A-K Valley H.S. lookahead: Week of Jan. 28-Feb. 2
It’s a big night for Freeport as the Class 4A No. 4 Yellowjackets (14-2, 9-1) visit No. 1 North Catholic (14-1, 10-0) in a battle for first place in Section 1-4A. North Catholic won the first matchup against Freeport, 75-63, thanks largely to an early 14-2 run that established the Trojans’ double-digit advantage. North Catholic has won 40 straight section games.
• Apollo-Ridge and Knoch, battling for positioning and a potential playoff spot in Section 1-4A, meet for a second time this season. Apollo-Ridge (12-5, 5-5) is tied for fourth place in the section with Greensburg Salem, one game behind Knoch (8-9, 6-4). Knoch slowed Apollo-Ridge’s offense in the first matchup, winning 45-29.
• Riverview (6-9, 4-4) holds a half-game lead on Winchester Thurston for fourth place in the Section 2-2A standings as the Bears (6-7, 4-5) visit for a crucial game. Winchester Thurston beat Riverview, 43-32, in their first meeting.
Deer Lakes won its last game, holding off Freeport, 5-4, to keep its playoff hopes alive. The Lancers (2-11-0-1) will try to make it two in a row as they host Blackhawk (2-12).
Knoch and Highlands meet in a battle for first place in Section 1-4A. The host Knights beat Highlands, 74-59, in their first meeting, with Scott Fraser scoring a career-high 33 points. Highlands has won five consecutive games since that loss, and Knoch saw its 11-game winning streak end Saturday.
• Leechburg and Greensburg Central Catholic (10-6, 6-3), in second and third place in Section 3-A, play in a crucial section matchup. The Blue Devils (10-7, 6-2) dropped a 68-45 decision to GCC in the first matchup.
• Deer Lakes will try to go 9-0 in section play for the first time in school history as the Lancers host Burrell in Section 3-3A. This year’s 8-0 mark surpassed the school’s 1987 start when Hampton handed Deer Lakes its first section loss. Burrell is trying to stay alive in the playoff chase. Deer Lakes rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to beat Burrell, 49-40, on Jan. 4.
• Apollo-Ridge begins the week in fourth place in Section 1-2A, and the Vikings (10-8, 6-4) will try to maintain their hold on the fourth and final playoff spot as they host first-place Summit Academy (9-4, 8-2). The Knights’ eight-game winning streak ended Friday against Sto-Rox.
F0x Chapel visits Sewickley Academy (7-7) in a battle of teams fighting for playoff spots in the PIHL Class A North. The Foxes (6-8) have won three of their past four games and will look to avenge a 5-4 loss earlier this season to Sewickley.
Burrell begins the quest for a 13th consecutive WPIAL Class AA championship as the WPIAL first round and quarterfinals take place. The top-seeded Bucs, who are hosting, received a first-round bye and will face McGuffey or Keystone Oaks in the quarterfinals at 7:15 p.m.
• Two-time defending champion Kiski Area opens the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs at home, where the No. 1 Cavaliers will face South Fayette or Indiana in a first-round match at 6 p.m. The winner of that match will advance to the quarterfinals later in the night against the winner of North Allegheny and Connellsville.
• Valley is in the Class AA postseason for the fourth consecutive year, and the Vikings will try to advance as they wrestle a first-round match at Quaker Valley. The winner of that 6 p.m. match will face Laurel or Elizabeth Forward in the quarterfinals.
Freeport continues a busy run of games with a nonsection game against Shady Side Academy. The Yellowjackets (9-7) are playing their sixth game in nine days. They snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday at South Park.
Freeport hosts Apollo-Ridge in an important late-season Section 1-4A contest. The Yellowjackets (14-2, 9-1), led by juniors Madeline and Samantha Clark, Harley Holloway and Sidney Shemanski, are in second place in the section. Apollo-Ridge (12-5, 5-5) is tied for fourth. The first meeting between these teams was a defensive battle that ended in a 34-28 Freeport victory.
• East Allegheny and Deer Lakes are fighting for Section 3-3A playoff position and meet up for the second time, at Deer Lakes. The third-place Lancers (12-4, 7-3) have won six of eight games and beat EA, 51-36, earlier this season. Star junior Amaia Johnson leads the Wildcats (11-5, 6-4).
Apollo-Ridge and Springdale are fighting for the final playoff spot in Section 1-2A, and they’ll face off at Springdale. The visiting Vikings (10-8, 6-4) began the week on a four-game winning streak, propelled by sophomores Jake Fello, Klay Fitzroy and Keighton Reese. Springdale (9-7, 5-5) is battling injuries but still has 1,000-point scorer Mike Zolnierczyk.
• After missing the WPIAL playoffs last season, St. Joseph began the week in first place in Section 3-A and primed to clinch a postseason berth. The Spartans (13-5, 7-2) will host Imani Christian (4-10, 4-5) in Section 3-A.
Riverview (6-9) hosts former section rival Leechburg (5-10) in a nonsection contest.
It’s time for the WPIAL semifinals and championship matches. Burrell and Kiski Area won the Class AA and AAA titles, respectively, each of the past two seasons, giving the Alle-Kiski Valley a sweep. The Class AA matches will take place at Chartiers Valley, with the semifinals at noon and the championship at 2 p.m. The Class AAA matches are at Norwin, with the semifinals at 4 p.m. and the championship at 6.