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Breaking down the PIAA girls basketball playoffs

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:45 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Vincentian Academy's Brenna Wise grabs a rebound over Serra Catholic's Felicia Moon in the Royals' 66-46 win in the WPIAL Girls Class A championship Saturday March 1, 2014, at Palumbo Center.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Seton-La Salle's Morgan Henderson rebounds over Burrell's Jessica Cercone during the WPIAL Class AA girls basketball championship Friday, February 28, 2014, at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Blackhawk's Chassidy Omogrosso drives to the hoop with South Park's Allison McGrath trailing on defense during the WPIAL Class AAA championship game on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at Palumbo Center.

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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