West Greene and Southmoreland both went through the girls basketball regular season unscathed and both were rewarded with No. 2 seeds at the WPIAL playoff pairings meeting on Tuesday.
Monessen, Belle Vernon, Charleroi, Brownsville, Frazier and California found out their playoff destinations as well.
The Section 2 champion Lady Pioneers (22-0) were slotted second behind defending champion Rochester in Class 1A and will receive a first-round bye. The Lady Rams defeated West Greene in last year’s WPIAL final.
West Greene will begin its quest for a third straight trip to the Petersen Events Center on Friday, Feb. 21 when it will play the winner between section rival Avella (16-6) and Propel Andrew Street (8-14) with the site and time to be determined.
“We knew Rochester was the defending champion and had one loss to a great (Class 4A) Central Valley team, so we thought they would get and deserved the No. 1 seed and we were hoping to be No. 2,” said Lady Pioneers coach Jordan Watson, whose squad is accustomed to having a long layoff after the regular season.
“This is the fourth year in a row we’ve had a bye so we’re used to it. We’ll scrimmage (Class 5A top-seed) Chartiers Valley Saturday morning because we figure we’re not going to play anybody better than them in the playoffs, then we might try to get another scrimmage on Monday.”
Watson was surprised to see Avella seeded seventh, according to the brackets.
“I thought they’d be higher,” Watson said. “They’re a good, senior-oriented team. We’ll be watching their game. Obviously, the quarterfinal game is the most important because then you’re guaranteed at least two more more games (by qualifying for the PIAA playoffs). We’ll be ready.”
The Section 3 champion Lady Scotties (22-0) were inserted second behind North Catholic in Class 4A and also received a first-round bye. They will open their postseason on Thursday, Feb. 20 against the winner between section-rival Belle Vernon and Freeport with the site and time to be determined. Southmoreland defeated both teams — the Lady Leopards twice — during the regular season.
“Obviously we know Belle Vernon and we’ve played Freeport a couple times the last few years,” Lady Scotties coach Brian Pritts said. “Both are well coached, get after it and play an uptempo style.”
Southmoreland is the first basketball team in school history — boys or girls — to complete an unbeaten regular season.
“We congratulated the girls on something that’s never been done before,” said Pritts, who was happy with the pairings. “I told them they were rewarded for their hard work by the committee.
“Now it’s time to show we deserve to be where we’re at.”
Belle Vernon (16-6), which tied for third in Section 3, was seeded 10th. Coach Ronnie Drennen’s Lady Leopards will play their first-round game against the No. 7 Lady Yellowjackets (16-6) 6:30 p.m. Monday at North Hills.
In Class 3A, Charleroi (14-7) and Brownsville (13-8), which finished third and fourth in Section 2, were seeded 10th and 12th and both play first-round games on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. Coach Bill Wagner’s Lady Cougars take on No. 7 East Allegheny (12-10) at Peters Township, while coach Patty Columbia’s Lady Falcons, back in the postseason after a two-year absence, play No. 5 Avonworth (16-6) at West Allegheny.
“We knew we’d get a tough team in the first round, but we were hoping to be a little bit closer to home,” Columbia said of the hour-plus trip. “But I think the girls are excited about. We enjoy the opportunity. We’ll approach the game the same we do for our section opponents.”
Frazier (9-13), which was fourth in Section 3 under first-year coach Winston Shaulis, was seeded 12th in Class 2A and will play a first-round game against South Side (15-7) 6:30 p.m. Friday at Trinity.
“They’re from a strong section and are a fundamental team that runs a variety of offenses and defenses,” Shaulis said of the Rams. “We’re excited and looking forward to the opportunity to play them.”
The Lady Commodores opened the season with five straight losses but righted the ship and went 9-8 the rest of the way, including 7-5 down the stretch.
“We were missing a couple players due to injuries early on and we had some inexperience,” Shaulis said. “Then we got healthy and they started buying in to what we were trying to do. The work ethic of the girls has been tremendous. We got some keys wins down the stretch and that put us in this position.”
Joining West Greene in the Class 1A bracket are Monessen (15-7) and California (12-10), which finished third and fourth in Section 2. The two are part of a tripleheader at Peters Township on Tuesday. Coach Janine Vertacnik’s Lady Greyhounds were seeded eighth and will play No. 9 Aquinas (9-11) at 5 p.m. Coach Chris Niemiec’s Lady Trojans were seeded 12th and will play Greensburg Central Catholic at 8 p.m.
Last season Monessen suffered a close, heartbreaking loss in its section finale to Mapletown that left it out of the playoffs, but a year later the Lady Greyhounds are in the postseason and playing well in Vertacnik’s second year as coach.
“Last year there were tears of sadness, but this year on senior night there were tears of joy, they’re so excited to be in the playoffs,” said Vertacnik, who lauded her team for its dedication over the past year, most notably seniors Qitarah Hardison and Zykavia Hairston. “They proved what a little hard work can do. I think they realized the importance of playing in the offseason and that’s something you have to do if you’re really serious about basketball.
“I’m telling them less and less this year. They’re adapting and doing plays on their own now where last year I had to hand feed them a lot. They’re confident now and really believe they can play with anybody, and that’s half the battle.”