Top seeds – 1. Shaler (21-1), 2. Mt. Lebanon (20-2), 3. North Allegheny (19-3), 4. Gateway (18-4)
Defending champion – Mt. Lebanon
Leading scorers – Matt Palo (Norwin) 30.1, Nolan Cressler (Plum) 26.8, Anthony Dallier (North Allegheny), Andy Carter (Norwin) 24.0, Aaron Johnson (Moon) 23.6, Tyler Scott (Gateway) 21.8
Bits and pieces – One of the more intriguing first-round games is Connellsville vs. Pine-Richland. The Falcons won Section 1 and are seeded seventh but Pine-Richland has won five straight and are the lone team to beat Shaler. … Norwin leads the WPIAL in offense at 78.6 points per game. The Knights also allow a WPIAL-worst 76.2 per game. … Before the season, people believed Section4 might be down but Mt. Lebanon has played well. Chartiers Valley beat South Fayette Monday night without a couple top players and Upper St. Clair is always a tough out.
Sleeper – Moon
Championship – Gateway over Chartiers Valley
Top seeds – 1. South Fayette (19-1), 2. West Mifflin (20-2), 3. Blackhawk (15-7), 4. New Castle (16-6)
Defending champion - Chartiers Valley
Leading scorers - Micah Mason (Highlands) 33.8, Josh Valentic (Trinity) 30.1, Geoff Fuquay (Valley) 24.7, Christian Locher (Mars) 21.7, Tom Bigley (South Park) 20.8, Mike Lamberti (South Fayette) 19.7
Bits and pieces - South Fayette gained valuable experience in winning the PIAA Class AA championship last year and are the prohibitive favorite in this tournament after moving up in classification. ... Trinity posted some quality wins, including one over No. 5 seed Highlands, but only received the 13th seed. The Hillers play Mt. Pleasant, coached by Joe Dunn's friend Tom Traynor, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the day before Thanksgiving. ... Ringgold has lost four of five with all four losses coming against playoff teams in South Fayette, West Mifflin, Montour and Trinity.
Sleeper - Greensburg-Salem
Championship - South Fayette over West Mifflin
Top seeds - 1. Greensburg Central Catholic (20-2), 2. Beaver Falls (17-5), 3. Monessen (19-2), 4. Quaker Valley (19-3)
Defending champion - North Catholic
Leading scorers - Nate Bellhy (Fort Cherry) 27.1, Tyler Pavan (Burgettstown) 23.6, Sheldon Jeter (Beaver Falls) 22.0, Shawn Smith (Sto-Rox) 21.2, Brandon Marinelli (Neshannock) 21.1
Bits and pieces - Charleroi lost five of its final six but one the one game that mattered - the regular season final against California - to get into the playoffs. ... This from international music sensation Troy Elich (who also happens to be Burgettstown's scorekeeper when not on tour), the last time Shady Side Academy and Burgettstown played was in the 1995 PIAA Class AA playoffs. Shady Side, led by future Stanford standout Pete Sauer, went on to win the state title. ... California looked like a possible high seed before a dreadful stretch to end the season. The Trojans ended the season with losses to Frazier, Brownsville and Charleroi. ... Fort Cherry also has struggled, losing five of six including its final three. ... Monessen is the most overlooked team in the bracket. The Greyhounds don't have any splashy scoring leaders but played a difficult schedule and get scoring from seven to nine players on most nights. A first-round win for Monessen would be the 500th of Joe Salvino's coaching career.
Sleeper - Sto-Rox
Championship - Greensburg Central Catholic over Monessen
Top seeds - 1. Rochester (18-3), 2. North Catholic (16-6), 3. Lincoln Park (14-6), 4. Vincentian Academy (20-1)
Defending champion - Sewickley Academy
Leading scorers - Brian Heinle (St. Joseph) 25.3, Chaquille Pratt (Lincoln Park) 23.4, E.J. Blackwell (Rochester) 20.8, Carrington Motley (Sewickley Academy) 19.6, John Bray (Vincentian Academy) 17.3, Chris Koryak (Vincentian Academy) 16.8
Bits and pieces - Jefferson-Morgan is in the postseason for the first time since 2002. That year, the Rockets were the No. 3 seed. ... Bentworth, fielding one of its smaller lineups in recent memory, is 8-5 after starting the season 1-8. ... Carmichaels is one of the few area teams entering postseason play on a high note. Led by identical twins Jon and Seth Krall, the Mikes have won five straight. ... Avella shared the Section 3 title with Carmichaels but received the No. 11 seed - Carmichaels is seeded 12th. The Eagles play St. Joseph, which tied Serra for the Section 4 title. Serra is Carmichaels' opponent.
Sleeper - OLSH
Championship - Rochester over Lincoln Park