Donovan Rodriguez (above) and Bonner-Prendergast are one of 11 area teams playing in the state playoffs Tuesday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
Ed. Note: This story was updated at 12:15 PM Tuesday to reflect location changes.
The first round of the PIAA state tournaments are over, and half the fields have been knocked out; what was 192 teams with state title hopes spread across six brackets entering the weekend are now 96 remaining, each four wins away from hoisting that trophy.
Class 1A, 4A and 5A continue their brackets on Tuesday night; Class 2A, 3A and 6A on Wednesday.
Below is a quick look at each of the 24 games taking place Tuesday night, with an emphasis on those games featuring teams from Districts 1 + 12. (District-seed in parenthesis, and the “home” team is listed first; thanks to John Walk of LNP and Luke Kropp of the Pottsville Republican-Herald for their assistance.)
Lancaster County Christian (3-3) vs. Sankofa Freedom (12-1)
Coatesville Area High School, 6 PM
The reigning 1A state champions, Sankofa Freedom may not have the firepower they did in year’s past, but they boast a solid, lengthy rotation, led by third team all Pub honoree, Nymir Priester. The six-foot-four downhill scoring threat is a headache for opposing defenses in transition. Senior Nymier Brooks (6-8) and sophomore Josiah Johnson (6-5) make up a formidable frontcourt defensive pairing, with Johnson adding some long-range shooting. The Warriors’ 9-14 record doesn’t tell the whole story, as they were matched up against bigger Pub schools. Still, they hold a win over Pub champs Math, Civics, and Sciences, and went down to the wire against teams like Simon Gratz, MLK, and Lincoln. Sankofa didn’t have to break much of a sweat in the first round, dismantling Linville Hill. They’ll match up with the three seed out of District Three, Lancaster County Christian. Nate Long’s Lions are fronted by 6-3 senior forward Charles Hall, who averaged 18 points and six boards through the regular season. Joining him is high-scoring 6-0 senior wing Justin Peifer. Lancaster suffered a 20-point loss to Mount Calvary Christian in the District 3 semifinals, but rebounded with a one point win over Greenwood in the third place game, and a 59-51 victory over Northumberland Christian in the first round of states.
Notre Dame East Stroudsburg (11-2) vs. Chester Charter (1-1)
Liberty High School, 6 PM
After getting its first state playoff victory in school history Friday against Greenwood, the competition is going to really ratchet up for Chester Charter. Notre Dame (13-13), which plays mostly 4A-6A schools during the regular season, is under the direction of head coach Bob Mullen, who used to coach with Phil Martelli back at Bishop Kenrick and is now in his third stint with the Spartans. Notre Dame, which is on the smaller side of things, will try to push the pace but could struggle with the Sabers’ depth — coach Dan Spangler likes to use 11 or 12 players — and size, most notably 6-5 senior Damir Baez and 6-7 senior Tyler Howard. Chester Charter has a trio of juniors that will get to the basket as much as possible in Malik Cook-Stevens, Breon Showell and Sean Deshields. Despite losing eight seniors from last year’s team, the Spartans advanced to the second round after topping Sullivan County 71-64, and they’ll look to junior guard Aaron Bailey, who averages 22 points per game, to ignite their offense. 6-1 center Shawn Seay may very well be their best hope to contend with Howard on the inside, but Notre Dame will bring sophomores Gary Natale and Trevor Hardy to the party, and both are stellar outside shooters with 40-plus triples on the season.
Mt. Calvary Christian (3-1) vs. Nativity BVM (11-1)
St. John Neumann (4-1) vs. Southern Fulton (5-3)
Vincentian Academy (7-1) vs. Berlin Brothersvalley (5-1)
Cameron County (9-2) vs. Bishop Canevin (7-4)
Elk Co. Catholic (9-1) vs. Cornell (7-2)
Shade (5-2) vs. Bishop Carroll (6-1)
Bonner-Prendergast (12-1) vs. Valley View (2-2)
Liberty High School, 7:30 PM
Bonner (19-6) had absolutely no issues in its first-round game, beating 3-5 seed Eastern York 78-40, setting up a matchup with the No. 2 seed out of District 2, the northeastern part of the state. Valley View (18-8), which beat Athens 70-58 in the opener, is in the state tournament for the third time in six years under head coach Mike Kurpis, having also won its opening-round game two years ago. Getting back was a solid achievement for a team with five new starters, led by 6-4 freshman forward Adam Howanitz, a 15 ppg scorer whose bread and butter is in the post and midrange. On the wings, the Cougars have athletic 6-2 junior Zack Kovalchik along with 6-2 senior Connor Kelley, the team’s top 3-point shooting option. Giving them extra juice are 5-11 junior forward T.J. Noto and 5-10 senior Nick Tomassoni, who runs point. Typically an uptempo team, they might have to slow things down against a five-guard Bonner attack that loves to get out and run, led by seniors Tyreese Watson (6-3) and Donovan Rodriguez (6-2) and junior Malik Edwards (6-1), with senior wings Oscar Uduma (5-11) and Connor Eagan (6-1) rounding out the starting lineup.
John Camden (above) and Archbishop Carroll take on Harrisburg's Bishop McDevitt on Tuesday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Archbishop Carroll (12-3) vs. Bishop McDevitt (3-2)
Garden Spot High School, 7:30 PM
This sounds like a typical Catholic League matchup, but it’s not that Bishop McDevitt –– this one, from Harrisburg, has plenty of hoops history of its own, however. The Crusaders, which were runner-ups in both the Mid-Penn Conference and the District 3 Class 4A tournament, didn’t have many troubles with Wilson Area in their opening-round state games, passing their first test 78-58. Carroll (17-9) didn’t have nearly as easy a time, needing a 3-pointer from freshman Dean Coleman-Newsome with 30 seconds left and then a defensive stop of Bethlehem Catholic to escape with a 46-44 victory. Coleman-Newsome, the team’s point, tends to defender to scoring options including 6-8 junior Anquan Hill and 6-7 junior John Camden, plus 6-6 senior Tairi Ketner, a burly Bryant commit who’s quite effective in the paint. McDevitt doesn’t have quite as much size, though 6-3 senior Jake Kelly led the way with 27 points in their win over Wilson Area, with 6-3 junior Kenyon Elliott adding 13 and seven others in the scoring column.
Allentown Central Catholic (11-1) vs. Pope John Paul II (1-1)
Governor Mifflin Int. School, 6 PM
For just the second time ever –– the school opened in 2010 –– Pope John Paul II is in the second round of the state tournament, winning a game for the first time since 2013. The 56-46 win over Bartram was a typical effort from the Golden Panthers, who have seen a few hot first-quarters go cold in the second, but they have developed a tradition of closing strong. Under second-year head coach Brendan Stanton, PJP (20-6) is led by 6-5 junior wing Justin Green, who had 18 points in the win over Bartram; Green’s younger brother, 6-0 sophomore Kevin Green, is one of the team’s primary ball-handlers. The Panthers’ best sniper is 6-3 senior Drew McKeon, though both Green brothers also can really shoot it; 5-10 sophomore Jaden Workman brings quality minutes and scoring ability off the bench. Allentown CC, which downed South Philadelphia 47-26 in the opening round, got 20 points from 6-6 senior forward Nick Filchner, an outside shooting threat and the MVP of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. Sophomore point guard Tyson Thomas, the team’s typical second-leading scorer, only had six against South Philly, but 6-3 sophomore Liam Joyce had 13.
Imhotep Charter (12-2) vs. Montoursville (4-1)
Martz Hall, Pottsville, 7:30 PM
The three-time defending champions, Imhotep Charter has typically dominated its opening-round game, winning by 34 in 2017, by 46 in 2018, and by 22 last year. So perhaps Tep’s relatively tight 70-60 win over Eastern Lebanon County in the first round this year is a sign that Andre Noble’s team is somewhat vulnerable this year, or just a mostly-young Panthers’ squad is getting adjusted to states play. Imhotep’s attack centers around the frontcourt, namely 6-8 Notre Dame commit Elijah Taylor and bouncy 6-6 forward Kam Roundtree, both seniors. After them and the sixth man, senior guard Sami Wylie, it’s a lot of underclassmen, including freshmen Rahmir Barno and Justin Edwards, both starters. Montoursville’s biggest name is its coach: Mike Mussina, a Montoursville grad and former three-sport star who pitched for the Orioles and Yankees over a 17-year-career which landed him a spot in Coopertown in 2019. The Warriors (21-5), who beat Nanticoke 66-51 in their opener for their first states win since 1985, getting 22 points from junior Josh Berger, 16 from senior Austin Loe and 15 from senior Hunter Shearer.
Tamaqua Area (11-3) vs. Susquehanna Twp. (3-4)
Lancaster Catholic (3-1) vs. Belle Vernon (7-2)
Highlands (7-1) vs. Grove City (10-2)
Huntingdon (6-1) vs. Hickory (10-1)
West Chester East (1-1) vs. Pottsville (11-2)
Geigle Complex, Reading, 7:30 PM
The three-time defending Schuylkill League champions, Pottsville’s been one of the most dominant teams in District 11 the last few years, even though they lost the district title game to Southern Lehigh this year. Head coach Dave Mullaney relies on 6-6 senior Kevin Schenk, a four-year varsity contributor and inside-out performer who’s hit nearly 50 3-pointers this season; senior guard Mason Barnes is the team’s leading scorer at nearly 18 ppg. But Schenk could have a tough time against East big man Andrew Carr, a 6-10 Delaware commit who’s gone from an intriguing prospect to a real powerhouse in the span of about 18 months, now with the athleticism to finish well above the rim, defending on the block and the perimeter, and still possessing his shooting ability that got him noticed in the first place. Along with Carr, Tom Durant has been getting great production from 6-0 freshman wing Jack Kushner, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the district championship win over Penn Wood; in the states opening round 53-33 win over Gettysburg, senior guard Tym Richardson and junior wing Kieran Hefferan each had 13.
IV Pettit (above) and Rustin have beaten Unionville two of the three times they've matched up this season. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
West Chester Rustin (1-4) vs. Unionville (1-5)
UPDATED: West Chester East High School, 7 PM
You’d be hard-pressed to find another PIAA second-round game between two opponents who are as familiar with one another as Rustin and Unionville. This is the fourth time the two Ches-Mont American programs have faced one another: twice in the regular season, once in the District 1 playoffs, and now one final time for the right to play in the state quarterfinals. Rustin won the first game of the season between the two, 58-53 at Unionville on Dec. 19, then lost 49-46 on its home court Jan. 22 before taking the third matchup, 62-51 at Unionville on Feb. 22. Unionville’s offense under head coach Chris Cowles is centered around 6-6 wing/forward Logan Shanahan, an Emory commit, plus guards Sean Neylon, Jon Passarello, Bryce Whitlock and Peter Kucharzuk, who all know how to dribble, cut, and shoot. Rustin’s attack is led by sophomore guard Argel ‘IV’ Pettit, a muscular 5-11 lead guard who loves to get into the lane and either hit pull-up jumpers or attack the rim. Junior guard Griffin Barrouk is a talented ball-handler and the team’s best 3-point threat, and senior forward Jacob Barksdale –– who usually comes off the bench –– is their best low-post scoring option.
Archbishop Wood (12-1) vs. Pittston Area (2-3)
Freedom High School, 7:30 PM
Pittston Area is a senior-laden group under the guidance of veteran head coach Al Semenza. Semenza, in his first year with the Patriots, has had success in stints at Wyoming Area, Old Forge and Western Wayne, before guiding Pittston to its first state playoff victory in school history Friday. Senior Brennan Higgins is both the Pats’ leading scorer and primary ball-handler, and sophomore J.J. Walsh is a sharpshooter who’s scored 61 of his 86 field goals from 3-point range. But in Pittston’s victory against Penncrest, it was seniors Logan Booth and Andrew Krawczyk who combined for 28 points. Where the Patriots are at their strongest, though, is on the defensive end — they’ve surrendered a total of 75 points in their last two games — and that’s going to be desperately needed against Philadelphia Catholic League regular-season champs Archbishop Wood. The Vikings’ five-junior lineup, fronted by Rahsool Diggins, can see any starter go off at any given time. Whether it’s Marcus Randolph, Daeshon Shepherd, Jaylen Stinson or Muneer Newton, there’s always more than enough talent on the floor for Wood. The Vikings cruised past Strath Haven 72-45 in their opener and will be looking to make a second straight trip to the state quarterfinals.
Archbishop Ryan (12-4) vs. Elizabethtown (3-7)
Shamokin Area High School, 7:30 PM
There’s a bit of a theme here: first-time states winner versus PCL side. A 58-56 upset of WPIAL runner-up Mars means that Elizabethtown gets to see another few days in the 5A bracket, and the Bears now get to deal with Archbishop Ryan. Elizabethtown is helmed by alumnus Rocky Parise, who went on to play at Elizabethtown College and led the Blue Jays to a runner-up finish in the 2002 NCAA D-III tournament. Parise’s son, Ryan Parise, is a 5-foot-10 guard and scored his 1,000th career point a few weeks back, but 6-4 senior wing Elijah Eberly is E-Town’s real standout. The DeSales commit can do it all, averaging 18.9 points per game, and Eberly has certainly replaced Larry Locker, the program’s all-time leading scorer who graduated last year. Although the Bears will have a lot on their plate with Ryan’s 6-6 senior wing Gediminas Mokseckas and the Raiders, they’ve already beaten McCaskey and Northern York this season in addition to playing tight games against Central York, Cedar Crest and Milton Hershey. If Ryan’s talented underclassmen, especially 5-10 junior point guard Dominic Vasquez and 6-3 sophomore shooting guard Luke Boyd, get rolling, however, it might be too much for Elizabethtown.
Dallas (2-2) vs. William Penn (York) (3-5)
Muhlenberg (3-1) vs. Shippensburg (3-6)
York Suburban (3-9) vs. New Oxford (3-3)
Obama Academy (8-1) vs. Milton Hershey (3-2)
Mt. Calvary Christian 63, North Penn-Liberty 57
Nativity BVM 74, The Christian Academy 71
Lancaster County Christian 59, Northumberland Christian 51
Sankofa Freedom 73, Linville Hill Christian 21
St. John Neumann 79, Conestoga Christian 70
Southern Fulton 67, Halifax 66
Notre Dame ES 71, Sullivan County 64
Chester Charter 57, Greenwood 41
Vincentian Ac 93., Allegheny Clarion Valley 63
Berlin Brothersvalley 73, Geibel Catholic 37
Cameron County 61, Williamsburg 38
Commodore Perry 87, Bishop Canevin 35
Elk Co. Catholic 56, Imani Christian Ac. 34
Cornell 74, Saltsburg 29
Shade 63, Nazareth Prep 55
Bishop Carroll 62, Clarion-Limestone 60
Bonner-Prendergast 78, Eastern York 40
Valley View 70, Athens 58
Archbishop Carroll 44, Bethlehem Catholic 42
Bishop McDevitt 78, Wilson Area 58
Allentown CC 47, South Philadelphia 26
Pope John Paul II 56, John Bartram 46
Tamaqua Area 48, Danville 42
Susquehanna Twp. 64, Scranton Prep 54
Imhotep Charter 70, ELCO 60
Montoursville 66, Nanticoke 51
Lancaster Catholic 59, Ringgold 56
Belle Vernon 65, Clearfield 60
Highlands 50, Harbor Creek 40
Grove City 59, Bedford 43
Huntingdon 70, Blackhawk 57
Hickory 58, New Castle 48
West Chester East 53, Gettysburg 33
Pottsville 61, Northern York 43
West Chester Rustin 60, Wallenpaupack 44
Unionville 54, Martin Luther King 29
Archbishop Wood 72, Strath Haven 45
Pittston Area 42, Penncrest 40
Dallas 69, Frankford 57
York 69, Southern Lehigh 69
Muhlenberg 72, South Fayette 66
Shippensburg 60, Greater Johnstown 53
Archbishop Ryan 62, Penn Wood 50
Elizabethtown 58, Mars 56
York Suburban 57, Laurel Highlands 56
New Oxford 70, Thomas Jefferson 48
Obama Academy 73, Penn Hills 63
Milton Hershey 78, Chartiers Valley 74
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