The winners of the WPIAL basketball championships will be ...
Sorry. You will have to look below for predictions of the championship games, which will be played tonight and tomorrow at the Petersen Events Center.
Many have wondered why the WPIAL switched to the Petersen Center. Well, basically Petersen's bid for the games was cheaper than that from the Palumbo Center.
There will be no live television for the championships. But all eight can seen on Comcast Xfinity's "On Demand," starting the day after the game. Go to the "Get Local" folder and then "Sports." This is the 10th year that Comcast has the games "On Demand."
Here are the predictions:
Vincentian vs. North Catholic, Saturday at 11 a.m. - The two section rivals meet in the title game for the fourth time in nine years. North Catholic struggling to beat Riverview in the semifinals was a little surprising. Things will be tougher in the final. Vincentian's Brenna Wise (Pitt recruit) is playing on her future home court. Will she rule the place already? It shouldn't be a blowout, which means Wise will get to play a full game for one of the few times this year. Winner: Vincentian.
Bishop Canevin vs. Seton-LaSalle, today at 5 p.m. - Are these two tired of each other? This is the 17th meeting in five years and the third championship meeting in five years. Bishop Canevin lost to Seton-LaSalle by two points a few weeks ago. Will this one be that close? Winner: Seton-LaSalle.
Blackhawk vs. South Fayette, Saturday at 3 p.m. - Kudos to South Fayette for getting to the title game for the first time in school history. It will take a Lion-hearted effort to knock off Blackhawk. Chassidy Omogrosso (pictured) is having one of the best tournaments in WPIAL history, averaging 33 points a game. Blackhawk has other talented players, but Omogrosso is the engine and will carry the Cougars to another title. Winner: Blackhawk.
Norwin vs. Penn Hills, Saturday at 7 p.m. - Who could've predicted this matchup? Norwin is in the finals for the first time. Penn Hills hasn't made it since 1994. Penn Hills has excellent guards, but the Indians don't have a starter taller than 5-9. Norwin starts 5-8, 5-10, 6-0 and 6-2. I took Penn Hills on Varsity Xtra video. Can I change? Winner: Penn Hills.
Monessen vs. Jeannette, today at 7 p.m. - This is the first time since 2007 that two public schools have met in the Class A final. Monessen can't let Jeannette's Julian Batts have a big game, but Batts will need some help if the Jayhawks are to win their second WPIAL title. I say it's time Monessen coach Joe Salvino gets a big shoutout. Underrated in the WPIAL, Salvino will get his fifth WPIAL title. Impressive. Winner: Monessen.
Aliquippa vs. Seton-LaSalle, Saturday at 1 p.m. - The Quips could become only the 14th team in the past 52 years to win a WPIAL title with an undefeated record. But to do it, Aliquippa will have to beat the defending champion. A key to the game is how Seton-LaSalle's young guards handle Aliquippa's pressure. Seton-LaSalle starts sophomores Cletus Helton and Paris Ford. Winner: Aliquippa.
Indiana vs. Beaver Falls, today at 9 p.m. - I'm not surprised Indiana is in the title game for the first time. This is a team with good size and good talent and the best Indiana team in ages. The Little Indians don't have one big Indian, but good overall size with four starters 6-3 or taller. I saw the Little Indians lose to Allderdice in January and Indiana did not play well. But you could still tell they would be a formidable team in the Class AAA playoffs. But can Indiana control a Beaver Falls team that has the two-headed "Creach-er" - Josh Creach and Donovan Jeter (Creach, left, is pictured with Jeter). They are two sophomores who average a double-double. But I think a key to the game could be Beaver Falls' outside shooting. Speaking of coaches who deserve a shoutout, how about Beaver Falls' Doug Biega? He's going for title No. 4. Winner: Beaver Falls.
North Allegheny vs. Chartiers Valley, Saturday at 9 p.m. - It's the No. 1 seed (NA) against the No. 2 seed (CV). P-G story this morning says how these two are mirror images of each other. True. This could be an extremely fun game to watch. It should be fast-paced. Two of the WPIAL's top guards meet - Chartiers Valley's Matty McConnell and North Allegheny's Cole Constantino. But the play of their supporting casts will be the difference.
The way these two teams shoot, it's natural to say 3-point shooting will be the key. But North Allegheny has a little bit of size that Chartiers Valley doesn't have. Will that be a difference? I think a key might be defense and who can do a better job of stopping penetration off the dribble. Something else to think about: Chartiers Valley lost in the WPIAL AAA championship the past two years. Both times, the Colts did not execute well down the stretch in a close game. Both times, they turned the ball over too much. Do they remember that and do they want to change the trend?
And before we give a prediction, a few more coaching shoutouts. First, to North Hills' Buzz Gabos and Fox Chapel's Zach Skrinjar. Masterful jobs in getting third-place teams to the semifinals. And also to North Allegheny's Dave DeDegregorio. He hasn't won a WPIAL title, but heck, all the guy does is win 20 games almost every year (six of the past eight). He might give North Allegheny its first WPIAL basketball championship.
But Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell might become only the fifth WPIAL coach to win six titles. I took Chartiers Valley at the start of the playoffs. Winner: Chartiers Valley.