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District 1 6A: Boys First Round Preview (Feb. 16, 2024)

02/14/2024, 2:15pm EST
By CoBL Staff

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

The opening round of the District 1 6A boys’ tournament begins on Friday night with eight first-round elimination matchups. All eight losers are done for the season; the eight winners advance to face the top eight seeds in the second round, whose winners advance to the state tournament (and district quarterfinals) while the losers go into play-back games for even more state qualifiers. 

Here’s a look at the eight first-round games:


District 1 6A First Round (Boys)
Fri., Feb. 16

Conestoga and senior Brendan Styer, above, face Neshaminy. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

16) Conestoga (15-9) vs. 17) Neshaminy (15-8), 7 PM
Winner gets 1) Lower Merion (22-1)

This one’s actually a rematch of a game played just a few weeks ago, Neshaminy beating Conestoga 49-48 behind a game-winner by senior Emeer Coombs. So expect another good one between the Central League host and its Suburban One visitor, two traditionally-strong programs used to making districts on a regular basis. Neither team made it to the state playoffs last year; ‘Stoga lost in the first round of districts after qualifying as the final seed, while Neshaminy lost to Lower Merion in the second round and Perk Valley in playbacks. Neshaminy’s the hotter team, winning nine of 11 coming into the district tournament.

Both teams are guard-oriented. Coombs, a 5-9 point guard, is Neshaminy’s primary ball-handler, though PSU-Harrisburg commit Nate Townsend is their primary scoring option, a 6-3 combo guard with a soft touch who can score from all three levels; senior guard Guy Horton is another multi-year varsity player who starts for head coach Mark Tingle. Conestoga’s got its own guard trio to watch for in sophomore Rowan Miller, junior Ben Robinson and senior Brendan Styer (Wilkes), while senior shooting guard Westin Fryburger has also had games in double digits. 

9) Abington (18-6) vs. 24) Springfield (Delco.) (11-11), 7 PM
Winner gets 8) Bensalem (18-5)

The top seed in the first round, Abington missed out on the No. 8 seed by less than a tenth of a ranking point, earning the Ghosts a home game against the Cougars. This will be Abington’s first game all season against an opponent from the Central League, and Springfield (Delco.)’s first game all season against a team from the Suburban One League; they don’t even have a common opponent to compare results against. Both coaches have been around for a while; Springfield’s Kevin McCormick is in his 30th season, while Dan Marsh had 18 years of guiding the Abington girls before taking over the boys this past offseason.

Marsh inherited a veteran group from former head coach Chuck Grasty, with enough seniors on the roster to fill two starting lineups. Jeremiah Lee, Aaron Jones, Kamari Brashear, Jayden Flournoy and Kellen Ingram are all seniors in the rotation, while juniors Paul Glants and Jacob Manigault are up there in the mix as well. The group’s depth and talent on the wings allows Marsh to play a number of scoring pieces at any given time, and they can push the tempo for 32 minutes without tiring out. Tempo will be a big deal for Springfield (Delco.), which likes to play a more measured half-court game centered around York commit Colin Treude, the 6-5 post a versatile threat at both ends. He’s got a good group of guards around him including senior Jake Adams, junior Patrick Flaherty and freshman T.J. Valletti

13) Plymouth Whitemarsh (14-9) vs. 20) Council Rock South (14-8), 7 PM
Winner gets 4) Chester (18-2)

Coming off the District 1 6A championship and with quite a bit of that rotation left over, expectations were high preseason for Jim Donofrio’s Colonials, but they haven’t quite lived up to the preseason buzz, hence their hosting a first-round game against a Golden Hawks’ squad itching for an upset in its first district playoff appearance in four years years. CR South, led by head coach Andrew Rogers, comes in having won five of its last six games as well, while PW has wins in six of its last 10.

Plymouth Whitemarsh has at its disposal one of the district’s most dangerous scoring threats in senior guard Jaden Colzie. The speedy 6-foot combo guard won’t hesitate to get his shot off from anywhere, and is a master at making difficult, fadeaway mid-range jumpers. The Colonials also have benefitted from the growth of 6-3 sophomore Mani Sajid, who’s being tracked by a number of Division I coaches, while senior Jahsier Sayles gives them good additional length at 6-5. CR South has its own high-scoring lead guard of its own in 6-1 Moravian commit Tim Rahill, while 6-5 senior Gabe Cerulli is a pick-and-pop ‘4’ man who gives them a rebounding presence inside. 

12) Cheltenham (17-6) vs. 21) North Penn (12-10), 7 PM
Winner gets 5) Coatesville (17-6)

The Panthers were bounced in the first round as the No. 23 seed last season, but coach Pat Fleury’s group has its eyes on making some noise this year. Junior guard Josiah Hutson, who reached 1,000 career points this season, can score as well as anybody when he’s going. Junior Osei Johnson and freshman Kamal Mason are two of the other top backcourt options. Senior Nile Tinsley is a 6-5 wing with the versatility to play inside and outside. Senior 6-4 wing Kevin Addison adds a lengthy scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. Sophomore 6-8 forward Peyton McClendon can cause problems inside.

North Penn needed a strong finish to its regular season just to secure a district bid, the Knights now looking to try and make a run for their first ever back-to-back state playoff berths. Longtime coach John Conrad has a group that can play fast and put up points but they’ll need to string some stops to get past a Panthers team that can do the same. Senior Norman Gee is a blur at point guard while senior Corey Meade is a good athlete at 6-foot-3 and can get to the rim. Tre Simpson adds size inside and he can keep pace getting up and down the floor while Ahmaar Godhania is a lights-out shooter and Lee Hammond has played his way into an expanded role.

Tennent and Kirby Mooney, go up against Downingtown West. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

15) Downingtown West (13-10) vs. 18) William Tennent (15-7), 7PM
Winner gets 2) West Chester Henderson (21-3)

It’s been a strange season for Downingtown West, which has two of the best players in the Ches-Mont in 6-7 junior Zeke Staz and 6-4 junior Donovan Fromhartz, but hadn’t quite been able to string together wins until a six-game run between Jan. 23 and Feb. 5 to close out the regular season. It looked like the Whippets had carried that momentum into the playoffs, getting out to a 21-0 lead on Sun Valley, but ended up giving that all away to los in the Ches-Mont first round. Tennent finished second to Cheltenham in the SOL Freedom but didn’t qualify for the league playoffs, so they’ll be on a 10-day break when they travel to Downingtown on Friday night. 

The Panthers’ biggest weapon is 6-4 senior Kirby Mooney, who became Tennent’s all-time leading scorer this season; the big guard is at his best within 15’, but he’s become a more reliable 3-point shooter as well. Senior guard Chris D’Ambra and senior wing Imad Abunima have been his biggest supporters this year, though head coach Robert Mulville won’t hesitate to go deep into his bench. Staz and Fromhartz will be Tennent’s biggest targets defensively, but sophomore guard Brady Moore has been a consistent producer, and freshman guard Isaiah Hicklen has good upside for head coach Stu Ross.

10) Perkiomen Valley (19-5) vs. 23) Avon Grove (12-10), 7 PM
Winner gets 7) Central Bucks East (18-6)

Perkiomen Valley’s become a mainstay in the District 1 playoffs under head coach Mike Poysden, a state playoff win over Roman Catholic eight years ago launching an era that’s had them make a few other state appearances, including last season. The Vikings are back in districts after another strong season that saw them make it to the Pioneer Athletic Conference semifinals, the only team they’ve lost to since Dec. 19 has been Spring-Ford — the Rams have just done it three times. Perk Valley’s attack is led by senior guard Julian Sadler, the 6-1 lefty arguably the top scorer in the PAC and perhaps all of Montgomery County. He’s got plenty of help from 6-5 senior Kyle Shawaluk, a versatile sharpshooter, plus 6-5 forward Josh Tagert, who also can stop out and knock down shots as well as score around the bucket. 

Avon Grove, on the other hand, is in the district tournament for the first time since 2017, the Red Devils winning four of their last six games — including two wins over West Chester East — to slip into the field. That’s quite a successful debut for 25-year-old, first-time head coach Grant Harding, a Kansas native who moved to SEPA from Colorado last June because his wife’s from the area. He’s got six seniors on the roster, led by 6-5 forward Adam Ziegler, a skilled big wing who can stretch the floor; he missed time in the middle of the season due to injury, but his return has given them a major boost. Two other seniors, point guard Josh Cox and forward Brock Bernstein, also with speedy sophomore Tashaan McClain coming along in the backcourt.

14) Garnet Valley (15-8) vs. 19) Harriton (14-9), 7 PM
Winner gets 3) Spring-Ford (18-5)

It’s a Central League rematch down at Garnet Valley, as these two meet up for the second time this season. The first one was a nail-biter, Garnet Valley beating Harriton 51-49 at Harriton back on Jan. 9. That win kicked off a generally strong close to the season for the Jaguars, who’ve won nine of their last 12, taking a buzzer-beating loss to Marple Newtown in the opening round of the Central League playoffs. The loss had the opposite effect on Harriton, which was 10-3 after a win at Ridley on Jan. 6 but went 4-6 over its last 10 games. 

Both teams have one outstanding lead guard to turn to in Garnet Valley’s Jake Sniras and Harriton’s Marquis Kubish. Sniras is a a 6-3 gunner who’s really improved his ability to get to the hoop; Kubish is about the same height but more of a bully-ball type with a good post game, liking to use his solid frame to get around the bucket and score. Sniras’ supporting cast is led by senior point guard Quinn O’Hara and brothers Jack and Brady Krautzel, the senior and junior (respectively) bringing a mix of toughness, outside shooting, passing and defense. Kubish’s backcourt partner is senior Jadyn Gaskins, a slippery ballhandler who can get to the rim, while Sean Gallagher and others provide shooting on the wings. 

11) Central Bucks West (18-6) vs. 22) Pennsbury (11-11), 7 PM
Winner gets 6) Methacton (16-7)

It's an SOL crossover rematch between two sides who last played against one another on January 18, with CB West pulling out a 44-31 win at Pennsbury. Junior Roman Kulesa led the Bucks to victory on that frigid evening, scoring 15 of his game-high 16 points in the second half. 23-year head coach Adam Sherman's Bucks are having a resurgent year after finishing with a 6-16 record one year ago. Their roster has seven seniors, starting with point guard and captain Matt Engle, who's dealt with injuries all season but is battling the pain for his teammates. 6-foot-5 Sam Jankowski is the Bucks' interior presence and has developed a strong connection with Engle on the offensive end. Julian Phillips can spread the floor with his three-point shooting and attack his defender off the dribble. Captain Bowen Gugger fills in the remaining gaps, using his athleticism and basketball acumen to fit his team's needs on a given night.

Pennsbury scratched and clawed their way back into the District 1 6A tournament for the third straight season with wins over Bensalem and a sweep of Neshaminy. Last year, the No. 13 seeded Falcons lost their district opener at home against No. 20 Abington, 45-42 in overtime, and will look to play upset this time. Second-year head coach Wes Emme returns three starters from last year's team that won the SOL Patriot Division. Senior wing Connor Taddei, who can get hot from three and shoot over defenders, leads the way. Senior Teddy Mangan is a high-volume shooter who loves his mid-range pull-up. Mike Roccograndi serves as the primary ball-handler and provides added experience. A matchup to look for will be 6-foot-7 Simon Dlugi (York College) against Jankowski on the inside.


Second Round
Tues., Feb. 20


Fri., Feb. 23


Tues., Feb. 27


Sat., March 2


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