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District 1 Playoffs: Girls 6A Second Round Preview (Wed., Feb. 21)

02/20/2024, 12:15pm EST
By CoBL Staff

By CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

The PIAA state playoffs are only a win away for the 16 teams left in District 1 6A. All eight second-round winners on Tuesday night advance to the PIAA 6A state playoffs; the eight losers go to playbacks, where the four winners of those games will also make it to states.

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


Grace Galbavy and Perkiomen Valley, the defending champs, host Pennsbury. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

1) Perkiomen Valley vs. 16) Pennsbury
Perk Valley got out of the gates slowly last season with a second-round battle against 17th-seeded CB East before storming into the championship round. District 1’s reigning champions find themselves as the top seed again, carrying a 15-game win streak and second straight PAC title into the district tournament. It’s mainly a seven-person rotation with senior Anna Stein (Kutztown) joined by juniors Grace Galbavy, Quinn Boettinger (Navy), Bella Bacani, Lena Stein, Julia Smith and Grace Miley.

Pennsbury has a good chunk of college talent for a 16-seed, led by uncommitted senior Sofia Vitucci. Senior guard Daniella MacDonald (Wheaton College) and Danielle Sherman (Albright) space the floor and senior 5-9 forward Layla Matthias has starred in her role as a rebounder and defender. She’ll have a tall task with the Vikings’ frontcourt of Galbavy and Boettinger. The Falcons have some depth of their own with senior Oliveah Gilchrist, junior Maggie Burns, sophomore Ava Jordan and freshman Joley Hohman able to give them good minutes as well.

8) Central Bucks East vs. 9) Neshaminy
During the regular season, it was the Patriots who lost on the road at Neshaminy but Round 2 will be on their home floor. Senior Anna Barry’s quick release makes her one of the best shooters in the area while East’s other senior and co-captain Chantal Van Dongeren does her best work on the defensive end. Sophomore Jess Lockwood is a post player who can step out and hit from deep while junior Sydney Ralph and sophomore Natalie Berndt can do pretty much anything needed as the game calls for.

Neshaminy’s been in playoff mode for about two weeks now, the program fresh off its first SOL tournament title and a first-round district win. Seniors Reese Zemitis, Lola Ibarrondo and Ava Irizarry are used to it, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be any less focused on securing the one win they need to get back to states. Junior Alena Cofield’s speed and energy give the team a significant lift on both ends. Freshmen Ashlyn Duffy, Grace Weyler and Mia Raivitch have all grown over the course of the season and will be counted on. 

Haverford and junior Natalie Wright host Abington. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

4) Haverford High vs. 13) Abington
A season ago, Haverford rode high preseason expectations to a Central League title and an undefeated run all the way to the District 1 championship game. This season’s group has figured out a way to avoid any drop off. While 5-10 senior guard Aniya Eberhart (Millersville) and 6-2 junior wing Rian Dotsey are the familiar names, a number of others have stepped up. Junior 5-10 forward Natalie Wright and 5-11 senior forward Ashley Wright join Dotsey to form a deep front court. Junior guard Megan Kelly and senior guard Tess Durfee fill in where they’re needed in the backcourt. The Fords have won 10 in a row since a one-point loss to North Penn in mid-January.

Abington will have its work cut out for itself trying to match up with the Fords’ size. Instead, the Ghosts will look to their shooting and aggressive defense to try and speed things up and create extra possessions. Junior Maya Johnson is a terrific point guard and on-ball defender, while senior Piper McGinley has put together a strong season on both ends of the floor and sophomore Mikaiya Durham can heat up in an instant on the perimeter. Seniors Sarah Oleary, Harper McGinley and Jordyn Reynolds will also be needed to contribute on both ends.

5) North Penn vs. 12) Kennett
The Knights finished a win short of states last season, something that drove their experienced group to take that next step this year. It’s been a build for third-year coach Bri Cullen and her seniors, but they’ve embraced their identity as a team that can push the pace and put up points. Senior Caleigh Sperling is North Penn’s offensive catalyst but she’s not alone. Junior Cam Crowley can score or set-up at point guard, senior Kelly Donnelly is a good shooter and freshman Lily Brown brings an attacking mindset off the bench. Senior Liv Stone is a disruptive defender with her quickness and length.

Kennett, which rolls into the second round with 18 wins after dispatching Plymouth Whitemarsh 42-37 in the opening round, has won 11 of its last 12 games, save for its loss to West Chester East in the Ches-Mont semifinals. The Blue Devils, who didn’t make it out of the first round of districts last year, have a veteran group under longtime head coach Vince Cattano,including versatile 5-11 senior forward Mia Matthews, who can score inside or out; she and point guard Mary Carroll are the most critical pieces for Kennett, which also starts senior guard Greta Burns and juniors Sarah Miller and Quin Simmons. How North Penn handles the frontcourt duo of Matthews and Miller and how well Kennett guards Sperling are the two biggest keys in this one. 

Senior guard Marisa Francione and Conestoga host Council Rock South. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

2) Conestoga vs. 18) Council Rock South
Last year, Conestoga made it to the first round of the state playoffs after a loss to Springfield (Delco.) in the second round of districts, but the Pioneers have eyes on going much further this time around. The Central League runner-ups begin their district run with a 21-3 record, and a chip on their shoulder after falling just short to Haverford in the league championship. AJ Thompson has a talented, veteran group including four-year starter Marisa Francione (Scranton) at point guard, 6-1 junior center Janie Preston in the middle, 5-11 sophomore shooting guard Ryann Jennings with Division I offers and senior twins Katrina and Bella Valencia doing all the dirty work. If they can get scoring off the bench from sophomore Maggie Neary and junior Ruth Lanouette, they’re really tough to defend.  

The Golden Hawks finally got over their first-round playoff hex and the reward is a trip to Berwyn to tangle with the Pioneers. First-year coach Jesse Krasna inherited a veteran group, but it took CR South a little while to get all the pieces in line. Junior Kathryn O’Kane makes it all go at point guard to lead a deep group of guards and wings. Senior Cam Gregory is tenacious defensively and also part of a potent batch of shooters that included junior Liliana Metrick and senior Miranda Cantor. Junior Fiona Reckner and seniors Lily Bross, Katie Purpura and Haley Thompson are also integral defensively for the Hawks.

7) Garnet Valley vs. 10) West Chester Henderson
This is a tough first-round draw for Garnet Valley, which gets maybe the hottest team in District 1 in its district opener. Henderson comes into Wednesday night riding a 15-game winning streak dating back to January 11, including victories over numerous district qualifiers and the program’s first Ches-Mont championship in six years, before a 45-32 win over CB South in the opening round. Garnet comes in off a loss to Conestoga in the Central League semifinals, but before that the Jaguars had won 15 of 16; in fact, Garnet Valley’s four losses this season have only come to two teams, Conestoga and Haverford High.

Both teams feature a high-scoring lead guard. GV’s Haylie Adamski is a 6-0 junior and Division I recruit with more than a handful of offers, who loves to pull up and shoot the ‘3.’ Henderson’s Whitney Evans is a 5-6 combo guard with the best handle on her squad, and while she’s also a strong outside shooter she likes to utilize a floater around the rim as well. Pairing with Evans as an inside-out duo is senior forward Jackie Shea, a 5-11 playmaker in the post who does a good job of finding her teammates and rebounding as well as scoring around the bucket; point guard Ari Rivera, wing Lilly Bertrando and sophomore Bailey Schalleur have all made significant contributions on both ends. Jags senior Randolph-Macon commit Emily Olsen will match up with Shea in the post with junior guard Kylie Mulholland the other top scoring threat.

Upper Dublin and Brighid Brady host Penncrest on Wednesday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

3) Upper Dublin vs. 19) Penncrest
The Cardinals knew exactly what they were going to do with their first-round bye: figure out what to do without Megan Ngo. With the standout sophomore point guard sidelined by an injury during the SOL tournament, UD reshuffled on the fly but needed some practice days to re-organize. It’ll be up to the team’s three seniors in Amy Ngo - Megan’s older sister - and twins Nora and Brighid Brady (Neumann commits) to lead the way. Amy, a Holy Family recruit, will likely take on most of the handling and facilitating her sister handled while the Brady twins will be looking to score a bit more. Freshmen Tamia Clark and Bridget DiMartile have been in the rotation all season, but they too will have increased roles and junior Kaitlyn Zacharia will likely be called on off the bench.

Penncrest survived Coatesville in overtime in the opening round as senior Bailey Garrison hit a pair of free throws to send the game into OT before the Lions pulled it out in the extra period. Penncrest 6-2 senior forward Kathryn Harding, a Temple lacrosse commit, scored 22 in that one and she could be a tough matchup for the Cardinals, who don’t have much size beyond the 5-11 freshman DiMartile. Garrison and classmates Emily Huggins and Makayla Johnson are joined in the backcourt by juniors Lila Curci and Alex Bruce to form a group that plays really good defense, certainly capable of giving UD some problems.

6) Spring-Ford vs. 11) Downingtown East
This is a battle between one team who’s been here a lot in Spring-Ford and one team full of players on their biggest stage yet. The 2021 state runner-ups, Spring-Ford still has a couple of pieces who remember what it’s like to win in Hershey in the form of Division I-bound seniors Anna Azzara (Wright State) and Mac Pettinelli (St. Bonaventure) as well as classmate Katie Tiffan, committed to D-II Lynn (Fla.); Azzara started for the state runner-up squad while Pettinelli and Tiffan were both key reserves. Rams coach Mickey McDaniel has a good assortment of role players around them including Katie’s younger sister, junior Christina Tiffan, junior forward Kareena Preuss, senior Siena Miller, and senior Aaliyah Solliday, a sharpshooting guard.

East coach Darren Domsohn, meanwhile, doesn’t start a single senior, relying on 6-0 sophomore guard Charlotte Aldridge as one of it’s primary offensive initiators, while sharpshooter Grace Hodges and point guard Chloe Hodges — both sophomores — have taken big steps forward, and freshman Kendall Chiavelli looks like she’ll be an All-Ches Mont selection most if not all of her high school career. It’s a group that has the ability to be a real problem defensively, limiting Downingtown West to 18 points in its district opener, but its own offensive output has had high levels of variability as well. It’s going to be a tough game against a battle-tested Spring-Ford, but it’s an experience that could pay off down the road. 

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