WPIAL awards Latrobe top seed in 'wide open' Class AAAA bracket

Chris Harlan
| Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, 7:39 p.m.

The WPIAL had to choose between this season's sensation and last year's champion.

Latrobe or Chartiers Valley, who deserved the No. 1 seed in the Class AAAA boys basketball playoff bracket?

“When you look at Char Valley, you know they've done it before,” said Dan O'Neil, chairman of the WPIAL basketball steering committee. “But I think Latrobe also is well-coached and prepared to make a run.”

There were arguments made for each when the committee met to draw up the brackets, O'Neil said. Latrobe (20-1) had the best record in Class AAAA this season with some solid nonsection wins included. But the Wildcats haven't won a playoff game since 2010. Chartiers Valley (18-4) lost four games this season, but owns an unrivaled playoff pedigree.

The WPIAL chose Latrobe.

“It should be based on what you did this year, not what you did last year,” CV coach Tim McConnell said in agreement. “Latrobe's body of work was better than ours. They got the No. 1 seed, and I have no complaints.”

Latrobe went from last to first in two years. The Wildcats were the No. 16 seed in 2013 and 2014. They were No. 7 last season.

“The kids will be proud that they got a No. 1 seed,” Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel said. “Now we've got to do something about it. That's the hard part.”

Chartiers Valley owns a 25-8 record in the WPIAL playoffs over the past decade, and has reached the finals six times. Latrobe is 2-8 in that same span.

The WPIAL revealed its playoff brackets Tuesday night during its annual pairings meeting at the DoubleTree in Green Tree. Along with Latrobe, the other boys teams earning No. 1 seeds were New Castle (21-1) in Class AAA, Aliquippa (21-0) in Class AA and Monessen (19-3) in Class A.

The top-seeded girls teams were Norwin (21-0) in Class AAAA, South Fayette (18-3) in Class AAA, OLSH (19-3) in Class AA and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (20-2) in Class A.

The playoffs start Friday and Saturday with preliminary- and first-round games. The finals are Feb. 26-27 at Petersen Events Center. The WPIAL will use limited consolation brackets for the second consecutive year to decide some state playoff qualifiers.

O'Neil said the committee's most-difficult decision was seeding Quaker Valley (18-4) third and Greensburg Central Catholic (21-1) fourth in the Class AA boys bracket. The Quakers were the second-place team from Section 5. GCC was a section champion.

“I spent a lot of time just looking into those records,” O'Neil said. “It could have gone either way. Very, very little separated them. That (11-3 section) record for Quaker Valley is what swayed everybody at the end.”

The Class AAAA boys bracket took the longest to assemble, O'Neil said.

The committee had to choose an order for No. 4 seed Pine-Richland, No. 5 Central Catholic and No. 7 North Hills, which finished tied for first in Section 3-AAAA. Overall record was the tiebreaker, O'Neil said.

Penn Hills was seeded third, Plum was sixth and Bethel Park was eighth.

“Quad-A is wide open,” McConnell said. “I think seven or eight teams could win it, so we'll see what happens.”

Said O'Neil: “There doesn't appear to be a great team, but there are a lot of good teams.”

Chartiers Valley's four losses this season were to Monessen (96-94), Copper Hills, Utah (76-48), Peters Township (77-71) and Aliquippa (58-44). Latrobe's only loss was to section rival Norwin, 72-57, on Jan. 26. The team has nonsection wins over seven WPIAL playoff teams, including Quad-A qualifiers Pine-Richland, Plum and Bethel Park.

“We talked back and forth between Latrobe and Char Valley,” O'Neil said. “There was even some folks in the room who thought it should be Penn Hills. Latrobe was just consistent all year.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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