Winchester Thurston entered the 2016-17 girls basketball season as the No. 1 team in WPIAL Class 1A.
The Bears ended the season at the top, too.
It was a historic season for Winchester Thurston, which won its first WPIAL title. The Bears also won their first section title, captured their first PIAA playoff win and were a perfect 18-0 before losing to 5A Oakland Catholic in the regular-season finale.
Winchester Thurston (22-2) boasted one of the best inside-outside combos in the WPIAL -- regardless of class -- with junior center Ayanna Townsend and point guard Gia Thorpe. Thorpe averaged 19 points per game and Townsend averaged 18.6. Townsend was named first-team all-state and Thorpe was selected to the second team. Townsend had 22 points and 17 rebounds in a 52-41 win against Cornell in the WPIAL final. Thorpe, who played her first two seasons at Shaler, added 16 points and 12 rebounds.
There was no PIAA title in the cards for Winchester Thurston. After routing Northern Potter in the first round, the Bears were eliminated in the second round by Juniata Valley, 43-28.
Oakland Catholic (24-5) reached its first WPIAL championship game since 2012. The Eagles did it with three sophomores in the starting lineup. Two of them, Sierra DeAngelo and Jayde Boyd, were all-section choices. The Eagles went 9-1 to win the 5A Section 2 title and, as the No. 4 seed, advanced to the final where they lost to Chartiers Valley, 52-36. They went on to win their first two PIAA playoff games before falling to South Fayette, 53-35, in the quarterfinals. Defense was a big reason for the Eagles' success; they allowed a 5A-low 34.9 points per game.
Penn Hills, East Allegheny and Greensburg Central Catholic joined Winchester Thurston as East area teams who went undefeated in section play: Penn Hills in 6A Section 2, East Allegheny in 3A Section 2, and Greensburg Central Catholic in 2A Section 3. Penn Hills (23-4) reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals. East Allegheny (24-2) made it to the WPIAL semifinals and the second round of the PIAA playoffs. Greensburg Central Catholic (19-6) advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and lost in the PIAA first round.
Penn Hills and East Allegheny featured two of the best players in the WPIAL. Penn Hills senior guard Desiree Oliver and East Allegheny junior guard Amani Johnson were both selected to the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 team and were both named first-team all-state. Oliver, who will play collegiately at Temple, averaged 20.2 points and finished her career with 1,725 points. Johnson led the WPIAL in scoring with 29.5 points and already has 1,570 career points.
Obama Academy (18-9) won its fourth consecutive City League title. The Eagles defeated Allderdice, 64-53, in the championship. Cincinnati recruit Michaela Porter averaged 17.2 points and was picked first-team all-state in Class 5A.