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Maggie Lucas Classic Preview (Sun, Jan. 22)

01/20/2023, 10:30am EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

The final local Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic event of the season takes place this weekend, as the Maggie Lucas Classic takes over the courts at Jefferson University on Sunday afternoon and afternoon. 

The 11-game affair has 10 girls’ games and one boys’ game to cap it off, and many of the region’s top programs — from the Catholic League, Inter-Ac and Friends’ Schools Leagues, and District 1 — are participating, with two courts playing simultaneously for almost the entire event. Here’s a look at all 11 games:

Court 1
Spring-Ford vs. Mt. St. Joseph (9:00 AM)

Anna Azzara (above) and Spring-Ford get things started with a game against Mt. St. Joseph's. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The event gets going on Court 1 with this District 1 battle as the Rams — No. 6 in the District 1 6A rankings as of this writing — take on the Magic, ranked No. 7 in 5A. Mt. St. Joe’s is led by senior guard Lauren Hoffman, a four-year varsity player, though she’s been battling an injury, along with classmates Kiersten Pumilia, Chloe McGrorty and Georgia Pickett. While the Magic are senior-laden, the Rams are built around a strong junior core of point guard Anna Azzara and wing Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Pettinelli, plus shooting guards Katie Tiffan and Siena Miller; senior forward Megan Robbins, an Elizabethtown commit, gives them some real size inside and sophomore Lilly Breschia has been a great presence off the bench. MSJ is going to have its hands full.

Central Bucks West vs. Episcopal Academy (10:30 AM)
The Bucks have been dealing with a multitude of injuries here, there and pretty much everywhere all season and as a result, haven’t seemed to gain much traction in the standings. Despite that, they’ve been in just about every game. Senior guard Tai Henkels is a competitor, a hard-nosed defender and able scorer who makes things go on both ends while Katie Finnan adds floor spacing. The front court is anchored by senior Ava Longo and junior Alexis Castro, two defensive-minded soccer standouts who will get after it on the glass. Gabi Senior rounds out the starting five. For Episcopal, It all starts with all-league forward Gaeli Keffer-Scharpf, the 6-1 forward one of two seniors on the team along with Riley Thibodeau; the rest of the rotation is all juniors and sophomores, including junior forward Taylor Hammond, junior guard Bella Notaro, sophomore Ali Dennis and sophomore Brynn Kehl. The Churchwomen have good size across the board, with most of their wings standing between 5-9 and 5-11.

Notre Dame vs. Sanford School (Del.) (12:00 PM)
Notre Dame, under the direction of Lauren Power, has played a tough schedule, beating the likes of the George School, Imhotep, DME Academy (Fl.) and more. They’re led by senior forward Katie Halligan and her sister, junior wing Lizzie Halligan, plus senior guard Annie Greek (Susquehanna) and sophomore point guard Chloe Knox, who’s taken a big step up in responsibility from a year ago. One of the top teams in Delaware, Sanford was just in the area last weekend, taking down Mt. St. Joe’s by 28 points, a week after beating Audenried at the Blue Star Invitational, also at Jefferson. The Warriors are led by UMass-bound senior wing Dallas Pierce, plus classmates Azareya Kilgoe and Zoe Kashner, while sophomore Jada Snow gives them some more of an interior presence. 

Abington vs. Haverford High (1:30 PM)

Cire Worley (above) and Abington are currently No. 2 in the District 1 6A rankings. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

A great District 1 battle here, as the current No. 1 team in the District 1 6A rankings, Haverford, takes on No. 2 team Abington (13-2)  in what could be a preview of the district championship game next month at the Liacouras Center. The Ghosts (13-2) are led by UMass-Lowell commit Cire Worley, a 6-0 wing, plus senior sharpshooter Abril Bowser, junior guard Piper McGinley, and sophomore Maya Johnson, who power a potent attack under head coach Dan Marsh. The only unbeaten team left in District 1, Haverford (14-0) is talented, experienced and had size across the board, starting with its impressive frontcourt of 6-2 Maine commit Caroline Dotsey and 6-1 Mollie Carpenter, who both got rolling in the Fords’ Hoops for Hope showcase win over Notre Dame last weekend; Dotsey’s younger sister, sophomore Rian Dotsey, added eight in that game, and junior guard Aniya Eberhart is a scoring threat with double-double potential.

Germantown Academy vs. Neumann-Goretti (3:00 PM)
This matchup of Inter-Ac vs. Catholic League should see plenty of terrific guard play, as both teams are almost entirely perimeter-oriented; GA post Kendall Bennett, a 6-3 post bound for Binghamton, is almost the only exception. The Patriots, under the direction of longtime head coach Sherri Retif, are led by Bennett and a trio of juniors: Isabella Casey, Jess Aponik and Sam Wade, all 5-10; 5-11 sophomore Gabby Bowes is a strong outside shooter as well. The Saints are young, but Andrea Peterson has some pieces to build around in sophomore guards Amaya Scott and Carryn Easley, while seniors Amirah Hackney and Sanej Tyler bring some experience to a team that also starts two freshmen.

Cardinal O’Hara vs. Neshaminy (4:30 PM)
This is the middle of a brutal stretch for O’Hara, which faces Bishop Shanahan on Friday, then gets Neshaminy before playing Wood and Carroll in Catholic League play. Both of these teams move the ball really well and have shooters all over the floor, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this is one of the higher-scoring games of the day. O’Hara is led by a terrific sophomore in 5-10 wing Molly Rullo, but she’s got a great group around her, including junior guard Joanie Quinn, senior point guard Bridget Dawson and junior forward Carly Coleman, plus her sister, freshman point guard Megan Rullo, first off the bench for Chrissie Doogan. Neshaminy, one of the top teams in the Suburban One, counters with its ‘Big Three’ of junior forward Reese Zemitis, senior wing Taylor Gurysh (Kutztown) and junior point guard Lola Ibarrondo, who picked up an offer from Holy Family this week. Senior guards Jess Purdy and Lindsay Little, and sophomore Alena Cofield chip in as well for John Gallagher’s group.

Archbishop Wood vs. Friends’ Central (6 PM)
The great games keep coming as this one pits Catholic League against Friends’ League. Wood has played one of the toughest schedules around, including Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.), Paul VI (Va.) and more, Mike McDonald really testing his group this year in search of the 5A state title after winning the 4A one a year ago. Senior forward and Albany commit Deja Evans leads a deep group that also tends to feature junior guard Ava Renninger, senior wing forward Kara Meredith (Holy Family), senior wing Delaney Finnegan and sophomore wing Emily Knouse, though McDonald will regularly play 9-10 girls. FCS doesn’t go quite that deep but its starting five is strong, led by 6-3 sophomore wing forward Logyn Greer, whose best offensive asset is her 3-point abilities but who can really defend the rim; point guard Sana’a Garrett and sophomore guard Nal’la Bennett lead their full-court press defense, while senior Amani Savage, 6-0 wing forward, gives them an inside-out presence.

Boys: Radnor vs. Downingtown West (7:45 PM)

Jackson Hicke (above) and Radnor face Downingtown West in the only boys' game. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The only boys’ game should be a really good one, as one of the top teams in District 1 6A, Downingtown West, takes on a Radnor team that might be the best in the district regardless of classification. The Raptors, undefeated on the season, are led by a terrific senior class: Princeton commit Jackson Hicke (6-5), wings Charlie Thornton (6-4), Cooper Mueller (6-3) and Henry Pierce (6-3) and point guard Danny Rosenblum (5-11), a Rochester (N.Y.) commit. The Whippets do have the size to compete, with 6-4 Kelly Bell, 6-3 Alex Newhaus, 6-6 Ryan Howard and 6-3 Bobby Coupe all in the rotation, while most of the scoring’s done by 6-4 sophomore and rising star Donovan Fromhartz, 5-11 senior point guard and West Point commit Dylan Blair, and 6-0 sharpshooting senior Joey Suarez.

Court 2
Archbishop Carroll vs. Life Center (10:30 AM)
Carroll, one of the top teams in the Catholic League, doesn’t have a ton of size outside of 6-0 West Point commit Taylor Wilson, but her sister — junior guard Brooke Wilson leads an experienced group of guards, including seniors Courtland Schumacher and Meg Sheridan, while freshman Alexis Eberz is a bright young talent. They’re going to have their hands full with trying to slow down Kiyomi McMiller. One of the top players in the 2024 class nationally, the super-skilled 5-7 guard has an endless back of tricks, with perhaps the best handles around and bucket-making ability from all over the court, with more than 30 Division I offers to her name; according to the team’s MaxPreps page, she’s averaging nearly 28 ppg, while sophomore Anya George and senior Giessele Gamble also average north of 12 ppg.

Upper Dublin vs. Garnet Valley (12:00 PM)
Another really good District 1 battle, this time between the teams ranked No. 18 and No. 20 in the 6A rankings, so there’s a lot on the line here. Upper Dublin just got a major boost with the return of junior Amy Ngo, a 5-6 point guard, out since last winter with a torn ACL; her younger sister, 5-3 freshman Megan Ngo, has been one of the team’s two featured scorers this season along with another freshman, 5-10 wing forward Colleen Besachio. Junior twins Nora and Brighid Brady both bring a good defensive presence and they both can knock down open shots. Garnet Valley features a talented sophomore guard in 6-0 Haylie Adamski, who’s got them in line for a Central League playoff berth, while soccer star Kylie Mulholland, another sophomore, has proven her value on the hardwood as well; it’s a young Jaguars group under Joe Woods, but the future is bright.

Lansdale Catholic vs. Penn Charter (1:30 PM)

Gabby Casey (above) and Lansdale Catholic are one of the favorites in the Catholic League. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Lansdale Catholic might be the favorites in the PCL this season, led by St. Joe’s-bound guard Gabby Casey, who’s closing in on becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer, but the talented 5-10 guard has plenty of help. Senior wing Jaida Helm provides an inside-out scoring presence at 5-11, junior guard Olivia Boccella is a seasoned sharpshooter and secondary ball-handler, and point guard Saniyah Littlejohn is a burgeoning Division I prospect and second-year starter as a sophomore. They’ve got what should be a terrific matchup with a Penn Charter squad that’s currently leading the Inter-Ac, led by FDU commit Bella Toomey and St. Joe’s commit Aleah Snead, but head coach Joe Maguire has all sorts of pieces at his disposal, like defensive specialists Gracie Shoup and Aditi Foster, plus sophomore Kaylinn Bethea and 8th grader Ryan Carter, two more D-I recruits.

Bishop Shanahan vs. Imhotep (3:00 PM)
After falling short in the District 1 5A championship game last year, Shanahan returned every starter, led by senior Alexa Bojko, junior Samantha Blumenthal, junior Abbey Wolfe, senior Alyssa Brown and senior Caydence Oswald. Like Abington, Shanahan isn’t afraid to play fast, crossing the 60-point line on a number of occasions; this one will come down to who can get some stops. Imhotep, which has multiple sophomores in the starting lineup, features senior guard Sa’mya Stevens, while junior Troi Ebo is the only other upperclassman in the lineup. After that it's a lot of youth for Panthers coach David Hargrove, like sophomore starters Anise Geiger , Calista Gaymon and Torii Evans.

Plymouth Whitemarsh vs. Scranton Prep (4:30 PM)
The defending 6A state champs play ‘host’ to their opponent from the northeast part of the state, which has eyes on a 4A crown after a strong start to the season. The Cavaliers are led by sophomores Maya Jenkins (5-8) and Jenna Hillebrand (5-9), two of three sophomores in the starting lineup along with Claire McGrath (5-8), while seniors Gianna Carafella (5-8) — a future collegiate golfer — and Rita Collins (5-11) are the two seniors. Plymouth Whitemarsh relies heavily on seniors Abby Sharpe, a 6-0 Penn commit, and versatile 5-11 wing Erin Daley, while senior point guard and Chestnut Hill commit Angelina Balcer, senior wing Azzy Crumpton and freshman AJ Avery found out the starting lineup.

Audenried vs. West Catholic (6 PM)
Both of these teams are on the younger side. Audenried star sophomore Shayla Smith (5-10), who recently took an unofficial visit to Temple, has the GREEN light for the Rockets and can really fill it up with some high-level shots when she gets going. Junior forward Aniyah Howard (5-9) plays big, averaging a double-double, and senior forward ZayAhni Neurell joins them in double figures. Senior captain Amina Reid (5-5) is a consistent presence for the Burrs while a freshman class that includes Jalyn Moore (5-7), Ciana Blake (5-7) and Jasmine Butler (5-11) has had its moments this season. Laila Farmer also provides a positive spark off the bench and can catch fire from the perimeter. There are a number of the Lady Burrs who make a positive impact rebounding the basketball, most notably Khadijah Thompson off the bench. The Lady Burrs play a well-coached and organized style of basketball and will not be intimidated by any opponent.

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