District basketball champions have been crowned and there are 14 area squads that move ahead into the week’s PIAA playoffs.
There are eight boys teams and six girls squads that remain in the hunt for state gold.
District 5 Class AA champion Conemaugh Township gets things started on Tuesday, facing District 8 champ Westinghouse in a play-in game at 7 p.m. at Somerset High School. The winner will move into the 32-team bracket opposite District 7-5 Brentwood on Saturday.
Five teams open play on Friday.
The District 5-A champion Shade boys will open against an always tough North Catholic squad, the District 7-3 team in the 7:30 game at UPJ.
The other Class A boys’ contest pits District 5 runner-up Shanksville against District 6-2 Bishop Carroll in an 8 p.m. game at Central Cambria.
Five-time District 6 Class AAA champion Greater Johnstown will battle 3-7 Lancaster Catholic in a 6:30 game at Central Cambria.
The Trojans are trying to get out of the first round of the tournament for the third straight season.
The other game on Friday has the Westmont Hilltop girls facing District 7 champion Bishop Canevin in a 6 p.m. Class AA contest at North Hills High School in Pittsburgh.
On Saturday, in addition to a potential Township game, eight more teams get started.
The other boys’ Class AA games have District 6 champ Penn Cambria pitted against Greensburg Central Catholic in a 4 p.m. game at Altoona while D-6 runner-up Northern Cambria will face 7-3 Apollo Ridge in a 7 p.m. contest at Central Cambria.
Bishop McCort will play 7-2 Burrell in a 4:30 p.m. game at Gateway High School in Monroeville.
In Class AAA girls, District 6 champ Forest Hills will face 7-5 Hampton in a 5:30 p.m. game at Central Cambria while Ligonier Valley will battle District 10 champ Franklin Area at 4:30 at Slippery Rock University.
In Class A girls, District 6 runner-up Portage and District 5-3 Berlin Brothersvalley will square off for the third time this season.
The Mountaineers won the first meeting by nine while the Mustangs took the second game, the WestPAC title tilt, 52-49.
The other Class A girls’ game has District 5-A champion Conemaugh Township playing District 7-3 Quigley Catholic in a 5:30 p.m. game at UPJ.
Doubling up: There was one area school that claimed district titles for both its girls and boys - Conemaugh Township, and one other team in District 6 that won both crowns - Bishop Guilfoyle.
The Indians had a sister and brother that played on their respective teams - Dillon and Megan Boyer.
Just asking: Why is there a national anthem played or sung before every game of a doubleheader or tripleheader?
I went to several different sites over the last two weeks and found that one rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner was sufficient.
Flying high: North Star graduate Emily Lohr helped lead Fairmont State University to a women’s WVIAC basketball title on Saturday as the Falcons defeated Seton Hill, 64-54, at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum in West Virginia.
Lohr, a 6-foot–1 sophomore starter, finished with nine points, two rebounds, two steals and an assist in 26 minutes.
The former Cougars’ standout, who was a 1,000-point scorer in high school and helped lead North Star to a pair of District 5 Class AA titles and two appearances in the PIAA Sweet 16, spent most of her senior year in high school on the sidelines after an injury.
Fairmont State coach Steve McDonald gave Lohr a shot to play in college and she responded by being named to the WVIAC All-Freshman team and continues to build on that success for the 23-9 Falcons, who will have an opportunity to play in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.