Westmoreland high school basketball playoff capsules: Games of Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019
No. 7 Greensburg Central Catholic (17-6) vs. No. 2 Cornell (18-4)
8 p.m. Thursday at Peters Township
Winner plays: Winner of No. 3 Nazareth Prep (16-3)/No. 6 Union (17-6) Monday in semifinals
Coaches: Greg Bisignani, Greensburg CC; Bill Sacco, Cornell
Points scored/allowed: Greensburg CC, 58.2/48.7; Cornell, 74.4/52.3
Players to watch: Geoff Helm, Sr., G, Greensburg CC; Kaden Divito, Jr., G, Cornell
Last playoff appearance: Greensburg CC, 2017 (lost to OLSH, 54-49, in 2A semifinals); Cornell, 2017 (lost to Vincentian, 59-45, in A semifinals)
About Greensburg CC: The Centurions had a strong return to the postseason after a year away as Helm scored 29 points in a 62-35 win over Geibel in the first round. The Shippensburg recruit had 14 straight points in the second quarter. GCC made the semifinals two years ago.
About Cornell: The high-scoring Divito powers Cornell, located in Coraopolis. He averages 27 points, second in the WPIAL behing Keandre Bowles of Woodland Hills. The Raiders lead Class A in scoring at 74.4 points. Zaier Harrison (17 ppg) and Isaiah Langston (14 ppg) are other talented players to watch. The Raiders tied Nazareth Prep for second in top-heavy Section 1.
No. 5 St. Joseph (18-5) vs. No. 4 Monessen (14-8)
8 p.m. Thursday at West Allegheny
Winner plays: No. 1 Vincentian (14-7) or No. 9 Leechburg (13-9) on Monday in semifinals.
Coaches: Kelly Robinson, St. Joseph; Dan Bosnic, Monessen
Points scored/allowed: St. Joseph, 65.6/53.0; Monessen, 71.6/51.9
Players to watch: Grant Bendis, Sr., G/F, St. Joseph; Devin Whitlock, Fr., G, Monessen
Last WPIAL playoff appearance: St. Joseph: 2017, first round (lost to Rochester, 81-75); Monessen: 2018, quarterfinals (lost to Imani Christian, 61-59)
About St. Joseph: A 78-45 first-round win over West Greene gave St. Joseph its first postseason victory since 2011. The Spartans are seeking their first semifinal appearance since ‘05. Four players — Bendis, fellow seniors Matt Arvay and Daniel Fabregas and sophomore Andrew Sullivan — scored in double figures against West Greene. St. Joseph won six games last season with Arvay and Fabregas sidelined by season-ending injuries.
About Monessen: Bosnic, the former Connellsville coach, is in his first season at Monessen after Joe Salvino, who led the Greyhounds to nearly 650 wins in more than 30 seasons, left for the coaching job at Belle Vernon. The Section 2-A champion Greyhounds had the second-best offense in Class A behind Cornell (74.4). Last season’s quarterfinal exit snapped a string of four consecutive semifinal appearances, which included WPIAL titles in 2015 and ‘17 and a runner-up finish in ‘14.
No. 6 Southmoreland (18-5) vs. No. 3 Blackhawk (18-4)
8 p.m. Thursday at Moon
Winner plays: Winner of No. 7 McKeesport (13-8)/No. 2 Central Valley (20-1) Monday in semifinals
Coaches: Brian Pritts, Southmoreland; Steve Lodovico, Blackhawk
Points scored/allowed: Southmoreland, 47.7/35.8; 70.1/48.1
Players to watch: Bailey Kuhns, Fr., F, Southmoreland; Mackenzie Amalia, So., G, Blackhawk
Last playoff appearance: Southmoreland, 2008, (lost to West Mifflin, 48-19, in first round); Blackhawk, 2018 (lost to Beaver, 53-40, in semifinals)
About Southmoreland: The Scotties had a breakthrough win in the first round after a nine-year playoff hiatus but had to earn it. They edged Apollo-Ridge, 40-37, as freshman Bailey Kuhns scored 13 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked a late shot for Southmoreland, which had not won a playoff game since 2008.
About Blackhawk: The perennially strong Cougars start tournament play after a first-round bye. Amalia and junior Mady Aulbach help the team speed up opponents, which could cause issues for Southmoreland. Both players can handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter. Aulbach is headed to Youngstown State. Amalia was offered by Duquesne as a seventh-grader.
— Bill Beckner
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .