Predicted winners of Tuesday and Wednesday night's basketball playoffs are below. But before that, some items that fell off my laptop, including big news on the WPIAL coaching front.
Tom Nola, who guided the Clairton High School football team to multiple WPIAL and PIAA championships and a 66-game winning streak from 2009-13, has agreed to become the new coach at Gateway High School.
The hiring doesn't become official until a Gateway school board meeting Wednesday, but Nola confirmed tonight he has accepted the job. He declined further comment until after the board makes it official.
Nola won six WPIAL titles and four PIAA titles in his 12 years as Clairton's coach. At Gateway, he will take over for Don Militzer, whose positions was opened after only one season.
South Park's Tom Loughran also was a finalist for the Gateway job.
It is highly likely Wayne Wade will get the Clairton job in the near future. Wade has been the Bears' defensive coordinator.
**** Tomorrow afternoon, the WPIAL Board of Control will approve a new basketball section alignment for the next two seasons. The WPIAL basketball committee met last week to come up with the new alignment.
I am most interested in two things: What team will move to the northern boys section in Class AAAA, and will Beaver Falls and New Castle be in the same boys section next year?
Let's look at the first matter. New Castle and Hampton are dropping out of Class AAAA Section 3 and down to AAA next year. That leaves Section 3 with only six teams while Section 2 (eastern suburban teams and Fox Chapel) has eight teams. It's likely the WPIAL will take a team from Section 2 and put it in Section 3.
It makes all the sense in the world for that team to be Fox Chapel. But I wonder if the WPIAL will again pull the hard-to-explain move and put Central Catholic back in the north and leave Fox Chapel in the east? The league has done it before. Central Catholic doesn't want to play in the north - and can you blame the Vikings? Coach/athletic director Chuck Crummie (pictured) said their travel is easier and their crowds better playing in the eastern section. He said they have some natural rivalries with teams in the eastern section.
But all of that might not matter. Central Catholic played in the north for four seasons from 2008-2012 while Fox Chapel stayed in the east. Maybe it's me, but I always thought of Fox Chapel as a northern area school and not Central Catholic. And doesn't the WPIAL say that it makes conference and section alignments based mainly on geography.
Who knows. Maybe Fox Chapel will be moved to the north for basketball and the above would be a waste of blog space. But if Central Catholic is in the north, there will be plenty of people scratching their heads.
As for the other part, I would say it's very likely Beaver Falls and New Castle will be in the same Class AAA section. It makes the most sense geographically. That would make that Beaver County section very strong. The WPIAL might move a team out of that section to create balance, numbers wise.
But let's see.
**** Did anyone happen to notice one of the WPIAL Class AAAA first-round boys basketball playoff scores? Peters Township scored only 26 points in a 61-26 loss to Hampton. The 26 points is the lowest total in a Class AAAA playoff game 26 years, since Latrobe beat Highlands, 25-20, in 1988. But Highlands played a slowdown in that game.
WPIAL BASKETBALL PREDICTiONS
Here are predictions for Tuesday and Wednesday games. Boys record for Friday and Saturday was 20-6 while girls was 18-5:
CLASS AAAA - Upper St. Clair over Gateway; Plum over Kiski Area; North Allegheny over Norwin; Hempfield over Mt. Lebanon.
CLASS AAA - Chartiers Valley over Mount Pleasant; Steel Valley over Mars; Elizabeth Forward over South Fayette; Ambridge over Uniontown; Central Valley over West Mifflin; Montour over Indiana; Thomas Jefferson over West Allegheny; Knoch over Blackhawk.
CLASS AA - Seton-LaSalle over Jeannette; Summit Academy over Washington; Beaver Falls over Brownsville; Neshannock over Shady Side Academy; Greensburg Central Catholic over Laurel; Quaker Valley over Apollo-Ridge; Aliquippa over Chartiers-Houston; Avonworth over Frazier.
CLASS AAAA - Bethel Park over Seneca Valley; Upper St. Clair over Hempfield; Fox Chapel over Pine-Richland; Norwin over Penn Hills.
CLASS AAA - Blackhawk over Kittanning; Belle Vernon over Mount Pleasant; Hopewell over Ringgold; Indiana over West Mifflin; Elizabeth Forward over Moon; Central Valley over Mars; South Park over Thomas Jefferson; Trinity over Hampton.
CLASS AA - Seton-LaSalle over West Shamokin; Fort Cherry over OLSH; Neshannock over Washington; Bishop Canevin over Beaver; Burrell over Shenango; McGuffey over Brentwood; Greensburg C.C. over Laurel; Carlynton over Mohawk.
CLASS A - Vincentian over Carmichaels; Sewickley Academy over Frazier; Serra over Eden Christian; Avella over Aliquippa.