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District 1 Playoffs: Girls 5A Quarterfinal Preview (Tues., Feb. 20)

02/19/2024, 1:00pm EST
By CoBL Staff

By CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

The District 1 5A girls field is down to eight heading to Tuesday night. Each squad remaining has at least two more games to play this season with a win guaranteeing even more.

Tuesday night’s winners will advance to Friday’s semifinal round and clinch four of the district’s six spots in states, while the four losers will head to the state playback bracket and battle for the last two bids.

Here’s a look at all four second-round games:


Emilia Coleman (above) and Gwynedd Mercy captured the AACA championship last week. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

1) Gwynedd Mercy vs. 9) Bishop Shanahan, 5 PM
The Monarchs are back in familiar territory as the top seed heading into a district tournament. They may have seen a five-year streak of titles end last winter but GMA has looked like a contender all year and comes in fresh off an AACA championship. Sophomore Emilia Coleman, the AACA’s MVP, has done a little bit of everything for her team from scoring, facilitating, rebounding and defending out of a zone defense that has a lot of size. Senior Dylan Burke and freshman Ali Kaltenbacher have been a strong tandem in the front court, Kaltenbacher a force on the glass and Burke the anchor defensively. Sophomore Bailey Balkir has put together some big games while Cara Lapp, Meg McDonnell and Brooke Evans all add length defensively.

Shanahan has seniors Sam Blumenthal (Catholic), Faith Ambrose and Abbey Wolfe back from last season’s district semifinal group. Blumenthal is a 5-10 power forward who seems to collect every rebound with Ambrose at the point and Wolfe a threat on the outside. They have experience to lean on, which helps the team’s younger players including sophomore Carmel Ambrose and Lauren Foster who both had nice outings in the first round against Upper Moreland. Finding good looks against GMA’s length will be paramount.

4) West Chester Rustin vs. 5) Lower Moreland
Rustin’s the reigning district champion, while Lower Moreland’s 55-41 win over Upper Merion was the program’s first district victory since 2019, which came in the Class 4A bracket. Senior guard and Widener commit Riley Stackhouse is a holdover from the Rustin starting five that brought back the first district title in program history a year ago. Guard Gia DeMichele and forward Kailey Barry add two more seniors to the rotation. Junior 6-foot forward Sara Betchyk and sophomore guard Jenna Kraft have had strong seasons as well.

Lower Moreland grabbed an SOL Freedom Division title this season — its first since joining the SOL. Junior Dani Brusha led the team in scoring in its opener against Upper Merion with freshman 5-8 forward Sydney Santora joining her in double figures. Junior Brianna McFerran is the other top option for the Lions with freshmen Mollie Martin and Emma DiJoseph two of the other big pieces along with Lower Moreland’s lone senior Amelia Brown.

Kayden Baratta (above) and Phoenixville won the PAC Frontier title. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

2) West Chester East vs. 7) Phoenixville
These two teams met up back on Jan. 13 with the Vikings taking home a 59-51 win. East has had some pieces in and out of the lineup throughout the season but should be in full form. The Vikings, coming off a run to the Ches-Mont League title game, get contributions from a variety of threats including senior Annie Kerns and juniors Annalise Kubasko and Sofia Keith, the team's centerpiece inside. Sophomores Carly Bickle and Lauren Horan have emerged this season too with freshman Kayla Cochran adding some more size and rebounding for a squad that has several candidates to lead the charge on any night.

Phoenixville won its first round game for the second straight year, the Phantoms looking to take it a step further but facing a tough task in the Ches-Mont finalists. Up front it’s the two 6-footers in Maliyah Warren, the team’s sole senior, and sophomore Riley Ford-Bey providing a lot of rebounding and chipping in offensively. Sophomore Kayden Barratta led the PAC in scoring and has been a breakout player all year, very effective in the open floor and slashing to the rim. Junior Emine Ulcey has a unique skillset, playing as a point-forward at times while Ava Gnias plays with plenty of tenacity in the backcourt.

3) Radnor vs. 6) Villa Maria
Radnor got a first round-bye this season after an upset first-round loss ended the Raptors’ season a year ago. The Raptors have had a lot of time to stew on a first-round Central League playoff loss to Penncrest two weeks ago, while the Hurricanes, last season’s district runner-up, enter following a lopsided AACA title loss to Gwynedd Mercy. Seniors Kate Gallagher and Caroline Monahan are joined by sophomores Nyah Yao and Anna Reger in the rotation for the Raptors. They'll miss the inside presence of senior forward  Blayse Jennings, who spent her first three high school seasons playing in New York, after an unfortunate PIAA ruling.

Just a few years ago, the Hurricanes made a run to the district title as a seven seed, so they shouldn’t be overlooked. Senior Carly Catania is an All-AAC player for good reason, playing as a “big” out of need for VMA but bringing plenty of guard skills and a nonstop motor every time she plays. Sophomore Sophia Tray, also a top lacrosse player, has been really good all season at guard while veteran coach Kathy McCartney gets plenty of effort plays from Emma O’Hare, Abby Ferry and Liz Sharp

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Tag(s): Home  High School  Girls HS  AACA  Gwynedd Mercy  Villa Maria  Radnor  Ches-Mont (G)  Ches-Mont American (G)  West Chester Rustin  Ches-Mont National (G)  Bishop Shanahan  West Chester East  PAC (G)  PAC Frontier (G)  Phoenixville  SOL Freedom (G)  Lower Moreland