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Previewing WPIAL Class 4A boys basketball

| Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 8:30 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Beaver Falls' Josh Creach scores past New Castle's Marcus Hooker during PIAA Class AAA boys basketball second-round action Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at North Allegheny High School.

Class 4A boys basketball breakdown

Preseason Player of the Year

Josh Creach

Beaver Falls

6-7, Sr., forward

21.0 ppg

Players to watch

Jake Benhart

Indiana

6-5, Jr., G/F, 15.9 ppg

Marcus Hooker

New Castle

5-11, Jr., F, 15.0 ppg

Geno Stone

New Castle

6-0, Sr., F, 13.0 ppg

Matt Thomas

South Fayette

5-8, Sr., G, 12.5 ppg

Darius Wise

Beaver

5-10, Sr., G, 24.0 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. New Castle (25-3)

New Castle, which has won three district titles since 2012, finished fourth in WPIAL Class AAA last season and reached the PIAA quarterfinals.

2. Beaver Falls (24-4)

Led by Creach, a first-team all-state forward, Beaver Falls has the talent to defend its WPIAL championship.

3. Quaker Valley (22-7)

The Quakers have a trio of experienced guards back who will help make Section 2 matchups exciting each night.

4. Indiana (15-8)

The 2015 WPIAL champion Little Indians lost in the first round last season but return a tall lineup, led by Benhart, a 6-5 wing.

5. South Fayette (12-10)

First-year coach Dave Mislan inherits a talented team that will include his freshman son, Connor.

Section favorites

Section 1

INDIANA

Gone is all-section guard Dylan Stapleton, but Benhart returns to lead a lineup filled with long, athletic players. Senior guard Noah Darsie and Alex Nichols return to pace Deer Lakes. Senior guard Kevin Lynch, a fourth-year letterwinner, leads the way for Freeport. Yough, which finished 16-6 last season, graduated eight seniors and is rebuilding with a young group.

Section 2

NEW CASTLE

The Red Hurricanes return two starters — Stone and Marcus Hooker — from a PIAA quarterfinalist squad but will miss graduates Marquel Hooker and Micah Fulena. Creach averaged a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds for the defending WPIAL champion Tigers, who will miss forward Donovan Jeter when he enrolls early to play football at Michigan. He was a third-team all-state pick last season. Quaker Valley, a PIAA Class AA qualifier last season, returns a backcourt of Amos Luptak, Wolf Moser and Coletrane Washington. Wise, who was among the WPIAL's leading scorers, will pace Beaver.

Section 3

SOUTH FAYETTE

Thomas, a senior guard, returns for South Fayette after an all-section campaign where he averaged 12.5 points, as the Section 5-AAA runner-up Lions lost a first-round matchup to Steel Valley. South Fayette will miss junior forward Ryhan Culberson, who transferred to Fort Cherry. The Lions will be led by former Brentwood coach Dave Mislan, who replaces Rich Bonnaure. Waynesburg featured a young team last season that finished second in Section 4-AA and lost in the WPIAL first round.

Alignment

Section 1

Deer Lakes (6-16)

Derry (0-22)

Freeport (9-13)

Indiana (15-8)

Mt. Pleasant (7-16)

Valley (1-20)

Yough (16-6)

Section 2

Ambridge (11-11)

Beaver (9-12)

Beaver Falls (24-4)

Blackhawk (10-12)

Central Valley (11-12)

Hopewell (1-21)

New Castle (25-3)

Quaker Valley (22-7)

Section 3

Belle Vernon (8-13)

Elizabeth Forward (7-15)

Keystone Oaks (6-16)

McGuffey (6-16)

South Fayette (12-10)

South Park (8-13)

Uniontown (9-11)

Waynesburg (11-9)

*Last season's record in parentheses

— Bill Hartlep

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