Breaking down the PIAA girls basketball playoffs |

Breaking down the PIAA girls basketball playoffs

Bishop Canevin's Erin Waskowiak scores past Seton-La Salle's Naje Gibson during the WPIAL girls Class AA championship last weekend at Palumbo Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)
Bethel Park's Megan Marecic pulls down a second-half rebound over Chartiers Valley's Kristin McGeough during the WPIAL Class AAAA girls championship on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at Palumbo Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)
Jason Bridge | Tribune-Review
Elizabeth Forward's Alison Pastore (1) and South Park's Shelby Lindsay (31) go for a loose ball during their WPIAL Class AAA championship game on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh.
Vincentian's Julia Galbraith makes a layup past Serra Catholic's Lindsay Muschar during the WPIAL Class A girls championship game on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at Palumbo Center. (Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review)
Deer Lakes' Danielle Kearns (10) attempts to stop Jeannette's Ciara Gregory (33) during a recent playoff game at Fox Chapel. (Erica Hilliard | Tribune-Review)

Class AAAA

WPIAL/City League: Bethel Park (23-2), Chartiers Valley (18-7), Gateway (20-5), Mt. Lebanon (22-3), Penn-Trafford (19-5) and Allderdice (12-13).

Around the state: Spring-Ford (25-2) used a 27-0 run to defend its title in District 1 (suburban Philadelphia) and extend a 19-game winning streak.

Cardinal O’Hara (21-5), the District 12 winner from the Philadelphia Catholic League, has a frontcourt with two Division I recruits: 6-foot-1 senior Shanice Johnson (Delaware) and 6-3 senior Lisa Mintzer (La Salle).

• Wilson West Lawn (23-2) won its first Section 3 title since 2008, led by 5-6 junior Avery Marz’s 19 points.

• Philadelphia’s Archbishop Carroll (19-6) has two D-I recruits to defend its 2012 PIAA title: 6-foot forward Sarah Curran (Drexel) and 5-5 guard Kristie Costantino (Stony Brook).

• Mount St. Joseph (26-3) lost twice to Spring-Ford, including 51-30 in the District 1 final. The team’s only other loss was to Cumberland Valley, which awaits a rematch in the PIAA first round.

Don’t overlook: Hollidaysburg (22-2), which rejoined Class AAAA this season, won the District 6 title behind 6-foot senior Morgan Griffith (15 ppg), a Shippensburg recruit.

Notable: The state’s two largest cities have owned this bracket. A WPIAL team has reached the final in each of the past five seasons (Mt. Lebanon, 2008-11; Oakland Catholic, 2012). District 12, Philadelphia’s Catholic and public schools, has reached the past four (O’Hara, 2009; Ryan, 2010; Carroll, 2011-12). … Cardinal O’Hara beat Philadelphia Central, 60-10, in the District 12 title game. … North Penn (22-4) has American recruit Lauren Crisler, a 6-2 forward.

Finals prediction: Cardinal O’Hara over Wilson West Lawn

Class AAA

WPIAL/Heritage: South Park (23-2), Elizabeth Forward (22-3), Hopewell (21-4), Blackhawk (24-1), Hampton (18-6), Central Valley (18-5) and Ligonier Valley (16-7).

Around the state: Prep Charter (17-2), a PIAA semifinalist in 2012, won Philadelphia’s public school league for the third straight season.

• Palmyra (25-0), a first-time District 3 champion, hopes to avoid a repeat of last season’s first-round exit.

• Archbishop Wood (17-9), the three-time defending PIAA champion, enters with consecutive losses in the Philadelphia Catholic League final (31-25 to Cardinal O’Hara) and the District 12 final (48-41 to Prep Charter).

• Franklin (24-1), the District 10 champion, was undefeated except for a Jan. 5 loss to WPIAL Class AA champion Bishop Canevin.

• Erie’s Villa Maria Academy (19-4), a newcomer to Class AAA, and Malvern’s Villa Maria Academy (22-3), the District 1 champ, could create a confusing title game matchup.

Don’t overlook: Lancaster Catholic (25-1) was PIAA runner-up a season ago, but it enters states as the fifth seed from District 3 after a loss (59-53 to lower-seeded Susquehannock) in the district quarterfinals.

Notable: Blackhawk and South Park both reached the quarterfinals in 2012, and Hopewell made the second round. … Chartiers Valley, a returning semifinalist, has moved to Class AAAA. … Erie Villa Maria’s Karlee McBride, a 5-10 senior averaging 13.1 points, is an Indiana recruit. … Franklin made a free throw with no time left to beat Villa Maria, 48-47, in the District 10 final. … Lancaster Catholic’s Porscha Speller (17 ppg) and Hopewell’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough were first-team all-state last season.

Finals prediction: Prep Charter over Blackhawk

Class AA

WPIAL/Heritage: Bishop Canevin (22-4), Seton-La Salle (24-2), Burrell (22-3), Jeannette (17-7), Mohawk (17-7), Greensburg Central Catholic (17-7), McGuffey (20-3) and Blairsville (24-1).

Around the state: York Catholic (25-2), the PIAA runner-up in 2012, enters states for the eighth consecutive season as the District 3 champion.

• Dunmore (20-6), the state runner-up in 2011, won its seventh District 2 title in the past eight years.

• North East (22-3) capitalized on Villa Maria’s rise to Class AAA and claimed the District 10 title with Mercyhurst recruit Alex Artise (5-9 junior, 17 ppg).

• Mount Carmel (22-4) won its third straight District 4 title, led by 5-9 senior Christina Perles (17 ppg).

• Notre Dame Green Pond (20-5) won the District 11 title with a victory over No. 1 seed Pine Grove (22-4), the district’s two-time defending champion.

Don’t overlook: Neumann-Goretti (13-11) barely has a .500 record, but the Saints of District 12 do own a 46-45 victory over Class AAAA contender Cardinal O’Hara.

Notable: Seton-La Salle is defending PIAA champion; the Rebels beat York Catholic, 71-47, in last season’s final. … The last girls team to win consecutive Class AA titles was Erie’s Villa Maria, which won in 2009, 2010 and 2011. … Bishop Canevin, the WPIAL champion, reached the PIAA second round last year … Blairsville, which has won 24 in a row, earned its first District 6 title with a 71-61 victory over Bellwood-Antis. … York Catholic, the 2008 state champion, won the District 3 title with a 57-26 victory over Delone Catholic.

Finals prediction: Seton-La Salle over York Catholic

Class A

WPIAL: Vincentian Academy (25-1), Serra Catholic (23-3), Quigley Catholic (18-6), North Catholic (15-10) and Winchester Thurston (13-9)

Around the state: Steelton-Highspire (23-4) could defend its PIAA title with Hampton recruit Malia Tate-DeFreitas (5-10, senior), a 3,000-point scorer who had at least 30 in all three District 3 playoff victories.

• Tri-Valley (23-3), the District 11 champion, features 6-5 senior Tara Nahodil (18.8 ppg), a Seton Hall recruit.

• Old Forge (24-0), which reached last year’s quarterfinals, won the District 2 girls title for the first time in the history of the Scranton-area school.

• Kennedy Catholic (22-2) won its third straight District 10 title with 5-11 senior Alex Ricketts (17 ppg), an Akron recruit.

• Bishop Guilfoyle (24-2) extended its District 6 title streak to seven with a 61-36 victory over Portage.

Don’t overlook: Conemaugh Valley (21-4) was third entering the District 5 playoffs before upsetting higher-seeded Berlin-Brothersvalley (22-4) and Southern Fulton (23-3) to win the district title.

Notable: Tate-DeFreitas has 3,272 career points, third in PIAA history behind Monessen’s Gina Naccarato (3,364 in 1992-96) and Mt. Carmel’s Maria Fantanarosa (3,823 in 1981-1985). … Steelton-Highspire outscored its District 3 quarterfinal opponent Veritas Academy, 112-26. … Vincentian Academy holds a 70-53 victory (Jan. 26) over Kennedy Catholic, a likely quarterfinal opponent. … North Catholic was runner-up a season ago, losing to Steelton-Highspire, 66-59, in the PIAA championship game. North Catholic had beaten Vincentian, 71-58, in the semifinals.

Finals prediction: Steelton-Highspire over Vincentian

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