PIAA hoops predictions: YAIAA team guaranteed quarterfinal spot
The last two seasons, no basketball team from York or Adams counties reached the state quarterfinals.
That dry spell ends this postseason: The YAIAA will have at least one representative. That was guaranteed when Susquehannock and New Oxford each advanced with first-round victories in the Class 5A bracket. The two will meet in an all-YAIAA second-round state tournament game at 7 p.m. Thursday at West York High School.
"I think it's a great opportunity for both teams," New Oxford coach Jim Kunkle said.
The game will be a rematch of the Colonials' run-away victory in a YAIAA tournament quarterfinal.
"I think you will see the same intensity in the game from both sides," Kunkle said.
Don't expect the New Oxford vs. Susquehannock winner to be the only York or Adams county team to reach the quarterfinals. That's just the nature of the beast with the increase in state tournament brackets, from eight total to 12 this season. Of the 13 local teams to reach the state tournament this season, eight advanced to the second round.
Because of Tuesday's wintry forecast, second-round games originally scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday have all been postponed to Thursday, and the entire slate of quarterfinals will be played Saturday. Find the latest updates at GameTimePA.com.
We managed to predict 11 of the 13 winners in the first round, including one of our upset picks. Here's a look at each team playing in the second round:
Central York (25-4) vs. Cardinal O'Hara (23-3)
6:30 p.m. Thursday, Santander Arena, Reading
Breakdown: Central York pulled off an upset in the first round when it traveled to Bucks County and knocked off District 1 Central Bucks West in the final seconds. How impressive was that win? Of the top four 6A teams to reach the state tourney, only Central York advanced to the second round. Meanwhile, the 6A bracket still has nine District 1 teams in the mix.
The only bad news for Central was that District 12 (Philadelphia) champion Cardinal O'Hara is waiting for a second-round matchup. O'Hara is a powerhouse, making its eighth consecutive trip to the PIAA tournament after falling in the state championship game to Cumberland Valley last season. O'Hara plays under longtime coach Linus McGinty, who just won his 801st game. The team utilizes a five-guard lineup, and news reports have named at least three different players as its point guard. It could roll out a starting lineup with four or even five future Division I players. Senior Hannah Nihill is a Drexel commit, senior Mary Sheehan is a St. Joseph's commit, junior Mackenzie Gardler (perhaps the best jump-shooter) is a Villanova recruit and junior Maura Hendrixson is a Drexel recruit. Sheehan, who is 5-11, usually locks up against the opposition's best player, so expect a showdown with Emma Saxton.
But if that's the case, Central should have a size advantage with Teirra Preston and Nikson Valencik in the paint. Expect defense to help decide this one, and note O'Hara is coming off a first-round match-up where it held Upper Dublin to two first-quarter points. If Central knocks off O'Hara, though, this loaded bracket suddenly opens up for the Panthers.
Seip's prediction: Cardinal O'Hara by 7
Susquehannock (24-4) vs. New Oxford (22-8)
7 p.m. Thursday, West York H.S.
Breakdown: What could be better than a York County vs. Adams County matchup in the state tournament? Well, one in the state final, of course. But for now this will have to do as the can't-miss game of the tournament.
The biggest uncertainty in the game is the status of New Oxford leading scorer Kaelyn Long, who suffered an arm injury at the end of the Colonials' first-round upset win against District 2 champions Abington Heights. She left the game after a player fell on her. Long did not return, but Kunkle confirmed Long expected to practice Monday.
No real secrets in the scouting report otherwise. Susquehannock needs to stay out of foul trouble. The Warriors rely heavily on their starters, but reserve Maddie Stone came up huge in the first round of the state tournament when Susquehannock starters fouled out. Foul trouble helped decide the outcome in the last meeting between these teams, when three Warriors fouled out. New Oxford's senior-laden team admitted they notice when a player has three or four fouls and go right at that player.
The Colonials, meanwhile, love to run the floor. If they are forced to score out of their half-court offense, they are not as impressive. Still, New Oxford won 54-40 in its last meeting with Susquehannock when Long scored 27 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Long's status is important, if she's not able to handle or drive like usual, New Oxford loses some offense and rebounding.
Seip's prediction: Susquehannock by 2
York Catholic (21-6) vs. Pine Grove (21-6)
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Spartan Center, Milton Hershey
Breakdown: The Irish expected a tougher-than-usual, first-round matchup in the state tournament, and Loyalsock delivered. Pushed well into the fourth quarter, the Irish finally took command of the game with about five minutes remaining.
But the Irish will need a much cleaner effort, especially at the defensive end, against Pine Grove, the District 11 champion out of Schuylkill County. Pine Grove powered through Imhotep Charter (District 12 runner-up), after being dominated physically in the first half. Rachel Edge (17 points) and Jen Kauffman (18 points) led the Cardinals in scoring. Pine Grove overcame a second-half deficit, in part, with a 21-point fourth quarter. Pine Grove can go eight or nine deep with a guard-oriented lineup that likes to trap.
"I always tell them north of the turnpike is our road to the state championship, so we're on that path," York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos said of the second-round matchup. "They play tough basketball, they're physical. It won't be a slow-paced game."
Seip's prediction: York Catholic by 4
Delone Catholic (20-7) vs. West Shamokin (25-2)
5 p.m. Thursday, Holidaysburg H.S.
Check out the full GameTimePA.com Snapchat Takeover hosted by Elise Knobloch, of Delone Catholic.
Breakdown: Delone Catholic needs to avoid the type of start it had in a first-round victory, scoring just six points in the first quarter. Freshman reserve Brooke Lawyer managed to pull the game out by scoring a career-high 17 points, including 15 in the second quarter.
West Shamokin is in its first year in District 6 after spending the first 16 years of the school's existence in the WPIAL. The program has progressed under second-generation head coach Frank Nagy, who has guided the team to its best season with its first conference championship, first district championship and first state tournament victory. Three-year starting point guard Olivia Fusaro leads the team, and wing Andrea Orlosky (5-8) does a bit of everything, including slashing to the basket. Post player Katie Glover (5-9) has double-double potential. Look for Jasah Huth (5-10) to be a defensive force down low against Delone Catholic's pair of 6-footers Bradi Zumbrum and Catie Apgar. The Wolves led their conference in defense, allowing an average of 33 points per game, but they have not faced a team like Delone.
"The defensive end is a big focus for us, but we will have our hands full with Delone's size," West Shamokin coach Frank Nagy said. "Offensively, we like to push the ball and defensively, we like to pressure."
Delone coach Gerry Eckenrode added: "They have two excellent guards, and decent post players inside. They're not too deep (seven-girl rotation). It's a winnable game, but they can beat us as well."
Seip's prediction: Delone Catholic by 3
Northeastern (28-2) vs. Upper Merion (17-10)
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Manheim Township H.S.
Northeastern's Antonio Rizzuto drove baseline and dunked to help spark the Bobcats' first-half run against Wissahickon in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament.
Breakdown: It's all about matchups in the state tournament, and even though Northeastern has a great team, its second-round opponent is a tough matchup. Draw up the perfect opponent to knock off Northeastern's amazing five-guard lineup, and that team would look eerily similar to Upper Merion.
The Vikings are the District 1 runner-up, and they have size to spare with two big men who can dominate. Holy Cross commit Matt Faw (6-8) and Ethan Miller (6-6) will demand attention. Faw suffered a fracture in his foot in late December but returned to the lineup in early February. Held to four points in the first half of Upper Merion's first-round victory against Greencastle-Antrim, Faw responded by scoring 19 points in the second half. Miller (6-5) added 20 points. The two big men finished with a combined 20 rebounds. Faw added six blocks. Northeastern will need to be careful to stay out of foul trouble. Mechanicsburg's 6-5 Matt Alioth had a huge game against the Bobcats in the District 3 final, but Mechanicsburg also had an all-state caliber guard. Northeastern will need to own the backcourt and pester Upper Merion's guards all night. But before we paint too bleak a picture, Greencastle held a halftime lead against Upper Merion by using a 2-3 zone. And that was the same Greencastle unit Northeastern swept in the regular season.
Seip's prediction: Upper Merion by 2
Spring Grove (21-8) vs. East Stroudsburg North (18-10)
7 p.m. Friday Martz Hall, Pottsville
Teammates for the Jersey Shore Warriors, Spring Grove's Eli Brooks and Manheim Central's Taylor Funk met in a District 3 boys' basketball quarterfinal Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017.
Breakdown: The Timberwolves overcame a nine-point deficit against Manheim Central to advance to the second round. Spring Grove needed to overcome a sub-par start (7-for-23 shooting) by Eli Brooks in the first round, but it all worked out in the fourth quarter for Brooks and the Rockets.
Spring Grove will need to neutralize T-wolves guard Arian Azemi, but the bigger issue will be 6-5 Darin Belligner. If the Rockets can avoid using Brooks (6-1) against the big man, which is what they needed to do for stretches against 6-9 Taylor Funk of Manheim Central in a District 3 match-up, it would free up Brooks to lock down Azemi.
If Spring Grove's Austin Panter, Drew Gordon and/or Jake Messersmith can score in double figures, this game becomes much more comfortable for the Rocket faithful. But that's going to be a tall task for jump shooters. Martz Hall has a box-like feel to the place, where student seating towers above the backboards at both ends. The place can cause shooters fits, especially if they've never played there before.
Seip's prediction: Spring Grove by 1
York Country Day (20-4) vs. Millville (22-4)
5 p.m. Thursday, Hamburg H.S.
York Country Day senior Jordan Ray dedicated his District 3 Class 1A championship to former York player Nagus Griggs, who died under tragic circumstances less than a year after winning a District 3 title.
Breakdown: One of these days, York Country Day will attack the rim in the first half and have an easier time in the second half. But of late, the first half has been when the Greyhounds shoot jumpers and 3s and watch an opponent stick around. It's worked out, in both the District 3 title game and against Jenkintown in the first round of the state tournament. In the second half of the state tournament opener Jalen Gorham, in particular, made his presence felt against Jenkintown, driving from the 3-point arc for layups with ease.
Look for more of the same in the second round. And if DeAireus Brown and Jordan Ray do the same, the Greyhounds should control the game. Millville prides itself on its defense, springing what some consider an upset against Lourdes in the District 4 semifinal. If York Country Day can crack 50 points in this game, the Greyhounds should be in the quarterfinals — and that would make school history.
Seip's prediction: York Country Day by 5