DISTRICT 2 FIRST ROUND PREVIEWS (Friday, March 6 Games)
Written by: Jon K on Wednesday, March 4th, 2020
PIAA FIRST ROUND PREVIEWS
FRIDAY, MARCH 6 GAMES
(2-1) Wallenpaupack (23-2) vs. (1-4) WC Bayard Rustin (17-9), Scranton 7:30
(2-2) Dallas (19-7) vs. (12-3) Frankford (7-17), Berwick 6:00
(2-3) Pittston Area (17-9) vs. (1-3) Penncrest (20-6), Souderton 7:30
District 2 champion Wallenpaupack will take on West Chester Bayard Rustin (17-9), the #4 team among what is always a very competitive field of District 1 teams. The Golden Knights advanced to the district semi-finals with wins over 12-seed Harriton (67-48) and 4-seed Unionville. They then dropped games to top-seed West Chester East (50-36) and #3 Penncrest. WC Rustin is a young squad that is known for playing good defense. They feature a junior sharpshooter in 6-4 Griffin Barrouk. He is joined by sophomore guard IV Pettit who scored 21 points in their win over Harriton. Inside, 6-5 junior Jacob Barksdale has been coming along of late, netting 20 points and grabbing 10 boards, also against Harriton. Daniel Wethey is their 6-6 senior center. This is going to be a challenging game for the Buckhorns. The winner moves on to play either MLK (District 12-2, 18-7) or Unionville (District 1-5, 19-7).
Dallas, the District 2 Runner-up, will take on Frankford (7-17) out of the Philly Public League A Division. While the Pioneers did struggle against most of the teams in the upper portion of their division, they did defeat MLK (44-42) and only lost by two points to Lincoln. They gained the #3 seed by getting by Roxborough (55-49) and Mastery Charter North (54-50). Frankford is no stranger to District 2 as they traveled for a game against Crestwood last year (Comets prevailed, 65-35). The Pioneers bring a group of experienced seniors led by senior guards Jayqan Lawson (5-10, 11.5 ppg) and Christopher Sherman (6-4, 6.3 ppg). Inside, they have a pair of 6-5 senior forwards in Jarik Baker (9.1 ppg) and Izayiah Adams (8.0 ppg). Dallas had a whole week off to shake off any residual rust from their district championship loss and the Mounts will be looking to get out to a quick start. The winner will advance to take on either Southern Lehigh (11-1, 22-4) or York William Penn (3-5, 20-7).
Pittston Area, who defeated a pair of District 2 big school division winners along their way to securing the #3 state playoff berth will travel to take on one of the perennial contenders from District 1, Penncrest (20-6). The Lions, who were struggling just a bit through the middle of January, relied on the experience of their seniors to put together another district playoff run. After defeating #14 Chichester (57-23) and #6 Strath Haven (43-34) in the District 1 playoffs, they got upset by #7 Penn Wood (56-51). The Lions rebounded in the playback game to get by West Chester Rustin, 53-50. They are led by a duo of senior guards, Marquis Tomlin (a terrific defender) and Aidan Carroll. They also feature a pair of budding sophomore guards in point Saahir Lee (back after missing 3 earlier games) and Ben Stanton. Inside, junior forward Denzel Boyer and Justin Potts are solid. Penncrest has a winning tradition that can deliver a competitive confidence to a team this time of year. But, don’t tell that to the Patriots. They seem to thrive on that style of challenge. One thing is for sure – they will leave everything they have on the court. The winner will next play either powerhouse Archbishop Wood (District 12 Champion, 20-5) or Strath Haven (1-6, 17-9).
(2-1) Scranton Prep (19-6) vs. (3-4) Susquehanna Twp. (15-9), Lackawanna 7:30
(2-2) Valley View (17-8) vs. (4-3) Athens (19-7), Lackawanna 6:00
(2-3) Nanticoke Area (8-17) vs. (4-1) Montoursville (20-5), Williamsport 7:30
District 2 Champion Scranton Prep will again take on Susquehanna Township in the PIAA first round. The Indians (15-9) defeated Littlestown (68-45) in the District 3 quarter-finals and then gave top-seed Lancaster Catholic a tough game before falling. 48-46. In the consolation game, they got bounced badly by ELCO, 71-45. And those two game scores may be their season in a nutshell. They are a team with some height, plenty of speed, and can slash to the basket. They have a versatile junior guard in Michael Marable. He is joined by senior guard Mekhai Jones. They also have 6-3 senior forward Malik Murphy. This should be a good game. The Cavaliers will be looking to set an early tone with their defense. The winner advances to play either Danville (4-2, 20-7) or Tamaqua (11-3, 19-7).
District 2 Runner-up Valley View will take on Athens, the #3 team out of District 4. The Wildcats advanced to the district semi-finals with a 62-57 win over 4-seed Lewisburg. In the title game against top seed Montoursville, they lost to the powerful Warriors, 70-49. Athens then rallied for a big 79-70 playback win over Jersey Shore to advance to the state tourney. That win was keyed by the incredible 42-point performance by senior Aaron Lane (including 16 in the final period). The Wildcats also feature senior Brady Smith along with a trio of underclassmen – sophomores Troy Pritchard and JJ Babcock along with freshman Mason Lister. Lister netted 10 point and grabbed 11 boards in the win over Jersey Shore. The winner moves on to play either District 12 Champion Bonner-Prendergast (18-5) or Eastern York (3-5, 16-9).
Nanticoke Area has a tough challenge ahead as they take on District 4 champion Montoursville (20-5). The Warriors defeated #8 Midd-West (75-48) before rolling over Athens in the district semi-finals (70-49). In the title game, they got by 2-seed Danville, 72-66. Montoursville is a very balanced squad with good shooters and several big, strong inside players. They are led by junior Peyton Mussina, son of Hall of Fame head coach Mike Mussina. On the perimeter, they also have junior Dillon Young (19 points against Danville) and senior Hunter Shearer (18 points against Danville). In the post, they have some firepower in 6-5 junior Josh Burger and 6-5 senior Austin Loe. The duo netted a combined 30 points against the Ironmen. Loe missed much of the season with a foot injury, but is now back. The winner advances to play District 12 Runner-up Imhotep Charter (19-8) or ELCO (3-3, 20-6).
(2-1) Hazleton Area (21-5) vs. (1-9) Owen J. Roberts (20-9), Berwick 7:30
District 2 Champion Hazleton Area will be taking the floor Friday evening against a team that will be making school history. Not only has Owen J. Roberts won 20 game for the first-time ever, but the Wildcats (20-9) will be making their first ever state playoff appearance. And make no mistake about it, this is not your average District 1, #9 seed. After a district second round loss to 3-seed Spring-Ford (48-39), OJR rolled through the playback rounds with consecutive wins over #6 Ridley (52-49), #7 Garnet Valley (42-41), and #12 Souderton (42-40) in which they rallied from an 11-point deficit. The Wildcats, a member of the Pioneer Athletic Conference, have been battle-tested in four tough losses to rival Spring-Ford. They are led by all-time leading scorer Olivia LeClaire, an outstanding 5-10 senior forward who netted 22 points against Garnet Valley. She is joined by 5-11 senior forward Brooke Greenawald. Hannah Clay is their point guard. She is joined by Maddi Koury. That’s a senior duo with plenty of experience. They also have sophomore guard Avery White. This should be a very interesting match-up as the Lady Cougars have plenty of height and move the ball around well. They are going to have to limit their turnovers and keep away from too much foul trouble. The winner moves to play either District 1 Runner-up Pennsbury (21-5) or Red Lion (3-4, 21-7).
(2-1) Dunmore (24-1) vs. (12-4) Constitution (12-11), Scranton 6:00
(2-2) Holy Redeemer (20-6) vs. (4-1) Bloomsburg (20-5), Shamokin 7:30
Dunmore, who defeated Constitition in the PIAA first round last year, will again play the Generals (12-11) who lost to powerful Neunann-Goretti in the 3/4 seedings game, 85-45. While Constitution continues to be an extremely youthful squad (4 freshmen, 4 sophomores, and 3 juniors), they do return a talented pair of sophomore guards. Jourdan Johnson (12.7 ppg) and Nariyah Turner (7.6 ppg) run their backcourt and are joined by freshman Taysia Anderson who is making an immediate impact, contributing 10.1 ppg. Inside, another freshman, 5-10 Paisley Gibson-White, hits 4.1 ppg. The Generals also feature junior forward Francess Suah. The winner moves on to play either District 1 Champion Saint Basil Academy (22-2) or Neumann-Goretti (12-3, 16-9).
Holy Redeemer will be facing a tall order on Friday evening, literally. Bloomsburg (20-5) rolled through the District 4 playoffs with wins over #7 Hughesville (40-29), #3 Warrior Run (53-31), and top-seed Loyalsock Township (56-40) to capture their first district championship since 1980. The Panthers play terrific defense and get balanced scoring. And, while not known as a long-ball team, they connected on 6 of 9 triples against Loyalsock. Their top players include 5-10 senior forward Kailey Zentner, 5-10 junior forward Kelsey Widom, 5-11 freshman forward Madeline Evans, 5-9 junior guard Rylee Klinger, and 5-8 junior guard Ellen Hull. The winner moves on to play either District 12 Runner-up Imhotep Charter (14-13) or Pequea Valley (3-3, 22-7).
(2-1) Old Forge (18-6) vs. (11-2) Moravian Academy (19-8), Dunmore 7:00
(2-2) Holy Cross (16-9) vs. (12-2) Bishop McDevitt (1-18), A. Wood 5:30
Old Forge will be taking on the Runner-up from one of the perennially strong districts for small-school girls’ basketball, District 11. But instead of the usual Schuylkill League powerhouse, Moravian Academy is the Colonial League runner-up located in Bethlehem. The Lions defeated #3 Minersville (68-52) in the semi-finals before losing to top-seed Mahanoy Area, 39-30, in the championship. Moravian is led by University of Richmond recruit, Maya Ettle, a 6-4 senior 1,000-point scorer. She is joined by 5-10 sophomore Marina Falzone and 6-1 freshman Sophia Ettle. They also have plenty of talent in the backcourt with senior guard Quinn O’Connor (another 1,000-point scorer) along with senior guard Grace Moser. If the Lady Devils can use their speed and spread the floor a bit to keep the Lions off-balance, this should be a very interesting game. The winner advances to take on either District 12 Champion Parkway Northwest (18-5) or District 12 Runner-up Steelton-Highespire (14-8).
Holy Cross will take on District 12 Runner-up Bishop McDevitt who lost the district championship game 71-67 in overtime as they erased a 16-point deficit against Parkway Northwest, but came up short. The Lady Lancers only win of the season came early in December against Philmont Christian. They did have junior Sianii Posey selected to the All-Catholic 3rd Team. They also have a pair of senior guards in Caroline Cunnane and Amiyah Dixon. Additional contributions come from Kate McNally. The winner moves on to play either District 3 champion Linden Hall (20-2) or District 2 Runner-up South Williamsport (14-11).
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