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Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Burrell's Cole Bush (No. 40) breaks through (from left) Deer Lakes' J.J. Kowalkowski (No. 21) and Zach Bryner (No. 32) during the basketball game at Deer Lakes High School on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013.
Top high school sports
By George Guido
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 11:18 p.m.


Class AA

Preliminary round

Burrell (15-6) vs. Beth-Center (10-11)

1:30 p.m. Saturday at West Allegheny

Winner plays: Washington (16-6)/Jefferson-Morgan (11-11) winner, Wednesday (time, site to be determined).

Layups: Burrell won its regular-season finale at Deer Lakes to tie the Lancers for a share of Section 1-AA title. Only the second section crown for the Bucs since 1986 — won Section 1-AAA in 2004. Burrell, in the WPIAL playoffs for the 15th time, is looking for its first playoff win since defeating Northgate in a 2006 preliminary-round game. Bucs are led in scoring by Pete Spagnolo at 13.2 points per game. … Beth-Center is in the playoffs for just the seventh time since the school opened in 1958. The last Bulldogs playoff win was in 1994 over Charleroi. Beth-Center finished fourth in Section 5-AA.

Deer Lakes (16-6) vs. Shady Side Academy (8-14)

Noon Saturday at North Hills

Winner plays: California (18-3)/Brentwood (12-9) winner, Wednesday (time, site to be determined).

Layups: Deer Lakes won its first section title since 1992. The Lancers are looking to end a long playoff drought, last experiencing a WPIAL postseason victory on March 1, 1985, in the quarterfinal round against Southmoreland. Deer Lakes is in playoffs for 10th time in school history. Tim Jaczesko with 438 points (23.1 per game) leads the Lancers. … Shady Side has now made the playoffs 19 of 20 seasons since rejoining the WPIAL in 1993 — missing only the 2003 postseason. The school played in the first-ever WPIAL finals in 1913, losing to Wilkinsburg in what was then a best-of-3 for WPIAL honors. Indians won PIAA titles in 1995 and 2000.

Apollo-Ridge (15-7) vs. Neshannock (19-5)

Noon Saturday at Highlands

Winner plays: No. 5 Sto-Rox (14-8), Wednesday (time, site to be determined).

Layups: Apollo-Ridge started the season winning nine of its first 10 but has cooled off since. Vikings are in the playoffs for the 13th time, last winning a playoff game in 2003 against Chartiers-Houston, also on the Highlands floor. Vikings feature a balanced scoring attack with all five starters averaging between 9.0 and 10.3 points. …Neshannock, located north of New Castle in Lawrence County, beat District 10's Wilmington, 81-55, Monday in a playoff tuneup game. Lancers are in the playoffs for the sixth straight season and the 22nd time since the school opened in 1958. Ernie Burkes, who averages 21.4 points, leads Neshannock.

West Shamokin (11-10) vs. Riverside (14-8)

3 p.m. Saturday at Highlands

Winner plays: No. 6 Quaker Valley (18-4), Wednesday (time, site to be determined).

Layups: West Shamokin is in the playoffs for the sixth time in the school's 13-year history. Only playoff win came in 2009 over Fort Cherry. Leading scorer Anthony Rocco has 402 points and averages 19.1. … Riverside is one of the WPIAL's hottest teams going into the playoffs, winning five in a row and nine of their past 10, with the only loss coming against top-rated Beaver Falls. ... Panthers finished second in Section 2-AAA, tied with Neshannock. At 9-5, Riverside averages 52.6 points per game, giving up 52.1, despite all the recent success. Tyler Faulk (15.4 ppg) leads the Panthers.Girls

Class AAA

Preliminary round

Kittanning (9-13) vs. West Mifflin (9-12)

1:30 p.m. Saturday at Highlands

Winner plays: No. 1 seed Blackhawk (22-0), Wednesday (time, site to be determined).

Layups: Kittanning will have to get back on track after losing five of its last six regular-season games. The Wildcats are led by top scorer Emily Knepshield, who averages 14.8 points. ... West Mifflin recovered from an early slump, losing five of six during one December stretch. Titans finished third in Section 4-AAA and average 53.7 points per game. West Mifflin has seen considerable success since the North and South high school merged in 1986, making the playoffs 22 of last 23 seasons. Taylor Thomas (14.8 ppg) leads the Titans.

Freeport (8-12) vs. South Fayette (14-7)

1:30 p.m. Saturday at North Allegheny

Winner plays: No. 4 Central Valley (17-4), Wednesday (time, site to be determined).

Layups: Freeport returns to the playoffs for the 17th time in past 30 seasons, this time under first-year coach Paul Sylba. Yellowjackets last won a playoff game in 2004, defeating Washington in the Class AA semifinals. Freeport is led in scoring by forward Jess Aulicino (15.2 ppg). … South Fayette is in the playoffs for the seventh straight season. The Lions yield just 36.8 points per game. South Fayette has won five of its last six games, including a 52-45 win over Class AAAA Canon-McMillan on Monday. The Lions scoring leader is Caitlin McLuckie at 10.4 points.

Class A

First round

No. 12 seed St. Joseph (10-12) vs. No. 5 Avella (13-6)

1:30 p.m. Saturday at North Hills

Winner plays: No. 4 Quigley (16-5) or No. 13 California (14-7), Feb. 23 (time, site to be determined).

Layups: St. Joseph goes into the game on a 12-day layoff, last having played Feb. 4. The Spartans have played one of the area's toughest schedules — 14 of their 22 games have been against playoff teams, including highly rated Burrell and Deer Lakes of Class AA. Mallory Heinle is the third-leading scorer in Class A at 19.9 points. … Avella has been in the playoffs 12 of the past 13 seasons. The Eagles were the champions of Section 3-A. Avella's leading scorer is Olivia English (15.2 ppg).

—George Guido

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