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Basketball

Monessen boys, Cal Area girls each draw Venango Catholic

| Monday, March 2, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

The opponents and sites have been set for three area teams participating in the PIAA playoffs.

WPIAL boys' Class A champion Monessen (20-6) will face Venango Catholic (16-9), the fourth-place team from District 9, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Canon-McMillan High School in a first-round game.

On the girls' side, WPIAL Class A fifth-place finisher California Area (24-2) will meet District 9 champion Venango Catholic (15-5) 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Clarion University and, in Class AAA, WPIAL fourth-seed Elizabeth Forward (19-6) travels to Edinboro University Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. first-round game against Mercyhurst Prep (21-4), the runner-up from District 10.

The Greyhounds are in the state playoffs for the seventh time in the last nine years and coach Joe Salvino says he doesn't mind the way the brackets shape up.

“The brackets are pre-determined, but it doesn't look too bad to me,” Salvino said. “We will have to take it one game at a time, but we do have an opportunity.”

The veteran coach said he also doesn't mind playing at Canon-McMillan.

“We've played there before and we've had success there,” Salvino said. “I don't mind playing at Canon-McMillan at all.”

Salvino gave the Greyhounds the weekend off after winning the WPIAL crown, 73-57, over Jeannette.

Hounds ready for run

The Greyhounds, who carry a nine-game winning streak into state playoff action, face a Venango Catholic team that surprised some in its district playoffs.

The Vikings were the seventh seed in District 9, but upset No. 2 Ridgeway, 52-45, in the quarterfinals before losing to No. 3 Cameron County, 44-32, in the semifinals.

Clarion-Limestone, the fourth seed in District 9, beat Cameron County, 72-53, in the district title game.

EF to hit the road

EF will take on a Lakers team that lost in the finals of District 10 to Villa Maria-Erie, which had knocked off the top-seeded team, Hickory, in the semifinals.

The Warriors will make a long trek to Edinboro, but if the state playoffs this season are anything like they were a year ago for EF, it could be worth it.

Last year, EF reached the PIAA quarterfinals before seeing their season end.

Minerd saw opponent

California Area coach Chris Minerd was in the stands Saturday when Venango Catholic beat Clarion High, 35-22, for the District 9 title.

“They are beatable,” Minerd said of the Vikings. “They weren't even the top seed going into their district playoffs. They were the fifth seed and Clarion was the 11th seed. Elk County Christian was the top seed, but Venango beat them in the semifinals.

“They do some things well. They remind me a little of Riverview at first glance.”

California Area is in the state playoffs for the second straight year, which happens to also be the second time in school history.

The Trojans bowed in the first round of the states in 2014.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 724-684-2666 or joliver@tribweb.com.

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