There was a lot of moving and changing when the WPIAL released its new section alignments Tuesday for girls and boys basketball.
The alignments, which will be in place for the next two seasons, saw some local teams moving up, moving down and staying in the same classification but switching sections.
Here are five takeaways about what those new sections mean for several local teams:
1. Headed south
The Trinity girls basketball team ended the season with a win and should have celebrated another victory Tuesday.
After having their season stopped in the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Hillers might make a case for the best draw of any team to remain in their classification but is switching sections.
That’s right, the gauntlet that had been Section 1 no longer includes Trinity. Instead, the Hillers will look south and east to find many of their section foes. They now are in Section 3 with Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson and Uniontown.
Talk about a much lighter load than having to play Chartiers Valley, Moon and South Fayette two times a season. And Trinity always seems to meet at least one of those teams – it lost to Chartiers Valley in the WPIAL Class 5A championship game this season – in the postseason.
Thomas Jefferson makes the same move as Trinity but will have to replace its top two players next season.
2. Together again
The last memory I have of Chartiers-Houston and Fort Cherry is A.J. Myers tormenting the Rangers with game-winning shots a few years ago.
Those schools were separated in the previous section realignment that sent Fort Cherry up to Class 3A to somehow find itself sharing a section with North Catholic and Seton LaSalle. Chartiers-Houston has been in Class 2A and making long drives to play section foes Serra Catholic, Jeannette, Carmichaels and others.
The two, along with Burgettstown, are together in Section 3 of Class 2A. They are joined by Carlynton, Northgate and Sto-Rox, the latter having played for a WPIAL championship this year.
The Blue Devils escape their previous section that included Our Lady of Sacred Heart and Sewickley Academy. They were in Class 3A during the previous cycle, so that meant they weren’t with either Chartiers-Houston or Fort Cherry for the last four years.
All signs point up for this maneuvering by the WPIAL, which fixes tough situations for each of those local teams.
3. Coming and going
There is plenty of shifting happening elsewhere, including two moves that could have quite an impact for local teams.
On the boys side, New Castle is moving up from Class 4A to 5A and into a section with South Fayette and Trinity. Also in that section is Chartiers Valley, Moon and West Allegheny, so the Hillers will be traveling a good bit to some of their away games.
New Castle’s enrollment bumped it up a classification. The Red Hurricane have won three of the past four WPIAL Class 4A titles.
Three local teams on the girls side had to be smiling when the sections were released. Those would be Chartiers-Houston, Burgettstown and Fort Cherry as they found out Bishop Canevin will no longer be on their regular-season schedules two times a year. The Crusaders dropped to Class A while the Bucs, Blue Devils and Rangers remained in Class 2A. Bishop Canevin was 12-0 against those three teams over the last two seasons with an average margin of victory of nearly 40 points. Only one of those 12 games was decided by fewer than 10 points.
4. Moving up
After back-to-back seasons of advancing to the PIAA playoffs, the Ringgold boys are making the jump from Class 4A to 5A for the upcoming two seasons.
The Rams will be in a section with Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Thomas Jefferson, West Mifflin and defending 5A champion Laurel Highlands.
It’s not necessarily an ideal time for Ringgold to be moving up as it will be losing its best two players in guard Chris Peccon and forward Luke Wyvratt. Ben Lawrence and Nate Pajak are also gone. Adding to the difficulty for the Rams, Laurel Highlands was led this season by a freshman, Rodney Gallagher.
After one of its worst seasons in quite some time, the Monessen boys are moving from Class A to 2A. Jefferson-Morgan is joining the Greyhounds in Class 2A. The two will be remain in the same section, which includes Bentworth, California, Carmichaels and Frazier.
In girls, Bentworth moves up to Class 3A.
5. Bumping down
The move down in classification could beneficial for the boys teams at Waynesburg and Fort Cherry.
After spending the last two seasons in Class 4A, the Raiders are down to 3A at the perfect time. They are still in search of a new coach after the resignation of Kirk King and all of his assistants. They also must replace all five starters from last year’s team.
Waynesburg is in a section with Beth-Center, Brentwood, Brownsville, Charleroi, McGuffey and Washington.
Fort Cherry was in a brutal 3A section for two years. The Rangers won three section games in those two seasons.
Staff writer Luke Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.