Valley News Dispatch: PIAA boys basketball capsules
Burrell (19-7) vs. Bishop McCort (18-8)
4:30 p.m. Saturday at Gateway High School
Winner plays: West Middlesex (22-3)/Jeannette (18-5) winner Wednesday (time, site TBD).
Layups: This is Burrell's first venture into the PIAA tournament since 2001, when the Buccaneers were eliminated in the first round by Blackhawk at Seneca Valley High School. WPIAL runner-up Burrell also lost opening-round state playoff games in 1979 and ‘84. The Bucs are hoping Pete Spagnolo's hot shooting continues. The senior guard hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter against Beaver Falls at Palumbo Center. A win would give Burrell 20 victories for the first time since 1979. ... Bishop McCort, located in Johnstown, has lost in the PIAA first round the last two seasons. Junior Nemo Trexler (18.7 ppg) leads the Crimson Crushers, who defeated Bald Eagle Area, 68-43, Saturday to secure the third PIAA berth from District 6. Junior Billy Hipp led the Crushers with 24 points. Bishop McCort made its only PIAA finals appearance in 1985, losing to Bishop Shanahan a week after defeating Springdale in the quarterfinal round.
Apollo-Ridge (17-8) vs. Northern Cambria (21-5)
7 p.m. Saturday at Central Cambria High School
Winner plays: Conemaugh Township (23-3)/Brentwood (14-10) winner Wednesday (time, site TBD).
Layups: Apollo-Ridge, the WPIAL's third-place team, is in the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 1988. That year, under coach Gary Davis, the Vikings defeated Everett before losing to Bishop McCort. The Vikings will look to rebound from a WPIAL semifinal loss to Beaver Falls. Lucas Burrell had 14 against the Tigers; he's the team's leading scorer at 11.0 points per game. However, the five Vikings starters all average between 8.3 and 11.0 points per game. ... District 6 runner-up Northern Cambria moved from Class A to Class AA under the current PIAA realignment. The Colts lost to Vision Quest in the PIAA opening round last year. Northern Cambria is led in scoring by senior guard Adam Polities (20.3 ppg). Northern Cambria won the 1965 PIAA title against Montrose, a school that came into that finals with a 53-game winning streak. The Colts lost in the District 6 title game last weekend against Penn Cambria. All five Colts starters are seniors.
Burrell (22-3) vs. Bellwood Antis (24-3)
6 p.m. Friday at Plum High School
Winner plays: Brookville (13-12)/Sharpsville (17-8) winner Tuesday (time, site TBD).
Layups: The Bucs are in the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 1994. That year, Burrell defeated Brookville before losing to Marion Center. Burrell had difficulty getting on track against eventual WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin 10 days ago, but a state tournament win could be a big step for a team consisting of all underclassmen. ... Bellwood Antis, located between Altoona and Tyrone, last made the PIAA playoffs in 2002, defeating Tussey Mountain before losing to Cranberry. The Blue Devils lost the District 6 title game to Blairsville, 71-61. The leading scorer is 5-foot-9 senior Katy Leamer (19.2 ppg). Blue Devils coach Jim Swaney has 339 career victories in 21 seasons, including the last three at Bellwood Antis.