By Josh Verlin & Mitchell Gladstone
The three years of the new 5A classification, the second-largest in Pennsylvania, has seen three different teams take home the championship. The first year, in 2017, Villanova’s Collin Gillespie and Archbishop Wood earned that program’s first-ever title; the following season, it was Abington Heights out of the Northeast part of the state, and then came Moon out of Western Pennsylvania taking it all last year.
Moon didn’t qualify for the state tournament this time around, and neither did Abington Heights, though Wood once again looms large as the District 12 champs. But there are several other programs that want to make it four different champions in four years, very good arguments as to why they could be the eventual trophy-holders come Friday, March 20.
Here’s a look at the state tournament favorites and some dark horse teams in the running for the 5A bracket, which opens play Friday night at gyms around the state.
Archbishop Wood (12-1; 20-5)
Maybe the most consistent team in southeastern Pennsylvania all season long, the Vikings really took their lumps early — they began the season 2-3, dropping a 7OT thriller to Virginia’s Paul VI as well as neutral-site games in Maryland and Hawaii. But Wood has since gone 18-2 with its only losses at Neumann-Goretti and against Roman Catholic in a Catholic League semifinal.
Webmaster’s note: This Friday’s first round playoff game between Archbishop Wood and Strath Haven will be audio broadcast LIVE right here on Delcohoops.com starting at 6:15!