PIAA QUARTER-FINAL ROUND PREVIEWS
FRIDAY, MARCH 15 GAMES
(2-1) Abington Heights (25-2) vs. (1-1) Sun Valley (21-7), Freedom 7:30
District 2 champion Abington Heights (25-2) regrouped after a third quarter 16-2 run by Mastery Charter North and then had to twice rally from a pair of four-point deficits, getting clutch triples from Drew and Jack Nealon to defeat the Pumas, 54-52. Their next opponent, District 1 Champion Sun Valley (21-7), mounted their own late game surge, turning a 36-31 deficit into a commanding 11-point advantage to get by Northern, 61-53. The Vanguards’ program is in unchartered territory and is an amazing example of how the trajectory of a hoops program can completely shift within a few seasons. Head coach Steve Mahoney, now in his 5th season, persevered through an 18-48 mark in his first three campaigns. Last season, behind the leadership of a core group of juniors who developed friendships and hardwood chemistry since their days playing youth basketball, they qualified for the state playoffs and finished with a 19-8 record. This year, although they missed the Ches-Mont League playoffs, a ton of confidence was gained with big wins over Unionville (60-46) and Pottsgrove (68-49) in the District 1 playoffs. The Vanguards then secured their first-ever district championship with a 65-54 win over a highly-regarded West Chester East squad. Sun Valley’s fantastic four include seniors Vinny DeAngelo, Marvin Freeman, Isaac Kennon, and Lance Stone. DeAngelo, a 1,000 point scorer, hit 30 points in four of seven games leading up to the district championship match-up, including hitting all 12 of his shots against Pottsgrove. In their first round 65-44 victory over Garden Spot, he netted 24 points and converted all 14 free throws opportunities. In Tuesday’s win over Northern, DeAngelo scored 26 points and pulled down 10 boards. He is complemented by 6-4 senior playmaker Marvin Freeman who led the way with 18 points in the win over WC East. His quick dribble, step-back shots are an effective part of their offense. 6-1 guard Isaac Kennon scored 14 points against Spot. In their win over Northern, junior Dominic Valente had the hot hand with 4 triples (13 total points). The Vanguards’ success goes beyond the court. And, in that way, they have a lot in common with their next opponent. Both teams like to get off to a quick start. The winner will move on to play either District 12 Champion Archbishop Wood (18-8) or District 11 Champion Pottsville (25-3) on Monday.
(2-1) Scranton Prep (24-3) vs. (1-1) Lower Moreland (24-3), Freedom 6
District 2 champion Scranton Prep (24-3) came away with a convincing Second Round 76-50 victory over Wilson. They will next take on District 1 Champion Lower Moreland (24-3). The Lions came away with an eye-catching 69-57 win over powerful District 11 Champion Bethlehem Catholic on Tuesday. They only lost three games all season by a total of 10 points to Williams Tennant, Christopher Dock, and Holy Ghost Prep. Lower Moreland is led by a veteran lineup, including 5-9 senior guard Joey Cerruti, 5-11 senior guard Andrew Finnegan, 5-11 senior forward Jake Himmelstein, 6-1 senior forward Jordan Zoubroulis, and 5-9 senior guard Shane Cohen. In fact, they have 11 seniors on their roster and that allows them to use a deep bench. Cerruti scored 25 points (including 4 triples) in their first round 75-61 win over John Bartram while Cohen and Zoubroulis combined for 37. In their win over Becahi, senior Forrest Keyes led five players in doubles with 22 points (Cohen 18, Himmelstein 12, Zoubroulis 12, and Cerutti 11). Cohen is a great defensive player and team leader. The Lions have terrific team chemistry and work hard on the floor. This year’s squad is known for their methodical, unselfish play. This should be a great match-up with the winner advancing to play either District 12 Champion Bonner-Prendergast (20-5) or Archbishop Carroll (19-9), the District 12 #3 team on Monday.
(2-1) Dunmore (27-0) vs. (12-1) Neumann-Goretti (20-8), Lehighton Elem. Ctr. 7
District 2 Champion Dunmore (27-0) collided with previously undefeated Saint Basil Academy on Tuesday and the Lady Bucks prevailed, 47-37. Next up, is District 12 Champion Neumann-Goretti (20-8), the four-time defending state champion. The Saints lost to Archbishop Wood in the Catholic League semi-finals, 60-50, before topping Imhotep Charter for the District 12 title, 88-79. In the state playoffs, they defeated Susquenita (81-42) and Warrior Run (69-16). The preview on the Saints? Diamond Johnson. The newly named Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year is just 12 points away from hitting 2,000 career points. The 5-5 junior guard averages 28 ppg. In their district championship win over ‘Tep, she netted 54 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, caused 6 steals, and created 4 assists. She is joined by 6-0 senior forward Nia Jordan, 5-8 sophomore guard Sierra Bermudez, and senior guard Kiara Rogers. There have been several Hershey-worthy editions of the Dunmore program which have been turned away by the mighty N-G lineups. There should be a tremendous fan turnout on hand to support the Lady Bucks in this one. The winner moves on to play either District 3 Champion Trinity (26-2) or Imhotep Charter (19-9), the District 12 runner-up on Monday.
(2-2) Old Forge (20-6) vs. (11-1) Mahanoy Area (25-2), Hazleton 6
District 2 Runner-up Old Forge (20-6) came away with an impressive victory over District 3 Champion Linden Hall (32-29) and will next play District 11 Champion Mahanoy Area (25-2). The Golden Bears only two losses came to Scranton Prep (40-35) and Jim Thorpe (53-51) in the Schuylkill League title game. After winning the District 11 championship over Marian Catholic (51-37), they got state playoff wins over Southern Columbia (49-34) and Sacred Heart (55-35). In the Southern Columbia game, they turned up their stellar defense to erase a 34-22 deficit in the third period and take control with a 27-0 run. They are led by 5-6 junior guard Jordan Karmonick (11.6 ppg with 61 triples). She is joined by junior guard Emily Lawrence (11.2 ppg with 44 treys). Their point guard is senior Abbey McGee (8.3 ppg). They also have 5-9 senior forward Kendall Bernardyn (7 ppg) and 5-11 senior center Madison Cavenas (6.4 ppg). Added support comes from senior guard Cierra Abrachinsky (6.2 ppg with 35 triples). Off the bench look for 5-11 senior Allison Sheeler and sophomore guard Claudia Clark. The winner moves on to play either District 3 Runner-up York Catholic (20-7) or District 6 Champion Bellwood Antis (24-3) on Monday.