What’s coming up: 2/9/24
Photo Credit: North Allegheny Sports Network
by: Don Rebel
CENTRAL CATHOLIC, NORTH ALLEGHENY GO MANO A MANO FOR SECTION TITLE
The 2023-2024 WPIAL basketball season began 71 days ago. On Friday, section play concludes with two boys basketball teams deadlocked in the race for the Section 1-6A championship.
Defending champion Central Catholic visits North Allegheny (10-11) in a battle of 7-2 teams fighting for an outright title.
The Vikings are 3-3 in their last six games but are coming off a huge win at home over Butler on Tuesday to remain tied for first place.
The Tigers have bounced back after a 3-7 start and have won four straight games and seven of their last 10.
In the first meeting between the two in Oakland on Jan. 16, the Vikings led by 10 points after the opening quarter and never looked back in winning, 50-37.
Senior Vernon Settles scored 14 points to lead the way for Central Catholic while senior Ben Lukitsch led North Allegheny with nine points as the Tigers were held to 20 points below their average this season.
While there are other section top spots still up for grabs, there are only two other games involving head-to-head battles for first place, matchups between a first-place team visiting the second-place team with the possibility of co-champions if the host teams win.
In Section 2-5A, first-place Shaler (19-2) visits Fox Chapel (12-9).
The Titans are 8-1 in the section and have won five games in a row. The Foxes are 7-2 in section play and have won three straight.
When they met last month, Shaler defeated visiting Fox Chapel in a defensive battle, 39-27.
Senior Joe DeSabato of Shaler was the only player in double figure scoring with 11 points. Senior Jefferson-Moorefield-Brown scored seven to lead Fox Chapel.
Here is what needs to happen for the bubble teams to clinch and join the February Frenzy.
• In Section 1-6A: New Castle can clinch with a win at home over Seneca Valley. Pine-Richland can clinch with a win at Butler. If Seneca Valley beats New Castle and Pine-Richland loses to Butler, forcing a three-way tie for fourth place, Pine-Richland qualifies based on 3-1 record head to head.
• In Section 3-5A: Latrobe can clinch with a home win over Gateway and a Kiski Area loss against visiting Penn-Trafford.
ONE FINAL GIRLS SPOT AT STAKE
The WPIAL girls basketball postseason field has been finalized with the exception of one final possible playoff spot in Class 5A.
Franklin Regional and its playoff hopes sit and wait the outcome of two girls Section 1-5A games Friday.
The Panthers will clinch if Penn Hills loses at Kiski Area or if Woodland Hills falls at Gateway.