Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WPIAL boys basketball playoff capsules

Class AAAA
Top seeds: 1. Shaler. 2. Chartiers Valley, 3. Mt. Lebanon, 4. Woodland Hills
Defending champion: Gateway
Players to watch: Gabe Pritz (Peters Township), Wayne Capers (Chartiers Valley), Geno Thorpe (Shaler), Lincoln Davis (Central Catholic), Nolan Cressler (Plum), Shakim Alonzo (Woodland Hills)
Sleeper: Gateway
"Upset" alert: Pittsburgh Central Catholic over Hempfield
Noteworthy: Peters Township is back in the postseason after a one-year absence. Head coach Gary Goga has only lost one first-round game during his tenure, but the Indians have a difficult task in No. 4 Woodland Hills. ... Pritz is a legitimate candidate for Observer-Reporter Player of the Year. ... Hard to argue against the top two teams but, after that, the bracket is full of teams capable of bombing out early or making a deep run. Lower-seeded teams Gateway and Pittsburgh Central Catholic are two of the more talented teams in the playoffs. ... Chartiers Valley is dropping back down to Class AAA next year.
Championship: Chartiers Valley over Woodland Hills

Class AAA
Top seeds: 1. New Castle, 2. Montour, 3. Hampton, 4. Keystone Oaks
Defending champion: Montour
Players to watch: Zach Challingsworth (South Fayette), Christian Koroly (Trinity), Josh Wise (Washington), Kyle Rose (McGuffey), Micah Mason (Highlands), Shawn Anderson (New Castle), Corey Eggleston (New Castle), Devin Wilson (Montour), Rocco Contristano (Keystone Oaks)
Sleeper: South Fayette
"Upset" alert: If Trinity beats Kittanning in prelim, Trinity over Keystone Oaks
Noteworthy: Like Pritz, Challingsworth and Wise are potential Player of the Year candidates. ... McGuffey is making its second playoff appearance. The first came in 2002. ... Washington, which will drop back to Class AAA next year, returned to the postseason after a one-year absence. ... South Fayette won 13 postseason games the previous two seasons. ...  Montour is capable of defending its title, particularly if senior Ryan Lewis is in basketball shape. Lewis became eligible midway through the section season and provides the Spartans a potentially dominating interior presence.
Championship: New Castle over Montour

Class AA
Top seeds: 1. Monessen, 2. Beaver Falls, 3. Sto-Rox, 4. Summit Academy
Defending champion: Monessen
Players to watch: Jaisen Irwin (Monessen), Josh Counihan (Chartiers-Houston), Tanner Huffman (California), Zach Dysert (Fort Cherry), Sheldon Jeter (Beaver Falls), P.J. McLaughlin (Greensburg C.C.), Elijah Minnie (Summit Academy), Robert Gondura (Frazier), Corey Bickert (Riverview)
Sleeper: Wilkinsburg
"Upset" alert: Ford City over Aliquippa
Noteworthy: Whether it is WPIAL or PIAA titles, Monessen tends to win them in twos. Last year, the Greyhounds won a WPIAL title without leading scorer Irwin. ... Jeter may be the WPIAL's best player and Pitt coach Jamie Dixon has attended recent Beaver Falls games. ... Chartiers-Houston can look good one game - like when it lead late against No. 3 Sto-Rox - and struggle shortly after - a narrow four-point win against winless South Allegheny. ... Watch out for Frazier. The Commodores swept Jeannette. ... One of the top players for Summit Academy is 6-8 center Elijah Minnie, who was at Monessen last year. The two teams could meet in the semifinals if the pairings hold.
Championship: Monessen over Beaver Falls

Class A
Top seeds: 1. Lincoln Park, 2. North Catholic, 3. Clairton, 4. Serra Catholic
Defending champion: Vincentian
Players to watch: Gannon Walls-Mitchell (Bentworth), Joe Yamber (Avella), Brandon Lawless (Carmichaels), Travis Taylor (Jefferson-Morgan), Devontae Watson (Lincoln Park), Ryan Skovranko (Lincoln Park), Chris Koryak (Vincentian), Brandon Camic (Serra), Danny Savulchack (North Catholic)
Sleeper: Cornell
"Upset" alert: Union over Bentworth
Noteworthy: Not surprisingly, Section 3 got little love in the pairings. Section champ Bentworth is seeded seventh. Avella, Carmichaels and Jefferson-Morgan are seeded 14th, 15th and 16th. ... The Bearcats are balanced offensively and could surprise if they stay out of foul trouble. ... Lincoln Park is led by Temple recruit Watson (6-11) and the Leopards beat Simon Gratz earlier this season. ... Clairton has won nine of 10, including wins over Serra and Bentworth.
Championship: Lincoln Park over Clairton

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