Vinnie Cugini made headlines this season when he became the WPIAL’s all-time leading scorer, but Cugini said numerous times during his historic chase that surpassing the 30-year-old record was never his goal.

As for his biggest goal, he and his teammates achieved that Friday night.

Cugini scored 33 points to lead Aquinas Academy to its first WPIAL playoff win, a 61-40 triumph of Jefferson-Morgan in a Class 1A first-round game at Peters Township.

“This was probably my biggest goal since I came to Aquinas,” said Cugini, a senior guard who increased his career point total to 3,072. “We got our first [section] win my freshman year. Now we got our first WPIAL playoff win, which feels great for me and great for the team. This has always been my biggest goal all season. It feels great to do it. The scoring record just kind of came along with this. It was just part of this process.”

Aquinas Academy, a small private school in Hampton Township, is in its 10th season playing in the WPIAL. The Crusaders went just 14-103 and didn’t win a section game in six seasons between 2009-14 before leaving the WPIAL and then rejoining it in 2019. They went 24-34 the past three seasons and lost in the first round each of the previous two seasons. But this season has been a breakthrough for the Crusaders, who improved to 19-4 after Friday’s win.

“That’s been something hanging over their heads,” said fourth-year coach George Yokitis. “Five years ago when we got here, we never won a section game. Now they’ve made the playoffs three years in a row and now they’ve won a playoff game. They were so proud of themselves, and they had every right to be. It’s just nice to see kids happy like that.”

Aquinas Academy advances to the quarterfinals Wednesday to take on No. 2-seeded Union (20-2), which had a first-round bye. The Scotties reached the WPIAL title game a year ago and beat Aquinas in the first round in 2021.

Cugini, a four-time WPIAL scoring champion, had his usual robust scoring output, although the 33 points actually tied a season low. He scored 23 of those in the first half when it looked as if he might make a run at the WPIAL’s single-game playoff scoring record of 50 set by Serra Catholic’s T.J. Heatherington in 2009. Overall, Cugini was 14 of 24 from the field with two 3-pointers and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line.

Aquinas Academy, the No. 7 seed, got 15 points from Cugini in the first quarter when the Crusaders jumped to a 21-6 lead against Jefferson-Morgan (13-10), the No. 10 seed. That advantage grew to 18 points at the half. The Rockets pulled to within 46-36 early in the fourth, but the Crusaders responded with a 15-0 run to put the game on ice.

Josh Schlemmer added 11 points for Aquinas Academy and Jacob Guillen chipped in 10. The 61 points scored by the Crusaders actually was their fewest this season. They came into the game ranked second in the WPIAL in scoring with 75.8 points a game.

Freshman John Woodward scored 12 points and Preston Wood added 11 for Jefferson-Morgan, which was seeking its first playoff win since 2000. 

Other Class 1A boys

• Jerome Mullins scored 19 points to vault No. 8 Rochester (11-12) to a 57-52 home win against No. 9 Summit Academy (10-8). Xavier Rigby added four 3-pointers and 14 points for the Rams, while Summit Academy got 19 points from Allen Grimes and 18 from Elijah Adams.

• Trevon White’s 25 points helped No. 4 Geibel Catholic (16-6) cruise to a 70-33 win against No. 13 Avella (6-17) at Charleroi. Jaydis Kennedy added 18 points and Jeff Johnson 15 for Geibel, which led, 50-13, at the half. Westley Burchianti led Avella with 22 points.

• Lorenzo Gardner (16 points) led a trio of players scoring in double figures for No. 6 Monessen (21-2), which handed visiting No. 11 Western Beaver (10-13) a 60-44 defeat. Davontae Clayton scored 14 points and Tim Kershaw added 13 for the Greyhounds, who outscored Western Beaver, 32-22, in the second half. Levi Gray led Western Beaver with 21 points.

• John Wilkins scored 28 points and connected on four of his team’s 11 3-pointers in helping No. 5 Neighborhood Academy (18-4) defeat No. 12 Mapletown (7-14), 70-41, at Charleroi. Courtney Wallace added three 3-pointers and 15 points. Landan Stevenson led Mapletown with 20 points.

Class 5A boys

• Kam Greil’s 20 points propelled No. 11 Fox Chapel (14-9), last year’s WPIAL Class 6A champion, to a 62-45 upset at No. 6 Thomas Jefferson (15-8). Greil scored 14 points in the second half when the Foxes outscored Thomas Jefferson, 32-20. He added six rebounds and five assists. Jefferson Moorefield-Brown chipped in with 16 points for the Foxes, while Evan Berger paced Thomas Jefferson with 16.

• In a game when points were at a premium, host No. 2 Penn Hills (18-3) slipped past No. 15 Trinity (10-13), 38-29. Penn Hills outscored Trinity, 14-11, in the second half. Daemar Kelly had a big game for the Indians, as the Quinnipiac recruit scored a game-high 21 points. Kelly was 13 of 14 from the free-throw line. Penn Hills was 12 of 36 from the field (33%), while Trinty was 9 of 30 (30%). Jonah Williamson and Jacob Dunkle each scored 8 points for Trinity.

• Elijah Hill’s layup with 8 seconds left allowed No. 8 South Fayette (14-9) to slip past No. 9 Shaler (16-7), 34-33. Michael Plasko scored a game-high 19 points for host South Fayette, which trailed, 16-14, at the half before outscoring Shaler, 10-3 in the third quarter. Kaden Orga led Shaler with 11 points. Shaler won at South Fayette in a first-round game a season ago.

Bethel Park’s Benjamin Guffey puts up a shot against Mars’ Drew Navetta Friday night in a WPIAL Class 5A boys postseason game at North Hills Middle School. Mars won, 76-40.(Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Union Progress).

North Hills (18-5), the No. 3 seed, survived a scare by rallying to defeat No. 14 Kiski Area (11-12), 76-71. Visiting Kiski Area led by seven points at the half and by one after three quarters before North Hills surged. With Marquette coach Shaka Smart in attendance, North Hills standout Royce Parham produced a game-high 30 points and Eric James added 18. Kiski Area’s Noah Thimons made seven 3-pointers to account for all 21 of his points.

Class 2A girls

• No. 4 Greensburg Central Catholic (19-4) raced to a 46-point halftime lead on its way to an 83-23 win against No. 13 California (10-13) at Gateway. Erica Gribble led the Centurions with 26 points, Mya Morgan added 22, and Avery Davis had 16. Rakiyah Porter paced California with 11.

Serra Catholic (17-2), the No. 3 seed, defeated visiting No. 14 Rochester (6-15), 52-35. Bri Battles (15 points), Cate Clarke (14) and Caitlin Cooley (10) each scored in double-figures for the Eagles, while Tia Yellock knocked down four 3-pointers among her 17 points for Rochester.

• No. 9 Clairton (9-10) got 29 points from WPIAL scoring champion Iyanna Wade, but it wasn’t enough as No. 8 Brentwood (13-9) held off the Bears for a 49-43 win. Mia March tallied 21 points for Brentwood, which outscored Clairton, 13-5, in the final quarter. Wade, who averaged 33.3 points a game in the regular season, finished her sophomore season with 628 points.

• Julz Mohrbacher’s 30 points and 11 rebounds propelled No. 2 Freedom (18-4) to a 56-24 home win against No. 15 Carlynton (8-14). Brianne Costo added 8npoints for Freedom, a WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A runner-up last season. Carlynton got 7 points from Naima Turner.

• No. 1 Shenango (19-4) coasted to a 63-32 mercy-rule win against No. 16 Carmichaels (8-15). The host Wildcats got 22 points from Emilee Fedrizzi and 21 from Kylee Rubin. Carmichaels was led by Kendall Ellsworth’s 15 points.

City League girls

Allderdice (11-11) will meet Obama Academy (16-4) in the City League title game for the second year in a row, this after the Dragons defeated Westinghouse (8-11), 56-44, in a semifinal at Obama. Allderdice’s Bailey White finished with a double-double of 20 points and 10 steals. Obama, which won its semifinal Wednesday against Perry, thumped Allderdice by 33 and 41 points this season and topped the Dragons, 58-40, in the 2022 final. The teams will meet at noon Sunday at UPMC Chuck Cooper Fieldhouse.

Boys scores

Class 5A first round

Fox Chapel 62, Thomas Jefferson 45

Gateway 55, Woodland Hills 40

Mars 76, Bethel Park 40

North Hills 76, Kiski Area 71

Penn Hills 38, Trinity 29

Peters Township 66, Penn-Trafford 55

South Fayette 34, Shaler 33

Class 1A first round

Aquinas Academy 61, Jefferson-Morgan 40

Geibel Catholic 70, Avella 33

Monessen 60, Western Beaver 44

Neighborhood Academy 70, Mapletown 41

Rochester 57, Summit Academy 52

Girls scores

Class 2A first round

Aliquippa 45, Washington 39

Brentwood 49, Clairton 43

Burgettstown 56, Winchester Thurston 40

Chartiers-Houston 38, Fort Cherry 36

Freedom 56, Carlynton 24

Greensburg Central Catholic 83, California 23

Serra Catholic 52, Rochester 35

Shenango 63, Carmichaels 32

City League semifinals

Allderdice 56, Westinghouse 44

For WPIAL postseason basketball brackets, results and schedules, go here.

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at