District playoff season is just about here.
Even as the YAIAA tournament heats up, district play too looms on the horizon. The play-in round of the District 3 basketball tournaments take place Friday, and rest of the playoff contenders will tip off either next Tuesday or Wednesday.
In this three-part blog series, I'll attempt to provide a concise breakdown of each of the six district tournaments that involve YAIAA teams (no league teams will be boys' and girls' Class A playoffs).
Here is Part 1 of that series, in which is analyze the Girls' Class AA and AAA brackets.
GIRLS' CLASS AA (full bracket here)
Right away, this layout seems to set up perfectly for No. 1 seed York Catholic, which is looking for its fifth straight district title. The Irish are playing some of their best basketball of the season -- something they seem to do this time of the year. Brittany Hicks is a more-than-reliable second scoring option to sensational guard Kady Schrann, and York Catholic's three other starters (all sophomores) are improving.
It would be hard to imagine York Catholic (20-2) not at the very least getting to the district title game. It will face the winner of Reading Holy Name-Upper Dauphin in the quarterfinals, both of which are under. 500 this season. Then the Irish will likely face either No. 4 Wyomissing (13-8) or No. 5 Kutztown (13-10). Hard to imagine either of those teams pulling an upset.
If the Irish make the finals, they'll likely end up facing second-seeded Lancaster Mennonite (20-3) or No. 3 Delone Catholic. York Catholic beat the Blazers in last year's district final, 57-51, and also won a mid-season matchup between the two teams, 44-38. Judging by those scores, there isn't much of a gap between these two teams.
Which brings us to Delone Catholic (17-3). The Squirettes might have the best player in the tournament, in sophomore wing Sierra Moore. She gives Delone a chance against anybody. But whereas York Catholic has gotten better as the season has gone on, Delone seems to have plateaued a bit (though they could certainly refute that assertion with a win against Red Lion in the YAIAA tournament on Thursday). The Squirettes lost their return matchup with York Catholic, 47-32, on Feb. 8. But this team has the talent to unseat York Catholic, and a third matchup between the two would be fun to watch.
GIRLS' CLASS AAA (full bracket here)
This year's No. 1 seed West York can find a cautionary tale in last year's district tournament. Then-top seed Northeastern steamrolled into districts, only to lose in the quarterfinals and eventually miss states all-together.
West York should at the least be able to avoid that fate, but this bracket is not without peril. Start with second-seeded Trinity (18-5), who won last year's title as a No. 8 seed and knocked out Northeastern. It could be waiting should West York make it to the final.
Before it gets there, West York may have to beat the other two YAIAA teams in the bracket. The Bulldogs will play the winner of Eastern York-Schuylkill Valley, and then could end up playing No. 8 seed Kennard-Dale. Good news, considering West York thrashed the Rams on Tuesday in the first round of the YAIAA tournament. Kennard-Dale will play No. 9 Daniel Boone in a Round of 16 matchup on Feb. 24 at New Oxford.
Other obstacles for West York could be No. 4 Oley Valley (21-2) from the Berks Conference Division III or No. 5 Shippensburg (13-6) from the Mid-Penn. Either of those teams could prove dangerous semifinal opponents.
All in all, West York can't be too displeased with its draw. It avoided Trinity and No. 3 Palmyra, who both are on the other side of the bracket. The only concerns for West York could come from within. Liz Kane has sat out the past two games with what head coach Jon Shultz termed "family issues," and point guard Zona Smith has battled a back injury all year. But the Bulldogs have some depth to spare and loads of experience (five senior starters), and might be able to sustain a hit or two personnel-wise. At least until states roll around.