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Girls' WPIAL Basketball
By Paul Paterra

The four teams that won the girls' basketball WPIAL championships last year don't seem to have lost a beat.

They all may go deep into the postseason and have good shots at repeating their championship runs.

In fact, a look at the records of these teams as they entered holiday tournament week showed they were a combined 29-4.

Oakland Catholic (7-0 entering this week) won last year's Quad A WPIAL title and may even be a better team this season. West Virginia recruit Katie Bulger leads the way with great assistance from her younger sister Meg and talented point guard Amy Kunich.

North Allegheny and defending PIAA champ Upper St. Clair also are off to good starts. Jessica Brungo - a Penn State recruit - is looking to take North Allegheny to its fourth WPIAL title game in four years.

Mt. Leabon and Seneca Valley both are off to great starts as well in Quad A.

Blackhawk entered the holidays with a 7-2 mark, but was victorious in each of its three Section 2-AAA contests. The Lady Cougars have many key components back from last season WPIAL and PIAA championship team. These include the inside-outside tandem of 6-1 forward Becky Davison and 5-2 forward Tara Guandolo.

Blackhawk's toughest competition may come from West Mifflin. The Lady Titans have perhaps the best player in the WPIAL in 5-10 junior Tanisha Wright. Wright is up to her old tricks, averaging about 22 points and 11 rebounds a game. She's also added another weapon to her already deadly arsenal. Wright has developed a deft shooting touch from the outside.

Other Class AAA teams who have excelled thus far this season include Ambridge, Hampton and Derry Area.

East Allegheny may have lost Brooke Stewart to graduation, but a sold nucleus did return from last year's Class AA championship game. The Wildcats entered the week with a 7-2 record. The inside duo of 6-1 senior Latae Cooley and 5-10 senior Patti Matovich has been consistent all season.

Carlynton and Seton-LaSalle also are off to great starts.

Carlynton lost to East Allegheny in last season's Class AA title game, but all five starters from that year's team are back including 5-11 junior Kacy O'Brien. The Lady Cougars have won seven games in a row by an average of 27 points a game.

Seton-LaSalle entered the season with a talented cast, bolstered by the addition of Kristen Gattuso, a transfer from Brashear, who averaged 22.9 points a game last season.

Class A has been dominated so far by the Serra Catholic wrecking crew. The Lady Eagles won their first 10 games and have been excelling at both ends of the floor. The 1-2 punch of 5-10 senior Jessica Oprychal and 5-9 junior Jody Sabo are the top cogs of an effective machine. Four of the five starters from last year's team are back for this year's Lady Eagles' squad.

The WPIAL's smallest classification is loaded with talented teams. Vincentian is off to a great start and owns a victory over Quad A McKeesport in the championship game of the Peabody Kwanzaa Tournament. All five starters from last year's WPIAL semifinalist are back, four of whom averaged in double figures last year.

Geibel usually has a reservation in the championship game, appearing in nine straight Class AA or Class A title frays. Siobhan Zerilla - a 5-8 junior - leads the offensive charge for this explosive Lady Gators' squad.

Other Class A teams to watch include Monessen, Quigley and Avonworth.