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District 1 6A: Girls Second Round Preview (Feb. 22, 2023)

02/20/2023, 4:30pm EST
By CoBL Staff

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

The first round of districts is over, with 16 teams left who find themselves in good position to make the PIAA bracket — 12 of those 16 will play in states, including the eight winners of Tuesday night’s second round and four of the losers, who all go into play-backs to determine those final spots. 

Here’s a look at all eight games on Wednesday as the top eight seeds make their district debuts:

1) Perkiomen Valley vs. 17) Central Bucks East

Sophomore Julia Smith, above, and top seed Perk Valley host CB East on Wednesday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

A season after a run to the district quarterfinals, Perk Valley comes into this year’s tournament as District 1’s top seed. PV hasn’t lost a game since Jan. 13 to Spring-Ford, winning 11 straight since then, including two against the Rams. Sophomore forward Quinn Boettinger, a Division I recruit is the key piece inside, recently showing off the ability to knock down outside shots along with a dominant post game. Sophomore guards Bella Bacani, Lena Stein and Julia Smith are all back from last season’s group, joined by classmate Grace Galbavy, another D1 prospect, who is really starting to figure out how she fits in with the Vikings. Anna Stein, the lone senior, is the first that comes off the bench.

The Patriots dropped four of their last five contests to conclude the regular season but won their district opener over West Chester Henderson, 56-51, to potentially get back on track and have shown the ability to hang with some of the top teams in the district with Souderton, North Penn and Pennridge in the division. Junior Anna Barry is one of the standouts for a group that’s been in almost every game this season. Senior twin sisters Erin and Shayne LeRay and classmate Kendall Gregor and junior Chantal Van Dongeren are some of the other top pieces. CB East will have to lock down on defense against a dangerous Vikings team that has weapons all over the floor.  


8) Neshaminy vs. 9) Unionville
Unionville bounced back from a difficult first-half and defeated No. 24 Downingtown West in the District tournament’s opening round, 50-44. The Longhorns went on an 11-2 run to start the third quarter, erasing West’s 19-18 halftime lead. Senior captain Riley Angstadt and sophomore Elle Johnson scored 14 points apiece and made enough plays down the stretch to secure the win. Aside from Angstadt and Johnson, Unionville will rely on juniors Savannah Lang and Milana Amoss for scoring. Senior co-captain Maddie Baughan will aim to keep this younger squad focused and composed on both ends of the floor. 

Neshaminy’s league tournament ended in similar fashion to Unionville, losing in the SOL semifinal to Souderton. But because of Neshaminy's impressive regular season which ended with an SOL Patriot division title, head coach John Gallgher’s squad earned a first-round bye and hasn’t played since their SOL tournament loss. Juniors Reese Zemitis and Lola Ibarrondo lead the way offensively while Kutztown commit Taylor Gurysh glues this team together with her ball facilitation and hard work on the glass. Jess Purdy is a threat from beyond the arc, while Lindsay Little and Alena Cofield also contribute meaningful minutes. 


4) Souderton  vs. 20) Garnet Valley

Senior Mikayla McGillian, above, and Souderton host Garnet Valley on Wednesday in a second-round game. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

With their upset of No. 13 Pennridge, the Jaguars spoiled a potential fourth meeting of SOL Colonial foes but now face the tall task of trying to take down senior-led Souderton. GV’s young but talented but will have to figure out an opponent that isn’t looking to go home early this year.

It starts with defense for Souderton, the SOL Colonial champions bringing an almost unreal mixture of height and long limbs onto the court with them, their shortest starter still standing about 5-foot-9. The catalyst for coach Lynn Carroll’s group is senior point guard Casey Harter. One of the best defenders in the state, the Northwestern-bound Harter stands 5-foot-11 with a longer wingspan and usually engulfs a player on one end while also leading the way offensively on the other, having added to her arsenal each and every year.

Souderton sometimes struggles to score in bunches, but the entire team moves the ball well and can generate looks. Senior Teya McConnaha is a force inside, the McDaniel recruit a relentless rebounder and hustle player while senior Mikayla McGillian only adds more length and defense with some added scoring pop this season. On the perimeter, senior Erin Bohmueller is another lanky defender with unending arms and outside shot while junior Brooke Fenchel rounds out the starting five, a scrappy player with an ability to add needed points. The team doesn’t lose any size off the bench, 6-foot-2 sophomore Grace McDonough only adding to it while senior Alexis Stefanowicz can spell anyone in the backcourt.

The Jags knocked off Pennridge on the road last week to start their district campaign and hope to keep the upset run going to get back to the district quarters. A young Garnet Valley squad once again goes up against a much more veteran group. Sophomore guard Kylie Mulholland (16) and 5-11 sophomore wing Haylie Adamski (13) led the victory against Pennridge and those two have been leading the way most the year. Freshman forward Katie Dwyer and sophomore Savannah Saunders also had strong outings in the first-round win. Senior Mia Zebley and junior Jordan Daubenebger have also been critical pieces throughout the season. Points will be hard to come by against a staunch Souderton defense, so it will have to be a well-rounded effort from the Jags to pull off an upset.


5) Spring-Ford vs. 21) North Penn
The Rams, the 2021 district champions, have advanced to the semifinals in each of the past five seasons. Spring-Ford made a surprise run to the District 1 title game as a No. 11 seed last season — and has most of those pieces back. Junior guard Anna Azzara is the team’s leading scorer and junior Mac Pettinelli is a terrific distributor, who can score as well. Senior forward Meg Robbins (Elizabethtown) provides a post presence. Junior guards Siena Miller and Katie Tiffan are two of the other holdovers. Sophomore forward Haley Prophet (5-10) adds some size off the bench. Junior guard Sophia Alllocca, sophomore guard Lilly Brescia and sophomore wing Kareena Preuss are a few more who come off the bench.

As a Knights player, Bri Cullen was part of plenty of postseason wins. Her first as a coach was no less exhilarating as standout junior Caleigh Sperling hit the game-winner at the horn in overtime. Sperling has only improved on a breakout sophomore season, the 5-foot-10 wing an explosive scorer with several 20-plus point outings to her name this winter.

Senior Abby Plaugher has put together a strong final campaign, the Salisbury recruit returning from a midseason injury to provide leadership and shooting for a junior-heavy team. Cam Crowley won’t often fill the scorebook but the sophomore has taken hold of the point guard role and gets everyone else theirs. Juniors Liv Stone and Kelly Donnelly fit in with a mix of length and shooting for a North Penn squad that’s shown plenty of growth after missing last year’s postseason.


2) Haverford vs. 15) Methacton

Senior Sky Newman, above, and Haverford host Methacton in their district opener Wednesday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Even though Haverford’s the No. 2 seed, there’s no doubt they’re one of the favorites, a senior-laden team with all the components: size, shooting, ball-handling, defense, experience and leadership. Lauren Pellicane’s Fords come into the district playoffs a perfect 24-0, the Central League champions after dispatching Conestoga for the third time this season, but this will be their first test against one of the Pioneer Athletic League’s premier programs. The Warriors (18-8), who beat a couple mid-level Central League squads to open the season in Ridley and Harriton, have alternated wins and losses in their last seven.

The Fords’ most notable asset is their frontcourt: seniors Caroline Dotsey (6-1) and Mollie Carpenter (6-0) and sophomore wing forward Rian Dotsey (5-11), Caroline’s younger sister. The older Dotsey, a Maine commit, is a terrific finisher at the rim with a smooth mid-range jumper, though she can also step out and hit 3s, while Carpenter is a rebounding specialist and Catholic U (D.C.) commit who likes to operate out of the high post or near the baseline. Rian Dotsey has taken a big leap forward after last year, getting better off the bounce, and she’s also a strong jump shooter. The backcourt, seniors Sky Newman and junior Aniya Eberthart, are a bit unsung, not the focal points of the offense but certainly capable of burying shots when left open, not to mention they’re responsible for breaking presses and getting defenses confused off the bounce.

Methacton’s often been the favorite in its second-round matchup in recent seasons but the Warriors come off last week’s 58-38 victory over Coatesville as an underdog against the undefeated Fords. Senior guard Cassidy Kropp had 19 and Mairi Smith had 17 in the district opener and the Warriors will likely lean on them once again on both ends, particularly Smith (6-2), who will be tasked with trying to slow down Dotsey. Sophomore guard Abby Arnold is Methacton’s biggest other offensive threat. Senior Reana Torres is a capable outside shooter and classmates Ashley Fisher and Morgan Coupe, join the veteran team as a starter and first player off the bench, respectively.


7) Springfield (Delco.) vs. 10) Conestoga
It’s a Central League rematch in the district playoffs, as Conestoga and Springfield will face off for the third time this season — in the last month, including Springfield’s last game. That was one they’d like to forget, the Cougars having their worst shooting day of the season in a 22-14 loss at ‘Stoga; the Pioneers went on to lose to Haverford in the Central League championship. Conestoga also won the earlier game, but it was a 39-35 win, also at ‘Stoga; this will be the first time Springfield gets to host this season. But once again, it should be a defensive battle between two teams that really get after it on that end of the floor.

Ky McNichol’s Cougars (19-5) are built on their seniors, a core that’s been playing together since their elementary school years: Mia Valerio, Lexi Aaron, Anabel Kreydt, Kaitlyn Kearney, Taylor Hunyet and Sophia Ward, all of whom want to end their careers with a trophy in the case after losing in the district semifinals a year ago. They’re all about ball and player movement, with Valerio, Aaron and Kearney the most likely to put the ball on the floor and take it to the rim, but they’ll all take (and make) open jumpers; junior Cora Fattori has given them a nice spark off the bench.

As for Conestoga (20-5), AJ Thompson’s group is a little younger, relying on junior guard Marisa Francione, who hit a few big 3-pointers in that semifinal win, plus twins Katrina and Isabella Valencia, the latter of whom just made her way back to the court after missing a couple weeks due to injury. Sophomore Janie Preston, a 6-1 center, is taking steps forward in her assertiveness on both ends, and freshmen Ryann Jennings and Maggie Neary both bring some scoring pop and real upside for the Pioneers, who clearly have not yet peaked with this group.


3) Plymouth Whitemarsh vs. 19) Upper Dublin

PW senior Erin Daley, left, goes up for.a shot against Upper Dublin earlier this season. The two teams play Wednesday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

It’s Round Three for the SOL Liberty rivals, with Upper Dublin looking for its first win in the season series after a pair of close regular season defeats to Plymouth Whitemarsh. PW took the most recent meeting 28-26 at the start of the month and won the first time 33-29 back in December. These two know every move the other is going to make, so expect a low point total and very likely a late score that ends up deciding it.

PW, fresh off its second straight SOL Tournament title, opens up its District 1 6A title defense with a very, very familiar opponent coming to Gym West. The Colonials rode some serious clutch play from Penn-bound senior Abby Sharpe in the league tournament, the guard posting back-to-back 22-point games with back-to-back overtime winners against Abington and Souderton. Sharpe - who had the late layup to beat UD in their second meeting - has been stellar all season, while fellow senior Erin Daley has put together her best offensive season at PW, the two seniors both passing 1,000 career points earlier this year.

Angelina Balcer has made the most of her increased role for Dan Dougherty’s team, the senior guard adding spark whether it's with her scoring or experience and fellow senior Azzy Crumpton adds a little bit of size inside. Freshman Kenna Winland has a clutch gene, scoring the winner in the SOL Tournament first round, and had stepped up in the fourth quarter several times and her classmate AJ Avery brings a chance of pace and an athletic presence in the team’s full court defenses. Joslyn Perez, a standout softball player, has rounded out the rotation most recently.

Upper Dublin got the big win over a quality opponent coach Morgan Funsten had been waiting for all season, going on the road and knocking off a talented Council Rock South crew in the first round Friday night. In their first playoff experience, the Cardinals two keystone freshmen rose to the occasion and led the way with Colleen Besachio posting 23 points and point guard Megan Ngo chipped in with 13. Besachio, a well-rounded 5-foot-11 post player, can score inside, step up and hit jumpers and rebounds tough while Ngo is all energy, the 5-foot-1 freshman playing above her size. 

Megan’s older sister Amy Ngo is less than a month back from a major knee injury but she’s the team’s most experienced player at this stage and the junior has already proven her old self is still there. Twins Nora and Brighid Brady have solidified rotation spots, the two similar as solid defenders and outlets for kick-out passes while seniors Alaina Sanders and Lili Kleiman - both terrific soccer players - bring energy to defense and can chip a bucket here and there if not accounted for.


6) Abington vs. 11) Pennsbury

A district quarterfinal matchup a season ago, two of the SOL’s most successful programs in the last five years meet up in a potential clash of styles. The Ghosts’ slogan is “thrive in chaos” while the Falcons prefer to grind down opponents on both ends of the floor and there’s enough talent surrounding an elite scorer on both sides to make this an intriguing duel of tactics.

Abington’s goal will be to get this game sped up and take any chance to catch the defense before it can set up. If not, the Ghosts always have senior Cire Worley, the program’s all-time leading scorer and UMass-Lowell recruit embarking on the last act of a tremendous career. Few teams have even come close to stopping the 6-foot-1 guard/forward, who scores at all three levels and does a lot of everything for Dan Marsh’s crew.

Senior Abril Bowser will be right in the mix trying to cause that chaos, the guard with quick feet and quicker hands is a master at causing turnovers and a consistent knockdown shooter who can go to the rim too. Sophomore Maya Johnson controls the ball on a string, a shifty dribbler with a good passing eye. Junior Jordyn Reynolds is another kick-out option as a shooter and Piper McGinley has really come into her own as a starter this season with some big shots and pestering defense. Freshman Mikaiya Durham comes off the bench confident and ready to score.

The Falcons had little trouble dispatching Penncrest in the first round but taking the trip to their old SOL division rival’s building brings a different set of challenges. Sofia Vitucci fills the role of scoring maestro for Pennsbury, the 5-foot-6 guard dabbling in the lane, the midrange and the perimeter and often mixing in some big-moment plays to go with it.

Senior Neveah Dash understands the assignment for coach Frank Sciolla on both ends, the guard both a stout defender and a clutch shooter from outside. It’s a rotating band of contributors  around the backcourt for Pennsbury, a lot of players able to find a role and fit in. Layla Matthias has been steady as a rebounder and possesses a keen passing eye while Daniella MacDonald adds perimeter shooting and senior Neve Davis leadership on the floor.

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