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High School League Races Update: Jan. 30, 2023 (Boys)

01/30/2023, 11:45am EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

We’re in the final two weeks of the PIAA regular season, meaning the various league races around the area are ready to wrap up, teams fighting for regular-season titles and postseason berths all over the Delaware Valley.

Here’s a look at which games will (or could) make a difference in the next fortnight on the boys’ side, broken down by league:

Bicentennial League
At the moment, Dock Mennonite has a 12-0 record in the BAL, with Church Farm (9-2) and Delco Christian (9-2) closest behind them. Dock’s all but guaranteed to wrap up the top seed in the league, though, with a home game against winless Morrisville next up on Tuesday, and that’ll clinch it. The whole BAL plays in the playoffs, though, so there’s still a chance for CFS, Delco and a few others to win the league.

Jaron McKie (above) and St. Joe's Prep are one of two two-loss teams in PCL play. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Catholic League
The PCL squads have all played at least eight games of their 14-game league schedule, so there’s still a little bit of time for some moving and shaking, but we have a clear group of favorites: Roman Catholic (8-0) and Neumann Goretti (7-1) are in good shape for wrapping up a top-four spot and bye to the quarterfinals, with St. Joe’s Prep (7-2) and Archbishop Ryan (6-2) right behind. Still in the mix for a top-four spot are Carroll, Wood and West Catholic (all 5-3), and O’Hara and Judge are both 4-4. At the bottom of the league, Devon Prep (3-5) leads La Salle (2-6) and Bonner-Prendergast (1-7) in the race for the 10th spot.

Understandably, that leaves us with plenty of games that will still factor into things both in terms of that top-four bye and the 10th seed. In chronological order, here are the most important (home team first):

- West Catholic vs. Archbishop Ryan (Feb. 3)
- St. Joseph’s Prep vs. Archbishop Wood (Feb. 6)
- Archbishop Carroll vs. Father Judge (Feb. 7)
- Neumann-Goretti vs. Archbishop Ryan (Feb. 10)
- Bonner-Prendergast vs. Devon Prep (Feb. 10)
- West Catholic vs. Archbishop Wood (Feb. 10)
- Father Judge vs. Cardinal O’Hara (Feb. 10)
- Cardinal O’Hara vs. St. Joseph’s Prep (Feb. 12) 

Central League
Radnor (13-0) should lock up the first seed with three games remaining against Harriton (6-7), Marple Newtown (7-6) and Strath Haven (4-9) on the docket, so the intrigue here is for who makes the league’s six-team playoffs. The Raptors are clearly in, along with Lower Merion (11-2); Garnet Valley (9-4) should be safe, but have a tough closing stretch in LM, Upper Darby (8-5) and Haverford (5-8), so they need to win one to assure themselves a spot. 

Speaking of Upper Darby, the Royals are currently in the No. 4 slot, one game up on Marple and Springfield (Delco.), with Harriton the only other team with a realistic chance, ahead of Conestoga (5-8) and Haverford. Marple’s got Springfield at home on Tuesday and goes to Harriton on Feb. 7 in the season finale; Springfield might be in the best shape with a home game against Haven and at Penncrest (2-11) if it can win at Marple, and Harriton would likely need to beat Marple and root for Springfield to make it in, assuming nobody will beat Radnor.

Ches-Mont American
Unionville (6-1) has the lead at the moment, followed by Rustin (5-2) and Sun Valley (5-3), with either two or three games left in the 10-game league schedule, the top two making it to the Ches-Mont playoffs. For Sun Valley, it might take a win over Unionville on Feb. 7 at home, but it would still need Rustin to get tripped up by Great Valley (4-4), Oxford (1-6) or Kennett (1-6), all three of which the Golden Knights beat on the road and now get at home to close it out. In other words, Unionville/Rustin seems likely. (Rustin and Sun Valley split their two regular-season meetings, so should Rustin drop a game and SV win its last two, it’ll go to a points-based system, first by league wins and then (if it’s still not settled) by district ranking.

KJ Cochran (above) and West Chester East are one of three teams in the mix for the Ches-Mont National title. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Ches-Mont National
This one’s still super-tight, with Downingtown West (8-2), West Chester East (8-2) and Coatesville (7-3) all down to their last two league games to get it sorted out. Conveniently, West Chester East hosts Downingtown West on Thursday. If DWest wins, it only has to beat district rival Downingtown East (1-8) on Feb. 7; West Chester East hosts Bishop Shanahan (3-6) on Tuesday with the DWest game as its regular-season finale. Coatesville, which has Henderson (5-4) and Avon Grove (1-8) in its final two league games, split both of its season series with Downingtown West and West Chester East. In other words, that second seed is likely going to come down to tiebreakers, and if Shanahan upsets East and then East beats DWest, we could really have a mess.

We’re getting down to it in the Del-Val, wth Penn Wood (5-1) leading Chichester (4-1) and Chester (4-2) in the five-team league, which does not have a postseason. Here’s the deal: if Penn Wood beats Chichester at Chi on Tuesday, it’ll almost certainly win the league title, assuming it beats Academy Park (1-4) at home on Feb. 7. If Chichester wins that game, Chichester will have the tiebreaker on Penn Wood with two wins in the series, so then it comes down to — assuming Chi beats Academy Park — Chichester’s game with Chester on Feb. 7. If Chichester wins that and gets to 6-2, it’ll be champs. If Chester wins and finishes 6-2 along with Chichester, then Chichester wins the league title, by virtue of two wins over Chester. 

Friends’ Schools League
The seeds seem pretty set for the FSL playoffs, with George School holding the tiebreaker over Academy New Church, both 6-1 with one game to play; Westtown (6-2) is right behind them, having beaten George but lost to ANC (and Friends’ Select). It all comes down to whether or not George beats Abington Friends at home on Tuesday; if the Cougars do, they’re the No. 1 seed, and if they don’t, ANC controls its destiny with a home game against Germantown Friends that same afternoon.

The Inter-Ac got thrown for a bit of a loop this week, with SCH Academy (2-4) handing Penn Charter (5-1) its first loss, pulling the Quakers back into a tie with Malvern Prep, two games clear of both Episcopal and Germantown Academy (2-3). Barring any more upsets — which are always possible, the league’s got some young talent in there — the big one will be Penn Charter hosting Malvern Prep on Feb. 7, Malvern looking for revenge on a 55-52 loss from earlier in the month. No playoffs in this league either, and if two teams finish 8-2, they split the title regardless of what happens in the regular season.

PAC Frontier
This might be the tightest league in the area: Pope John Paul II (6-2) leads Phoenixville, Pottstown and Upper Merion (5-3), each with two games left to play. It's possible that all four make the PAC playoffs, which consists of the top two teams in each division plus two wild cards, but the wild cards are picked by best PAC record including crossover games. PJP travels to Upper Merion (Feb. 2) to play for the league title, but a PJP loss means it’s absolute chaos. Phoenixville plays Pottstown on Jan. 31, so that will also help settle some things out. All four play either Pottsgrove (2-6) or Upper Perk (1-7) as their final game. In terms of overall league record, Upper Merion has the best record at 7-4, with PJP and Pottstown at 6-5 and Phoenixville at 6-6. Upper Merion does have two wins over Pottstown and one over PJP, but has also lost to Pottsgrove at home…basically, there’s no way to know what’s about to happen.

PAC Liberty
The big-school division of the PAC is more clear-cut. Spring-Ford (8-0) has to beat either Methacton (6-2) on Tuesday or Perkiomen Valley (2-6) on Thursday to win the division, while Methacton is safe, two games up on Norristown, needing to either beat Spring-Ford or win at Boyertown (Feb. 2) to secure the second seed. Norristown, which is 7-4 in overall league play and seems likely to get one of those wild card spots, gets two home games to close it out against Boyertown (3-5) and Owen J. Roberts (1-7).

Kirby Mooney (above, right) and William Tennent are trying to win their first Freedom title since 2004. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Public League ‘A’
Imhotep (8-0) has two games left to finish off the unbeaten Pub season, both at home, against Mastery North (2-7) on Tuesday and Sankofa Freedom on Wednesday. Barring a major upset, the Panthers will go into the Pub playoffs as the undefeated top seed, with MCS the only team to come even close to them in the regular season, losing 77-68. Imhotep would need to lose both for Constitution (9-1), which is done with its division games, to win the league. It’s not going to happen.

Public League ‘B’
With one game left to play, Frankford (9-1) has the one-game lead on Boys’ Latin (8-2), with Frankford winning the matchup between the two, 47-42 at Frankford last week, their ninth straight win in division play. Frankford closes with Future (0-10) on Tuesday to make the division title a formality. 

Public League ‘C’
Most of the teams in the 13-team division still have a couple games left (and some have three of their 12 remaining); as it stands, Dobbins (10-0) is atop the league with two games left, followed by Olney (9-1), SLA Beeber (9-2) and Vaux (8-2). Dobbins’ two remaining division games are at Tacony Academy (2-7) on Wednesday and at home against Strawberry Mansion (7-4) on Thursday, but those are the third and fourth of four games in four days for the Mustangs.

Public League ‘D’
There are 14 teams in the ‘D’ Division, so everybody gets 13 games; Maritime (11-0) and Fels (11-0) are tied with two games left, followed by Kensington (10-2), who’s got Bodine (6-6) at home in its season finale on Thursday. Maritime, which has been putting up impressive scoring numbers all season and hasn’t lost since mid-December, has one major test left in a trip to Fels at 3:15 pm on Tuesday; (Ed. Note: it's the continuation of a game paused back in December, with Fels up seven points with 1:25 left in the third quarter). Winner almost certainly gets the division title.

Public League ‘E’
The deciding game takes place on Thursday at Ben Franklin, as the Electrons (12-0) host Franklin Towne Charter (10-1) in the regular-season season finale for both teams.

SOL Colonial
(Ed. Note: We incorrectly had in here that the top two teams in each SOL division qualified for the league playoffs. First place in a SOL division guarantees a spot in the SOL playoffs, while the other four conference quarterfinalists come from the four highest-rated teams in the district rankings.)

In the Colonial, Central Bucks East (12-1) only needs to win at North Penn (10-3) in the season finale Feb. 7 to lock down the title, though winning both at Pennridge (8-5) on Jan. 31 and beating Souderton (5-8) at home on Feb. 3 would also do it. North Penn, which has 10 straight wins overall and is No. 7 in the District 1 6A rankings, currently has a one-game edge on CB South (9-4) for second place, and those two will face off on Feb. 3 at CB South; CB South would also need to beat Pennridge (8-5) at home in its season finale if it wants to win out, but at No. 25 in the district rankings, it has a long way to go.

SOL Freedom
This one’s down to a two-hour race, with William Tennent (9-4) one game up on Cheltenham (8-5) in search of its first Freedom title since 2004. The two meet on Tuesday evening at Tennent; should the Panthers win, they’d only need to take out one of New Hope Solebury (0-12) on Feb. 3 or Lower Moreland (5-8) on Feb. 7 to clinch. Cheltenham closes with Upper Moreland (5-8) Feb. 3 and Springfield (Montco.) (1-11) on Feb. 7. Tennent is currently No. 10 in the District 1 6A unofficial rankings, and Cheltenham 28th.

SOL Liberty
Plymouth Whitemarsh (13-0), the overall SOL favorites, has a two-game lead on Upper Dublin (11-2), those two unlikely to be caught by Abington (8-5) or Wissahickon (8-5). PW and Upper Dublin meet once more, Feb. 2 at PW, and PW finishes the season at Wissahickon on Feb. 7. If Upper Dublin doesn’t beat PW, it has to top either Abington on Tuesday or Hatboro-Horsham on Feb. 7 to lock in its spot. PW is the No. 4 team in the district's 6A rankings, while Upper Dublin is fourth in the 5A rankings; Abington (20) and Wissahickon (29) are further down in 6A.

SOL Patriot
Pennsbury (9-4), Neshaminy (8-5) and Bensalem (7-6) are all right there, though Council Rock North (6-7) could play spoiler; as far as I can tell, it’s not possible for North to sneak into a top-two spot, considering it lost two games to Bensalem, and would need Bensalem to beat Neshaminy (plus a win over Neshaminy on its own) to pull even with Neshaminy, but that would put North behind both Pennsbury and Bensalem. Bensalem vs. Pennsbury on Tuesday night will be big, and the Owls host Neshaminy on Feb. 7 in the regular-season finale. North could also play spoiler if it beats Pennsbury at home on Feb. 8, depending on how other games go. They're all somewhat close in district rankings too, with Pennsbury (15th) ahead of Bensalem (24th) and CR North (27th).

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