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PIAA Playoff Preview: Local Quarterfinal Highlights (March 15)

03/14/2022, 9:00pm EDT
By Josh Verlin & Andrew Robinson

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) &
Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3)

The Keystone state’s down to eight. 

Tuesday night are the quarterfinal rounds for the Boys’ 1A, 4A and 5A brackets and the girls’ 2A, 3A and 6A tournaments, with 13 teams from District 1 and District 12 still in the running in four of the six brackets mentioned above; nobody local is left in the boys’ 1A or girls’ 2A brackets. 

Here’s a closer look at some of the more important storylines regarding CoBL-area squads for Tuesday night’s games:

Pennsbury, Spring-Ford girls to face District 3’s best

District 1 is assured at least one team in the final four but could have as many as three teams get to the weekend.

Mackenzie 'Mac' Pettinelli and Spring-Ford have a tough task ahead in Central Dauphin. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL). (Photo: Andrew Robinson/CoBL)

Of course, for Pennsbury and Spring-Ford, that would mean collectively knocking off arguably the two best teams in District 3 this year in a pair of highlight quarterfinal games. Also worth noting is the fact their opponents, Cedar Cliff and Central Dauphin respectively, are 4-0 against foes from District 1 and 12 in the PIAA tournament.

Tall task? Certainly, but the Falcons and Rams have more than earned their keep at this point too.

Cedar Cliff has impressed in states, knocking off Haverford in the first round then edging PCL powerhouse Archbishop Carroll in the second round. The Colts have done it with defense all season and they’re sure to have something ready for Pennsbury’s Ava Sciolla and company when they meet at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School.

If Sciolla, heading to Maryland next year, is the present then Cedar Cliff freshman Olivia Jones is the future as the head-to-head between two of the state’s top players headlines an interesting matchup. All year, Sciolla has controlled wins without forcing up shots and she’s got a strong supporting cast in classmate Nicole Pompili and sophomores Sofia Vitucci and Nevaeh Dash who have both played above their years since the start of the postseason.

Whoever comes out of this one will meet the surefire District 1 semifinalist Friday against the winner of Plymouth Whitemarsh and Perkiomen Valley’s game.

Central Dauphin - to date the only team that has beaten Cedar Cliff - has been rather strong itself in states rolling past Upper Dublin in its opener then pulling away from Abington with a superb second half effort. The CD Rams, led by senior Liberty recruit and Mid-Penn Commonwealth Player of the Year Caroline Shiery, have plenty of size and poise.

Spring-Ford may not have the size advantage but that hasn’t stopped the SF Rams from backing down to anyone this year. In their last 11 games, only PW has been able to slow Spring-Ford down and the talented sophomore class led by guards Anna Azzara and Mac Pettinelli have played with gusto and a lot of confidence since the end of the regular season.

The winning Rams (teams sharing a mascot has been a trend this postseason) will face either Easton or Mt Lebanon in Friday’s semifinal round. — AR


No surprises when Plymouth Whitemarsh, Perkiomen Valley face off

The Colonials and Vikings haven’t played each other in an official game yet, but there’s still plenty of familiarity between the two programs.

Perk Valley competed in an offseason league hosted by PW, something Vikings coach John Russo feels played a part in his youthful roster’s success this season while Colonials coach Dan Dougherty always knows a team from the PAC is not one to overlook. Regardless of outcome, Tuesday night is already historic for PV, with the program making its first state quarterfinal appearance and doing so with a roster full of freshmen.

Abby Sharpe (above) and Plymouth Whitemarsh are still unbeaten this season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Of course on the other side is the unbeaten District 1 champion, a PW roster that has probably seen or been through every experience possible by this point. With three senior starters and two high-level juniors in the first five, the Colonials are big, strong and versatile and very, very motivated to make up for the heartbreak of the last two years.

PV was excellent defensively against PAC rival Methacton last time out and the Vikings will need to replicate that type of effort in front of the Colonials’ patient offense that usually gets a good shot that it’s practiced a lot every time down the floor. Freshman forward Quinn Boettinger will be busy inside and the Vikings will need some good shooting from seniors Jennifer Beattie and Emma Miley and freshman Grace Miley from the perimeter against PW’s stout defense.

Plymouth Whitemarsh has gotten balanced contributions on both ends all seasons but there’s been no denying the step Abby Sharpe has taken this postseason. The junior, who picked up an offer from Penn over the weekend, has been an offensive catalyst for the Colonials on the wing while senior Lainey Allen has continued to thrive around the basket. Throw in the excellent defense of Jordyn Thomas and Erin Daley, probably a timely shot from super-sub Fiona Gooneratne and the steady hand of Kaitlyn Flanagan at point and PW has plenty of reason to believe in its lofty goals for the season.

The winner will await the Pennsbury/Cedar Cliff victor in Friday’s semifinal round. — AR


Neumann-Goretti boys ready for BeCaHi challenge

After a player eligibility issue cost Neumann-Goretti a chance to play for last year’s District 12 trophy — and thus, a chance at a spot in the reduced state playoff field — the Saints are back in familiar territory in the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinals, even if most of Carl Arrigale’s current group of contributors doesn’t have a tone of state playoff experience. 

Khaafiq Myers (above) is one of a pair of terrific sophomore guards who start for Neumann-Goretti. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Arrigale’s got a good group of seniors, including Division I prospect Masud Stewart and 3-and-D specialist Aamir Hurst, but it’s the sophomore guard duo of Robert Wright III and Khaafiq Myers, both of whom already have a solid list of D-I offers, who really make these Saints go marching. 

Wright, a 6-0 scoring combo guard, is an electric ball-handler who can get to the hoop with the best of them while also making at a good clip from outside; the 5-10 Myers is a terrific outside shooter and on-ball defender who can really set up his teammates. Throw in 6-8 junior forward Sultan Adewale, a versatile combo forward who had 15 points and 14 rebounds in N-G’s Catholic League championship win, and Arrigale certainly has the pieces to win his ninth state title. 

Standing in their way are Scott McClary and Bethlehem Catholic (21-6), the former Muhlenberg College head coach guiding the Golden Hawks to wins over South Philadelphia (62-48) and Lewisburg (49-29) to reach the Elite Eight. Senior forward Ryan Glassmacher, a 6-6 Kutztown commit, plus classmates Edixon Gomez and Penn football commit Jared Richardson — who had 13 rebounds in their second-round win — lead the way. BeCaHi prides itself on its defense, not allowing one of its last six opponents above 50 points, but that’ll be a much tougher task against Neumann-Goretti.

The winner gets either West Philadelphia or Dallas in the semifinals. Speaking of… — JV


West Philadelphia going for school history
There was a time when the Speedboys were one of the best high school programs not just in the City of Brotherly Love but in the entire country, with future high-major college stars and even professional ball players came from West Philly. The time of the neighborhood schools has given way to the era of the charter school, but this year’s Speedboys are on the precipice of doing something no others in their school have done: make a state semifinal.

Dayishon Miller (above) and West Philadelphia are looking for their first-ever state semifinal appearance. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

West Philadelphia (21-5) has been in the state quarters once before, in 2017, when — as the No. 4 seed out of District 12 — they beat Lancaster Catholic and then Wilkes-Barre GAR before bowing out to Greater Nanticoke in the quarterfinals at Freedom HS, with current Edinboro University wing Cyrie Coates leading the way.

This year’s group is powered by 6-5 senior Dayishon Miller, a versatile wing guard who can score from all three levels, set up his teammates and hit the boards; junior guard Nasir Washington, a 3-point specialist who had 27 points in the semifinal win over Trinity, can light it up as well. And considering that Adrian Burke’s squad has beaten the defending state champs (Allentown Central Catholic) and another powerhouse in Trinity to set up the Class 4A quarterfinal meeting with District 2 champ Dallas High School (7:30 PM, Liberty HS) they’re playing as confidently as anyone in the state. 

The Mountaineers (24-3) got to the quarterfinals for the second time in three years, COVID ending their 2020 trip before they got to play that game. They’re back after beating Shamokin Area in the opener and then Cardinal O’Hara 75-57 in the second round, running their win streak to 20 in a row, with Michael Cumbo scoring 23, Austin Finarelli 21 and Nick Nocito 15 in their last victory.

Winner gets either District 12 champ Neumann-Goretti or District 11 champ Bethlehem Catholic in a Friday semifinal, one game away from a trip to Hershey. — JV


Boys’ 4A Quarterfinals
Neumann-Goretti vs. Bethlehem Catholic (7:30pm, Geigle Complex)
Archbishop Carroll vs. Montour (6pm, Penns Valley)

Boys’ 5A Quarterfinals
Imhotep vs. Marple Newtown (7pm, Bensalem)

Girls’ 3A Quarterfinals
Neumann-Goretti vs. Conwell-Egan (6pm, Archbishop Carroll)

Girls’ 6A Quarterfinals
Plymouth Whitemarsh vs. Perkiomen Valley (7pm, Upper Dublin)
Pennsbury vs. Cedar Cliff (7pm, Governor Mifflin Intermediate)

At Manheim Twp
Girls 6A: Spring-Ford vs. Central Dauphin (6 PM)
Boys 5A: Chester vs. Shippensburg (7:30 PM)

At Liberty HS
Girls 3A: Imhotep Charter vs. Riverside (6 PM)
Boys 4A: West Philadelphia vs. Dallas (7:30 PM)

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