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Guido: Big games dot 2nd half of hoops schedule

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
From left, Deer Lakes' Becca Babincak (No. 20) and Nichole Kearns (No. 05) attempt to corner Burrell's Sydney Bordonaro (No. 21) during the basketball game at Burrell High School on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

The halfway mark of the section season in high school basketball was reached for nearly every local team the past two nights.

The second half of the season promises to be interesting.

Time to get out your still-new calendars and mark these can't-miss games.

Boys

• Friday: Latrobe at Kiski Area. After a sluggish start, the Cavaliers look like a playoff contender, particularly with the wins last week against Penn-Trafford and Hempfield. Three of Kiski Area's last four section games are at home.

• Tuesday, Jan. 29: Mars at Kittanning. The Wildcats haven't won a section title since 1984, and maybe the Lt. Charles Hutchinson Gym can again prove to be a tough place for road teams.

• Friday, Feb. 1: Gateway at Fox Chapel. It's not known whether Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim made out Fox Chapel's schedule, but the Foxes will enjoy a rare five-game homestand, including this one against the two-time defending WPIAL champs.

• Tuesday, Feb. 5: West Shamokin at Burrell. The Bucs have won one section title in the past 26 seasons. But a win here might compel the school to set aside some room in the trophy case.

• Friday, Feb. 8: St. Joseph at Leechburg. Can the Spartans make the WPIAL playoffs for the 11th season in a row? St. Joseph might need a win at Lewis Hicks Gym to accomplish that.

Girls

• Thursday: Albert Gallatin at Kiski Area. After going 0-for-December, the Cavaliers are somehow back in the playoff chase and need to make hay against the Colonials to sustain momentum.

• Thursday, Jan. 31: Kittanning at Freeport. Although averaging just 38.2 points, Freeport could be putting together a late playoff drive under first-year coach Paul Sylba.

• Friday, Feb. 1: Gateway at Fox Chapel (6 p.m.). This is the first half of a boys/girls doubleheader, and Fox Chapel's only section loss has been to the Gators. The house should be rockin'.

• Monday, Feb. 4: Burrell at Deer Lakes. Suddenly, this has become the Alle-Kiski Valley's top girls rivalry. The Bucs could wrap up the fourth section title in 42 years of girls hoops with a win here. Playoff seeding also will be on the line.

• Thursday, Feb. 7: Springdale at Riverview. This one is almost certain to have playoff implications.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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