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Guido: Familiar faces dot WPIAL playoff brackets

| Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, 11:21 p.m.

The 104th WPIAL basketball tournament is set to begin this weekend, and many local fans are curious to see how far the Highlands boys and the Burrell girls can progress.

No. 4-seeded Highlands will get into action Tuesday at Fox Chapel against the Trinity-Mount Pleasant winner. No. 2 Burrell plays Tuesday at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic against Shenango or Beth-Center.

Both programs have become familiar faces in the WPIAL playoffs.

But maybe not as familiar as others, though.

The North Catholic girls are making their 41st consecutive WPIAL playoff appearance, making the postseason each year since joining the WPIAL before the 1975-76 season.

On the boys side, Monessen is in the playoffs for a record 35th straight season.

Other notable streaks are the Avonworth girls at 25 years in a row, the Washington boys at 21 straight and the Beaver Falls boys at 16 straight.

The Greensburg Central Catholic girls are in for the 35th time in 36 seasons, missing only the 2000 playoffs. The Centurions boys also missed postseason action in 2000 and, like the girls, have qualified every year since.

Aliquippa boys are in for the 36th time in 37 years, missing all the fun in 1996.

Wilkinsburg will be in the playoffs for a 38th and final time. The school will be closing in June.

Another familiar face at the pairings meeting Tuesday night was Chartiers Valley girls coach Dan Slain, former coach at St. Joseph and assistant at Riverview. His Colts play Belle Vernon on Saturday at Trinity.

Notably absent is the St. Joseph boys, who were in 13 straight years, tying the local record set by Ford City from 1927-39.

Everyone knew the longest area girls streak would be stopped this year as Ford City closed out its hoop legacy with 20 consecutive appearances before the school closed its doors last June.

Apollo-Ridge and Riverview have passed Ford City for the most times, locally, in the girls playoffs, 26 and 25, respectively.

Before they were pros

In what seemed like endless pregame shows leading up to the Super Bowl 50 kickoff Sunday, the first at 11 a.m. was excellent.

CBS did an hour-long feature on players who have participated in Super Bowls returning to their high schools with commemorative gold footballs.

It's similar to what Jeff Christy did several weeks ago when he returned to Freeport to present a gold-painted football to the school from his playing days with Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII.

As one who usually shuns these Super Bowl pregame shows as worthless fillers until the start of the game, I thought the show was fascinating.

A lot it was Western Pennsylvania-centric, with Dan Marino and Jim Kelly returning to their respective high schools for ceremonies.

Of course in Kelly's case, East Brady no longer exists. But the Bills great and recent cancer survivor showed up at Karns City, a high school that absorbed East Brady in 1993.

Bill Cowher returned to Carlynton with his buddies from the Class of 1975.

NFL Films produced the show, so you knew it was going to be good.

Keep an eye out for “Super Bowl 50: Before They Were Pros” if it's ever repeated or is part of computer programming.

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

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