Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
The Pioneer Athletic Conference caps off its league slate with the PAC Final Six this week beginning with the boys’ opening round games Wednesday at Spring-Ford and the girls’ opening round games Thursday at Perkiomen Valley.
Liberty Division winner Spring-Ford (20-2, 9-1 Liberty) and Frontier Division winner Upper Merion (11-10, 7-3 Frontier) await Wednesday’s boys victors on Friday at Spring-Ford, while Liberty champ Perkiomen Valley and Frontier champ Phoenixville get byes to Saturday’s semifinals at PV on the girls side.
The tournament will conclude with the boys’ title game Tues., Feb. 14 at Spring-Ford and the girls’ championship Wed., Feb. 15 at Perkiomen Valley. Here is a preview of the four opening round games:
Boys PAC Final Six: Wed., Feb. 8 at Spring-Ford
3) Methacton vs. 6) Perkiomen Valley, 6 p.m.
Winner plays Upper Merion on Friday at Spring-Ford, time TBA
Perkiomen Valley junior Julian Sadler, the PAC's leading scorer, leads the Vikings against Methacton on Wednesday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
For the first time in a long time, Methacton (15-7, 7-3 Liberty) doesn’t enter the PAC tournament as a consensus favorite. The Warriors have won four of the league’s last five titles — the exception was in 2020-21 when PV won the league without a postseason. Senior sharpshooter Matt Christian, a King’s College commit, has been torching nets for the Warriors (71 threes) and senior guard Cameron Chilson is the other key returner for the 2022 PAC title team.. Junior Alex Hermann is a 6-3 slasher, who emerged as one of the league’s best players this season, and sophomore guard Sal Iemmello can get his in multiple ways as well.
The Vikings (15-7, 5-6 Liberty) had a tough start to PAC play, including a pair of one-possession losses to Methacton, 49-47 and 59-58. PV seemed unlikely to lock up a league playoff spot just two weeks ago. Instead a few things broke the Vikings’ way and they helped their own cause with three straight wins, including a 59-54 win over Spring-Ford on Feb. 2 that snapped the Rams’ 20-game win streak, and cemented PV’s spot in the league postseason. After dazzling as a sophomore, junior guard Julian Sadler has put himself in the conversation of the league’s best players, leading the PAC in scoring (21.0 ppg). The supporting cast changes from game-to-game with junior wing Kyle Shawaluk, sophomore guard Mason Thear and senior forward Morgan McKinney among those who have taken turns with big games.
With two great games already played between the two squads this season, the third match up should provide an exciting start to the league postseason. (PV is currently No. 8 and Methacton No. 9 in the District 1-6A power rankings, so there could be a fourth meeting down the road as well)
4) Pottstown vs. 5) Norristown, 7:45 p.m.
Winner plays Spring-Ford on Friday at Spring-Ford, time TBA
Second-year head coach Ken Ivory helped the Trojans (13-7, 7-3 Frontier) break a league playoff drought dating back to 2012 with a comeback win over Phoenixville on Jan. 31. Twin brothers Sadeeq and Abdul Jackson and fellow junior Ty Elliot-Moore provide a three-headed monster in the Pottstown backcourt with all three averaging more than 14 points per game. Senior 6-foot-4 forward Terryce Phillips plays bigger than his size, providing some length on defense and rebounding for the guard-oriented group, also showing off his offensive chops with three double-figure scoring outings to finish the season.
Norristown (10-11, 5-5 Liberty) has almost an entirely different group, including first-year coach Rick Bell, from the squad that challenged Methacton in the PAC semis last season before upsetting the Warriors in the District 1 semis to reach the title game. Junior guard Myon Kirlew is a familiar name for those who followed that run and is one of the team’s leading scorers and top perimeter threats. Speedy junior guard Jayden Byrd and senior guard Jaden Wise can get going as well, while senior Andre Gordon steadies the Eagles at the point. Norristown senior forward Jonathan Brooks is a double-double machine and could be the X-factor against an undersized Pottstown team. The Eagles used a fourth-quarter rally to pull out a 65-57 win when these teams met back on Dec. 22.
Girls PAC Final Six: Thurs., Feb. 9 at Perkiomen Valley
3) Spring-Ford vs. 6) Owen J. Roberts, 6 p.m.
Winner plays Phoenixville on Friday at Perkiomen Valley, time TBA
Spring-Ford junior Anna Azzara and the Rams start the quest for six straight PAC championships on Thursday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Spring-Ford (19-3, 8-2 Liberty) has won five straight PAC titles, winning as an underdogs No. 5 seed last season. Despite regular-season splits with Methacton and PV, the Rams are one of the two favorites. They took down the Wildcats (9-13, 4-6 Liberty) in both matchups this season by scores of 61-37 and 61-41. Junior point guard Anna Azzara (16.3 ppg, 4.3 apg), a recent 1,000-point scorer, leads the way for Spring-Ford. Azzara and classmate Mac Pettinelli (9.6 ppg, 5.3 apg, 7.0 rpg) are looking for their third league title run together. Junior guard Katie Tiffan (9.2 ppg) and senior forward and Elizabethtown commit Meg Robbins (6.9 ppg) are the other top scorers, while junior Siena Miller and sophomore Lily Brescia are the other top minutes getters.
Unlikely to qualify for the District 1-6A postseason, Thursday is a win-or-go-home game for the Wildcats, who enter with four losses in their last five games, including a Jan. 24 loss to the Rams. Senior Gabbi Koury, a Florida lacrosse commit, leads the Wildcats in scoring, followed by junior guard Asya Price — who returned from a knee injury this season — and sophomore guard Ashly White. Senior Ava Clemson, a Butler lacrosse commit, adds some more athleticism to the group. Don’t count out the veteran-led Wildcats as they play with their backs against the wall. They played eventual runner-up PV tough in last season’s PAC playoff opener.
4) Pope John Paul II vs. 5) Methacton, 7:45 p.m.
Winner plays Perkiomen Valley on Friday at Perkiomen Valley, time TBA
The Golden Panthers (8-11, 6-3 Frontier) still have one regular-season game left Tuesday against Pottsgrove, but they punched their playoff ticket with an epic comeback win over Upper Merion last Thursday that saw them finish the game with 21 unanswered points. junior Katie Nilles, the team’s leading scorer, was a starter on last season’s division champion squad. Juniors Elena Colluori and Nadia Platt and freshman guards freshman guards Rylee Derecola and Sophia Benincasa will get their first taste of postseason experience. Technically the higher seed, they’ll be the underdogs against Methacton as the Golden Panthers went 0-for-3 in crossover matchups this season.
Methacton went into the PAC playoffs as the favorite last season before an upset semifinal defeat against nemesis Spring-Ford. The Warriors are certainly the favorite in this early-round matchup and represent the lone true dark horse in the PAC playoff field this season outside of clear top dogs Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford. Senior guard Cassidy Kropp (15.8 ppg) another who recently surpassed the 1,000-point mark. Senior 6-foot-2 forward Mairi Smith (13.4 ppg) is a Williams College recruit. Sophomore guard Abby Arnold (8.9 ppg) is another weapon in the backcourt and senior Reanna Torress (8.1 ppg, 34 threes) adds a perimeter threat.
Tag(s): Home Contributors Owen McCue High School Boys HS Pac-10 (B) PAC-10 Frontier (B) Pottstown Upper Merion PAC-10 Liberty (B) Methacton Norristown Perkiomen Valley Spring-Ford Girls HS PAC (G) PAC Frontier (G) PAC Liberty (G) Phoenixville Pope John Paul II Methacton Owen J Roberts Perkiomen Valley Spring-Ford