Breaking down the PIAA girls basketball playoffs

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:45 p.m.

Class AAAA

WPIAL/City League: Penn-Trafford (20-6), Hempfield (17-9), Fox Chapel (19-5), North Allegheny (22-2), Mt. Lebanon (16-6), Obama Academy (14-6)

Around the state: Three of the fourth semifinalists — Spring-Ford, Cardinal O'Hara and Cumberland Valley — are back, though none of the three won a district title. Spring-Ford won it all last year and returns a pair of all-state players.

• Cumberland Valley (23-5) lost to Spring-Ford in last year's title game and returns four starters from that team. UMBC recruit Maddie Torresin averages 15.7 points per game. Guard Kelly Jekot is a sophomore with seven NCAA Division I offers, including Penn State.

• North Penn (24-3) won its first District 1 title behind a career-high 27 points from Shippensburg recruit Vicky Tumasz, knocking off two-time defending champ Spring-Ford, 63-51.

• Wilson-West Lawn (22-7) started the season 6-7 but sine has won 16 straight, including a 51-38 victory over Dover in the District 3 championship game, its second straight title and sixth overall. Senior guard Alayah Hall was named the tournament MVP.

• Mount St. Joseph (24-3) was the top seed — and the state's No. 1-ranked team — entering the District 1 tournament, but Spring-Ford pulled off a 34-33 upset in the semifinals. MSJ is led by Villanova recruit Alex Louin.

Don't overlook: Manheim Township (27-2) opened 27-0 before falling to Wilson in the District 3 semis and Cumberland Valley in the third-place game. Still, Manheim Township won a fourth undefeated Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 championship in a row.

Notable: Wilson has a pair of Division I recruits in Carley Brew (James Madison) and Avery Marz (St. Joseph's). ... Dover's two losses this season are by a combined seven points, to District 3-AAAA No. 5 Red Lion by two in overtime, and by five to District 3-AAA No. 2 Susquehannock. ... Spring-Ford is led by Lafayette recruit Sammy Stipa.

Finals prediction: North Penn over Spring-Ford

Class AAA

WPIAL: Blackhawk (23-2), South Park (21-5), West Mifflin (18-6), Elizabeth Forward (20-4), Mt. Pleasant (15-9), Trinity (17-7)

Around the state: All four semifinalists — Bethlehem Catholic, Villa Maria, Blackhawk and South Park — are back, Bethlehem Catholic and Blackhawk after winning district titles. South Park downed Bethlehem Catholic, 53-38, in the state championship game last season.

• West Perry (21-5) brings a 15-game winning streak into the PIAA playoffs and won District 3 for the first time since 1995. Senior Megan Smith, an IUP recruit, is averaging 23 points per game during the winning streak.

• Scranton Prep crushed Pittston Area, 65-25, in the District 2 final. Holy Cross recruit Tricia Byrne scored 16 points, and the Classics held an opponent under 40 points for the eighth straight game.

• Bethlehem Catholic (24-3) is led by Kalista Walters, a first team all-state selection last season as a sophomore. Walters, who enters the PIAA playoffs with 1,600 career points, has 14 double-doubles this season.

• Hickory (25-0) is the only undefeated team in the Class AAA draw and captured its first D-10 championship since 1983 by holding Villa Maria to four second-half points during a 39-24 win.

Don't overlook: Lancaster Catholic (25-3) lost to West Perry in the District 3 semifinals, but longtime coach Lamar Kauffman is a 750-game winner in his 32nd season with the Crusaders.

Notable: Bethlehem Catholic is 52-6 over the past two years. ... Palmyra (22-4) is without 1,000-point scorer and Bucknell recruit Carly Richardson, who's out with an ankle injury. ... Archbishop Wood (21-3) lost to Class AA power Neumann-Goretti in the Philadelphia Catholic League final. ... The Huntingdon girls won their first District 6 title since 1988. ... Blackhawk could draw District 10's Villa Maria, which was ranked No. 5 in the state before falling to Hickory, in the second round.

Finals prediction: Blackhawk over Archbishop Wood

Class AA

WPIAL/Heritage:Seton-La Salle (22-4), Burrell (25-1), Bishop Canevin (19-6), Greensburg Central Catholic (19-5), Our Lady of Sacred Heart (16-8), McGuffey (20-4), Neshannock (22-2), Blairsville (23-2)

Around the state: Three of four 2013 semifinalists repeated as district champs: Saint Basil (21-5, District I), York Catholic (23-4, District 3) and Seton-La Salle (WPIAL). Bishop Canevin, the defending champ, fell to Seton-La Salle in the WPIAL semifinals.

• Katie Rodrigues scored 19 points, as General McLane (22-3) erased an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win its third District 10 title with a 38-31 victory over Mercer.

• Neumann-Goretti captured its first Philadelphia Catholic League title since 1978 with a 79-34 dismantling of Imhotep Charter. The Saints won their 12 league games by an average of 36 points and have a 6-foot-9 reserve center in Felicia Aiyeotan, a Nigerian immigrant.

• Deanna Chesko was named the District 3 tournament's MVP, as York Catholic rolled its way to a ninth consecutive title. York Catholic has reached the state final each of the past two years.

• The junior guard combo of Addie Guyer and Leah Springer lead Camp Hill (18-7), which needed a buzzer-beater in the District 3 quarterfinals and another late comeback to top Oley Valley in the consolation round.

Don't overlook: Bishop Canevin (19-6) upset Seton-La Salle twice last season, once in the PIAA semifinals. There's a strong likelihood they meet in the quarterfinal round this time.

Notable: Despite not having a starter taller than 5-9, Mount Carmel (22-4) snagged its fourth straight District 4 title, led by senior Ali Varano (15 ppg). ... Minersville (25-1) held Salisbury's Meagan Eripret, a 6-3 Lehigh recruit, to seven points in the District 11 final. Meanwhile, Reighly Melochik scored 16 points, eight of them coming during a 15-2 fourth-quarter run. ... Four of the eight quarterfinalists from 2012-13 were WPIAL teams: Bishop Canevin, Burrell, Seton-La Salle and Mohawk.

Finals prediction: Seton-La Salle over Neumann-Goretti

Class A

WPIAL: Vincentian Academy (22-3), Serra Catholic (23-3), Quigley Catholic (18-6), California (19-4), Frazier (16-6)

Around the state: Tri-Valley, the 2013 champion, did not make this year's tournament. Three of the other four semifinalists — Vincentian, Bishop Guilfoyle and Southern Fulton — are back.

• Southern Fulton (23-3) enters as the District 5 champion, a year after it was upset in the championship game. The Indians, who made their first semifinal appearance last year, are led by Fairfield recruit Macey Hollenshead.

• Old Forge claimed its third consecutive District 9 title and showcases 1,000-point scorer and 2012-13 all-state selection Lauren Carey.

• Bishop Guilfoyle (20-5) knocked off then-state No. 4 Portage (23-3) to win the District 6 final on freshman Macy Adams' 3-pointer at the buzzer. Bishop Guilfoyle has won eight consecutive District 6 titles, 24 overall.

• Top and bottom: District 4 champion Millville Area (24-0) is the only undefeated team in the bracket, while District 3 champion Steelton-Highspire is 10-16.

Don't overlook:Port Allegany (23-1) was the state's second-ranked team before falling to Clarion (20-5) in the District 9 semifinals. The top-seeded Gators rebounded with a 49-46 win over Venango Catholic in the consolation round. There won't be a better first-round game than Port Allegany-Vincentian.

Notable: Kennedy Catholic (21-2) won its fourth consecutive District 10 title and 10th in the past 14 years but has only one senior. ... Phil-Mont (23-4) had to beat Jenkintown for a fourth time this season to capture the District 1 title. ... Meghan Trenholm is one to watch for St. John Neumann (17-8), which reached the PIAA playoffs for the first time. Trenholm, all-state last year, is the program's all-time leading scorer and has more than 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists. ... Vincentian, the state's top-ranked team, could draw Portage in the second round.

Finals prediction: Vincentian over Old Forge

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