What to watch in WPIAL sports March 18, 2023: New Castle and Reading to meet for first time in state playoffs
By: Don Rebelle
Friday, March 17, 2023 | 11:54 p.m.
André Palla | For the Tribune-Revue
New Castle’s Jonathan Anderson (12) scores during a PIAA playoff game against Erie on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at New Castle High School.
Two state boys’ basketball powerhouses will collide for the first time in the PIAA playoffs on Saturday afternoon when New Castle takes on District 3 champions Reading.
The Red Hurricanes are looking for their 50th all-time playoff victory (49-24) when they face the Red Knights in Altoona at 2 p.m.
With all of their wins, New Castle has only one PIAA Tournament victory against an opponent from District 3.
It happened last year when the Canes beat Northeastern York in the first round, 63-50.
New Castle was 0-2 against D-3 teams in the playoffs prior to this win.
They lost to Harrisburg in the 1998 Class 4A state championship game, 69-53 and fell to Bishop McDevitt in the 2016 quarterfinals, 77-68.
The co-champions face off
One was co-champion in Section 1-3A, the other shared a title in Section 3-3A.
Now they collide, one step away from the PIAA’s last four.
Neshannock (20-7) has had six-game and seven-game winning streaks this season. After falling to defending champion Notre Dame du Sacre Coeur district in the WPIAL semifinals, 53-50, the Lancers won their first two games of the playoffs by a combined six points against Oil City and Brookville.
Deer Lakes (19-8) beat OLSH to win their first WPIAL championship two weeks ago and knocked out Seneca and Loyalsock Township to extend their playoff winning streak to six games.
The teams meet in North Allegheny at noon in the PIAA 3A quarter-finals.
Finally they meet
When the WPIAL playoff brackets were announced in mid-February, Aliquippa was the number one seed and defending champion Bishop Canevin was the No. 2 seed.
A showdown between the Division 1-2A and Division 2-2A champions never materialized in the district playoffs, as BC lost to Northgate in the semifinals, 63-54.
However, after two wins in the state playoffs, we finally get the Quips vs. Crusaders showdown at Peters Township at 1:30 p.m.
Eagles vs. Tigers: Take 4
McKeesport’s women’s basketball program had an incredible season, winning 23 of 28 games.
However, the Tigers don’t have a district gold or a section crown to show for all their success thanks to one team, Oakland Catholic’s 3-5A section foe (24-4).
The Tigers lost both of their sectional games to the Eagles and finished two games behind them in the standings.
The third time was no charm for McKeesport, when they again lost to Oakland Catholic in the WPIAL semi-finals, 58-51.
The fourth meeting of the year between the two 5A powerhouses takes place in Peters Township at noon.
In the quarterfinal matchup of the other 5A state girls on the “west” side of the group on Saturday, WPIAL champion South Fayette (26-2) will face District 10 champion Erie Cathedral Prep in Sharon at 1 p.m.
WPIAL Finalists vs. District Champions
Both WPIAL 4A Women’s Basketball Playoff finalists are still alive ahead of the state quarterfinals.
Now they face a pair of District Champions.
The winner of District 7 North Catholic (24-3) will go on an 18-game winning streak in a game Saturday against District 3 champion Wyomissing (28-2) at Bald Eagle at 2 p.m.
WPIAL runner-up Blackhawk (23-4) takes on District 10 champion Fairview (21-8) at Sharon at 2:30 p.m.
Blackhawk and Camp Hill Trinity are the only remaining teams in 4A that have not won their District Championship.
District Champions Survive
Only district champions are left on the west side of the state bracket in the Class A women’s basketball playoffs.
It will be WPIAL against District 6 and District 5 against District 9.
Union (20-6) is the only District 7 team that remains in range. The WPIAL champions defeated two District 9 teams in Clarion and Elk County Catholic.
The Scotties were defensive, allowing just 44 points combined in the two wins.
They will face a team from Williamsburg (28-1) who beat St. Joseph of the WPIAL in the first round by 46 points.
The game takes place at Armstrong at 1 p.m.
The other match was Berlin-Brothersvalley on D-5 against Otto-Eldred on D-9.
Saturday marks the last day of the 2023 PIAA Class 3A Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University.
Saturday will kick off with five preliminary races starting at 8:10 a.m. for 3A girls and 10:45 a.m. for 3A boys.
The consolations and finals of these events will take place at 3:25 p.m. for girls and 6:05 p.m. for boys.
The Boys 3A Diving Championships are scheduled for 12:35 p.m.