March mayhem begins this weekend for 21 area high school basketball squads, 11 girls and 10 boys teams, still alive in their search for PIAA gold.
Ten teams get under way on Friday.
In a doubleheader at Richland, the District 6-A champion Bishop Carroll boys play District 9-3 Clarion Limestone in the opener set for 6 p.m. In the second game, the District 6-AAAAA champs, Greater Johnstown, take on Shippensburg, the 3-6 team.
Three games are on the slate for the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center, including two with local ties.
At 5, the District 5-A runner-up Shade boys will face the District 7-3 Nazareth Prep squad while the third game set for approximately 8 p.m. involves the Berlin Brothersvalley boys, the District 5-A champs, facing District 7-4 Geibel Catholic. Sandwiched in between the two boys games the District 5-AA champion Everett girls face District 7-5 Riverview.
The District 6 Class AAA champion Cambria Heights girls will face East Allegheny, the 7-5 squad, at 7:30 p.m. at Central Cambria High School while District 6-AA girls champion Bishop Guilfoyle will play District 5 runner-up Windber in at 6 p.m. game at Mount Aloysius.
The road warriors on Friday are three girls squads, United, Penn Cambria and Bishop McCort.
The District 6-4 Class AA Crimson Crushers square off with District 7 champ Bishop Canevin at 7:30 p.m. at Peters Township.
The other two games are Class AAA match ups with the Panthers facing District 9 champ Brookville at 6:30 at Clarion University and the Lions play District 7 champ Mohawk at 7:30 p.m. at New Castle High School.
The other game on Friday has Bedford, the District 5-8 Class AAAA champ, opposite District 10-2 Grove City at 7 at Windber.
On Saturday, three area girls squads will play in a tripleheader at Altoona High School.
The opener has District 6-2 against District 5-3 finisher and defending PIAA champion Berlin Brothersvalley at 1. The District 6-A champion Bishop Carroll girls face District 3-4 Lebanon Catholic in the middle game while the third game has District 6 champ Forest Hills opposite District 7-5 Quaker Valley in a Class AAAA game.
There is also a tripleheader at Pitt-Johnstown on Saturday, with two games involving area squads.
In the middle game of the three, set for 2:30, the District 5-AA champion North Star boys will play District 6-3 finisher Homer-Center followed by the District 5-A champion Shanksville-Stonycreek girls against District 7-5 Aquinas Academy. In the opener set for 1, the Tussey Mountain girls plays Elk County Catholic in a Class A game.
The Portage boys and girls will be playing at Mount Aloysius on Saturday.
The District 6 champion Mustangs play District 7-3 Thomas Jefferson at 1 in a Class AAAAA girls game followed by the boys, the 6-2 finisher, against District 10-3 Cambridge Springs in a Class AA contest.
At Greater Johnstown High School’s Doc Stofko gymnasium on Saturday are a pair of boys Class AAA games. District 6 runner-up Ligonier Valley plays District 7-5 finisher Carlynton at 1 followed by District 6 champ Richland and District 4-3 Warrior Run in the second game.
On the road Saturday are the Blacklick Valley girls, the District 6-3 Class A team, against District 7-3 Clairton at 3:30 at Greensburg Salem and WPIAL champ North Catholic boys against 6-4 Westmont Hilltop at Kiski Area at 3 in a Class AAA game.
Family dynamics: When the Forest Hills girls won their sixth straight District 6 basketball title last week, Coach Carol Cecere had her youngest daughter, Madeline, in the Class AAAA champions line-up.
Among the playoff teams remaining, Cecere is not the only one who is coaching her child.
Lance Hudak has daughter, Maddy, on his District 6 Class AAAAA champion Portage team, and Caleb Burke plays for his father, Greg, on the Richland boys squad, the two-time District 6 Class AA champions. Bedford’s Jason Ressler has his sons Steven and Kevin playing for him on the District 5-8 Class AAAA team.
Portage boys coach, Travis Kargo, has sons, Koby and Mason, on his squad while Penn Cambria girls coach Keith Saleme has daughters Hannah and Marah on the team.
Former Shanksville-Stonycreek boys coach Robert Snyder is an assistant coach with the Vikings on his daughter Josie’s District 5-A champion squad while Rylee Snyder’s mom, Heather, is also an assistant with the team.