Boys Class 5A WPIAL Semifinal Preview

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The top teams in boys basketball Class 5A throughout the season will be the ones competing in the WPIAL semifinals on Tuesday.

The top three teams all advanced, along with the fifth seed with a minor upset over No. 4. Both semifinal games will be played at 8 p.m.

Below are capsules on each game.

No. 1 Mars Planets (19-4) vs. No. 5 Trinity Hillers (20-4) At Baldwin

Entering the playoffs, Mars was the clear-cut favorite to get to the WPIAL Championship Game, and that notion has not changed entering the semifinals. The Planets have only lost one game all season to a WPIAL team. The other losses game to a City League team and to two teams down in a tournament in Florida. Mars cruised past section rival Hampton in the quarterfinals at Butler, 72-51. It was the Planets’ fourth straight win. In the win, senior Notre Dame recruit Robby Carmody led the team with 23 points. Senior Cade Hetzler added 17 points and junior Andrew Recchia chipped in 14 points. This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams. The win against Hampton was redemption after last year’s 61-59 loss to the Talbots in the semifinals…Trinity finished second to McKeesport in the Section 1 standings and split the regular season series, however the Hillers won the rubber match in the quarterfinals at Baldwin, 48-39. It was the seventh time this season Trinity held its opponent under 40 points. Senior Dylan Kern led the team with 14 points. Senior Zach Ecker finished with 11 points for the Hillers’ eighth straight win. In their two playoff wins, they have outscored their opponents 109-91. Trinity is the only team in Class 5A to record 20 wins to this point. There are no records of Trinity making the WPIAL semifinals since 2003.

No. 2 Highlands Golden Rams (18-4) vs. No. 3 Franklin Regional Panthers (19-4) At Fox Chapel

These two Section 3 co-champions are very familiar with each other. Both team defeated each other in the regular season, handing each other their only section losses of the season. Franklin Regional won the first game at home on Dec. 22, 70-49. Highlands returned the favor in its home game on Jan. 23, 87-68. The Golden Rams advanced to the semifinals with a 66-58 win against West Allegheny at Fox Chapel, making this their second straight playoff game being played there. In the quarterfinal win, sophomore Jonny Crise led the team with 16 points. Seniors Shawn Erceg and Romello Freeman finished with 15 and 13 points, respectively. It was their sixth straight win. Highlands last competed in the WPIAL semifinals in 2015-16 when they defeated New Castle, 79-76, at North Allegheny…Franklin Regional advanced with one of the lowest scoring totals in a WPIAL playoff game in history. The Panthers only scored 28 points but were able to hold off Moon, 28-26, at North Hills. It was their eighth straight win and redeemed themselves from a loss against Moon earlier in the season. In the win, senior Hunter Stonecheck was the high scorer with nine points. There are no records of Franklin Regional making the WPIAL semifinals before 2003.

For a look at the updated bracket, click here.