Serra's No. 3 seed is surprising; Norwin coach not happy at all
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Bob Rozanski was a little surprised and Bob Shrader was downright angry.
The WPIAL released its basketball playoff pairings Wednesday at the Embassy Suites in Coraopolis with two of the top programs in the area one on the boys side and one on the girls side getting slighted.
One coach took it in stride while the other wasn't very happy with the basketball steering committee that set the seeds.
"I was a little surprised," Rozanski said. "I thought we would be the second seed."
Instead, Serra got the third seed in the Class A playoffs behind top-seeded and defending champion Sewickley Academy (18-2) and a six-loss Lincoln Park team. Lincoln Park has not lost to a Class A team all year.
"It has never been based on what you have done in the past," Rozanski said.
That has been consistent with the WPIAL over the years, especially in Class A.
Serra was the No. 1 seed in 2006-08, and after winning the WPIAL and PIAA titles they were ranked No. 2 last year despite going 18-2.
"I thought Serra should have been the No. 2 seed. I was surprised by that," said Clairton coach Von Pitts, whose team was beaten twice by Serra.
Serra opens up with Beth-Center (8-12) on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. The winner will play either Vincentian or Union.
"I won't use that angle with them," said Rozanski about getting slighted. "I don't play those kind of games. You have to beat everybody. So seeds don't matter."
You can't tell the venerable Norwin girls coach that.
Shrader, whose team ran away with the Section 1-AAAA title, going 17-5, wasn't pleased when he learned that his Lady Knights got the eighth seed and will take on Fox Chapel (17-3) on Saturday at North Allegheny at 2 p.m.
"I'm not happy. I'm not too happy at all," Shrader said. "They let two third-place teams be seeded ahead of us. I don't think it's right. I'm really mad about it."
What bothered Shrader even more was that two of Norwin's five losses came with star player Nicky Costabile out of the lineup with an ankle injury.
She returned last week against Connellsville.
"That should have been considered and it obviously wasn't," Shrader said. "We've got a lot of playoff experience and I think that's something that's going to help us a lot. No one on my team is going to be nervous."
Here are the other matchups announced at Wednesday's meeting:
Corey Gadson's team lost its final two games to drop to third place in the section and was handed a nine seed and a first-round matchup against Baldwin (14-7) on Saturday at Gateway.
"That's who we thought we'd get," Gadson said. "Right now it doesn't matter. Good team, well coached. (Baldwin coach) Kyle (DeGregorio) and I are real good friends. So it will be a nice matchup."
The Tigers will have to rebound after two crushing defeats at the end of the season on one a buzzer-beater by Penn Hills and the other a rout by rival Gateway.
A win for McKeesport (14-6) would put the Tigers into the quarterfinals against top-seeded Mt. Lebanon (21-1).
Lynn Washowich's Knights pulled off the 11th seed and will take on Gateway at North Allegheny Saturday at noon.
Norwin finished in second place in Section 1-AAAA with a 14-7 overall record while Gateway went 15-4 and is the second-place team out of Section 2-AAAA.
"They are a good team," Gateway coach Mitch Adams said. "They have good size and they have a great coach in Lynn Washowich. It won't be an easy game. You know Norwin will bring their big crowd like they always do."
The winner will get either Central Catholic or Kiski Area.
"We're playing pretty well right now," Adams said. "The McKeesport win was big, and even when we lost to Plum, we played well. We have a good team."
The Bears (10-3) got the No. 4 seed, not on the strength of their victories but more because their only three losses came to top-seeded Sewickley Academy and twice to Serra.
The Bears drew Avella (9-10) and will play the Eagles on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
"I take nothing for granted in any round of the playoffs," Pitts said. "We'll need to be ready to play. They (Avella) aren't very experienced at guard. Hopefully that's something we can take advantage of."
The Bears started the season a month late because of football and haven't really hit their stride yet. They could be a wild card in the Class A playoffs.
"This is the best Class A has been in a long time," Pitts said. "I think, from the No. 1 seed through the No. 9 seed, anybody can beat anybody."
In other boys games, Elizabeth Forward (7-12) will take part in a play-in game Saturday against Mt. Pleasant (12-8) at Ringgold. Tip is set for 1 p.m. Thomas Jefferson (16-5) will take on rival West Mifflin Area Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. West Mifflin beat TJ, 53-50, on Dec. 12.
Under the direction of first-year coach Jamie Polack, the Lady Jaguars head into the Class AAA playoffs red-hot.
TJ, winner of 11 in a row, will take on Uniontown (15-4) Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
The Lady Jaguars got the sixth seed and will sport an impressive 16-4 record heading into the postseason.
"Bottom line is that everyone is 0-0," Polack said. "Everyone is even. Records don't really mean much right now."
Serra coach Bill Cleary heads into the playoffs for the 22nd time and the Lady Eagles for their 28th straight time.
The Lady Eagles (12-6) got the seventh seed and will take on Carmichaels (13-6) on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
"We are playing much better lately," Cleary said. "We lost a couple games in the section that hurt us, but we are satisfied. We are playing well as of late. So we will see what happens."
Others games: McKeesport Area (16-4) got the 10th seed and will take on Bethel Park (16-5) at Gateway at 6 p.m. Saturday; in Class AAA, West Mifflin Area (11-9) got the 16th seed and will play Highlands (13-9) Saturday at 4 p.m. at Butler; Elizabeth Forward (4-15) grabbed the 18th seed and will oppose Laurel Highlands (14-8) at Ringgold at 3 p.m. Saturday.
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