“Big Three” Continue To Battle

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By: Steve Brodzinski – Pittsburgh Basketball Report

They beat each other up during section play and in the playoffs but at the end of the day, New Castle, Hampton, and North Allegheny, all representing section 3 of Class AAAA are still alive in the PIAA playoffs. Receiving the #1, #2, and #3 seeds in the WPIAL playoffs, the three previously mentioned schools have not disappointed with their respective playoff runs. North Allegheny lost to Hampton in the Quad-A semifinals, and Hampton lost to New Castle in the finals. Point is, there have been no real upsets, as they have all taken care of business in respect to the way they were seeded. The “Big Three” of section three are still flexing their muscles, and will have to battle each other once again on their path to a PIAA Championship.

With New Castle and North Allegheny meeting for the third time this year on Wednesday night, a New Castle victory could lead to a fourth meeting this season with Hampton, if the Talbots can get past Erie McDowell. In the regular season, New Castle defeated North Allegheny twice by an average of 19 points per game. Their styles are very similar – press, play fast, rely on guard play – but New Castle has proven to have more offensive fire power in the previous meetings. They always say it is hard to beat a team three times in one season, but most people are expecting New Castle to move on toward a fourth meeting with Hampton in the quarterfinals.

Hampton will have to first take care of Erie McDowell, who just handed Kiski Area a 19 point defeat in the first round.  But if Hampton can move on and face New Castle, it could be a very interesting fourth meeting. Hampton has gotten closer to victory in each meeting, losing by 16 in January, 11 in February, and 6 in March at the WPIAL finals.  Being the only team to really challenge New Castle this season, Hampton vs. New Castle round 4 could be a road bump for either team on their way to a PIAA Championship.

Whether it’s North Allegheny, New Castle, or Hampton moving into the semi-finals, the hope is that we haven’t worn each other out so much, that we don’t have enough gas for potential meetings with either York or Pennsbury in the semis, and Roman or Chester in the finals. This could be one of the deepest Class Quad A fields coming out eastern PA in some time. Hopefully, the competition that the “big three” of section three have given each other all season, has prepared them for these match-ups with the powers from the east. Regardless, by Saturday March 15th, only one team will be representing the WPIAL moving forward toward claiming the 2014 PIAA Championship.