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WPIAL committee has tough call on seeding Section 3-6A rivals

| Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, 10:45 p.m.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Jake Biss (left) ,Reed Fenton,(center) and Marcus Dudzensk celebrate after beating Penn Hills 76-75 to become WPIAL Class 6A Section Champs at Latrobe High School on Friday Feb.10, 2017 in Latrobe.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Jake Biss cuts down the net after beating Penn Hills 76-75 to become WPIAL Class 6A Section Champs at Latrobe High School on Friday Feb.10, 2017 in Latrobe.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Austin Butler passes the ball as Penn Hills' Chavar Williamson defends during their WPIAL Boy's Basketball contest at Latrobe High School on Friday Feb.10, 2017 in Latrobe.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic poses with the trophy they won by defeating Obama Academy 65-59 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, at Penn Hills High School. Greensburg Central Catholic extended their record to 21-0 with the win.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic head coach Greg Bisignani talks with his team during a timeout late in the game against Obama Academy on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, at Penn Hills High School. Greensburg Central Catholic won 65-59, extending their record to 21-0.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic's Neal McDermott (11) waits to take the floor prior to a game at Jeannette on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, at Jeannette High School. Greensburg Central Catholic leads 35-15 at halftime.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic's Maddy Coddington (15) brings the ball forecourt as Penn Hills' Ariana Dunson (0) defends during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, at Penn Hills High School. Penn Hills won 55-39.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic's Caroline Perz attempts a 3-point shot during the fourth quarter against Penn Hills on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, at Penn Hills High School. Penn Hills won 55-39.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Norwin's Danielle McMaster battles Penn Hills' DNadya Coleman for a rebound during their game Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, at Penn Hills.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Norwin's Abby Gabauer (right) battles Penn Hills' Diamond-Jay Whittington for a loose ball during their game Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, at Penn Hills.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Austin Butler drive through Penn Hills defenders in the fourth period of their WPIAL Boy's Basketball contest at Latrobe High School on Friday Feb.10, 2017 in Latrobe.

After climbing a ladder and cutting down the net Friday night following a thrilling 76-75 home win over Penn Hills that secured a three-way share of the Section 3-6A title, Latrobe's boys basketball team is wondering where it will be seeded in the new-look WPIAL playoffs, which will include six classifications for the first time.

The Wildcats are not alone.

Playoff pairings will be announced Tuesday night at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree, and the WPIAL basketball committee will reveal the conclusion of a conundrum that landed in its lap: where to seed Latrobe (19-3), Penn Hills (19-3) and Fox Chapel (19-3), all of whom finished 12-2 in section.

“Not real certain how the committee will see it,” Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel said. “Are we 2, 3, 4? It's hard to say what they'll do. Every team in the field is good.”

The consensus is that Pine-Richland (21-1) will be No. 1, but Latrobe's win Friday upset the apple cart and forced the committee to decide who is No. 2 ... and 3 and 4.

Latrobe, which has won three straight section titles, split its season series with Penn Hills and Fox Chapel, and Fox Chapel and Penn Hills also split. With only 12 playoff teams this season, compared to the traditional 16, there will be four first-round byes, which could go to Pine-Richland and the Section 3 teams. Mt. Lebanon (14-8) is the Section 2 champion, so it could make an argument for a top-four seed.

“It's going to be tough,” Penn Hills coach Dan DeRose said. “You wonder what they'll look at. How did everyone do against the rest of the conference? How did everyone play out of conference? You look at us, we beat Lincoln Park, New Castle and Allderdice on the road (and McKeesport at home).”

Latrobe and Penn Hills were semifinal teams last year in Quad-A. Fox Chapel is enjoying its first section title in a decade.

“It's going to be exciting, you know that,” Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said. “The WPIAL will do their due dilligence. To be honest, I think it will be Pine-Richland 1, Latrobe 2, Penn Hills 3, and Fox Chapel 4. But who knows? What happens, happens and you have to deal with it.”

Only boys 3A and girls 5A will have traditional 16-team brackets. As for the others, all but 5A and 2A boys (13 teams), Class A boys (14) and Class A girls (13) will have 12-team brackets.

Greensburg Central Catholic (22-0) is the likely No. 1 seed in boys Class 2A. The Centurions, ranked No. 3 in the state, have had rousing success in recent seasons, making the semifinals four of the last five times, but never have won a WPIAL title in basketball.

A strong nonsection schedule has the Centurions ready for the playoffs and the committee.

“I try not to predict the seedings and brackets because I am surprised yearly,” Greensburg Central coach Greg Bisignani said. “Last year, we finished the regular season 21-1, with our only loss being by five points to Penn-Trafford, a team in the highest classification, and undefeated in our section and got a fourth seed. We have played some higher-classification teams to give us a better feel for playoff-type games.”

Bishop Canevin (18-3) and Sewickley Academy (17-4) are other boys teams held in high regard in 2A.

Coaches do not like to predict seedings in the playoffs because they fear they are setting themselves up for disappointment. Even coaches who have won back-to-back Quad-A championships, like Norwin girls coach Brian Brozeski. Norwin (16-5) finished second in Section 2-6A behind likely top-four seed Penn Hills (20-2) and could be in the conversation for a first-round bye.

“I honestly don't spend a lot of time predicting brackets,” Brozeski said. “I've tried in years past and have been way wrong, so I devote the time to watching film and trying to make our team better.

“I don't worry about things I can't control like seeding.”

The GCC girls (17-5), who were a perfect 14-0 in section play, are anticipating a first-round bye as they try to make another run to the title game.

“We're hoping for a 1 or 2,” GCC coach Joe Eisaman said. “You look at what we did last year, making the finals. They should take that into consideration. And our schedule has been brutal. We have made huge improvements from the Pine-Richland game (Dec. 15) until now.”

GCC was a No. 14 seed when it left a trail of upsets on the way to the Pete last year.

The Monessen boys should be the No. 1 seed in Class A.

All playoff games are played at neutral sites. The WPIAL finals will be spread over three days, March 2-4, at Pitt's Petersen Events Center.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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