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District 1 6A: Girls' Quarterfinals + Playbacks (Feb. 23-24, 2024)

02/23/2024, 10:15am EST
By Josh Verlin

By Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

The girls’ 6A bracket held to chalk in the second round. All eight of the top seeds shrugged off their first-round byes to dispatch their visiting opponents, with seven of the eight doing so by double figures. That’s set up some high-level matchups in the quarterfinals, which should make for an entertaining Saturday.

Caleigh Sperling (above) and North Penn get a rematch with Haverford High on Saturday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Meanwhile, in the playbacks, eight quality teams are playing for the final four spots District 1 gets in the PIAA 6A bracket, with all four of Saturday’s winners in those games also punching their ticket.

Here’s a look at all eight games; game times in parenthesis:

1) Perkiomen Valley vs. 8) Central Bucks East (Fri, 7:30 PM)
These two programs met in last year’s second round, a 49-42 Perk Valley win as the Vikings began their 2023 District 1 6A championship run. Not only did John Russo’s squad return pretty much its entire rotation from a year ago, it added junior wing Grace Miley back to the mix after she missed last year with an ACL tear, while 5-8 senior Anna Stein (Kutztown) got further away from her own knee injury and returned back to form. Perk Valley is one of the biggest teams around, with 6-3 Quinn Boettinger and 6-1 Grace Galbavy leading a group of five juniors in the starting lineup, along with Miley, point guard Bella Bacani and wing Lena Stein, Anna’s younger sister. Another junior, Julia Smith, comes off the bench with Anna Stein to give Russo the most dangerous top seven around.

The Patriots feel like they’re playing with house money now, having clinched their spot in states. CB East knows it’s giving up some size in the matchup, but senior Chantal Van Dongeren won’t back down defensively while wings Natalie Berndt and Sydney Ralph have some length. Senior Anna Barry is one of the area’s top shooters but does more than just that and Jess Lockwood is a post who can stretch her range out to the arc. In order to pull the biggest upset of the bracket, East will have to somehow win the rebound battle and slow down Perk Valley’s offense, which are both easier said than done. 

4) Haverford High vs. 5) North Penn (2:30 PM)
These two already squared off this season, a 46-45 North Penn win at Arcadia University back on January 14, which sets the table for a highly-competitive game on Haverford’s home court Saturday afternoon. North Penn senior Caleigh Sperling, the Knights’ 1000-point scorer and Jefferson University commit, led the way with 16 points in that earlier matchup, though 12 points and seven rebounds from freshman wing Lily Brown were a huge boost for Brianna Cullen’s side. Junior Cam Crowley can score or set-up at point guard, senior Kelly Donnelly is a good shooter and senior Liv Stone is a disruptive defender with her quickness and length.

Haverford’s been getting strong play all year long from junior Rian Dotsey, a versatile 6-2 wing who’s really taking her game to another level in the postseason. Dotsey had 27 points and 12 rebounds in the Fords’ second-round win over Abington, scoring from inside and out. But she’s not the only weapon Lauren Pellicane has at her disposal. Millersville-bound senior Aniya Eberhart is a big, athletic guard; forwards Natalie Wright and Ashley Wright, not related, give them energy, rebounding and inside scoring, Natalie winning MVP in the Fords’ Central League championship game. Expect another hard-fought game that’s sure to come down to the last few possessions.

Ryann Jennings (above) and Conestoga have beaten Garnet Valley in 2 of their 3 meetings. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

2) Conestoga vs. 7) Garnet Valley (1:00 PM)
It’s a Central League rematch as the Pioneers and Jaguars meet for the fourth time this season and the third time in an 18-day span. Conestoga took the first matchup, 46-40 at Garnet Valley in December; GV got revenge in the regular-season finale with a one-point win at ‘Stoga on Feb. 6, but the Pioneers bounced back with a 20-point win four days later in the Central League semifinals. So there’s no shortage of familiarity between these two squads, who know exactly what they’re in for with the semifinals on the line. They also met last year during the district playoffs, a 56-26 Conestoga win in a seeding game before both lost in the first round of the state tournament.

The teams are built somewhat similarly: they both have a talented on-ball guard in Garnet Valley junior Kylie Mulholland and Conestoga senior Marisa Francione (Scranton); a D-I recruit at shooting guard in Conestoga sophomore Ryann Jennings and GV junior Haylie Adamski; a quality post in GV senior Emily Olsen (Randolph-Macon) and ‘Stoga junior Janie Preston. Adamski’s younger sisters, freshmen Addison and Kylie, have been contributing all season, as has senior Jordan Daubenberger and junior Savannah Saunders. How much that group contributes compared to Stoga seniors Isabella and Katrina Valencia and sophomore Maggie Neary will go a long way towards deciding the outcome.

3) Upper Dublin vs. 6) Spring-Ford (2:30 PM)
While these two programs don’t face each other that often, their meetings do have a tendency to come at this time of year. The Cardinals finally get a chance to host the Rams, their last couple playoff meetings having come up in Royersford, and this one carries a trip to the final four with it. There are plenty of similarities here too, both teams are well-coached, they’re tough defensively, know their strengths offensively and have really strong senior leadership.

Upper Dublin used its bye to figure some things out with Megan Ngo out for the season. The Cardinals will look for senior Amy Ngo to set the pace and will try to get freshman Tamia Clark going offensively in places where her athleticism will provide an advantage. Seniors Nora and Brighid Brady have been looking for their shot a little more and the twins are always scrappy defensively while freshman Bridget DiMartile is playing more confident in her new role as a starter. 

For Spring-Ford, its well-tested group of seniors will come in ready. Point guard Anna Azzara makes it all go offensively and she’s an excellent defender while Mac Pettinelli does a whole lot of everything. Aaliyah Solliday adds a scoring dynamic as a shooter and slasher while Katie Tiffan and sophomore Kareena Preuss have both been steady contributors on both ends and cash in on plenty of looks their teammates create.


Reese Zemitis (above) and Neshaminy get SOL rival Pennsbury in playbacks. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

9) Neshaminy vs. 16) Pennsbury (1:00 PM)
The third meeting of the SOL Patriot rivals carries the biggest stakes, as only one team moves on to states. Both sides have some excellent seniors looking to extend their careers, so expect an intense game. Neshaminy will look to Reese Zemitis (Bucknell) and Lola Ibarrondo (Holy Family) to make it three straight PIAA tournament appearances while the Falcons will lean on Sofia Vitucci, Layla Matthias, Daniella MacDonald and the rest of their sizable senior group to do the same.

12) Kennett vs.13) Abington (12:00 PM)
Down in mushroom territory, Kennett and Abington bring somewhat contrasting styles to the table. Kennett likes to work the ball inside to senior forward Mia Matthews and junior forward Sarah Miller, though Matthews can step out and shoot as well; senior point guard Mary Carroll gets a lot done defensively as well as with the ball in her hands, and Vince Cattano isn’t afraid to go three or four deep into his bench. Abington 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.

10) West Chester Henderson vs. 18) Council Rock South (1:00 PM)
The Warriors run through their two cornerstone seniors, Whitney Evans a dynamo on the offensive end while Jackie Shea anchors the defense, while senior point guard Ari Rivera is a third scoring option who does a lot of ball-handling herself. CR South spreads it out a bit more, the Golden Hawks’ flock led by juniors Kathryn O’Kane and Fiona Reckner and a senior group including Miranda Cantor (11 points last round) and Katie Purpura

11) Downingtown East vs. 19) Penncrest (4:00 PM)
A young Downingtown East side gets a home game to try and get to states, as Darren Domsohn doesn’t start a single senior. The Cougars rely 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 significant steps forward, and freshman Kendall Chiavelli has shown big-time scoring ability.  Penncrest 6-2 senior forward Kathryn Harding, a Temple lacrosse commit, scored 22 in the opening-round win over Coatesville. Senior Bailey 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.

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