With play-in games and first-round matchups, the margin for error is slim. Lose, and the season is over.
William Penn's boys were evidence to that Wednesday night, as they blew past Hempfield early but had to hold off the 14th-seeded Black Knights late, 74-66.
"This is what happens in quad-A district playoffs. Everyone's good," Bearcats coach Troy Sowers said.
That challenge increases more for the teams that have made it to this point. Venues switch to Giant Center for many, and consolation brackets are introduced for PIAA tournament seeding. Here's a look at the weekend's matchups:
District 3 quarterfinal breakdown
CLASS AAA BOYS
8 p.m. at Giant Center
What to watch: Northeastern's Khalid Nwandu is familiar with this setting, and the Bobcats will need that experience against the top seed and Mid-Penn Keystone Division champs.
Next on the trail: Winner meets Boiling Springs or Palmyra at 8 p.m. Monday back at Giant Center in the semifinals. The losers will play that night at Carlisle in the consolation bracket.
CLASS A BOYS
7 p.m. at New Hope Academy
What to watch: A return to the district title game with a new squad this year is within reach for the Mighty Ants. They get the Commonwealth Christian Athletic Conference West Division co-champs, who are led by Mitchell and Meritt Raup.
Next on the trail: The winner gets Lebanon Catholic or Antietam in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Monday in East Pennsboro.
CLASS AAAA GIRLS
6 p.m. at Carlisle
What to watch: These two met to open the season at Northern York, and the Eagles' unbeaten regular season nearly didn't start. They trailed by 17 in the second quarter before Alayah Hall and Co. rallied.
Next on the trail: This winner will face Manheim Township or Central Dauphin at 5 p.m. Monday. The losers of each game meet in the consolation bracket that night in Lebanon.
CLASS AA GIRLS
7 p.m. at York Catholic
What to watch: The Irish swept their regular-season series, but this game could provide valuable experience to a young Hanover team led by freshman Soukaina Tracy.
Next on the trail: The winner faces Annville-Cleona or Camp Hill at 6 p.m. Monday at Penn Manor.
7 p.m. at Delone Catholic
What to watch: Just like the other YAIAA Division IV matchup, this one pits a third meeting between these two. The Squirettes swept the regular-season series, beating Biglerville by nine the first time and 25 the second.
Next on the trail: Oley Valley or Brandywine Heights awaits the winner Monday night at Penn Manor, following the first semifinal.
CLASS AAAA BOYS
10 a.m. at Giant Center
What to watch: The last two district champs meet in Hershey. Chambersburg, last year's Cinderella, has guarded the perimeter well, and that area has been a strong suit for these Bearcats. With the early start and these teams' attention to defense, a high-scoring affair would be a surprise.
Next on the trail: Winner faces No. 2 J.P. McCaskey or No. 10 Reading at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday back at Giant Center. The losers will play that night at Cumberland Valley in the consolation bracket.
CLASS AA BOYS
7 p.m. at Delone Catholic
What to watch: The Squires' district title defense opens against a league rival they beat by at least 17 in each of their two regular-season meetings.
Next on the trail: Camp Hill or Upper Dauphin will await the winner at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Giant Center.
7 p.m. at Columbia
What to watch: Different players have contributed scoring efforts throughout this season for the Irish, something that will need to continue and, perhaps, improve. Joseph Rost leads the way, averaging 10 points per game.
Next on the trail: Top-seeded Trinity or Brandywine Heights will await the winner at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Giant Center.
CLASS AAA GIRLS
Noon at Milton Hershey
What to watch: The Saints, who won Division II of the Berks league, have never before been here. A team that does not go deep into its bench will be tested against a Bulldogs backcourt with depth.
Next on the trail: Susquehannock or Lancaster Catholic will face the winner at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Giant Center. The losers of each game will meet Tuesday at Penn Manor in the consolation bracket.
1:30 p.m. at Milton Hershey
What to watch: The Crusaders swept through Section 4 of the Lancaster-Lebanon League and get a Warriors squad familiar with unbeaten opponents. They nearly knocked off Dover late in the regular season and are led by Shannon Druck (11.1 points) and Katie Wagner (10.3). Leah Deter is coming off a season-high 20 points in a first-round win vs. Conrad Weiser.
Next on the trail: The West York-Berks Catholic game will decide the next opponent for the Warriors and Crusaders.
4:30 p.m. at Milton Hershey
What to watch: Palmyra lost leading scorer Carly Richardson to an ankle injury in its first-round blowout of East Pennsboro, which could drastically affect the chances for the Golden Knights. Her status is questionable for this quarterfinal.
Next on the trail: Winner will face Big Spring or Gettysburg at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Giant Center in the semifinals. A consolation bracket matchup will occur Tuesday at Cumberland Valley.