By: Don Rebel
Friday, March 15, 2019 | 6:16 PM
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Last week, 35 girls basketball teams from the WPIAL began their quest for state gold.
Through two rounds of the 2019 PIAA postseason, the field has been sliced and diced to only 10 remaining teams from the district headed into the state quarterfinals.
That number is guaranteed to be cut by at least two before the PIAA Final Four because there are two head-to-head contests between WPIAL teams.
In Class 6A on Friday, undefeated WPIAL champion Peters Township will face Norwin at Keystone Oaks at 8 p.m.
There were four dominant teams in WPIAL girls’ Class 6A this season.
Peters Township (27-0) swept their four games with Bethel Park and knocked off North Allegheny in the district title game in overtime.
Now, the Indians get their first crack at a Norwin team that finished as co-champs in Section 1-6A and comes in with a record of 23-2 with both loses coming at the hands of North Allegheny.
These two teams last squared off in the final game of the regular season a year ago with Peters Township squeezing out a 56-55 victory.
In Class 5A on Saturday, undefeated WPIAL champion Chartiers Valley will face Oakland Catholic at Peters Township at 1:30 p.m.
Both the Colts and Eagles have flexed their muscles in two state playoff victories with Chartiers Valley winning by 35 and 19 points over General McLane and Slippery Rock, while Oakland Catholic defeated Warren and Penn Hills by 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Both teams have been strong on each side of the floor as the Colts were No. 1 in Class 5A in offense, averaging 62.8 points and allowing only 35.4,. The Eagles were third in both categories, averaging 59.9 on offense and yielding only 38.2.
This game is a rematch of the 2017 WPIAL Class 5A championship game where Chartiers Valley stunned Oakland Catholic, 52-36.
West powers collide again
Two of the top girls basketball programs on the western side of the state will meet again Saturday in a Class 4A quarterfinals rubber game contest.
WPIAL champion North Catholic faces District 10 champion Villa Maria Academy out of Erie for the third straight year in Round 3.
The Trojanettes knocked off the Victors, 40-30, in last year’s state quarterfinals. North Catholic also beat Villa Maria Academy in December of last season by a 40-34 margin.
The District-10 champion Victors blew by the Trojanettes in the 2017 third round by a final of 57-41.
North Catholic has won eight PIAA girls basketball championships, and Villa Maria Academy has captured three state crowns while the two have combined for 22 PIAA championship game appearances.
Coming up empty in 2A
Six WPIAL teams qualified for the PIAA Class 2A tournament. Three were eliminated in the first round and the other three were bounced in the second round.
No district teams are left in 2A where West Middlesex faces Kane and Everett takes on Allegheny-Clarion Valley in the two ‘west’ quarterfinals on Friday.
All four of those remaining teams had a hand in eliminating the WPIAL with each owning a victory over a WPIAL team.
District 5 champion Everett actually bounced a pair of district teams on their way to the quarterfinals, beating Serra Catholic, 51-43, in the first round and knocking off Bishop Canevin, 49-42, in the second round.
For what it’s worth, Class 2A was the only WPIAL girls tournament that the No. 1-seed did not reach the finals at the Petersen Events Center when Bishop Canevin lost to eventual champion Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the district semifinals.
Half from 1 equals four?
The above headline makes little sense from a mathematical perspective. However, look at the PIAA Class 6A girls basketball brackets, then it’s easy to understand.
With eight teams remaining, four of them come from District 1.
D-1 champion Garnet Valley will play Council Rock North on the ‘east’ side of the bracket while Abington faces Upper Dublin on the ‘west’ side of the bracket on Friday.
Abington lost to Neshaminy in the D-1 semifinals while both Upper Dublin and Council Rock North lost in the district quarterfinals.
Upper Dublin eliminated North Allegheny in the second round 41-32.
Long shots still alive
The final eight teams in each of the six classifications are littered with district champions and runners-up. Some teams are still alive that reached the Final Four of their respective district and lost, but still qualified the PIAA postseason.
But there are a few teams that didn’t even reach their district semifinals that are now three wins from state gold.
The long shots are Upper Dublin and Council Rock North in Class 6A, Beaver in 3A and Sewickley Academy in A.
Beaver finished tied for second in Section 1-3A with Avonworth, two games behind eventual WPIAL champion Neshannock.
After beating East Allegheny in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, the Bobcats lost to Shady Side Academy in the quarterfinals 57-49.
But Beaver (19-5) has bounced back with state playoffs wins over District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep and District 6 runner-up Penns Valley to reach the state quarterfinals.
Sewickley Academy finished in a three-way tie for second place in Section 1-A with Quigley Catholic and Vincentian Academy, three games behind eventual WPIAL champion Rochester.
The Panthers cruised past California in the WPIAL first round, but lost to top-seed West Greene, 56-46, in the quarterfinals.
Sewickley Academy knocked off District 9 champion North Clarion in the first round and St. Joseph’s Academy in the second round to reach Round 3 in the PIAA playoffs.
Beaver plays Central Cambria on Friday while Sewickley Academy take on Berlin-Brothersvalley on Saturday.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.