WPIAL 5A Boys Championship Preview: Franklin Regional vs. Moon

The Panthers must upend the top-seeded Tigers to win their first ever WPIAL title

Fri Mar 01, 2024 - 3:42PM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
(Photo by www.westernpasports.com)(Photo by www.westernpasports.com)

Last Updated: Sat Mar 02, 2024 - 2:09AM

WPIAL Class 5A Boys Championship – Friday 9 p.m. Petersen Events Center

No. 2 Franklin Regional Panthers (23-2) vs No. 1 Moon Area Tigers (22-3)



About the Panthers: Franklin Regional cruised to a 69-40 win against No. 3 Shaler Area in the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals at Mount Lebanon High School on Monday. The Panthers were propelled by a hot start, as they outpaced the Titans 17-5 in the opening quarter. Second-seeded FR capped off the convincing win by scoring 25 points in the final quarter. Fin Hutchison led four Panthers in double figures, as he posted a game-best 16 points. Connor Crossey produced 14 points, Cooper Rankin scored 11, Colin Masten contributed 10 points, and Cam Rowell notched nine points. Previously, the Panthers bested rival Gateway 53-35 in the quarterfinals, and knocked off Mars Area by 17 points in the opening round. Senior Cam Rowell, who has a myriad of Division II and III offers, paces the Panthers in scoring for the season, at approximately 18 points per game. Classmate Cooper Rankin, also a college prospect, has produced nearly 15 points per contest. Three other seniors – Colin Masten, Fin Hutchison, and Connor Crossey – have been fixtures in the starting lineup and all average better than 7 points per game. Jesse Reed, a former high school standout in Westmoreland County, is in his third season at the helm of the program. The Panthers have currently engineered a 12-game winning streak. Franklin Regional boasts a scoring margin average of 62.9 – 50.2

About the Tigers: Moon Area outlasted fourth seed Thomas Jefferson 67-65 in the semifinals at Peters Township High School on Monday, as Aiden Reesman hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds. Prior to Reesman’s heroics, Youngstown State commit Elijah Guillory shouldered the scoring burden, as he poured in 39 points. Earlier in the postseason, the top-seeded Tigers defeated No. 8 Fox Chapel Area 63-50 in the quarterfinals, and rolled past Woodland Hills in the first round. In addition to Guillory and Reesman, a pair of seniors who stand 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-4, respectively, the Tigers also feature senior guard Caden Schmidt. Gino Palmosina is in his second season guiding Moon after a successful tenure at Bishop Canevin. Of Moon’s three setbacks, two came against the Class 4A finalists – Lincoln Park and Hampton. Moon has won its past 10 contests. On average, the Tigers outscore their opponents 63.2 – 50.4.

About the Matchup: While the Panthers captured the Class 5A Section 3 title at 9-1, the Tigers went unblemished in Section 4. The Panthers have never won a WPIAL title, while Moon Area has captured gold four times, most recently in 2017.