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District 1 6A Boys Quarterfinal (+ Playback) Preview (Feb. 24)

02/22/2023, 4:00pm EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

The District 1 6A boys tournament is down to eight teams in contention for the championship, while eight others play for their season in playbacks. Here’s a look at all eight games Friday night, starting with the four quarterfinals — all of whose participants have already qualified for the PIAA Class 6A bracket — and then the four elimination games, whose winners also will extend their seasons into states, with a couple seeding games ahead.

For more information on each team, be sure to read our second-round preview; we don’t need to rehash all 16 teams here, so we’re just going to look at matchups to watch any other key notes to know:

1) Spring-Ford vs. 8) Garnet Valley

EJ Campbell (above) had 25 points in Spring-Ford's District 1 win on Tuesday night. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

The Rams have proven themselves one of the best defensive teams in District 1 this season, Joe Dempsey teaching his group to hang their hat on that end of the floor, and they held a high-scoring Henderson squad to just 47 points in their second-round win. Mike Brown’s offensive system is designed to give teams fits, however, and if Max Koehler, Jake Sniras and Logan McKee all get hot, the Jaguars absolutely could pull the upset. But S-F’s only lost twice for a reason, and we don’t see that defensive effort letting up just yet, while EJ Campbell (25 points) against Henderson and Jacob Nguyen can handle the pressure.

Prediction: Spring-Ford, 56-49

4) CB East vs. 5) Downingtown West

There’s going to be at least one upset Friday, that’s for sure; the question figuring out who it’s going to be. Downingtown West is battle-tested, senior-laden and playing some good hoops right now, winning the Ches-Mont League championship and on a seven-game winning streak coming into Friday night. CB East has been exciting in the postseason the last few years with a number of last-second wins, but Dylan Blair has game-winning experience too for West. Donovan Fromhartz could be the difference-maker in this one, the Downingtown West sophomore showing he’s capable of taking over games with his shooting and toughness around the rim.

Prediction: Downingtown West, 62-56

2) Lower Merion vs. 10) Upper Darby

Sam Brown (above) and Lower Merion have beaten Upper Darby three times this season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

This is the fourth matchup between these two already this season, and Lower Merion’s won the first three: 72-60 at Upper Darby in December, 71-56 at LM in January, and 61-52 (at LM again) in the Central League semifinals on Feb. 11. On top of that, the Aces have only lost three games since Dec. 8, and two of them were to Radnor. Upper Darby’s having a great, season, no doubt; the Royals haven’t lost to anybody besides Lower Merion since Jan. 24, a span of 11 games, and that starting lineup is versatile. But the Aces clearly have the Royals’ number this year, and they also have Sam Brown, who went for a career-high 36 against Neshaminy. LM’s got the athleticism to hang with Upper Darby, and a group that knows how to win, but don’t be surprised if it’s their closest matchup yet.

Prediction: Lower Merion, 68-63

3) Plymouth Whitemarsh vs. 6) North Penn

These teams just met less than two weeks ago, on Feb. 11, as Plymouth Whitemarsh handed North Penn a 75-57 loss in the Suburban One League semifinals on the backs of a 29-13 third quarter, getting 23 points from Qudire Bennett and 19 from Jaden Colzie. North Penn did rip off 12 straight wins between Jan. 6 and Feb. 3, but they didn’t play anybody of the talent level they’re seeing now in districts. It’s certainly possible that John Conrad’s group pulls the upset, but it’ll have to deal with a tough road environment and a confident Colonials group for 32 full minutes to do it.

Prediction: Plymouth Whitemarsh, 69-56


9) Methacton vs. 17) WC Henderson (6 PM)

Methacton’s played one West Chester school so far this season, beating Rustin 68-47 back in December; Rustin beat Henderson by a point in early January, which doesn’t bode well via the transitive property. But looking at these two as a matchup seems like it should be a good game, two similarly-built teams with big guards and wings who like to score in a controlled, ball-sharing fashion. This one really feels like it’s going to come down to who has a better shooting day between the Hermann/Christian/Chilson trio for Methacton and Smith/Ralph-Beyer/Fleet for Henderson, as simple as whose 3’s fall, and whose don’t.

Prediction: Methacton, 65-63

20) Abington vs. 21) Haverford High (6 PM)

Haverford’s been sneaky good this season, the Fords winning a few games they probably shouldn’t have, including against Lower Merion, West Chester Henderson, Garnet Valley and most recently William Tennent, all of whom fell victim to Keith Heinerich’s defensive-minded system and the sharpshooting of Googie Seidman. The Fords nearly beat No. 5 seed Downingtown West, losing by three in the second round. That being said Charles Grasty is a terrific coach with a long history of postseason success, and the Ghosts will be prepared for whatever the Fords throw at them. Except a low-scoring, defensive battle.

Prediction: Haverford, 52-48

7) Perkiomen Valley vs. 18) Neshaminy (6 PM)

Neither team is playing quite their best hoops this time of year. Neshaminy’s lost half of its last eight games, including a 29-point loss to Lower Merion in the second round; Perk Valley got into the PAC playoffs despite a losing record in the league, and is 6-6 in its last 12 games. So this is a little bit about who can shake off some bad vibes and get back to winning. Keep an eye on the matchup between two high-scoring juniors, PV’s Julian Sadler and Neshaminy’s Nathan Townsend, and whichever one has the more efficient night will put his team in a good spot to take it.

Prediction: Perkiomen Valley, 57-55

11) Coatesville vs. 14) Penn Wood

This one should be fun. Both Coatesville and Penn Wood play an uptempo, shot-happy, in-your-face kind of style, and it would be a surprise if the victor scores fewer than 65. I’m going with Penn Wood here, even on the road, just because of experience; Coatesville relies on some younger pieces while the Patriots have seniors and juniors in their core, not to mention Penn Wood has the game’s best player in Nasir Washington. If he has an off day, it could certainly pull PW in the wrong direction, but Washington’s been on his game, and Coatesville doesn’t have one player who could go shot-for-shot with him. Mekhi Shillingsford vs. Larry Brown inside is another key matchup, and it’s senior vs. freshman in PW’s favor.

Prediction: Penn Wood, 72-65

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