2012 PIAA Basketball Championship Games Preview

Thursday, March 22, 2012 | 3:50 PM

The Path to Penn State has ended, eight championship tilts are on tap for this weekend at the Bryce Jordan Center. A rematch highlights the first day's action, with four games each day. The MSA Sports Network will have complete coverage, with broadcasts indicated, plus recaps from both days action.

Here are previews of all eight games, starting with Friday's action:

Girls Class AA Championship Game:
Seton LaSalle Rebels (29-0) vs. York Catholic Crusaders (29-3) Noon Friday on the MSA Sports Network

CLICK HERE for Game Link

The Rebels are just one win away from a perfect season but it won't be easy. Seton LaSalle claimed another WPIAL title with a third win over section rival Bishop Canevin, the Rebels had an easy first round state game with a 77-31 win over Greenville of District 10.

The second round of state play was the same as the first, 71-32 over Conemaugh Township. In the quarterfinals, the Rebels handled the Lady Berries of Cranberry 58-42, then overcame the biggest hurdle of them all, defeating Villa Maria Academy 56-50 Tuesday night. The win for Seton LaSalle even sweeter as Villa Maria ended the Rebels season three years in a row as Villa Maria went on to three straight championships.

It's the first trip to the state championship game for Seton LaSalle since 1984. The Rebels claimed the first ever Quad-A title with a 55-53 win over Strath Haven at HersheyPark Arena. Seton LaSalle had a guard starting in that game that went on to bigger things, Suzie McConnell-Serio.

Seton LaSalle got two double-doubles in the semifinal win, Naje Gibson had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Angela Heintz tallied 14 points and handed out 11 assists.

In the 29 game winning streak for the Rebels, they have not had many close games, only four with a single digit margin of victory, one of those wins came against Quad-A state finalist Oakland Catholic.

Should Seton LaSalle win, they would become only the third WPIAL girls team to run the table on an entire season, the others were Mount Alvernia in 1983 and Mount Lebanon in 2009.

York Catholic defeated Imhotep Charter 64-42 in the first round of state play. The Fighting Irish then dispatched another perennial playoff team Dunmore 54-42 in the second round, setting up a battle with Mount Carmel in the quarterfinals.

70-67 was the final score, a tough win for York Catholic, the Fighting Irish then set down Montrose 60-37 to head back to another title game. Senior guard Karli McFatridge led York Catholic with 20 points.

Senior Rachel Forjan is two points away from one thousand for her career.

The Fighting Irish also won the District 3 championship. York Catholic made five straight trips to the title game from 2006-10, winning three straight(06-07-08) then falling to Villa Maria in 2009 and 2010. The Fighting Irish also won a Class A title in 1979 at the Civic Arena, defeating Ford City.

York Catholic has won seven straight games since a late season loss to Red Lion on February 18.

Boys Class A Championship Game:
Lincoln Park Leopards (26-4) vs. Philadelphia Constitution Generals (22-9) 2pm Friday on WBVP 1230/WMBA 1460-AM and the MSA Sports Network

CLICK HERE for Game Link.

The Leopards make their second straight trip to the championship game, this time coming in as WPIAL Champions. Lincoln Park defeated Clarion Limestone 93-54 in the opening round of state play, then dismissed Shade 69-42 in the second round.

The Leopards had a major scare in the quarterfinals, with the District 10 champion West Middlesex Big Reds, but somehow Lincoln Park came thru with a 47-45 win. The Leopards got on the bus and traveled to Clarion University to defeat the District 9 champion Ridgeway Elkers 65-46 on Tuesday night to go back to the BJC.

Lincoln Park has won 10 straight heading into the final game. Freshman Antonio Kellum, the hero of the West Middlesex game, led the Leopards with 17 points in the semifinal win.
Devontae Watson is headed to Temple and he will take his shot-blocking skills to the Owls. Watson blocked six shots and grabbed ten rebounds in the semifinal win.

The Leopards can beat you in so many ways, with Trey Hosack and Ryan Skovranko in addition to Watson.

The Generals have racked up some huge numbers during PIAA play, with wins over Camp Hill 84-45, St. John Neumann 81-47, Faith Christian Academy 70-44, and Tuesday night racked up a huge win over District 12 rival Philadelphia Math, Civics and Science 62-37.

The Generals are the District 12 champions and make their first trip to the PIAA title game. They have been ranked number one for most of the season.

6-5 center Savon Goodman is the leading scorer for the Generals, averaging 19.6 points per game and 8 rebounds per contest.
Daiquan Walker can also light it up for Philadelphia Constitution, he scored 23 in the quarterfinal win over Faith Christian Academy.

Girls Quad-A Championship Game:
Oakland Catholic Eagles (28-2) vs. Archbishop Carroll Patriots (28-2) 6pm Friday on the MSA Sports Network.

CLICK HERE for Game Link

The Eagles broke the streak of the Mount Lebanon Blue Devils, preventing another trip by Lebo to Penn State with a 37-32 win in the quarterfinals.

Oakland Catholic almost didn't make that game, needing overtime to knock out Altoona 40-35 in the first round. The Eagles made short work of Upper St. Clair 67-30 in the second round before the win over the Blue Devils.

The Eagles survived the long bus ride to Chambersburg and made it a happy trip home with a 64-39 victory Tuesday over Governor Mifflin in the semifinals. Oakland Catholic led 16-3 at one point in the first quarter, including four three pointers from Bobbi Baker. Baker ended the night with 18 points.

Oakland Catholic heads back to the title game for the first time since 2005, the Eagles defeated Cheltenham for the title. Oakland Catholic made four straight trips to the championship game between 2000 and 2003, winning two state titles.

The Eagles will play full court man defense the entire game, that defense forced 30 Mt. Lebo turnovers in the quarterfinals win.
Head Coach Shannon Boyle is an OC graduate.

Archbishop Carroll defeated Haverford 62-37 in the first round and Downingtown West 49-29 in the second. The Patriots survived a match with Central Dauphin 45-37 in the quarterfinals, before defeating Spring-Ford 65-43 Tuesday night to head back to the title game.

The Patriots won the 2009 Class AAA title, and make a return trip to Penn State, falling to Mount Lebanon last season.
Archbishop Carroll enters the championships with a 19 game winning streak.

Meghan Creighton led the Patriots with 22 in the semifinal win, Rachel Pearson added 14 and Sarah Curran scored 11.
Creighton and Pearson are both senior guards and have signed with Drexel. Curran is a junior, she also verbally committed to Drexel.

Creighton was bed ridden in February with mono, she returned to play in the Catholic League title game vs. Archbishop Wood.

Boys Class AAA Championship Game:
Montour Spartans (24-4) vs. Neumann-Goretti Saints (27-3) 8 pm Friday on the MSA Sports Network

CLICK HERE for Game Link.

This game is a rematch of last year's title game.

The Spartans had to win a play-in game just to make the PIAA field, defeating Somerset 76-41. Montour hen defeated Bradford at Pitt-Bradford 38-22, before knocking off WPIAL champion and undefeated New Castle 50-43 in overtime.

Montour wasn't done knocking off unbeaten teams, handing District 10 champion General McLane their first loss of the season 48-38. The Spartans gained revenge on the Hampton Talbots Tuesday night in the semifinals, with a 45-29 win, the Talbots knocked the Spartans out in the WPIAL semifinals.

The Spartan defense has been stout during the PIAA run, they have not allowed more than 43 points in the last four games. Montour has done a fantastic job of controlling the pace of games during the playoff run. The Spartans have also closed out games well at the line.

The Saints also have to be aware of junior guard Kevin Scuilli, who hit five three pointers in the second half in the second meeting with Hampton.

Dillon Buechel is such a great athlete, he will play his final basketball game on Friday night. Buechel has signed to play quarterback for the Duquesne Dukes next season.

The two-time state champions cruised into a third trip to State College with an 81-47 win over Greencastle-Antrim in the first round, then an 89-52 victory over York Suburban in the second round. Another easy win in the quarterfinals, 63-37 over Holy Ghost Prep, led to a semifinal matchup with Philadelphia Boys Latin. It wasn't good for the Warriors as the Saints marched to a 74-43 win on Tuesday. John Davis scored 19 points in the win, including two three pointers. Davis also picked up a double double with 14 rebounds.

JaQuan Newton also scored 19 points and Billy Shank pumped in 13.

The Saints defeated Char Valley to win the 2010 title in a nail-bitter 65-63.

Girls Class A Championship Game:
North Catholic Trojanettes (24-6) vs. Steelton-Highspire Steamrollers (27-3) Noon Saturday on the MSA Sports Network.  

CLICK HERE for Game Link.

North Catholic will make the trip to Penn State for the secpnd time. The Trojanettes defeated Conneaut Valley 61-24, Keystone 56-31 and Fort Cherry 57-51 to set up a WPIAL championship game rematch with section rival Vincentian Academy Wednesday night.
The Trojanettes got 19 points from Sarah Goetz, Lauren Wolosik added 18 and Lynzi Mueller 17, this time there would be no miracle comeback for the Royals, with North Catholic winning 71-58.
Head coach Molly Rottmann said her team watched the end of the WPIAL title game several times, she said her girls played with a mission in the state playoffs.

Balance has been a key for North Catholic all season, that makes it difficult for teams to defend. The Trojanettes hit 31 of 35 from the line on Wednesday, a stark contrast from the third meeting with Vincentian.

North Catholic looks for their first state title since 1995, the final of three straight championships for the Trojanettes. North Catholic is 7-5 in PIAA title games.

The Rollers come into the title game with wins over Cowanesque Valley 63-45, Forrest City 63-44, Tri-Valley 52-44 and Marian Catholic 62-49 and are the defending state champions.

Malia Tate-DeFreitas led the Rollers with 27 points in the semifinal win, she sits at 973 points for the SEASON, she averages just over 32 points per game.

Jazmine Blanding added 13 for Steel-High, who will likely have a large following on Saturday.

Boys Class AA Championship Game:
Beaver Falls Tigers (28-3) vs. Imhotep Charter Panthers (21-8) 2pm Saturday on 1230 WBVP/1460 WMBA-AM and the MSA Sports Network

CLICK HERE for Game Link.

The WPIAL champions set down Lakeview 69-37, Conemaugh Township 77-52, Greensburg Central Catholic 77-49 and section rival Quaker Valley 55-45 to go back for another championship game appearance. It's the fifth trip for BF, with wins in 1970, 1994 and 2005.

The Tigers rallied from an eight point third quarter deficit to defeat the Quakers in front of a jammed packed house at Ambridge Wednesday night. Sheldon Jeter was held to just three points in the first half, but scored ten in the final quarter, he led with 15. Jeter is capable of going off at any time, just ask GCC, he pumped in 40 against the Centurions on Saturday. Kansas State and Seton Hall were in attendance on Wednesday night.

Beaver Falls switched to a trap Wednesday night and forced eight turnovers in the final quarter.

In eight playoff wins, the Tigers have won by double digits in every game.

A lot of attention is paid to Jeter and with good reason, but sophomore Elijah Cottrill has done a great job running the point for the Tigers. He also has the toughest defensive matchup on most nights.

Also give credit to Royce Watson, he is always solid for the Tigers, and good for a dunk or two along the way.

The Panthers, from the Philadelphia City League, defeated Delone Catholic 60-52, Wilkes Barre Myers 66-51, Bishop McDevitt 65-54 and Holy Cross 37-35 to head back to State College.

Imhotep Charter rallied from a 15-7 deficit after one to claim the win in the semifinals. Brandon Austin was the only player in double figures with 17.

A team from District 12 has played for the state title every year since 2006. The Panthers are the defending champions and look for their third overall title.

Khyree Wooten leads the Panthers in scoring at 16.2 points per game. Austin averages 12.2 points per contest, he's a junior and has verbally committed to Penn State.

Wooten suffered a head injury but did return to the semifinal game, he scored only 3 points.

Imhotep moved up to Class AAA next season.

The Panthers have won 5 straight coming in, falling to Communications Tech 66-61 on February 14th.

Girls Class AAA Championship Game:
Archbishop Wood Vikings (19-10) vs. Lancaster Catholic Crusaders (30-3) 6pm Saturday

The Vikings set down Oley Valley 48-34, Camp Hill Trinity 44-36, South Park 59-56 in overtime and Char Valley 42-37 on the Path to Penn State.

The Vikings are two time defending state champions and look for a three-peat. Archibishop Wood never trailed in the semis win over Char Valley. It wasn't without some tight moments, but the Vikings hit the free throws needed down the stretch for the win.

Watch out for AW's defense, they forced eleven turnovers in the first half vs. Char Valley. Head coach Jim Ricci was very complementary of the teams in the West that they faced, having to take the long road to another PIAA trip this season, saying he was glad they played in District 12.

Lancaster Catholic defeated Freire Charter of Philadelphia 70-58, Southern Lehigh 65-58, Neumann-Goretti 50-27 and Philadelphia Prep Charter 90-85 to head to the BJC. The Crusaders come in as the District 3 champions.

The Crusaders make their first title game appearance since 1996, when they defeated North Catholic.

Porsha Speller scored 30 for the Crusaders in the semifinal win.

Boys Quad A Championship Game:
Lower Merion Aces (29-3) vs. Chester Clippers (31-0) 8pm Saturday

This game will be a rematch of the District 1 title game, won by Chester 61-53 at Villanova University.

It's also the fourth time in five years that two teams from the eastern half of the state will meet for the Quad-A title.

The Aces defeated Dover 65-41, Philadelphia Roman Cathoic 67-49, Easton 66-54 and Erie Cathedral Prep 79-48 to make the title game.

Balanced scoring for the Aces in the semifinal win, B.J. Johnson and Darryl Reynolds each scored 18, Mike Robbins scored 16 and JaQuan Johson 13 .

Before the loss to Chester, the Aces racked up 19 straight wins.
Lower Merion makes it's first trip to the title game since 2006, when they defeated Schenley 60-58 in Hershey. The Aces claimed PIAA gold in 1996, when they were led by a player you may have heard off, by the name of Kobe Bryant, defeating Erie Cathedral Prep 48-43. Bryant's name is on the new gym at Lower Merion.

Even though it is a long way from the Philly suburbs, the Aces Nation will be in full force Saturday night.

Chester set down J.P. McCaskey 86-43, Norristown 72-53, Coatesville 87-46 and Central Dauphin 67-48 to head back to another state championship game.

The Clippers are the defending state champion and have won 57 consecutive games. Their last loss was to Sanford (Del) on December 30th, 2010.

Chester has won seven PIAA titles. The Clippers will run a rotation ten strong at you, and play at a high tempo all game. Seven of the ten players in the rotation are 6-4 or taller.

If it is a close game, Chester is woeful at the foul line, the Clippers shot 15 of 32 from the line in the semifinal win.

Darius and Kareem Robinson are the brothers of Pitt standout Nasir Robinson.

This could be a final run for Chester, the school is facing financial issues and could close at any time. There was some talk that the doors might be shut during the school year.

The Clippers defeated the Aces in 2005, 74-61 at the Giant Center.


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