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Many area teams to play preliminary-round playoff games

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 12:39 a.m.
Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Mt. Pleasant's Marcus Malara (left) and Uniontown's Joe Campbell will each try to help their respective team have success in the upcoming WPIAL basketball playoffs.

Many local basketball teams will have to put in a little extra work to have success in the WPIAL playoffs.

On Tuesday, the WPIAL released its playoff brackets for all four boys and girls classifications, and the Mt. Pleasant, Frazier and Laurel Highlands boys teams will have to survive a preliminary-round game, as will the Uniontown girls squad.

The Mt. Pleasant and Frazier girls avoided a pigtail game, and so did the Uniontown boys.

“It's difficult when you're doing these seedings to come up with the correct seeding, but I think the committee did a good job,” Mt. Pleasant boys coach Tony Splendore said after learning that his team will play Kittanning in a Class AAA preliminary-round game.

Should the Vikings win that game, they'll play top-seeded Chartiers Valley in a first-round contest Tuesday.

“We're playing Kittanning with a chance to win a playoff game and that's something that's not been done in years. We'll take it game-by-game,” Splendore said.

The Vikings finished as the runner-up in Section 3-AAA to Uniontown. Mt. Pleasant's last playoff victory was a preliminary-round win over Elizabeth Forward in 2010.

For the Frazier boys, a Class AA preliminary-round game against South Allegheny on Saturday wasn't unexpected.

“I was thinking of three teams that we might play and (South Allegheny) was one of them,” Frazier coach Ed Keebler said. “There's no big shock. We played them early in the year (a 63-38 South Allegheny victory in December) and they took it to us pretty good. But we've gotten better throughout the year.”

Frazier is the third-place team from Section 5-AA.

While the Frazier boys will have just a few days to fine-tune their game, the Frazier girls will have to wait until Feb. 19 for a first-round game with Sewickley Academy. Both Frazier (4-A) and Sewickley Academy (1-A) finished as the second-place team in their section.

“We weren't totally expecting that, but we think we can be competitive and we're looking forward to it,” Frazier coach Shara Zupanc said in regard to the Commodores' first-round game. “It's a little bit tougher to stay motivated when (the game) is still down the road. Hopefully, we'll get a scrimmage in there and try to be as prepared as we can be.”

The Mt. Pleasant girls team will be off until Feb. 19. The Vikings tied with Indiana for the top spot in Section 3-AAA and they'll face a familiar opponent in the first round.

“We're playing Belle Vernon and I'm excited about that,” Mt. Pleasant coach Scott Giacobbi said. “It's a team we've seen before and a team that we can match up against well if we go out and execute.”

Belle Vernon beat Mt. Pleasant, 58-47 in January at Mt. Pleasant.

“Quite honestly, there is more parity in Class AAA than there has been and we're happy to be here,” Giacobbi said.

The Uniontown boys earned the highest seed among local teams. The Red Raiders are the second seed in Class AAA and will play a preliminary-round winner on Tuesday.

The top seeds in this year's postseason are New Castle (AAAA), Chartiers Valley (AAA), Seton-La Salle (AA) and Lincoln Park (A) in the boys brackets, and North Allegheny (AAAA), Blackhawk (AAA), Seton-La Salle (A) and Vincentian (A) in the girls brackets.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at jblack@tribweb.com.

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