Kiski Area boys basketball team faces rugged path in playoffs
This isn't the road Kiski Area's boys planned to travel in the WPIAL Class AAAA basketball playoffs.
In fact, this was as close to a detour as coach Harry Rideout could expect Tuesday night when the WPIAL playoff pairings were released at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree.
“It just doesn't seem like much of a reward for winning your section,” said Rideout, whose Cavaliers (16-5) were tabbed with the No. 8 seed and will open against No. 9 Gateway (15-5) next Wednesday in the first round. “This isn't what we were expecting.”
Gateway isn't the problem. It should be a fantastic opening game. It's what could await that bothers Rideout.
Barring an upset by Latrobe, the winner will likely face No. 1 New Castle (22-0) in the quarterfinals.
“You'd hope to see them later on down the road,” Rideout said. “A No. 8 seed doesn't seem fair after where we finished. A lot of respect was given to Section 3.”
The top three seeds in Class AAAA went to Section 3 teams New Castle, North Allegheny (19-3) and Hampton (18-4).
Fox Chapel (16-6) got the No. 10 seed and will open against No. 7 Hempfield (17-5), which tied Kiski Area for the Section 1 title. Rideout was hoping to be in Fox Chapel's spot in the bracket.
The Foxes don't mind their draw.
“Any game will be a challenge,” Fox Chapel coach Zach Skrinjar said. “We played (Hempfield) earlier in the year, and it was a great game.”
Fox Chapel beat Hempfield, 67-65, in the Montour Tournament.
Some teams don't like a long layoff before the postseason begins. Not Rideout.
“I'd like a week between every game,” Rideout said with a laugh. “I could take some time with my guys and game plan.”
Burrell and Deer Lakes tied for the Section 1-AA title, but both open with preliminary-round games.
Burrell (15-6) will face Beth-Center (10-11) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at West Allegheny, with the winner claiming the No. 7 seed. Deer Lakes (16-6) takes on Shady Side Academy (8-14) at noon Saturday at North Hills for the No. 9 spot in a crowded Class AA bracket.
“That's what we earned,” Burrell coach Rob Niederberger said. “Now we have to go out and play. I am glad we'll get to play right away, rather than sit and wait. Our guys will be ready.”
No complaints from Deer Lakes, either.
“We're thrilled to be here, and we can't wait to go play,” Deer Lakes coach Jon McKay said. “We're going home to watch film right away.”
Apollo-Ridge (15-7) also has a play-in game in Class AA, facing Neshannock (17-5) at noon Saturday at Highlands for the No. 12 seed.
Kittanning (18-4) will play Yough (8-14) at 8 p.m. Friday at Gateway. Yough is coached by former Valley assistant and Freeport graduate Wayne Greiser.
Despite one of its best regular seasons, Kittanning also is in the play-in round.
“You can never guess, but you try,” Kittanning coach Bill Henry said. “We're relatively new to (the postseason), and it takes awhile to build a reputation. Hopefully, we can do that this year.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.