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Normally, I stay away from predictions on this blog. That's because a.) I'm not always that great at them, and b.) some people take them way too seriously. Trust me folks, I don't deserve that much credit. But hey, it's states. So I'll give this crystal ball thing a whirl. What follows is a rundown of each of this weekend's 11 PIAA first-round basketball games, along with my brief breakdown and game prediction. Feel free to voice your opinions and picks in the comments section. Enjoy. GIRLS' PLAYOFF GAMESClass AAAt Dallastown H.S., Friday, 5 p.m.3-2 Delone Catholic (20-7) vs. 4-3 Central Columbia (15-11) We'll start off with a softball. Yes, the Squirettes came up short for a third time this season against York Catholic in the district final. But I'm betting that's more a measure of how good the Irish are, rather than any of Delone's shortcomings. I'm also betting the Bluejays haven't seen a player quite like Sierra Moore this season. The pick: Delone Catholic 54, Central Columbia 35At Dallastown H.S., Friday, 6:30 p.m.3-1 York Catholic (28-0) vs. 12-3 Strawberrry Mansion (12-3) Another easy one. The Fighting Irish have been good all year, but they seem to be peaking now. Even at less than 100 percent, Kady Schrann is still Kady Schrann. Meanwhile, Rachel Forjan and Morgan Klunk have become reliable double-figures scorers. If that stays the case, I don't think anybody is beating York Catholic in this tournament. The pick: York Catholic 62, Strawberry Mansion 37 Class AAAAt Wissahickon H.S., Saturday 3 p.m.3-5 Kennard-Dale (18-9) vs. 1-1 Villa Maria Academy (20-5) I've liked this Kennard-Dale team all year. They have lots of height, and two of the league's top five scorers (Devon O'Kane and Sara Tarbert). I think they're a dangerous team in this tournament. But Villa Maria is a perennial power, with a veteran coach and a group of players who have been here before. I don't see them losing. The pick: Villa Maria 58, Kennard-Dale 46At Wissahickon H.S., Saturday, 4:30 p.m.3-4 West York (12-15) vs. 1-2 Villa Joseph Marie (14-12) Two teams most people probably didn't expect to get here. West York is a scrappy bunch, having gone 12-8 since that seven-loss start to the season. From the little that I know, it seems Villa Joe (as they're known) is somewhat similar. Expect a hard-fought, if at-times-ugly game. Playing a hunch here, but I like the Bulldogs. The pick: West York 39, Villa Joseph Marie 35Class AAAAAt Dallastown H.S., Friday, 8 p.m.3-1 Red Lion (26-1) vs. 1-9 Downingtown West They were head and shoulders better than everybody in District 3. Now we'll see how the Lions stack up on a state level. We all know about Red Lion's defense. The Lions almost doubled up Wilson in the district final, despite getting only four combined points from leading scorers Gisselle Truiett and Erica Maciejewski. The Whippets can score the rock a bit, but Red Lion has too much. The pick: Red Lion 51, Downingtown West 38BOYS' PLAYOFF GAMESClass AAAt Dallastown H.S., Saturday, 6 p.m.3-2 Delone Catholic (17-9) vs. 12-3 Vaux (16-7) The way District 12 determines its seeding makes no sense. The district's two seed, West Catholic, is 7-16 this season. Meanwhile, Delone and Hanover get to play two Philly Public League powers: Vaux and Communications Tech. The former will have plenty of speed and flashy guard play. Delone needs to control the tempo and play its typical style of smart, disciplined basketball. The guess here is Vaux's speed makes the difference. The pick: Vaux 61, Delone Catholic 53At South Western H.S., Saturday, 7:30 p.m.3-1 Hanover (21-5) vs. 12-4 Communications Tech (20-5) It's been a historic season for Hanover. The program's first District 3 title. Another Division IV crown. A second straight trip to states. The Nighthawks will have plenty of confidence heading into Saturday, along with a loud, hometown crowd. Problem is, I don't think Hanover has seen a team with the combination of speed, size and physicality that Comm Tech presents. There's a reason the Phoenix is ranked the No. 4 double-A team in the state by the Patriot-News. The pick: Comm Tech 65, Hanover 60Class AAAAt Council Rock South H.S., Friday, 7:303-4 Northeastern (18-8) vs. 1-2 Holy Ghost Prep (20-8) Talk about a great turnaround season for the Bobcats. And with a talented trio of guards returning next year -- Elijah Cooper, Khalid Nwandu, Chris Nwandu -- Northeastern should be even better. The question is, are they ready to handle Ghost, a seemingly perennial contender in District 1? This was almost my upset pick. But the Firebirds are a well-coached, well-oiled group, familiar with this type of setting. Don't underestimate experience in a game like this. The pick: Holy Ghost 54, Northeastern 47At Hempfield H.S., Friday, 6 p.m.3-2 Eastern York (24-4) vs. 12-3 Archbishop Carroll (21-5)) I thought long and hard about picking Eastern here. I was convinced that, after their district finals loss, the Golden Knights' senior-heavy group would come out with a little extra something for this game. But with senior starters Ryky Smith and Bryton Abel out, I just don't know if Eastern can keep up for all four quarters. The Golden Knights were already thin, now they're stretched to the breaking point. Austin Tillotson and Andrew Nicholas play inspired and keep Eastern in it, but Carroll moves on. The pick: Archbishop Carroll 62, Eastern York 55Class AAAAAt Norristown H.S., Saturday, 6 p.m.3-7 Dallastown (21-7) vs. 1-1 Chester (26-1) It doesn't get much tougher than this. The top-ranked quad-A team in the state. The squad that survived the minefield of the District 1 tournament, probably the toughest district tournament in the state. When I saw Chester earlier this year, its lineup went 11 deep. The effect of that is the Clippers can press and run all game, knowing there are always fresh bodies to bring off the bench. They don't have one can't miss player necessarily -- although guard Maurice Nelson, brother of Orland Magic guard Jameer Nelson, comes close -- but Chester just grinds you down. Kudos to Dallastown for a great season, but winning this one is asking a bit much. The pick: Chester 76, Dallastown 62At Dallastown H.S., Saturday, 7:30 p.m.3-1 William Penn (27-2) vs. 1-9 Penn Wood (20-8) You won't find a better first-round pairing than this. The District 3 champion against the defending state runner-up. Don't let the seeding fool you, Penn Wood belongs among the state's elite. It pushed Chester twice before losing both times, and features a Division I recruit (guard Aaron Brown, West Virginia) along with two enormous forwards. William Penn, meanwhile, has been playing inspired basketball, and should have a bit of a homecourt edge. This has all the makings of a classic. And one of the league's boys teams has to win, right? The pick: William Penn 68, Penn Wood 66

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