Thursday, February 2, 2023 | 11:01 am
With just over a week left in the WPIAL regular season, the Westmoreland County playoff picture is getting closer.
Only four district teams had berths secured at the start of the week: Burrell and South in Class 3A, Greensburg Central Catholic in 2A and Monessen in Class A.
District teams still in the math hunt include Norwin and Hempfield in 6A; Franklin Regional, Kiski Area, Latrobe and Penn-Trafford in 5A; Belle Vernon, Southmoreland and Greensburg Salem in 4A; Derry, Ligonier Valley, Valley and Mt. Pleasant in 3A; and Jeanette in 2A.
Sectional play concludes on February 11, and the playoff pairings will be announced on February 13.
The playoffs are set to begin on February 17.
GS series discontinued
While first-year Greensburg-Salem coach Cam Auld isn’t looking for moral victories, he’ll happily take a victory on the court that removes futility.
The Golden Lions (5-14) beat Indiana 75-70 to snap a 25-game losing streak on Jan. 27.
Their previous sectional win came on February 4, 2020, 65-52 over Laurel Highlands when Rodney Gallagher was a freshman. The Mustangs won the WPIAL Class 5A championship.
“It feels good to win,” Old said. “It didn’t matter when it came. It shows that we are making progress, but we don’t want to stop and celebrate it.”
You won’t find many more grueling stretches of basketball than what Belle Vernon faced recently.
The Leopards (9-9) will have played five games in eight days when they take the court Friday night against Laurel Highlands.
That includes three games in three days last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“I’ve never had anything like that happen with three in a row,” Leopards coach Joe Salvino said. “We’ll have to be a little lighter in practice (Monday) … maybe.”
The rest of the five-game series includes Southmoreland, Franklin Regional, North Hills and Uniontown.
A waiting game
R&R usually means rest and relaxation.
At Franklin Regional, that means Rowell and Rankin.
And the team hopes the duo’s break will end soon.
The boys basketball team’s top two scorers were still out with injuries when the Panthers faced Belle Vernon in the shootout at Seton Hill on Jan. 28.
They had dropped three games in a row.
Still, the Panthers gave the talented Belle Vernon a game before falling 66-52.
Finn Hutchison stepped up and found his shooting, making seven 3-pointers and scoring 25 points.
Franklin Regional (9-9, 3-4) also got help from Bryson Pavlik, a Gateway transfer who joined the team around the holidays. He had 10 points against Belle Vernon.
“We’ve been learning how to play together without Cam and Cooper,” coach Jesse Reid said. “We’ve had other guys step up and take on new roles. This is a step in the right direction.”
Bilinski is back
Norwin standout senior guard Adam Bilinski is back in the lineup after missing five games with an ankle injury.
The Knights went 2-3 without him, but won back-to-back games when he returned.
Bilinski had 20 points and the Knights (11-7, 3-4) made 13 of 19 3-pointers in a 69-41 shootout win over Latrobe in Seton Hill.
“I feel like a new person,” Bilinski said with a laugh. “We have guys who have stepped up and found new roles for us.”
A Mercyhurst commit, Bilinski was within 70 points of 1,000 for his career.
The fear of the Spartans
Hempfield almost pulled off one of the upsets of the year last Friday. The Spartans (6-13) took No. 5 Upper St. Clair (11-8) to overtime before falling, 67-65.
They nearly won in regulation, but Caden Biondi, who drove the lane and scored with one second left, was called for a foul.
Harry Sowers finished with a game-high 25 points and Aaron Woodley added 14 for the Spartans.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Bill can be reached by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .
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