Kehler on Hoops: Weekend Wrapup

Written by: on Monday, February 7th, 2022



If you have a lot of faith in the PIAA District 3 power rankings, then you probably think that Saturday night’s 52-44 overtime win by Central Dauphin at Chambersburg Area was an upset. The view from here is that it wasn’t. Chambersburg entered the game 16-2 and ranked second to Reading in the District 3 Class 6A power rankings, several notches above Central Dauphin. Central Dauphin was 12-4 going into the game, but there was more than meets the eye to their record. Central Dauphin had a long layoff in January due to coronavirus troubles. They played at State College on January 4, but their following games were at Cumberland Valley on January 21 and at Hempfileld on January 22, both losses. The disruption in practices and in competition clearly had an impact on the team. One other consideration in viewing the Chambersburg-Central Dauphin matchup: Central Dauphin has played a tougher non-conference schedule. The Rams lost by five points at Hempfield. Hempfield is 16-3 and is in first place in the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s Section 1. Central Dauphin also lost a close game on a neutral floor in Wilmington, DE, to Philadelphia Catholic League power Archbishop Ryan, a team that played in the PIAA Class 5A state championship game last year. Central Dauphin is the only Mid Penn Conference team to schedule a game against a Philadelphia Catholic League team this regular season. Battle tested Central Dauphin, back into practice routines, was ready for Chambersburg.

Susquehannock’s win at Middletown Area on Saturday afternoon was impressive. The York County squad is in the PIAA 5A classification. Susquehannock is 13-6 this season, and they may be able to qualify for the PIAA state championship tournament. Their two big guys, Ezra Davis and Abass Ndiaye, both played well vs. 17-3 Class 4A Middletown, but when one of those guys was on the court, the other guy was on the bench. Davis and Ndiaye on the court together might be a powerful combination.

LaSalle College had quite a week in their three Philadelphia Catholic League games. On Monday, they won big in their arch rival’s gym, beating St. Joseph’s Prep 60-42. On Wednesday, they lost by two points when a shot missed at the buzzer at Neumann-Goretti, perennially one of the top teams in Pennsylvania. On Friday, LaSalle College was the first team to defeat Archbishop Wood in a Catholic League game this season, winning 66-61. LaSalle College is located in Wyndmoor, right next to Cheltenham, and their PIAA Classification is 6A. Because of the limited number of slots allocated to Philadelphia Catholic League teams in the PIAA Class 6A tournament, LaSalle College may be hard pressed to qualify for the state championship playoffs. If they can get in, this rapidly improving team has a chance to contend for the title.

Without question, the Philadelphia Catholic League is the strongest that it’s been in over 20 years. Perennially the strongest high school basketball league in the state, this year the league is more competitive than ever. Consider that the sixth place team, Devon Prep, defeated defending PIAA Class 6A state champion Reading, at Reading, earlier this season. Devon Prep is Class 3A. There are 14 teams in the Catholic League. Six of the schools are located in Philadelphia, and the other eight are in southeastern Pennsylvania. During the regular season, each team plays each other team once. Ten teams qualify for the league playoffs, which, this season, may be the single best competition in Pennsylvania. Two of the teams, Lansdale Catholic and Conwell-Egan Catholic, are winless in league games this season. Three other teams–West Catholic, Roman Catholic, and Archbishop Wood–have one league loss each. Seven of the teams should be considered significant contenders for PIAA state championships this season: Roman Catholic, Archbishop Wood, and LaSalle College in Class 6A; Archbishop Ryan in Class 5A; Neumann-Goretti in Class 4A; and West Catholic and Devon Prep in Class 3A. The reasons for the Catholic League’s strength are pretty obvious: good coaching and the ability to draw players from a wide area, players who are interested in playing top flight competition. The importance of the desire to play against good competition should not be overlooked. Consider that only one Class of 2021 player from a PIAA District 1 high school got a Division 1 college basketball scholarship after graduation. There are 86 District 1 high schools with boys basketball teams.

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