High school notebook: Lincoln Park looking forward to rematch with Johnsonburg
Lincoln Park wanted at some point this postseason a rematch with Johnsonburg, the team that ended last season's playoff run.
Well, here it is.
WPIAL champion Lincoln Park (25-1) and District 9's Johnsonburg (21-4) will meet in a PIAA Class A boys basketball first-round game Friday night at North Hills. Johnsonburg won 59-53 in last year's semifinal and returns its two top scorers from that state runner-up lineup.
“These guys wanted to play them again in the playoffs,” said Mike Bariski, Lincoln Park athletic director and assistant coach. “Johnsonburg took away what they thought was theirs.”
The teams already met once this season: a 77-59 victory by Lincoln Park on Dec. 17 at Johnsonburg. The Leopards trailed by double figures in the second half until a 19-2 run in the fourth quarter.
“Playing them in the regular season is one thing,” Bariski said, “but playing them in the playoffs again is big for these guys.”
But few expected the state playoff rematch to come in the first round. An upset loss Feb. 26 to Elk County Catholic, 67-66, in the District 9 semifinals left Johnsonburg as the third of four qualifiers.
“They're the best team out of that district,” Bariski said.
Another intriguing first-round matchup will be City League champion Allderdice vs. WPIAL runner-up Hampton at Obama Academy on Saturday in the Class AAAA bracket. The Dragons (19-5) put together a strong late-season run and were the only team to defeat Obama Academy (22-1) — a 55-54 victory in the City title game. Hampton (22-4) features Pitt recruit Ryan Luther and a tall, talented lineup that stayed close with Quad-A champ New Castle (26-0) to the final buzzer in the WPIAL title game.
Rematches from the WPIAL quarterfinals include New Castle vs. Bethel Park (18-6) on Saturday at Chartiers Valley in Class AAAA and Central Valley (24-2) vs. Mars (15-9) Friday at Moon in Class AAA. WPIAL champion New Castle won the earlier meeting 73-46, and WPIAL champion Central Valley won 74-61.
In the girls bracket, WPIAL Class AAAA champion Penn-Trafford (20-6) was rewarded for its first title with a first-round game Friday night at Baldwin against North Allegheny (22-2), the WPIAL's No. 1 seed which was upset by Hempfield (17-9) in the semifinals. Hempfield will play City champion Obama Academy (14-6) on Friday at Allderdice in the first round.
WPIAL Class AAA runner-up South Park (21-5) will again face Trinity (17-7) at Moon on Saturday. The Eagles won a quarterfinal meeting 67-41.
The WPIAL sold more than 12,000 tickets for this past weekend's basketball championships at Palumbo Center, said executive director Tim O'Malley. The ticket total included 5,150 for Friday's games and around 7,000 combined for Saturday's two sessions. The 4,400-seat arena was near capacity for the Class AAAA boys final between New Castle and Hampton.
Laurel coach resigns
After one season at Laurel, football coach Pat Cuba resigned last week, according to athletic director Mike Tinstman. Laurel, which went 7-3 last season in Class A, will move up to Class AA for the WPIAL's next two-year cycle.
Other WPIAL and City League schools with coaching vacancies include Deer Lakes, Norwin, Perry, Ringgold and Sto-Rox.
Spring sports start
Despite the weekend snowstorm and frigid temperatures, spring sports practices for baseball, softball, track and field, boys and girls lacrosse, boys volleyball and boys tennis began Monday across Western Pennsylvania.
Boys tennis teams will begin WPIAL play March 10, while the other sports can start playing games March 21.
Central Catholic defensive end Angelo Natter recently committed to West Point. The senior originally committed to Robert Morris.
The top 74 boys and girls bowlers from the WPIBL have qualified for the Western Pennsylvania Regional championships Friday at North Versailles Bowl. The regional team competition will be Saturday, at North Versailles Bowl, which also will host the state championships March 14 (singles) and 15 (team).
Wrestling, swimming online
The PIAA has posted to its website, www.piaa.org, pairings for this week's state wrestling tournament and psych sheets for next week's swimming and diving championships.
The PIAA Class AAA and AA wrestling tournament starts Thursday in Hershey and runs through Saturday night.
The swimming and diving championships are March 12-15 at Bucknell.
For high school basketball fans who were unable to attend the WPIAL championships Friday and Saturday, Comcast is offering replays of all eight games via its Xfinity On Demand feature.
To watch any game, Comcast digital cable subscribers can select Get Local, Sports, High School Basketball and WPIAL Finals from the On Demand menu.
• PCN will televise the PIAA wrestling championships live Saturday, with the Class AA matches at 1:30 p.m. and Class AAA at 6:30.