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Previewing Thursday's WPIAL basketball championship games

| Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 7:54 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
North Catholic's Anthony Serventi grabs a rebound away from Burrell's Dom Zottola during first round AAA boys WPIAL action Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at North Hills High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Monessen's Justice Rice takes a shot while pressured by Jeannette's Mark Wormack during the second half of a basketball game at Franklin Regional on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. Monessen won 69-39.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Leechburg's Mikayla Lovelace gets tangled with Vincentian's Katelyn Bartlett during the WPIAL Class 2A conference game at Leechburg Senior/Junior High School on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Leechburg lost the game, 76-41.

Class 3A boys

Lincoln Park vs. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic

9 p.m. Thursday, Petersen Events Center

Lincoln Park (21-4, No. 1 seed)

Coach: Mike Bariski

No. Player, Pos., Ht., Yr.

0 Nelly Cummings, G, 6-0, Sr.

3 Keeno Holmes, G, 6-2, So.

20 Thomas Melonja, F, 6-4, So.

24 Evan Brown, G, 6-1, Sr.

55 Nick Antonucci, F, 6-2, Jr.

CWNC (20-5, No. 3)

Coach: Dave Long

No. Player, Pos., Ht., Yr.

4 Zach Offi, G, 6-3, Sr.

11 Isaiah Wilson, G, 5-9, So.

13 John Fukon, G, 6-0, Jr.

24 Vinnie DiNicola, G, 5-10, Sr.

31 Kenny Fukon, G/F, 6-2, Sr.

Title-game history: Lincoln Park reached the WPIAL finals for the sixth time since 2010. The Leopards are 2-3 overall, winning Class A titles in 2012 and 2014. CWNC is 3-0 in WPIAL finals. The Trojans won the Class A title last season and were Class 2A champions in 2009 and '10.

Notable: This final will match the top offense in Class 3A against the best defense. Lincoln Park averages 75.1 points. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic allows just 43.8. Cummings, a Bowling Green recruit who averages 28 points, makes his third trip to the WPIAL championship. Cummings scored 23 points but fouled out when the Leopards lost to Aliquippa, 49-45, last year. The only WPIAL teams to defeat Lincoln Park this season were Pine-Richland and Penn Hills. CWNC held its first three playoff opponents to 41, 32 and 44 points. The Trojans started this season 5-3 but have won 15 of 17 since. Their only losses since Jan. 1 were to Class 5A's Mars and Franklin Regional. Kenny Fukon led CWNC with 13 points in last year's WPIAL Class A final, a 50-36 victory over Sewickley Academy.

Predicted winner: Lincoln Park

Class A boys

Monessen vs. Imani Christian

7 p.m. Thursday, Petersen Events Center

Monessen (17-7, No. 1)

Coach: Joe Salvino

No. Player, Pos, Ht., Yr.

1 Jaron Youngblood, G, 6-1, Sr.

3 Jaden Altomore, G, 6-2, Sr.

5 Lyndon Henderson, F, 6-5, So.

10 Cory Fleming, G, 6-0, Jr.

12 Justice Rice, G, 6-2, Sr.

Imani Christian (15-6, No. 3)

Coach: Anwan Wesley

No. Player, Pos, Ht., Yr.

1 Kenny Robinson, F, 6-3, Sr.

3 Sam Fairley, G, 6-0, Jr.

5 Ray Jackson, G, 5-9, Jr.

15 Keon Arvin, F, 6-1, Sr.

23 Desean Hubbard, G, 5-11, Jr.

Title-game history: Monessen is 6-9 overall in WPIAL finals and has won four titles since 2001. The Greyhounds are in the finals for the fifth time in seven years. Imani makes its first WPIAL finals appearance.

Notable: Monessen and Imani rank among the top-scoring teams in the WPIAL. Monessen topped 100 points three times and averaged a WPIAL-best 79.7 points behind Altomore, a 20-point scorer, and Rice, who averaged 18. In the semifinals, Rice had 38 points and Altomore 25 to defeat Union, 88-64. Monessen's solid nonsection schedule included a 75-72 loss to Class 3A finalist Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic on Feb. 13. Imani Christian averaged 70.6 points behind Robinson, a 25-point scorer and West Virginia football recruit. Robinson's 19 points in the semifinals led five Imani scorers in double figures. Jackson had 16, Fairley 15, Chaka Poole 15 and Hubbard 12. Robinson and Fairley both transferred from University Prep in the summer. Imani, a private school in East Hills, joined the WPIAL in 2012.

Predicted winner: Monessen

Class 2A girls

Chartiers-Houston vs. Vincentian Academy

5 p.m. Thursday, Petersen Events Center

Chartiers-Houston (22-2, No. 1)

Coach: Laura Montecalvo

No. Player, Pos, Ht., Yr.

2 Madison Simpson, G/F, 5-9, Jr.

11 Keaira Walker, F, 5-9, Jr.

14 Jules Vulcano, G, 5-10, Jr.

23 Jala Walker, G, 5-10, Sr.

24 Alexa Williamson, F, 6-1, Jr.

Vincentian Academy (20-4, No. 2)

Coach: Ron Moncrief

No. Player, Pos, Ht., Yr.

12 Tess Belko, G, 5-7, Jr.

21 Katie Bartlett, F, 5-11, Jr.

24 Caroline Elliott, F, 5-10, Jr.

30 Olivia O'Brien, G, 5-7, Jr.

32 Madison Very, G, 5-8, Jr.

Title-game history: Chartiers-Houston makes its WPIAL finals debut. Vincentian Academy owns a 9-2 record in WPIAL finals with eight titles since 2001.

Notable: No team has dominated in recent years quite like Vincentian Academy. The Royals won the past five WPIAL Class A titles and six of seven. Expansion to six classifications moved to the team to Class 2A. Elliott (15.1 ppg) was the only starter back from last year's championship lineup, when Vincentian defeated Serra Catholic, 53-46. Very (12.2) also averages double figures.

Vincentian led Class 2A in scoring (61.3 ppg), but Chartiers-Houston owned the best defense and allowed just 30.2. The Bucs held three regular-season opponents to 13 points or less. Williamson, a 22-point scorer, had 25 points and 10 rebounds in the semifinals.

Predicted winner: Vincentian

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