Julian Sadler (above) and Perkiomen Valley play host Exeter on Saturday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Our Winter Showcase at Exeter Township High School takes place this Friday night and Saturday, with 12 different Pennsylvania squads representing three districts and some of the best leagues in the state all taking part. Admission is $10 (per day) for anybody 14 and older, $5 (per day) for kids and high school students (with student ID).
First, the overall schedule, and then we’ll take a closer look at each game:
Friday, Dec. 8
5:00 PM: Columbia vs. Upper Darby
6:45 PM: Berks Catholic vs. Cedar Crest
8:30 PM: Exeter vs. Archbishop Carroll
Saturday, Dec. 9
12:45 PM: Dobbins Tech vs. Columbia
2:30 PM: Berks Catholic vs. Allentown Central Catholic
4:15 PM: Cedar Crest vs. Downingtown West
6:00 PM: Perkiomen Valley vs. Exeter
7:45 PM: Malvern Prep vs. Parkland
Columbia vs. Upper Darby (5:00 PM Friday)
Expect a fun, uptempo game to start the event off, between two programs that love to get out and run. Columbia is coming off a PIAA 3A state playoff appearance, with three starters returning from that 19-win squad, all seniors: Brelon Miller, Jordan Poole and Artie Poindexter, the 6-3 Miller (14.5 ppg) and 6-1 Poole (13.8 ppg) were the Crimson Tide’s two leading scorers a year ago, Poindexter the point guard; Miller’s younger brother, Ladarian Miller, will move into the starting lineup this year. The Royals, on the other hand, graduated almost their entire rotation from last year’s group, which won 19 games and made it to the PIAA 6A second round. Bob Miller also loves to utilize an aggressive playstyle, though he’s going to have to figure out which of his reserves left over from last year are ready to be steady contributors; senior guard Lovo Mulbah was the team’s sixth man a year ago, while sophomore Gary Bonner, junior T.J. Jackson and others will have to take massive steps forward.
Berks Catholic vs. Cedar Crest (6:45 PM Friday)
Both Berks Catholic and Cedar Crest made the District 3 tournament field last season; the Saints winning the title in 4A and the Falcons falling in the first round in 6A. The Saints finished 23-5 after falling in the first round of the state tournament. They return brothers 6-6 senior forward Josh McKoy (9.6 ppg) and 6-2 sophomore forward Kingston McKoy (6.7 ppg) who will be key in replacing all-time leading scorer Josiah Jordan. Saints head coach Snip Esterly also expects 6-2 senior forward Parker Nein (3.2 ppg) to step into a larger role. The Falcons finished 14-9 last season and return the majority of their roster, including four physical seniors who also played football on the Falcons district-qualifying team. Senior 6-6 forward Aiden Schomp, 6-0 guard Owen Chernich, and 6-2 wing Fernando Marquez are three-year starters and 5-8 guard Leo Tirado has received quality minutes during that time. Cedar Crest certainly has a size advantage with 6-7 junior forward R.J. Young complementing Schomp in the frontcourt. Berks Catholic defeated Cedar Crest 65-38 in this event last season.
Exeter vs. Archbishop Carroll (8:30 PM Friday)
The final game on Friday is no doubt the highlight of the opening day. Archbishop Carroll features the most exciting group of underclassmen around, including sophomore point guard Ian Williams, sophomore wing Luca Foster and freshman guard Darrell Davis, who has made a splash to open the year. Host Exeter made it to the PIAA Class 5A championship game a year ago, and though several key contributors from that squad have graduated, senior guards Kevin Saenz and Reece Garvin are back to lead a deep and athletic squad with high expectations once again.
Zach Campbell (above) and Dobbins are coming off the program's first state playoff win. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Dobbins Tech vs. Columbia (12:45 PM Saturday)
The second day of the event gets off with a bang, as an upstart Dobbins squad comes up to take on Columbia, which as mentioned is no stranger to on-court success. Dobbins was perhaps the biggest surprise in Philly last year, the Mustangs getting to the Public League semifinals and beating Father Judge in the District 12 playoffs to earn a spot in the state playoffs. Seniors Zach Campbell and Saleem Hudson were major parts of that group and return for their final year, and head coach Derrick Stanton has been challenging his group all offseason to prepare for the follow-up act.
Berks Catholic vs. Allentown Central Catholic (2:30 PM Saturday)
There’s a lot of length and athleticism on the wings and up front in this one, with the McKoy brothers going up against ACC’s David Fridia, a skilled 6-7 wing/forward who can score inside and out. Junior wing Jahrel Vigo is a big-time scorer for the Vikings, who won 23 games and made it to the PIAA Class 4A semifinals a year ago. Both of these teams expect to be in the mix deep into March, so there’s a good bit of bragging rights here between Reading and Allentown.
Cedar Crest vs. Downingtown West (4:15 PM Saturday)
This one will be a great matchup in the post. Cedar Crest’s aforementioned duo of Schomp and Young will go head to head with West’s Zeke Staz, a 6-7 junior big man, plus 6-4 wing Donovan Fromhartz, who always plays tough and rebounds at a high clip. The Whippets, under the direction of Stu Ross, are coming off a 22-win season that ended in the second round of the 6A state tournament. Gone is point guard Dylan Blair, but Staz and Fromhartz have a strong supporting cast around them in senior wings Jase Lasher and Alex Neuhaus, senior guard Antonio Lewis, and sophomore wing Brady Moore, among others.
Perkiomen Valley vs. Exeter (6:00 PM Saturday)
The hosts get the penultimate game on Saturday night, welcoming Perkiomen Valley for a matchup between two programs with deep postseason expectations. Perk Valley, which has established itself as one of the perennial threats in an always-improving PAC, features senior guard Julian Sadler, a high-scoring lefty with a penchant for hitting clutch shots, plus senior wing Kyle Shawaluk, while junior Jakob Harken is a breakout candidate after a strong summer. Expect a lot of jumpers to fall between the two squads, and whichever one can best defend the perimeter will give themselves a big advantage.
Malvern Prep vs. Parkland (7:45 PM Saturday)
The event closes with a fantastic guard matchup in Malvern Prep’s Ryan Williams (Northeastern) and Parkland’s Nick Coval (Davidson), a pair of 6-2 guards who are best known for their outside shooting though they both can do so much more with the ball in their hands. Coval has a veteran supporting cast, with 10 seniors on the Trojans’ roster, with good size on the wings, and they’ve already taken down one of the area’s top 6A squads, Spring-Ford, to open the season. Malvern Prep’s got some impressive youngsters, freshmen guards Nick Harken and Marvin Reed, while senior guard Achilles Tucker-Turner is a varsity veteran.
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