Guido: These 2nd-half games make can't miss list
In between last week's sub-zero temperatures and snowfalls that were enough to be annoying, the first half of the WPIAL section basketball season was completed on Tuesday night for many local schools.
Several teams still are short of the halfway mark, but it's time to look ahead to the second half and games that should be placed on any fan's can't-miss list.
All games are at 7:30 unless otherwise indicated:
• Friday: Summit Academy at Apollo-Ridge. This could be the largest crowd at the Apollo-Ridge gym since the 1994 showdown between the Vikings and Ford City for section honors. The gym was so crowded that the media had to be ushered through the cafeteria from the rear of the school to reach the gym.
The winner of this one should grab section honors.
• Jan. 31: Trinity Christian at St. Joseph. The Spartans lost to Trinity the first time around in Forest Hills, 63-58. If St. Joseph is going to make the playoffs for a 12th straight year, this one is a must.
• Feb. 4: Hempfield at Kiski Area (7:45 p.m.) The Spartans dealt the Cavaliers their only section loss last Friday. While Hempfield's Kason Harrell stole the show in Round One, look for the matchup of big men between Kiski Area's Mike Simmons and Hempfield's Tony Pilato.
• Feb. 4: Plum at Fox Chapel. Be sure to get to this one early. No one who saw the first game last Friday will ever forget the ending with two technicals against the Foxes with .9 seconds left. This will be for playoff seeding and it could be the difference between travelling 10 miles or 50 miles to a first-round playoff game.
• Feb. 7: Mars at Knoch. No matter what the sport, a Mars-Knoch game is always big. This one might have a direct connection to a section title.
• Jan. 30: Apollo-Ridge at Ford City. Can the Sabers make it 19 straight trips to the playoffs? It's unusual for a high school team to complete its section campaign before the Super Bowl, but this will be a key game in Ford City's penultimate season.
The Vikings lost by 10 on Monday, but Apollo-Ridge should have the services of Ashley Emminger this time around.
• Jan. 30: Freeport at Kittanning. The winner in this one should be able to claim the fourth and final playoff berth from Section 1-AAA. Kittanning won, 40-34, in the first half.
• Feb. 3: North Catholic at St. Joseph. The Spartans lost by just two, 52-50, last week on Troy Hill. Can St. Joseph spring an upset against the most successful program in WPIAL girls history?
• Feb. 4: Plum at Fox Chapel (6 p.m.). The Foxes rallied last Friday to beat Plum by hitting 11 free throws to end the game. Fox Chapel star Erin Mathias had a contact lens dislodged and had to play the final minutes with the use of one eye.
• Feb. 8: Burrell vs. Mount Pleasant at Greensburg Central Catholic Hoopsfest (2 p.m.). This isn't a section game, but the Bucs might be in a position for the first undefeated regular season in school history and getting a No. 2 or 3 seed in the playoffs, which would mean Burrell doesn't have to worry about Seton-La Salle until the finals.
George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.