The State College and Bald Eagle Area boys’ basketball teams will be facing a pair of Pittsburgh-area foes on Saturday in the first round of the state playoffs.
One will have a short trip to play its game, on a fairly familiar court with a familiar opponent, while the other will be on the road for quite a while to face a serious challenge.
The Little Lions (17-7) will meet North Allegheny (21-5) at 7 p.m. at the Altoona Fieldhouse in a PIAA Class AAAA first-round contest, giving State College a trip of about 40 miles to play its opener against a team that beat the Little Lions 68-53 in the second game of the season in December. The Little Lions went to Altoona for a regular-season game Jan. 9.
For BEA, the drive will be just a little longer — anywhere from 150 to 180 miles depending on whose directions are followed — and will face a much tougher opponent. The Eagles (21-4) will meet Beaver Falls (23-3) at 6 p.m. at North Allegheny High School in a Class AA opener, with a mere 24-mile drive for the Tigers.
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A win will be a tall order for BEA, which finished as the fourth-place team from District 6. The Tigers are the two-time champions of District 7, played in last year’s state finals before falling in overtime to Imhotep Charter, are the state’s top-ranked Class AA team and have yet to give up as many as 40 points so far in the postseason.
State College, which captured the District 6 title for the third straight season and fifth time in six years, faces a Tigers team which fell to New Castle in the District 7 semifinals. North Allegheny is on the smaller side but lives on 3-point shooting, averaging 10 per game during the regular season.
The Little Lions lost to Pittsburgh Central Catholic in last year’s first round. BEA is in the state tournament for the first time since 2006.
The Little Lions will close a tripleheader at Altoona High School, following a Class AA boys game between Penn Cambria and Greensburg Central Catholic, and a Class A girls game between Bishop Guilfoyle and Johnsonburg.