Tuesday was a day of births for Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball coach Christian Hyland.

An hour after Hyland’s wife, Kellie, gave birth to the couple’s first child, Hyland was on the sideline at Gateway High School guiding his alma mater to a berth in the WPIAL Class 2A championship.

A day later, Hyland said mom and baby girl Nova were doing well, and that the hope was they would be discharged from the hospital Thursday. Hyland then tried his best to recap what was a frantic but truly special day.

“It was crazy,” Hyland said. “Early in the morning, I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen. They were kind of talking that it wasn’t going to be until later that evening. By 1 or 2 p.m. it started to pick up and I was like, ‘This is going to be tight.’ And then when it started at 4:30 I was like, ‘I hope this goes fast.’ I wanted to be there for her and I knew our guys would take care of business.”

Nova entered the world at 5:11 p.m., and not long after that, Hyland whizzed over to Gateway. Hyland missed just the first few minutes of the semifinal that started at 6 p.m., one that saw Greensburg C.C. defeat Northgate, 60-43, to march into the title game for the first time since 2021 and for just the fourth time in program history. 

Greensburg C.C. (23-2), the No. 2 seed, now will try to win its first title when it takes on No. 1 and defending champion Aliquippa (20-5), which will have an opportunity to make history. The Quips have won 13 WPIAL titles, and a 14th would tie them with New Castle for most all time. Aliquippa also has the most WPIAL football titles of any school. The Quips can sweep WPIAL basketball and football titles for the second year in a row.

“That would be really awesome. Another feather in the cap of the program,” said Aliquippa coach Nick Lackovich, who has led the Quips to three WPIAL titles and a PIAA title.

Greensburg Central Catholic coach Christian Hyland celebrated the birth of his first child and a berth in the WPIAL Class 2A championship Tuesday. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

This game is a rematch of a WPIAL semifinal from a year ago won by Aliquippa, 61-36. Aliquippa led by 10 points at the half before breaking the game open in the third quarter. Quentin Goode led the Quips with a game-high 24 points, while Tyree Turner scored 22 points to pace Greensburg C.C. Both players are back and seniors this season, as is Centurions standout Franco Alvarez, a 6-foot-5 forward who averages 15.4 points per game but was limited to 2 points in the 2023 matchup. Turner averages a team-best 21.4.

“They’re good,” Lackovich said. “We played them in last year’s playoffs and they pretty much have everyone back. Alvarez is a quality big man and Turner is a big, scoring guard. They’re as good as there is around here, and we’ll have our hands full.”

Greensburg C.C. has won 14 games in a row and its only losses were to Class 5A teams — WPIAL finalist Franklin Regional and last year’s champion, Penn Hills. The Centurions average 66.7 points per game, which ranks second among Class 2A teams.

Meanwhile, Aliquippa has been outstanding defensively. What’s new, right? As usual, the Quips defense has been tough to crack, as it is surrendering just 43.1 points per game. That’s the fewest of any team in the WPIAL’s largest five classes.

“It has to be good,” Lackovich said. “We’re not as skilled as a lot of these other schools. It’s like the old saying, ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat.’”

Sophomore Josh Pratt leads Aliquippa in scoring on the season and scored 26 points in a WPIAL Class 2A semifinal win. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Josh Pratt is a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard who leads Aliquippa in scoring at 19 points a game. Pratt scored 24 points in the quarterfinals and 26 in the semifinals. Senior Cameron Lindsey, a Pitt football recruit, is averaging 13 points in three playoff games, all double-digit Aliquippa victories.

“They have athletes every year, and not just athletes, but good basketball players,” Hyland said. “And it’s not just guys 1 through 5. They can go deeper than that.”

Hyland, a 2014 Greensburg C.C. graduate, hopes to bring the Centurions their first WPIAL title. Hyland was a senior point guard when the Centurions lost to Seton LaSalle in the WPIAL Class 2A championship. A decade later, Hyland returns as head coach, and he said that it’s possible his wife and new baby could be in attendance at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center for the big day, as well.

“It would mean a ton,” Hyland said of winning the title. “I’m so grateful for the people that believe in me and the staff and the kids. Greensburg Central has been a strong basketball program for a long time. We want to win not just for our team, but we want to win for all of the teams that came before us.”

Class 6A

Court storming has become a hot topic in college basketball this season, with detractors arguing that it needs to be banned or at the very least regulated.

Baldwin fans appear to enjoy them, however, as droves of them stormed the court after the team’s WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinal and semifinal wins. 

So, why are so many folks high on the Highlanders? Before last Friday, Baldwin had not won a playoff game since 2003 and had not reached the WPIAL championship since 1985, both feats the Highlanders have accomplished in a span of only five days.

Baldwin’s success has led to the team drawing large crowds and some of their wins have been followed by wild celebrations, the biggest coming after the team’s 54-52 semifinal win Tuesday against No. 1-seeded Mt. Lebanon. Fourth-year coach Jeff Ackermann said there were at least 160 Baldwin students at the game, which was at Bethel Park.

“When I was at Moon, we had some really crazy student sections and some great atmospheres,” said Ackermann, who took over a Baldwin team that didn’t win a section game the season before he arrived. “At Pine-Richland we had some good atmospheres, but I thought Moon was better. The home game [a 55-49 quarterfinal win against North Allegheny] was crazy and the students were awesome. [Tuesday] took it to a whole new level.

“I kind of felt that if we put a really good product on the court and we were able to win, I thought the community would rally behind us since there hasn’t been a lot of success at Baldwin in team sports in recent years. And sure enough they have.”

It’s safe to say there will be quite a few Baldwin fans in attendance when the No. 4-seeded Highlanders (18-6) try to capture their first WPIAL title when they square off against South Hills rival and No. 3 Upper St. Clair (19-5) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Petersen Events Center.

Baldwin has had a lot to celebrate recently, one of the top moments being its 55-49 victory against North Allegheny in the WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Upper St. Clair, which is aiming for its second title in four years and fourth overall, knocked off defending champion and No. 2 Central Catholic, 61-46, in the semifinals. The Panthers and Highlanders split their regular-season meetings, with each winning on the other’s court. Baldwin edged Upper St. Clair, 55-54, Jan. 18, but the Panthers got revenge by beating Baldwin, 57-52, in the Section 2 finale. Upper St. Clair finished second and Baldwin third in the section behind Mt. Lebanon.

“Baldwin is really good,” Upper St. Clair coach Danny Holzer said. “They have good guards. It will be a tough game.”

Ackermann said there could be six or seven busloads of Baldwin students headed to watch the Highlanders, who are 10-2 this season in games played on the road or at neutral sites. Baldwin starts four underclassmen, including three juniors. One of those juniors is guard Nate Wesling, the team’s leading scorer (16.8 points per game) who put up 19 and 25 points in the first two playoff wins. Guard Nate Richards is the only senior starter and one of only two seniors on the team.

Upper St. Clair also has only two seniors, the lone starter being guard Brett Meinert. Juniors Christian Ito and Julian Dahlem join him in the backcourt, and the Panthers are anything but vertically challenged as they feature 6-foot-9 junior forward Tyler Robbins and 6-6 junior forward Kaamil Jackson. Robbins had 8 points, 19 rebounds and 6 blocks in the semifinal win against Mt. Lebanon. The only Baldwin starter taller than 6-1 is 6-4 junior forward Matt Schenk, so the Panthers will be working at a size advantage.

“They’re one of the biggest teams around,” said Ackermann, who has guided teams to five WPIAL titles (Three at Moon and two at Pine-Richland). “We played [North Allegheny], and they are, too. We’re not huge. We’re smaller and athletic. We beat them once and we had the lead by six in the fourth quarter the second time, but they came back and won. I give them credit. I think they’re playing really good basketball.”

Upper St. Clair’s Tyler Robbins is a 6-foot-9 junior forward who had 8 points, 19 rebounds and 6 blocks in a semifinal win against Central Catholic. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Due to the difference in size, rebounding should play a big factor in this game, as should Baldwin’s ability to slow down Ito, who has been red-hot. After scoring 15 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter in the quarterfinals, Ito delivered a team-best 17 points in the semifinals.

But if Baldwin is to pass its final WPIAL playoff test, another wild celebration likely will follow.

“I think that all communities love a winner and they support a winner, and the Baldwin community is no different,” Ackermann said. “I think the difference is we haven’t had many good teams recently to support, so people are rallying behind this team.”

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

Brad Everett

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