PIAA adjusting playoff brackets
D5-6 4A boys to get two teams
The PIAA will vote to finalize its high school basketball state playoff brackets for the next two seasons today, and there have been a few adjustments that will impact area teams.
Former Central boys coach Reggie Nevins and Tyrone boys coach George Gripp got their wish, albeit a couple of years late.
The tentative Class 4A boys bracket has combined District 5 and District 6 into a subregional, and both the winner and the runner-up move on to the PIAA tournament. The last two years, District 5 held its own tournament before going into a subregional with District 8 for one spot, and District 6 got just one spot despite featuring very talented runners-up in Central (2019) and Tyrone (2020).
Nevins’ frustration with the 2019 Central team not getting a chance to move on to the state playoffs played a role in his exit from the program, and Gripp said losing last year’s District 6 final, thus ending one of his most successful years with the Golden Eagles, was the toughest loss of his career.
For the next two seasons, six teams from District 6, Johnstown, Juniata, Penn Cambria, Central, Huntingdon and Tyrone and two from District 5, Somerset and Bedford, will be ranked together to form a playoff bracket from which two teams will advance. It’s important to note that there will be no separate District 5 champion that plays the District 6 winner. All eight teams will be ranked together, so two District 6 teams could advance if they both make the finals.
Now it may be time for another Blair County boys team to be frustrated.
With Johnstown down to 4A, Hollidaysburg must compete only with Central Mountain and Bellefonte for the District 6 Class 5A title. However, winning that will not lock up a spot in the PIAA playoffs. If the Golden Tigers win District 6, they must play the District 4 champion — either Shikellamy or Selinsgrove — for the right to go to the state playoffs.
The news for District 5 boys teams is better.
In both Class 3A and Class 2A, two teams will now advance to the state playoffs. In Class 2A, that means the District 5 runner-up, but in Class 3A, North Star and Chestnut Ridge will play in a subregional with District 8 and District 9. The champion and the runner-up from that subregional will advance.
There isn’t as much changing on the girls side of the bracket. The same number of teams will make the state playoffs in all the District 5 and District 6 classifications with one exception — Class 6A.
The State College and Altoona girls have been able to take advantage of a subregional and both get into the state playoffs in years past, but there is now only one spot in the state playoffs for either the District 6, District 8 or District 10 champion for the next two years.
Several programs who have made a splash in the PIAA playoffs the past few seasons will also be changing classifications.
On the girls side in District 5, Everett will move from Class 2A to Class 3A and Tussey Mountain will go back up to Class 2A. In District 6, Portage will not defend its Class 5A championship as it drops back to Class 1A. Class 4A, which has been dominated by Forest Hills recently, will have a new champion as the Lady Rangers will compete in Class 3A. Tyrone, Central Cambria and Central will be among those hoping to replace Forest Hills as all three teams are set to move from Class 3A to 4A. Huntingdon, which has made the state playoffs the last two years, will follow Forest Hills down to 3A.
There will also be a new champion in Class 2A as defending champion Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic drops back to 1A with a loaded roster set to return.
In boys moves, Everett will drop to Class 2A in District 5. In District 6, the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic boys will move up to Class 3A due to the success factor, so there will be a new Class 2A champion.
Michael Boytim can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BoytimMichael