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Breaking down the PIAA boys basketball playoffs

| Thursday, March 7, 2013, 9:06 p.m.
Hampton's Ryan Luther dunks over New Castle's Shawn Anderson in the first half during the WPIAL boys Class AAAA Championship at A.J. Palumbo Center, Saturday, March 2, 2013. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Valley News Dispatch
Greensburg Central Catholic's Brian Graytok drives to the basket past Burrell's Joseph Cox during their WPIAL quarterfinal game Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at Plum. Burrell won, 67-63. (Jason Bridge | Tribune-Review)

Class AAAA

WPIAL/City League: New Castle (26-0), Hampton (21-5), Seneca Valley (17-8), North Allegheny (21-4), Gateway (16-6), Perry (12-13)

Around the state: Chester (24-3), the District 1 champion, could defend its PIAA title behind 6-foot-7 senior Rondae Jefferson, an Arizona recruit chosen for the McDonald's All-American game.

• Philadelphia's Roman Catholic (19-6) won the District 12 title with guard Shep Garner, a 6-2 junior being recruited by Miami and Xavier, among others.

• Lower Merion (23-3), the District 1 runner-up, could return to the PIAA final with 6-6 senior forward B.J. Johnson, a Syracuse recruit.

• Harrisburg (24-2) won the District 3 title behind 6-5 senior Shaquon Sheppard (14.0 ppg) and 6-2 sophomore Jahaad Proctor (13.0), both transfers from Susquehanna Township.

• Erie's Cathedral Prep (21-2), led to the District 10 title by 6-foot senior Sheldon Zablotny (19.0 ppg), has nobody taller than 6-3.

Don't overlook: St. Joseph's Prep (21-5) finished third in District 12, yet features 6-5 senior Steve Yasturia (Notre Dame) and 6-4 senior Miles Overton (Wake Forest).

Notable: Chester beat Lower Merion in last season's PIAA final, 59-33. The past five PIAA champions have come from District 1. Schenley won the 2007 title. ... Chester won, 60-46, over Lower Merion in their March 1 district championship. ... New Castle is the PIAA's last undefeated boys team. ... District 4 champion Williamsport (22-2) features 6-3 senior Isaiah Washington, a Penn State recruit.

Final prediction: Chester over Lower Merion

Class AAA

WPIAL: Montour (21-4), Chartiers Valley (22-4), Mars (21-4), Beaver (19-4), Thomas Jefferson (17-7), South Fayette (14-10)

Around the state: Neumann-Goretti (21-5), the three-time PIAA champion, features 6-foot-3 junior Ja'Quan Newton, a guard with offers from Georgetown, Miami, Syracuse and others.

• Imhotep Charter (23-5) lost to Neuman-Goretti, 52-51, in the District 12 title game despite 17 points from Providence recruit Brandon Austin, a 6-6 senior.

• Allentown Central Catholic (23-3) won the District 11 title with junior Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman (21.0 ppg), a 6-4 guard drawing mid-major offers.

• Berks Catholic (26-3), the District 3 champion, features 6-9 junior Nana Foulland (13.0 ppg) and 6-5 sophomore Connor Jack (11.0), brother of Penn State freshman Donovon.

• Abington Heights (25-2) won its second straight District 2 title behind 6-2 junior J.C. Snow (19.0 ppg) and 6-6 senior Jason Bamford, who scored 25 in the final.

Don't overlook: Northeastern (22-4) placed sixth in District 3 but has potential with 6-1 point guard Khalid Nwandu (20.0 ppg), a Mount St. Mary's recruit.

Notable: Neumann-Goretti won the 2012 title with a 48-45 victory over Montour. It also won the 2011 title over Montour, 55-45, and the 2010 title over Chartiers Valley, 65-63. ... Imhotep was PIAA Class AA champion last season. ... Along with Austin, Imhotep features 6-6 junior Basil Thompson, who has an offer from Delaware. ... Imhotep and Neuman-Goretti each faced Class AAAA favorite Chester this season. Imhotep lost, 63-61. Neuman-Goretti lost, 58-41, on ESPN2.

Final prediction: Imhotep Charter over Berks Catholic

Class AA

WPIAL: Beaver Falls (23-3), Burrell (19-7), Apollo-Ridge (17-8), Quaker Valley (20-5), Brentwood (14-10), Greensburg Central Catholic (22-2), Jeannette (18-5).

Around the state: Holy Cross (23-4) has a strong inside game with 6-7 center Josh Kosin, who had 22 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in the District 2 championship.

• West Middlesex (22-3), which moved up from Class A, won the District 10 title behind 6-foot-6 senior Matthew Dogan (26.0 ppg.), a Gannon recruit with 2,000 career points.

• Communications Tech (19-7), the Class AAA runner-up in 2006, earned District 12's top seed from Philadelphia's Public League.

• Wilkes-Barre Meyers (23-3) beat Holy Cross, 59-41, on Dec. 18 but lost the rematch, 59-45, in the District 2 championship.

• Loyalsock (24-3) has relied on 6-5 senior Roger Wilson (15.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg), who had 18 double-doubles en route to the District 4 title.

Don't overlook: Lakeview (21-4) of Mercer County lasted five overtimes against West Middlesex before losing, 71-65, in the District 10 championship game.

Notable: Beaver Falls beat West Middlesex, 50-41, in a tipoff tournament game. Dogan scored just eight points, his season low. They could meet again in the state semifinals. Dogan's season-high was 45. ... Quaker Valley reached the state semis last year before losing to Beaver Falls, 55-45. ... Comm Tech nearly beat Class AAA power Imhotep Charter, losing 45-42. ... Holy Cross reached the 2012 semis with a 58-56, 2OT victory over Comm Tech.

Final prediction: Beaver Falls over Holy Cross

Class A

WPIAL: Vincentian Academy (25-1), Clairton (16-7), North Catholic (16-6), Lincoln Park (19-6)

Around the state: Robert Vaux (19-8) lost 67-66 to Imhotep Charter in the Philadelphia Public League championship despite 45 points from star senior Rysheed Jones.

• Philadelphia's Math, Civics and Sciences Charter (23-2), the second seed from District 12, has two Robert Morris recruits (5-11 Britton Lee and 6-7 Jeremiah Worthem) and a 6-8 teammate, Quadir Welton, committed to St. Peter's.

• Johnsonburg (26-2) claimed its first District 9 title in 30 years with a 37-29 victory over Ridgeway.

• Exton's Church Farm (21-6), which lost to MCS Charter in last year's quarterfinals, won its third consecutive District 1 title.

• Ridgeway (22-5), the District 9 runner-up, lost to Lincoln Park, 65-46, in last year's PIAA semifinals.

Don't overlook: Bishop Guilfoyle (20-5) won the District 6 title with a 42-39 victory over Bishop Carroll behind 22 points from Brandon Drenning, son of Guilfoyle's first-year coach, Chris.

Notable: Lincoln Park was PIAA runner-up the past two seasons. ... Constitution, which beat Lincoln Park in last year's PIAA Class A final, 68-49, has moved to Class AA. The Philadelphia public school is the third seed from District 12 in that bracket. ... Lincoln Park lost to MCS Charter, 70-55, in the 2011 final. ... Vaux's Jones, a 6-3 point guard, holds offers from UCLA, Temple and St. John's. His game-ending free throw beat MCS Charter, 62-61, in the District 12 final.

Final prediction: MCS Charter over Lincoln Park

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