HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Indiana teams get favorable seeds in WPIAL playoffs
The Indiana High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams both earned shares of their respective WPIAL Class AAA section titles. Not surprisingly, both teams earned favorable enough seeding as the district’s playoff pairings were announced Tuesday night.
The Indiana boys (20-2) snagged the No. 7 seed in the WPIAL Class AAA bracket, and the girls (18-4) took the No. 5 spot. Both teams avoided pigtail-round games and will open play in the first round next week.
The Indiana boys will face 10th-seed Montour (15-7) on Tuesday evening at a site and time to be determined. The girls will play next Wednesday against the winner of a pigtail game between No. 12 West Mifflin (15-5) and No. 21 Freeport (9-12), which will be played at noon Saturday at Plum High School.
The boys, who have not won a game beyond the pigtail round since 1998, got a relatively tough draw in Montour, which went 10-2 in WPIAL Section 5-AAA, finishing second to Chartiers Valley, which is the district’s top overall seed. The Indiana-Montour winner will likely face second overall seed Central Valley.
“They’re all tough, and I’m not just saying it,” coach Greg Lezanic said. “It’s not a clich￩ in this league. I really don’t know anything about them. We just exchanged film.
“I know they’ve got the playoff pedigree, with a point guard, Devin Wilson, who plays at Virginia Tech now. They played in a couple state championship games. Right away that tells me Montour’s probably coming into the playoffs confident and expecting to win.”
Indiana shared the Section 1-AAA crown with Knoch and Mars. The three teams all split their head-to-head series. Naturally, they were bunched together in the WPIAL bracket, with Knoch at No. 6, followed by Indiana and Mars.
“The general consensus was the three of us would be in that six-seven-eight area,” Lezanic said. “It’s just whatever the committee decided. … We lost by 15 points down at Knoch, so I’ve got no qualms with them being seeded ahead of us.”
While the Indiana girls were considered a solid team, there was little expectation outside the program for the Indians to challenge for and eventually share the Section 3-AAA title with Mount Pleasant.
“As we were walking out (from the pairings meeting) I said to my daughter, (assistant coach) Megan (Mills), if you would’ve told me on the first day of the season that we would get a 5 seed, I would be shocked,” girls coach Dave Woodall said. “We worked hard to get this. We didn’t start off great this year, but they certainly worked hard to build up their resumes, and it speaks well for them.”
Indiana got the nod over Mount Pleasant (No. 8) due in part to its improvement through the season. The Indians won 15 straight games before dropping their regular-season finale, a non-conference game at Slippery Rock, on Saturday. Indiana also beat Mount Pleasant, 50-30, in the teams’ second meeting of the season, which often holds priority for the selection committee.
Indiana crushed Freeport, 64-27, in a non-section game at home on Jan. 14. West Mifflin beat Seton LaSalle, one of the district’s top Class AA teams, on Monday, and is the favorite to advance to face the Indians.
“The real advantage is we play the winner of a pigtail game, so we’ll be able to go see them play,” Woodall said. “(Assistant coach) Otto (Peterson) and I have already actually seen those teams play, but it gives the girls a little advantage being able to see them play.”
In the WPIAL Class AA boys’ bracket, Apollo-Ridge (18-3) will face California (10-12) in a pigtail game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Elizabeth Forward. West Shamokin (17-5) will play Laurel (12-10) at 3 p.m. Saturday at North Allegheny.
The Apollo-Ridge girls’ team (14-7) will face Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (14-7) in a Class AA pigtail game at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Northgate.