Mika Munari (above) and CB West are the highest-seeded team playing in Friday night's opening round of district play. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The District 1 6A tournament gets underway Friday night, with eight first-round games with a lot on the line: the winners guarantee themselves at least two more games in the season, with second-round losers going to play-backs, while the first-round losers are done.
Here’s a look at the eight first-round games, which all take place at 7:00 PM Friday night (unless otherwise noted):
16) Council Rock South vs. 17) Abington
Winner gets: 1) Methacton
The top dog in the district the last few years, Abington now finds itself in the first round for the first time in a while, coming off the last three District 1 6A titles. Now, Charles Grasty’s Ghosts (12-10) have to win a game to face off against another team coming off a three-peat in this year’s top dog, Methacton, which just won its third straight Pioneer Athletic Conference title. Abington is led by senior guard Manir Waller, a scholarship-level combo guard with great size (6-3), scoring and passing ability; football standouts Caleb Baker and Oreck Frazier give them extra athleticism on the wings. The Golden Hawks (15-7), who were runners-up to Bensalem in the SOL-National Division, is led by senior guards Jack Rebholz and lefty Michael Stewart, plus 6-5 senior Kevin McNamee. Rebholz and Stewart are the engines that make them go, a pair of hard-playing guards who can score from inside and out.
9) Central Bucks West vs. 24) North Penn
Winner gets: 8) Pennridge
There’s always a couple first-round district games that pit opponents familiar with one another against each other, and that’s the case with these two Suburban One-Continental squads. They split the regular-season meetings, with CB West winning 43-42 on its home court Jan. 7, and North Penn returning the favor 48-43 on Jan. 31. The Bucks (15-8), who lost to Cheltenham in the SOL semifinals, are led by senior guard Mika Munari, a talented lefty who loves the mid-range, though he can also connect from deep; forwards Jack Neri and Dan Miller both play well around the rim. North Penn (9-13) picked up a couple key late wins to get them into districts, including the one over West, Quakertown and most importantly over Pennridge, who they’d get in round two if they can pull the upset. The Knights are based around their frontcourt of 6-4 junior Josh Jones, 6-6 senior Rob Carangi and 6-5 junior Matt Swanson; if they’re going to pull the upset, they’ll have to do it from inside.
John Seidman (above, left) and Haverford host Central League foe Ridley to advance to the second round. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
13) Haverford High vs. 20) Ridley (7:30 PM)
Winner gets: 4) Chester
Another league matchup is this Central League affair between the Fords and the Raiders, who just met on Feb. 4 in a game that Haverford controlled comfortably from start to finish in a 61-43 victory. Ridley had trouble staying in front of Haverford junior John Seidman, the Fords’ unquestioned leader on the floor, a do-it-all 6-3 guard who’s essential to their production on both ends of the floor. But Seidman doesn’t have to do all the scoring; he had just 10 points in that big win, getting into the lane and dishing to big man Will Higson (19 points), and shooters like sophomore Nick Colucci and junior Hunter Kraiza. The Fords are playing with about as much momentum as anybody around, having beaten Penncrest in the Central League title game Tuesday. Ridley (11-11, 7-9 Central) has a guard-based attack featuring seniors Malachi Williams and Josh Howard, junior star Khalil Henson and senior sharpshooter Jack Grace off the bench.
12) Central Bucks East vs. 21) William Tennent
Winner gets: 5) Lower Merion
This league matchup thing seem familiar by now? Well, good, because here’s another one. This battle pits a pair of Suburban One teams, albeit from different conferences. As a result, they didn’t meet in the regular season, but each team played SOL National champ Bensalem to single-digit losses. CB East has a dangerous shooter in junior Joe Jackman, who can get hot at a moment’s notice. The Patriots will also hope that 6-foot-8 center Jack Hamilton can establish himself on the inside, wreaking havoc on both ends. Tennent is led by D-I football recruit and muscular 6-4 forward Derrik Cosenza, a tough athlete with a high motor who can score inside; senior guards Josiah Johnson and Sean Haus are nice complementary pieces who space the floor and allow Cosenza to work inside. Their 1-3-1 zone defense can give teams problems, so the Patriots will need to work through that to hold serve.
15) Conestoga vs. 18) Downingtown East
Winner gets: 2) Garnet Valley
This is a rematch of the season opener, when Conestoga pulled out a 55-53 win over Downingtown East, though it was on a neutral court at Unionville. Two months and a little more than a week later, they meet in a game that’ll be the season-ender for at least one of these programs. ‘Stoga (11-11) bounced back from an early-season six-game losing streak to close the season 10-5 over its last 15 games, with a young core that features junior guards Jeremiah Miller, Jack Leidtka and Austin Fontaine, sophomore wing Matt Mayock plus size up front in 6-6 junior Andrew Fox. And there’s another Andrew in this matchup — Downingtown East senior Andrew King dominates the offense for the Cougars. Seniors Grant Umberger and David Owsik add shooting on the outside, ensuring that teams can’t simply collapse on King.
10) Spring-Ford vs. 23) Wissahickon
Winner gets: 7) Bensalem
Despite the 13-seed gap between them, Spring-Ford and Wissahickon match up well against one another, and this could be one of the more entertaining first-round games, with a couple players on both sides who can really score the ball. Wissahickon’s attack centers around junior guard Matt Compas, a 6-2 slashing lefty who can really get to the hoop, and he’s a strong floor general as well. His targets on the Trojans (12-10) –– who finished second to Cheltenham in the SOL-American but didn’t make the SOL playoffs –– include senior sharpshooter Harrison Williams plus senior forward Carmen Ostroski, who at 6-4 will likely go head-to-head with Spring-Ford senior big man Tre Medearis, who stands about the same height. Medearis is the center on a S-F team with decent size, including 6-4 senior guard Pat Kovaleski, plus 6-5 sophomore Jake Kressley all in the starting lineup. The Rams (16-8) finished runner-up to Methacton in the PAC Liberty, and lost to PJPII in the PAC semifinals.
14) Souderton vs. 19) Upper Darby (7:30 PM)
Winner gets: 3) Cheltenham
Souderton (13-9) nearly had its season derailed when Andrew Vince and Dom Natale went down with injuries, but that misfortune opened the door for others to step up. Junior Jason Price has led the charge with his ability to score both shooting from distance and getting to the rim. His ability to heat up makes him a dangerous playoff opponent. Seniors Jack Towsen and Sam Chouiraf and juniors Evan Kutzler and Dylan Hollick have stepped up as well. Both Souderton and Upper Darby (twice) fell to Lower Merion this season with Souderton losing 42-37 and the Royals falling 66-58 and 48-44. Both squads also took on William Tennent with Upper Darby earning a 60-49 win and Souderton dropping a narrow 42-38 decision.
11) Boyertown vs. 22) Plymouth-Whitemarsh
Winner gets: 6) Coatesville
The last few years, there wasn’t anybody that out-sized P-W, as the Colonials featured 7-3 center Naheem McLeod in the middle plus 6-8 Jason Cherry alongside him. But they’re gone now, and suddenly Jim Donofrio finds himself coaching a group that gives up height advantages to several teams, including Boyertown. The Bears (16-7), who lost in the opening round of the PAC playoffs last week, are one of the bigger teams around, led by 6-6 junior big man Chris Kiefer, plus 6-5 wing Tre Diguglielmo, and wings Mason Marinello and Alex Obarow, who are both well north of six feet. They also have dynamic 5-9 junior guard Aarick Salata, who’s a great drive-and-dish point that makes their offense work. P-W’s leader is senior combo guard Caelin Peters, an adept three-level scorer; the Colonials (11-11) also have scoring guard Jaden Price, and versatile 6-4 wings Luke DiCanno and Ray Tomassetti.
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