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PAISAA Tournament Preview: Boys & Girls (Feb. 17)

02/16/2023, 2:30pm EST
By Owen McCue & Josh Verlin

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue) &
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

The Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament begins Friday with all 16 boys teams playing in the quarterfinal round and the fifth through 12th seeds on the girls side in action with the top four teams getting byes. The tournament continues Saturday, hosted by the higher seeded teams. The semifinalists will match up Friday, Feb. 24, once again hosted by the higher seeds and the girls and boys championship will take place at St. Joe’s Hagan Friday on Sunday, Feb. 26, with the girls tipping off at 1 p.m. followed by the boys at 3 p.m. Here’s a look at the bracket and some of the favorites on both sides:

Boys' Bracket

1) Perkiomen School vs. 16) Friends’ Central, 4 p.m.
8) Friends’ Select vs. 9) Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy, 4:30 p.m.

5) Penn Charter vs. 12) Mercersburg Academy, 3:30 p.m.
4) Hill School vs. 13) Cristo Rey, 5:30 p.m.

3) Phelps School vs. 14) Shipley School, 4 p.m.
6) Academy New Church vs. 11) Kiski School, 5 p.m.

7) Malvern Prep vs. 10) Westtown, 7 p.m.
2) George School vs. 15) Haverford School, 7:30 p.m.


Girls’ Bracket
1) Westtown School vs. TBD
8) Shipley School vs. 9) Mercersburg Academy, 5:30 p.m.

4) Germantown Academy vs. TBD
5) Academy of Notre Dame vs. 12) Episcopal Academy, 4:00 p.m.

3) Friends’ Central vs. TBD
6) Perkiomen School vs. 11) Academy New Church, 6:00 p.m.

2) Penn Charter vs. TBD
7) George School vs. 10) Hill School, 5:30 p.m.


Boys’ Favorites

George School and sophomore Luke Bevilacqua look like a contender for the PAISAA championship. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Perkiomen School, which broke into its first PAISAA title game last season, enters as the top overall seed behind the likes of 6-9 forward Thomas Haugh (Florida), 6-6 wing Bobby Rosenberger Jr. (St. Francis), 6-7 Priest Ryan, 6-9 junior Macon Emory, 6-3 junior DeMajh Salisbery and more (Brant Byers, Gabe Tanner, Trey Micah Lieb), with a roster that’s played at all sorts of national events. Head coach Tom Baudient has size, length, athleticism and talent all over the roster, with certainly the deepest rotation in the mix.

— George School has a terrific starting five that’s led by senior forward Kachi Nzeh, a 6-9 Xavier commit, and 6-3 junior guard Christian Bliss, who’s fresh off a 39-point outing in the Friends’ Schools League championship game. Sophomore forward Luke Bevilacqua (6-11) gives them a massive frontcourt, and senior guard Dante Weise (St. Rose) makes it a terrific guard duo, while wings Carson Mastin, Luke Melniczak and Ivan Ryabov will need to step up and produce for the Cougars to win their first state title.

— Phelps School has an impressive group of its own under head coach John Harmatuk, who’s been able to use his Texas connections to bring in some good talent from the South as well as from the Philly area and a couple other spots to put together a group that’s got great size all over the court. Senior guard Malcolm Wrisby-Jefferson is a versatile 6-5 Brown commit, sophomore forward Justin Houser is a 6-11 poster, sophomore wing guard Onyx Nnani is 6-8 and long, 6-5 sophomore Will Riley can really shoot, and more. Senior guard Saleem Payne is a veteran presence with the ball in his hands.

Boys' Others to Watch
Hill School doesn’t have the high-major talent of the three teams listed above, but led by Penn forward Augie Gerhart the Blues reached the Mid-Atlantic Prep League title game last week and can certainly give any team a run on the right night. … Academy New Church is another league-runner up, taking George to the brink in the FSL title game. The Lions have the weapons, including superb senior guard Deywilk Tavarez, to compete for a title if they can get teams playing at their pace. … Penn Charter and Malvern Prep split the Inter-Ac title for the second year in a row. Lafayette-bound guard Mark Butler leads the Quakers, while senior wing Andrew Phillips and junior guard Ryan Williams pace the Friars. … Reigning champ Westtown took a couple hits but three’s plenty of young potential high-major talent on the roster. … Friends’ Select has had a a breakout season behind senior forward Christian Kirkland though a talented SCHA team that includes Marquette commit Alasanne Amadou (6-10) and explosive senior guard Jaren Morton stands in their path. ... Cristo Rey is a potential Cinderella in its first PAISAA season, with versatile wing Josh Wyche (Lafayette) guiding a talented group that just won the Penn-Jersey League title. 

Girls’ Favorites

Westtown eighth grader Jordyn Palmer is a big piece for the Moose as they look to defend their PAISAA title. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

— Defending champ Westtown stormed through the Friends’ Schools League unbeaten and took home its fourth straight FSL championship, and now enters the PAISAA bracket as the favorites under Fran Burbidge. There’s senior talent in Joniyah Bland-Fitzpatrick (Seton Hall) and Grace Sundback (Delaware), two junior wings in Zahra King and Savannah Curry who both have numerous high-major offers, and some really exciting young talent, including freshman Atlee Vanesko and eighth graders Jessie Moses and Jordyn Palmer, a 6-1 forward who’s going to be in the mix for area Player of the Year every year she’s in high school.

— Penn Charter fell just short in last season’s PAISAA title game and since the beginning of the season the Quakers and Moose have felt destined to meet again. Led by coach Joe Maguire, Penn Charter went unbeaten in the Inter-Ac for a second straight title. A senior core of Aleah Snead (St. Joe’s), Bella Toomey (Fairleigh Dickinson) and Gracie Shoup (Ohio State lacrosse) lead the way with Snead, a 5-11 wing who can score inside and out, the go-to player on offense. Sophomore guard Kaylinn Bethea is another terrific talent back from last season’s squad, while eighth grader Ryan Carter, another youngster already with college interest, has been an immediate impact player. Aditi Foster and Liv Vieira provide different things off the bench.

Girls’ Others to Watch
Friends’ Central finished behind Westtown in the FSL and lost to them in the championship game. The Phoenix feature senior guard Sana’a Garret, a strong ball-handler and on-ball defender, plus sophomore Logyn Greer, who at 6-4 can stretch the floor and is rapidly improving off the bounce. … Germantown Academy finished second in the Inter-Ac behind Penn Charter; the Patriots will have senior forward Kendall Bennett (Binghamton) leading the charge. League rival Notre Dame, led by seniors Katie Halligan and Annie Greek, are one of their potential second-round matchups. … Perkiomen School junior Lauren Patnode, a 6-foot guard, leads an ascending Panthers' program into the tournament once again … George School never quite got things rolling this season but junior forward Gianna Johnson (6-5) and sophomore wing/forward Priyanka Ponnam are D1 recruits. …Shipley’s got a bunch of young talented guards, including sophomore Anna Pascale and freshman Sanai Johnson. … Senior forward Gaeli Keffer-Scharpf and EA upset rival Notre Dame last season and hope to do the same this year. ... Hill School seniors Annabella Schafer and Courtney Bodolus get their first taste of the PAISAA tournament this season.

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