Dean Coleman-Newsome (above) and Archbishop Carroll are hosting Prep in a first-round PCL game Wednesday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
The most-anticipated Catholic League postseason perhaps in the league’s history has arrived.
All 10 teams in the PCL’s playoff bracket boast some serious talent, and there are no fewer than six or seven teams who could emerge victorious at the end of it all. Playing at the Palestra is the prize that awaits the four teams which make it to the semifinals, and getting there will be no easy feat; this very well could be the most talented PCL Final Four ever.
Catholic League playoff action gets underway Wednesday night with a pair of first-round games, followed by the quarterfinals Friday night. Two of the quarterfinals are set, the other two will be determined by Wednesday night’s results.
Catholic League Seeding
1. Archbishop Wood (18-4, 13-1)
2. Bishop McDevitt (16-6, 12-2)
3. Neumann-Goretti (18-4, 12-2)
4. Bonner-Prendergast (17-4, 11-3)
5. Roman Catholic (14-8, 10-4)
6. Cardinal O’Hara (16-6, 9-5)
7. Archbishop Ryan (14-8, 8-6)
8. Archbishop Carroll (14-8, 8-6)
9. St. Joe’s Prep (12-10, 6-8)
10. West Catholic (8-13, 5-9)
First Round Preview
Both games Feb. 12
Archbishop Ryan vs. West Catholic (7 PM)
Ryan was doing well through most of January, running its league record up to 7-2 and putting itself in contention for a top-four slot, but then things went sideways. Leading scorer and rebounder Aaron Lemon-Warren, a Swiss Army Knife of a 6-5 junior wing, went down with a broken foot, just as the Raiders were preparing to face the toughest part of their schedule. So Ryan enters the postseason having lost four of its last five, though the losses were to N-G, Bonner, Roman and Wood, the last three of which were on the road. A win over Carroll shows they’re still dangerous, behind senior wing forward Gediminas Mokseckas and junior guard Dom Vasquez, and sophomore sharpshooter Luke Boyd has picked up a lot of the scoring slack.
Miguel Bocachica’s Burrs are young, with only one senior among its top six scorers. West Catholic’s 10-deep rotation features a lot of interchangeable parts, which makes them hard to scout, but they’re also still figuring out their roles. But keep an eye on 6-6 sophomore wing Nasir Griffin and the Watson twins, 6-2 guards Kaseem and Kareem, as well as 6-0 junior Eric Chamberlain, all of whom have hit for double figures recently. West Catholic’s five wins came against the five teams below them in the standings, but they’ve come close on several other occasions –– including a 50-49 defeat to Ryan on Jan. 6, before Lemon-Warren’s injury. If West Catholic can get Ryan out of its rhythm, the Burrs could absolute steal this from the Raiders on the road.
Archbishop Carroll vs. St. Joe’s Prep (5 PM)
There’s a lot going on here, starting with the man on the St. Joe’s Prep bench. Speedy Morris is calling it a career at the end of his 52nd season of coaching, meaning he’s in the final few games of his career. As one of only two 6A teams in the PCL bracket, Prep is already assured a game in the PIAA playoffs, meaning there will be at least three games left (one PCL game, one seeding game, one PIAA) game, though the Hawks are trying to extend Morris’ career every chance they can get. That’ll start with taking one at Carroll, no easy task. As always, the Hawks will rely heavily on senior guard Trevor Wall, but senior forward Chris Arizin and sharpshooter Mike Keenan and Brian Geatens can also knock down shots at a high rate if left open.
Carroll builds its offensive game around an inside-out approach. It starts with senior forward Tairi Ketner, a burly 6-6 forward who’s tough to stop around the bucket, and John Camden, a 6-7 junior wing who’s an excellent shooter, especially with his feet set. Junior forward Anquan Hill is another developing D-I prospect, and freshman guard Dean Coleman-Newsome has a lot of upside. These two just met in Carroll’s regular-season finale, with Carroll taking out Prep 70-56 at Carroll last Friday.
Friday., Feb. 14 @ Higher Seeds; Home team listed first
Archbishop Wood vs. Lowest Remaining Seed
Bishop McDevitt vs. Highest Remaining Seed
Neumann-Goretti vs. Cardinal O’Hara
Bonner-Prendergast vs. Roman Catholic
Semifinals: Feb. 19 @ The Palestra, 6:30/8:15 PM
Championship: Feb. 24 @ The Palestra, 8:30 PM
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