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Chester keeps its cool, cruises past William Allen in first round of PIAA Class 6A tournament

Chester’s Rahmee Gilbert, shown during a game against Methacton, scored 14 points and helped William Allen get frustrated Saturday night as the Clippers ran off a 76-63 victory in the first round of the PIAA Class 6A tournament. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

By Matthew DeGeorge

If you were wondering what team was most likely to get frustrated Saturday at Oxford Area High School, it might’ve been the team getting outworked on the offensive boards. It might’ve been the team getting outhustled, out-physicaled and at times left to watch its opponents pogo stick for rebounds near the hoop.

But that isn’t Chester. And even though William Allen by and large had its way on the glass in the PIAA Class 6A first-round boys basketball game, the Clippers didn’t get rattled, converting at the line and walking away when the Canaries’ frustrations boiled over.

Chester pulled away late as William Allen had two starters pick up technicals and foul out late in a 76-63 Clippers victory.

The win moves Chester (23-4) into the Round of 16 against District 12 champ Simon Gratz, which rallied past Garnet Valley Saturday. That game will be Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

Chester kept its cool, even when William Allen’s Nate Ellis chucked the ball at Chester’s Rahmee Gilbert after an offensive foul in the third quarter. Gilbert tossed it back at him for off-setting technicals, but Chester won the free-throw exchange.

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For Beniwal, Garnet Valley, loss to Gratz was fast learning experience


Garnet Valley’s Neel Beniwal, seen in a game with Penncrest this season, scored 20 points but the Jaguars couldn’t hold off the rally by Simon Gratz in a 56-51 loss in the first round of the PIAA Class 6A Tournament. PETE BANNAN – MEDIANEWS GROUP

By Jack McCaffery

A basketball season can be measured in multiple ways. Since one is always to accumulate learning opportunities, coach Mike Brown left Lincoln High Saturday satisfied that his Garnet Valley team had garnered something of value.

Though a tense 56-51 loss to Simon Gratz would end their season in the opening round of the PIAA Class 6A tournament, the Jaguars were more thankful than exasperated by the experience.

“In our league, we don’t face that quickness, that speed,” Brown said. “I told the guys they are so small in the backcourt, so you don’t think it’s a problem. But they are quick. Their hands are even quicker than their bodies. They are jet quick.”

The Bulldogs are also the No. 1 seeded team out of District 12, the class of the Public League, city champions after a victory over talented Roman Catholic. Saturday, it took them a long while, but eventually they showed why.

After trailing at halftime, 31-15, Gratz expanded its defense, began to create live-ball turnovers and uncorked a 22-point fourth quarter to advance to Round 2. The Jags’ season ended at 23-4, a school record for victories.

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Girl’s Basketball: Springfield warms up just in time to beat Lower Dauphin

By Harry Chaykun

 One of the teams that took part in the PIAA Class 5A girls basketball tournament opener Saturday at Plymouth Whitemarsh High shot 25 percent from the floor and had less than 10 percent accuracy from behind the arc.

That team also did not reach double figures in scoring in any of the four periods or the one overtime period that was played. Despite those numbers, when all was said and done, that team, District 1 champion Springfield, survived with a 34-31 victory over Lower Dauphin, District 3’s eighth-place finisher.

With the win, the Cougars (22-4) advanced to a second-round matchup Wednesday night with Mechanicsburg (25-3), District 3’s No. 3 seed which rolled to a 58-17 win over Friere Charter of the Philadelphia Public League and earlier in the season claimed a 47-38 decision over Lower Dauphin.

“We didn’t shoot the ball very well, so we had to find other ways to win,” Springfield coach Ky McNichol said after her team went 9-for-35 from the floor. The Cougars were 2-for-16 in the third and fourth periods but managed to make two of the three field-goal attempts they got in overtime.

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Girl’s Basketball: O’Neill helps Carroll shake rust, roll past Mount in Class 5A opener

Sophomore guard Grace O’Neill, pictured in a game in December, totaled a game-high 17 points and was 6-for-6 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter of Archbishop Carroll’s 47-41 victory Saturday over Mount St. Joseph in the first round of the PIAA Class 5A tournament. Photo by: Digital First Media

By Matt Smith

Archbishop Carroll could be excused for its slow start in Saturday’s PIAA Class 5A tournament opener at Methacton High School.

The Patriots hadn’t played a competitive game in nearly a month. The layoff between the end of their run in the Catholic League playoffs (Feb. 13) and Saturday is too long for anyone’s liking and a glaring problem the PIAA and District 12 must resolve.

Two weeks after pummeling Freire Charter in the District 12 third-place game, Carroll finally returned to the hardwood to face a worthy opponent in Mount St. Joseph, the No. 3 seed from District 1.

Unlike the Public League team Carroll was forced to play, the Mount is an excellent basketball program deserving of its spot in states. And the Patriots had their hands full in the early going.

“I kind of knew that it would be a little hard coming into this game,” said sophomore sensation Grace O’Neill, who poured in a game-high 17 points to lead Carroll to a 47-41 victory. “We played a team in districts and it wasn’t a close game. The last close game we had was against O’Hara (in the Catholic League quarterfinals), which was over three weeks ago. But we knew coming in that (Mount) was very good.”

The Patriots snapped back to life and seized control in the second quarter, tallying 11 straight points to erase what had been a nine-point deficit.

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Girl’s Basketball: Subtle change sends Bonner-Prendie to second round

After scoring just 13 points in the first half and trailing by five, Bonner-Prendergast girls basketball coach Tom Stewart decided to make a little change.

He put Regan Dolan in the high post and Alexis Gleason in the low post and the move paid off for the Pandas.

Bonner-Prendie put 39 points on the board in the second half, 24 of them in the fourth quarter, to rally for a 52-44 victory over Jim Thorpe in the opening round of the PIAA Class 4A tournament.

The win sends Bonner-Prendie (9-16) into Wednesday’s second round against Eastern York, the No. 2 team out of District 3. The Golden Knights (19-8) knocked off Villa Joseph Marie, the second seed out of District 1, 72-66. The site and time of that game has not been determined.

“Their zone defense gave us trouble in the first half,” Stewart said. “They kept switching from a 2-3 to a 1-3-1 and they had us rushing our shots. We weren’t making the extra pass. After we made the change we started passing the ball better and Gleason got two quick baskets.”

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Randolph, Diggins too much for Haven as Wood advances

Wood’s #22 Daeshon Shepherd goes up high for two in last night’s 5A playoff win over Strath Haven. Photo by: Delcohoops/Mike Mayer

By Matt Smith

Marcus Randolph smiled and turned to Rashool Diggins following Archbishop Wood’s PIAA Class 5A tournament opener Friday night at Bonner-Prendergast.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” said Randolph, the Vikings’ outstanding junior guard/forward. “That’s the best player I’ve ever played with.”

Although he didn’t say it, Randolph was speaking on behalf of the entire Vikings basketball team. After all, it’s no wonder why Diggins is one of the most sought-after Division 1 prospects in the state.

Diggins and Randolph were unstoppable during Wood’s third-quarter outburst, combining for 20 of their squad’s 27 points.

“We had to put it together,” Randolph said.

It took a while, but the District 12 champion Vikings eventually did just that, and ran away with a 72-45 win over Strath Haven.

The result was expected, but credit goes to the Panthers, who were the sixth-place team from District 1. Haven gave the heavily favored Vikings all they could handle for one half.

Strath Haven Coach Chris Conlan discusses Haven’s season during last night’s post game interview which can be found at the 1:32:30 broadcast mark below. Photo by: Delcohoops/Mike Mayer

“They slowed it down on us, they were playing their game in the first half,” said Diggins, who amassed 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the floor. “We had to come out and play our tempo, push the ball, make them pay for their misses. We had to attack and play our tempo.”

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Chester Charter Scholars rolls while Christian Academy drops a tough one

Chester Charter Scholars Academy 67, Greenwood 44 >> A nearly two-week layoff did not bother Chester Charter Scholars Academy in its PIAA boys Class A opener at Coatesville Area High School Friday night.

Neither did a cold spell in the second quarter.

The Sabers turned to their defense in the third quarter to take control of the contest and roll to the first state playoff win in program history.

After scoring just six points in the second quarter to take a 22-16 lead into halftime, CCSA forced several turnovers and put 20 points on the board in the third quarter to open up a 42-29 advantage. The District 1 champion moves on to the second round against Notre Dame East Stroudsburg, a 71-64 winner over Sullivan County, next Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.

Senior forward Damir Baez paced a balanced attack with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot. Breon Showell tallied nine points. Malik Cook-Stevens contributed eight points, six assists and three steals. Tyler Howard added seven points, six boards, six blocks and two steals.

(click on this link for the Christian Academy story)

Goals met as Bonner-Prendie rolls in PIAA Class 4A opener

By Harry Chaykun

The Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast boys basketball team had two goals as it made the trip to St. Joseph’s Preparatory School’s Kelly Gymnasium Friday afternoon.

“The coaches wanted us to play our game and do what we know how to do,” senior Tyreese Watson said. “And we know that this is our head coach’s gym, so we couldn’t leave here without a win for him.”

Friars head coach Kevin Funston played at The Prep under the legendary head coach Speedy Morris then coached under Paul Romanczuk at Archbishop Carroll. He had to be happy after his team, the District 12 champion, rolled to a 78-40 victory over District 3’s fifth-place team, Eastern York in the opening round of the PIAA Class 4A tournament.

With the win, MBAP (19-5), which placed second in the 2019 PIAA tourney, qualified for a second-round match with District 2 runner-up Valley View (18-8), a 70-58 winner over District 4’s third-place team, Athens, Friday night.

“I have so many good memories of being in this place,” Funston said off Kelly Gymnasium.

Add Friday’s game to his list. Bonner-Prendergast shot only 4-for-14 from the floor in the opening period but closed the quarter with an 8-0 run to go up, 14-8.

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Two tough Tomlin misses doom Penncrest in PIAA Class 5A ouster

By Matthew DeGeorge

There wasn’t much to be said to Marquis Tomlin as the Penncrest senior guard pulled his jersey up over his shoulders and watched Pittston Area mob the floor Friday night.

Tomlin took matters upon himself in the final minutes of a PIAA Class 5A boys basketball first-round game at Souderton High School. And but for a couple of bounces off the back iron, it would’ve been a winning decision.

Pittston had the final say in a bizarre affair, Andrew Krawczyk’s and-1 with 16.8 seconds remaining the difference-maker in a 42-40 win for the third seed from District 2.

Befitting the nuttiness of the game, Krawczyk wasn’t anticipating that he’d play the hero on a do-or-die possession.

“Honestly, I didn’t even expect to touch the ball on that possession,” Krawczyk said. “Logan (Booth) had the hot hand all night. We expected it to go to him. And he just flushed it down low, and I was right there to make the play.”

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Hill lifts Archbishop Carroll to PIAA 4A first-round win; South Philly loses

Carroll senior Anquan Hill (above, in Feb.) had a strong fourth quarter to help the Patriots escape BeCaHi. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

By Stephen Miller

Anchored to the bench after collecting four first-half fouls, Anquan Hill reassured Archbishop Carroll coach Francis Bowe at halftime.

Hill would sit as long as Bowe saw fit and provide encouragement from the sideline. When his chance to return to the floor came, he wouldn’t waste it. 

Hill checked in to start the fourth quarter with the Patriots trailing Bethlehem Catholic by two points. He scored Archbishop Carroll’s first nine points of the quarter to set the stage for a taught finish. 

Freshman Dean Coleman-Newsome delivered the shot that extended the Patriots’ season, connecting on a 3-pointer with 29.3 seconds to play. Archbishop Carroll then survived a 3-point try by Bryan Santana that came up short and a last-second heave from Julian Thomas to escape with a 46-44 win in a PIAA Class 4A boys basketball first-round game Friday at J. Milo Sewards Gymnasium in Allentown. 

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