11), Peters Township (12-9), Pine-Richland (8-14), Shaler (16-6), Upper St. Clair (12-10)
Ambridge (14-8), Belle Vernon (7-15), Blackhawk (11-11), Chartiers Valley (16-6), Elizabeth Forward (14-7), Hampton (17-4), Highlands (10-12), Hopewell (15-7), Indiana (19-3), Kittanning (14-7), Knoch (14-8), Laurel Highlands (14-8), Mars (17-5), McGuffey (11-11), Mt. Pleasant (17-5), New Castle (20-2), South Park (15-6), Thomas Jefferson (12-10), West Allegheny (16-6), West Mifflin (16-6), Uniontown (14-7), Yough (10-12)
Aliquippa (11-10), Apollo-Ridge (16-5), Avonworth (15-6), Beaver (21-1), Beaver Falls (14-8), Beth-Center (14-7), Bishop Canevin (12-10), Brownsville (13-8), Burrell (16-5), Charleroi (14-8), East Allegheny (15-6), Freeport (9-12), Ford City (20-2), Greensburg Central Catholic (16-4), Jeannette (13-9), Mohawk (13-8), Neshannock (11-11), OLSH (15-7), Riverside (17-5), Seton-La Salle (18-4), Shady Side Academy (18-4), South Fayette (17-5), Sto-Rox (20-1), Washington (17-4)
Avella (15-6), California (6-15), Carmichaels (15-7), Clairton (10-9), Fort Cherry (17-5), Geibel Catholic (11-9), Monessen (17-5), Mt. Alvernia (13-9), North Catholic (17-5), Quigley Catholic (18-2), Rochester (16-6), Serra Catholic (14-6), Sewickley Academy (9-12), Union (8-12), Vincentian Academy (14-8), Winchester-Thurston (13-7)