WPIAL Boys Basketball Playoff Preview

The hopes and dreams of 80 boys basketball teams are alive and well…for now. Every playoff squad is enjoying golden dreams, until reality starts setting in this weekend. Here are some playoff factoids to help you prepare for the upcoming boys version of the Battle to the Bluff.

CLASS AAAA

Top seeds: New Castle is first, North Allegheny second, Hampton third and Upper St. Clair fourth. For the first time in WPIAL history, the top three seeds are from the same section. New Castle, North Allegheny and Hampton all play in Section 3.

Defending champion: Gateway has won two titles in a row.

Best first-round game: Pittsburgh Central Catholic vs. Seneca Valley, 3 p.m. Saturday at North Hills.

Fab 5 to watch: Shawn Anderson, Fox Chapel; Matt D’Amico, Fox Chapel; Malik Hooker, New Castle; Ryan Luther, Hampton; David Urso, Central Catholic.

Hidden statistics: New Castle is trying to become the first team to win back-to-back WPIAL titles in two different classifications. The Red Hurricane won Class AAA last season. … Upper St. Clair is on a 16-game winning streak. …

Do you remember? From 1997-99, New Castle won three consecutive Class AAAA titles. It is the only school to win three AAAA titles in a row. The team’s star was David Young, who went on to play at Xavier and then a Division II college before he was a second-round draft pick in the NBA.

CLASS AAA

Top seeds: Chartiers Valley is first, Mars second, Montour third and Beaver fourth.

Defending champion: New Castle

Best first-round game: West Mifflin vs. South Fayette, site and time to be determined.

Fav 5 to watch: Aaron Barlow, Beaver; Michael Boulos, Chartiers Valley; JaQuan Davidson, Elizabeth Forward; Josh Goetz, Mars; Devin Wilson, Montour.

Hidden statistic: Beaver and Central Valley tied for a section title. It is Beaver’s first section title since 1978. … Montour’s Wilson has started in two WPIAL football championships, one WPIAL basketball championship and two PIAA basketball championships in his career.

Do you remember? Twenty years ago, Valley’s Tom Pipkins became the WPIAL’s all-time leading scorer and led the Vikings to the WPIAL Class AAA championship. Pipkins and Valley defeated Seton-LaSalle, 52-45, in the title game at the Pitt Field House.

CLASS AA

Tod seeds: Beaver Falls is first, Greensburg Central Catholic second, Seton-LaSalle third and Jeannette fourth.

Defending champion: Beaver Falls

Best first-round game: Quaker Valley vs. Riverside-West Shamokin winner, Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

Fab 5 to watch: Elijah Cottrill, Beaver Falls; Drew Cook, Beaver Falls; Dale Clancy, Seton-LaSalle; Brian Graytock, Greensburg Central Catholic;  Josh Wise, Washington.

Hidden statistic: Greensburg Central Catholic had two players average better than 20 points a game this season. Graytock averaged 21.5 and Zach Herman 20.7.

Do you remember? It was five years ago that Jeannette’s Terrelle Pryor had one of the greatest championship performances in WPIAL history. Pryor had 39 points, 24 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in an 82-68 victory against Beaver Falls.

CLASS A

Top seeds: Lincoln Park is first, Vincentian second, North Catholic third and Union fourth.

Defending champion: Lincoln Park.

Best first-round game: Monessen vs. Sewickley Academy, Friday at Keystone Oaks.

Fab 5 to watch: John Arcuri, St. Joseph; Elijah Minnie, Lincoln Park; Maverick Rowan, Lincoln Park; Danny Savulchak, North Catholic; Ryan Wolf, Vincentian;

Hidden statistics: Arcuri was the second-leading scorer in the WPIAL this season with a 25.3 average. Shaler’s Geno Thorpe edged him out for the scoring title with a 25.4 average. … Vincentian led the WPIAL in scoring during the regular season at 82.8 points a game.

Do you remember? Four years ago, Serra senior guard T.J. Heatherington set a WPIAL playoff record by scoring 50 points in an 80-59 semifinal victory against Neshannock. Heatherington broke the record of 48 points, set by Pittbsurgh Central Catholic’s Marc Marotta in 1980.