Back to business for area teams
The new year is here, and with it comes a full slate of girls' and boys' section basketball games.
With the rush of tip-off and holiday tournaments behind them, teams can now focus all their attention on the grind of a busy section schedule.
For the first time this season, all nine local girls' teams will be playing section foes on a busy Thursday schedule, and the same goes for the boys' teams on Friday.
Several teams have high hopes and aspirations and key road matchups to face.
In Class AAA, Elizabeth Forward (9-1, 3-0) and Belle Vernon Area (7-1, 2-0) will be out to stay perfect in Section 4 with road games.
The Lady Warriors go to Brownsville (5-3, 0-2), while BVA is at West Mifflin (6-2, 2-1) in an attractive matchup.
BVA takes a six-game winning streak into West Mifflin, where the hosts are hoping to continue their hot streak.
West Mifflin has won six of its last seven.
EF is off to an outstanding start, not only unbeaten, but outscoring foes by an average of 24 points per game.
Ringgold (6-4, 1-2) is also away at Thomas Jefferson (6-3, 1-1).
The Lady Rams have won six of their eight road games so far under first-year coach Laura Grimm and face a TJ team that is 6-1 after an 0-2 start.
Ringgold (37.6 ppg) has one of the lowest points game against averages in Class AAA.
In Class AA, Charleroi (8-2, 2-1) has a big road test at McGuffey (6-2, 1-0) in Section 5.
The Lady Cougars give up just 35.7 points per game, but will be tested by the high-scoring Lady Highlanders, who average 61.9 points per game and are led by prolific scorer Sammie Weiss.
In Class A, Monessen (1-5) opens play in Section 4 at Frazier (6-2), and California (6-3) is at Jefferson-Morgan (5-2) in Section 3 in a pair of daunting away games.
At Perryopolis, the Lady Greyhounds bring one of the worst offenses in the WPIAL (26.2 ppg) into a section opener against a Frazier squad that gives up just 34.8 points per game.
At Jefferson, California will try to bounce back from a 41-33 loss to Brentwood in its last game that snapped a six-game winning streak.
On Friday, most of the area schools will be road warriors.
In Class AAA, BVA will be at West Mifflin, Ringgold goes to TJ and EF is at East Allegheny in Section 3.
BVA (4-3, 1-1) has a tough draw against host West Mifflin (5-2, 1-1), which recently returned from Orlando, Fla., where the Titans won two of three games in the KSA Classic.
Ringgold (1-6, 0-2) will try to get on the winning side against a TJ squad (7-2, 1-1) that is coming off a tough loss to EF.
EF (9-1, 3-0) will try to continue its winning ways against a winless EA (0-9, 0-2) that allows a whopping 70 points per game.
In AA, Charleroi is at Brownsville, California visits Bentworth and Frazier hosts Jeff-Morgan in Section 5.
The Cougars (5-3, 3-0) and Falcons (4-4, 3-0) will battle for sole possession of the section lead as the Trojans (3-5, 1-2) try to stay in the race against J-M (4-6, 1-2).
In Class A, Monessen makes its debut in Section 3 at Geibel.
The Greyhounds (4-4) will be meeting a Class A school for the first time this season as they visit the Gators (1-5), who are guided for the first year by Bill Hughes.
Monessen has won four of its last five games after an 0-3 start.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.