Boys Class 5A WPIAL Playoff First Round Preview
The WPIAL playoff brackets that were revealed earlier this week gave us a look at the matchups that will start the Class 5A boys basketball playoffs.
All first round games will be played on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
The top three seeds — Mars, Highlands, and Franklin Regional — each received byes into the quarterfinals. The Planets were the champions in Section 2-5A and the Golden Rams and Panthers were co-section champions in Section 3-5A.
Below are capsules on each first round matchup.
Hampton Talbots (10-12) vs. Gateway Gators (12-10) At Fox Chapel, 8 p.m.
It has been an up-and-down season for both Hampton and Gateway and the two will be meeting for the second time this season. Hampton won the first game on Jan. 3 at Gateway, 56-53. The Talbots have alternated wins and losses for the last 11 games of the regular season. They are averaging 57.5 points per game and are allowing 61.5 points per game. Through Feb. 4, Sophomore Isaac DeGregorio was leading the team with 16.8 points per game. Hampton lost in the Class 5A WPIAL championship last season and the PIAA first round…Gateway started the season 0-4 but won five out of its last seven games entering the playoffs for a third place finish in its section. The Gators are averaging 51.7 points per game and are allowing 46 points per game. The go-to guy for Gateway has been senior John Paul Kromka with 18.6 points per game through Feb. 4. Gateway lost in the WPIAL quarterfinals last season.
McKeesport Tigers (14-8) vs. Armstrong River Hawks (8-14) At Gateway, 8 p.m.
McKeesport is the lone section champion to not receive a bye as winners of Section 1-5A with an 11-1 record. The Tigers have lost their last two regular season games after rattling off 10 straight wins. They are averaging 68.3 points per game and are allowing 59.8 points per game. Through Feb. 4, seniors Terron Taylor and Layton Jordan have led McKeesport with 20.5 and 16.2 points per game, respectively. McKeesport defeated Armstrong in the WPIAL first round last year, 46-42. They advanced to the quarterfinals…In its two years of existence, the only playoff opponent the River Hawks have known is McKeesport. Armstrong snuck into the playoffs after tying for fourth place in the section, becoming the fifth team in its section to make the playoffs this season. They have won two of its final three regular season games. They are averaging 45 points per game and are allowing 50.7 points per game.
Trinity Hillers (18-4) vs. Greensburg Salem Golden Lions (12-10) At Peters Township, 6:30 p.m.
Trinity finished a game behind McKeesport in the section and won 13 of its final 14 games in the regular season. The Hillers are averaging 65.9 points per game and are allowing 51.4 points per game. Through Feb. 4, senior Joey Koroly has led the team with 16.9 points per game. Trinity lost in the WPIAL first round last season…Greensburg Salem tied with Armstrong for the final playoff spot in its section. The Golden Lions won their final two regular season games entering the regular season. They are averaging 59.7 points per game and are allowing 56.9 points per game. Senior Marvel McGowan was one of the top scorer’s in the WPIAL, averaging 23.6 points per game through Feb. 4. The Golden Lions made the playoffs after going winless in the section a year ago.
West Allegheny Indians (10-11) vs. Laurel Highlands Mustangs (14-8) At Peters Township, 8 p.m.
West Allegheny had one of the more remarkable turnarounds this season to make the playoffs after going 1-21 a season ago. The finished in third place in its section and won its final two regular season games. They are averaging 60.7 points per game and are allowing 63.5 points per game…Laurel Highlands also finished third in its section and won its final four games of the season. They are averaging 66.3 points per game and are allowing 58 points per game. Senior Bryce Laskey was the second leading scorer in the WPIAL, averaging over 30 points per game. The Mustangs advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals last season.
Moon Tigers (17-5) vs. Albert Gallatin Colonials (12-10) At Baldwin, 8 p.m.
The defending Class 5A WPIAL champion Moon Tigers are back to defend their title. The Tigers finished second to Mars in their section and are entering the playoffs winning three of their last four games, including a win against top-seed Mars. They are averaging 62.1 points per game and are allowing 49.7 points per game. Junior Connor Ryan led the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game through Feb. 4…Albert Gallatin received the last playoff spot in its section and lost its final four games of the regular season. They are averaging 61 points per game and are allowing 59.7 points per game. Through Feb. 4, freshman Nate English was leading the Colonials with 15 points per game. Albert Gallatin missed the playoffs last year.
For a complete look at the bracket, click here.