Things to watch in high school sports for March 18, 2022: Basketball semifinals announce
Thursday, March 17, 2022 | 9:51 p.m.
Welcome to Friday’s semifinals of the PIAA basketball playoffs.
With Blackhawk losing in the quarter-finals, there are no more undefeated WPIAL women’s teams here in 2022.
A team still alive for state gold lived the dream of the perfect season 13 years ago.
Mt. Lebanon finished 31-0, defeating Fox Chapel in the WPIAL Finals and Cardinal O’Hara in the PIAA Championship to cap off one of the greatest women’s basketball seasons in district history.
It was the start of a three-year state championship series for Dori Oldaker’s Blue Devils.
In Mt. Lebanon’s run in the 2010 PIAA playoffs, the team they beat in the semifinals to reach the final at Penn State was Central Dauphin, 58-40.
The Blue Devils and Rams will fight again 12 years later for a spot in Friday’s 6A Championship game at Altoona.
The winner will face the winner of Plymouth-Whitemarsh against Cedar Cliff in the title match on March 26.
Heading into this week, there was a realistic chance that we could see four WPIAL Championship rematches in the four PIAA Finals.
However, only the girls’ rematch for the Class 3A title is played as North Catholic and Freedom will face off again in the state semifinals on Friday in North Hills.
Don’t be fooled by the Trojans’ 3-0 lead in head-to-head encounters with the Bulldogs.
After North Catholic won at home in December by 15 points, the last two meetings have been close with the Trojans winning by five points each time, including a 48-43 win in the district title game.
Northern Catholic sophomore Alayna Rocco was the top scorer in all three playoff wins. She scored 26 points in the quarter-final win over Forest Hills, 60-52.
The duo of senior Renae Mohrbacher and sophomore Shaye Bailey led the Bulldogs through the PIAA playoffs. On Tuesday, Mohrbacher scored 20 points and Bailey 19 points in a 56-50 win over River Valley.
The other match in the Semi-Finals is a District Finals rematch and Neumann-Goretti faced District 12 foe Imhotep Charter.
The PIAA Girls 3A Finals on March 26 in Hershey.
Bring out the champions
Bellwood-Antis was the No. 3 team in District 6 this season after losing to Bishop McCort in the semifinals.
However, the Blue Devils have eliminated the top teams since the start of the state playoffs.
Bellwood-Antis opened by knocking out WPIAL finalist Notre Dame du Sacre Coeur in the first round.
The Devils then knocked out District 10 champion West Middlesex in the second round and District 6 champion Homer-Center in the quarter-finals.
Could WPIAL champion Neshannock be next?
The Lancers reached the semifinals with wins over Penns Manor, Cambridge Springs and Shenango by a total of 76 points.
Neshannock kicks off against Bellwood-Antis at 7 p.m. Friday in Armstrong with the winner facing the rematch of the District 4 title match between Southern Columbia and Mount Carmel.
The final will take place on March 25.
Many basketball fans in the district were eagerly awaiting a possible rematch from a Game of the Year contender.
Laurel Highlands edged New Castle in double overtime in a close game throughout the WPIAL Finals. Rodney Gallagher hit two free throws to break a tie and give the Mustangs their second WPIAL title in three years.
However, the foul call that led to the free throws caused great controversy, fueling the fire for a rematch.
Gateway was more than happy to avoid a second Mustangs-Red Hurricanes contest.
The Gators upset Laurel Highlands in the quarterfinals, 55-52. Ryan Greggerson and Jayden Carr had 12 points apiece for Gateway, which will play in its first-ever PIAA Class 5A Semi-Final match on Friday.
Senior Mike Wells had 17 points to lead New Castle past Penn Hills in the quarterfinals. Wells has scored 91 points in all three PIAA playoff wins.
The other match in the boys 5A semi-finals is between Imhotep Charter and Chester. The 5A state title match is scheduled for March 25.
After Archbishop Carroll defeated Montour in the PIAA 4A Boys Quarter-Final, WPIAL Champion Quaker Valley became the only District 7 team still standing.
Now the Quakers are getting AB Carroll a chance in the semifinals at Bald Eagle.
The Patriots finished as the No. 5 team in District 12, meaning they didn’t even make the district semifinals. Now that they’ve beaten Berks Catholic, Athens and Montour, they’ve reached the final four in the state.
Quaker Valley improved to 26-0 with a six-point win over District 10 champion Fairview in the quarterfinals. For the second time in the state playoffs, Markus Frank nearly hit the 30-point mark, scoring 29 points for QV.
District 2 champion Dallas will face District 12 champion Neumann-Goretti in the other semifinal on Friday, with the title match scheduled for March 24.
The remaining four teams in the boys’ Class A playoffs are district champions.
WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin will face District 9 winner Elk County Catholic on Friday at Clarion University.
This will be the Crusaders’ second semi-final. BC lost to Sewickley Academy in the last four of 2017, 50-48.
ECC is 1-3 in PIAA semi-final games. The Crusaders won state gold in 2006. Two of their three losses have come against WPIAL teams. Elk County lost to Monessen in 1988 and Duquesne in 1992.
In the east, District 11 champion Nativity BVM will face District 4 champion St. John Neumann on Friday with the state championship game scheduled for March 24.
State swimming continues
Day three of the PIAA Championships swimming events are scheduled for Friday in Bucknell.
Class 2A Boys’ and Girls’ Friday events include Boys’ Diving, 200-yard Medley Relay, 200-yard Freestyle, 200-yard Individual Medley, 50-yard Freestyle, 100-yard Butterfly and the 200-yard freestyle relay.
The PIAA Swimming Championships end on Saturday.
Tags: Bishop Canevin, Freedom, Gateway, Laurel Highlands, Mt. lebanon, Neshannock, North Catholic, Quaker Valley