Plum coach says Class AAAA is wide open
Ron Richards thinks his Plum team has just as good a chance as any to make a run at the WPIAL Class AAAA boys basketball championship.
After all, like many coaches in the classification, Richards believes in the power of parity.
"Quad-A is extremely open this year, no doubt about it," Richards said. "I don't see one team that stands out. Any team can win on any given night."
The top four seeds in Class AAAA are Bethel Park (19-5), Mt. Lebanon (19-5), North Allegheny (17-6) and McKeesport (17-6).
It's clear those teams have good records, but none of them finished unbeaten in section play. In fact, they all had at least two losses against section foes.
Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon hail from Section 4. Three of Bethel Park's losses are to smaller-class teams in Beaver Falls, the No. 2 seed in Class AA, Elizabeth Forward, the top-seeded team in Class AAA, and Moon, another Class AAA playoff team.
Bethel Park beat Mt. Lebanon twice.
Plum (17-7), which is seeded sixth, opens the Quad-A tournament at 8 p.m. Monday against No. 11 Fox Chapel (15-9) at Valley High School.
The game will be the second of a doubleheader. The Fox Chapel girls will play Penn Hills at 6:30.
Plum has a win over McKeesport on its record, while the Fox Chapel boys own a win over North Allegheny.
Richards wants his team to continue to play at a high level. The Mustangs have won eight of nine games since mid-January, including their current five-game winning streak.
"We've kind of stayed steadfast in what we believe in," Richards said. "We had a little rough stretch (Plum lost 5-of-7 games at one point), but we kind of felt like we beat ourselves. We made mistakes that cost us games. I think if we limit turnovers and second-shot opportunities, we'll be fine."
It's no secret that the Ford City girls team has found success with a young lineup this season. The team's leading scorer is Young -- junior Alyssa Young (16 points per game). Other key scorers are junior Rebecca Lendyak, sophomore Tara Powers and freshman Marissa Wolfe.
Ford City coach Al Davis, who hasn't missed the playoffs in seven seasons, believes senior leadership is what's holding the team together.
"Our seniors don't get mentioned as much as they should," Davis said. "They've all taken on roles and have come up big for us in big games."
The Lady Sabers' seniors are forward Cara Lyle, guard Lauren Ball and guard-forward Katie Zambotti.
Ford City (20-4) will play Springdale (9-14) at 6:30 tonight at Valley in a Class AA preliminary-round game.
"No noise makers, poms poms or even Terrible Towels will be permitted at any playoff game."
-- Jim Collins, WPIAL Administrative Assistant explaining WPIAL basketball playoff rules.
Collins didn't say so, but, yes, the rules do pertain to the Farrell Steelers.
Twenty-five playoffs teams enter the WPIAL postseason with sub-.500 records. ... New Fox Chapel athletic director Mike O'Brien, who will assume his post later in the year, played high school basketball against Fox Chapel boys coach Ben O'Connor. O'Brien played at Brentwood, O'Connor played for Keystone Oaks.
Ticket and fan informationTickets are $5 for adults; $3 students. All tickets at games will be $5.