SOL Boys' Basketball PIAA Preview (Opening Round)

Seven SOL boys’ basketball teams will be competing in the PIAA Tournament this weekend. Check out the previews to all seven games.

By Ed Morrone

Across Friday and Saturday in Classes 6A and 5A, seven SOL basketball teams will be in action in the PIAA state tournament. Abington will begin its quest for a state title on top of its district counterpart following the team’s stunner of a win over PW, while the Colonials will attempt to offset their disappointment following the loss to the Ghosts as a motivating factor in chasing a state title.

Here is a closer look at the match-ups heading into this weekend’s opening round:

CLASS 5A

1-3 WISSAHICKON (19-7) vs. 12-3 ARCHBISHOP CARROLL (18-7) at Bensalem (Friday, March 9, 8 p.m.)
Wissahickon

  • 19-7 overall
  • 11-3 SOL American Conference, second place
  • Led by senior G Max Rapoport, junior G Eddie Fortescue and senior G/F Zach Reiner
  • How they got here: Defeated Strath Haven (67-48) in district first round; Defeated Great Valley 55-48 in district quarterfinals; Lost to Penncrest (45-40) in district semifinals; Defeated Chester (54-51) in third-place game
  • Have won eight of the last nine games
  • Quotable: “This is something to build off of,” head coach Kyle Wilson said following the district semifinal loss to eventual champion Penncrest. “I told them in the locker room that (Penncrest) is the number one team in the district … and we’re not far off. Come next Friday, it’s a new tournament, and I like our chances.”

Archbishop Carroll

  • 18-7 overall
  • 10-3 Philadelphia Catholic League, fourth place
  • Led by sophomore PG AJ Hoggard (15.4 ppg, 6.1 apg, first team All-PCL), senior F Keyon Butler (14.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, second team All-PCL), senior G Justin Anderson (12.9 ppg, second team All-PCL)
  • How they got here: Defeated Archbishop Wood (69-62) in Catholic League quarterfinals; Lost to Bonner-Prendie (48-45) in Catholic League semifinals; Defeated Mastery Charter North (67-61, OT) in District 12 5A third-place game
  • Carroll is playing in states for the 10th straight year; has played in every PIAA tournament since the Catholic League began participating
  • Quotable: “We are excited to be a part of the state playoffs once again and welcome the opportunity to take on a good, well-coached team in Wissahickon,” head coach Paul Romanczuk said. “I think it has the makings for a very good opening-round game.”

CLASS 6A
1-1 ABINGTON (22-5) vs. 3-6 HARRISBURG (17-9) at Cheltenham High School (Saturday, March 10, 4 p.m.)

Abington

  • 22-5 overall
  • 12-0 SOL National Conference, first place
  • Led by senior G Robbie Heath, junior F Eric Dixon, junior G/F Lucas Monroe and senior G JP Nolan
  • How they got here: Defeated Neshaminy (54-25) in district second round; Defeated Norristown (57-43) in district quarterfinals; Defeated Lower Merion (72-61) in district semifinals; Defeated Plymouth Whitemarsh (73-71) in district championship game
  • Ghosts have won 10 of their last 11 games
  • Quotable: “The people around us have been so supportive,” Heath said following his third district championship win in four years. “Now we have to go out and get a state championship, and we’ll have accomplished everything.”

Harrisburg

  • 17-9 overall
  • 10-4 Mid-Penn Conference, Commonwealth Division, third place
  • Led by Tony James (15.0 ppg, first team All-Conference) and NaReece Glenn (14.5 ppg, second team All-Conference)
  • How they got here: Lost to Chambersburg (52-48); Defeated Wilson West Lawn (71-65); Lost to Dallastown (63-61)
  • Started the season 7-2 before the departure of 6-foot-3 power forward Micah Parsons, who enrolled early at Penn State on a football scholarship. The team’s adjustment to Parsons’ departure “has become a process,” according to head coach Kirk Smallwood.
  • Quotable: “We are excited about participating in the state tournament,” Smallwood said.

1-2 PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH (27-1) vs. 3-5 DALLASTOWN (16-10) at Upper Dublin (Saturday, March 10, 4 p.m.)
Plymouth Whitemarsh

  • 27-1 overall
  • 14-0 SOL American Conference, first place
  • Led by senior G Ish Horn, junior C Naheem McLeod, senior G Ahmin Williams, senior G Ahmad Williams and senior F Alan Glover
  • How they got here: Defeated Bensalem (71-40) in district second round; Defeated Upper Darby (70-58) in district quarterfinals; Defeated Central Bucks West (68-46) in district semifinals; Lost to Abington (73-71) in district championship game
  • Started the season with 27 consecutive wins before falling to Abington in the district title game
  • Quotable: “Now, we’ll see what we’re made of,” head coach Jim Donofrio said following PW’s loss to Abington. “I think we’re made of a lot, having won 27 games in a row. We can’t overly panic. It has to irk us and annoy us a bit, but it’s the world we live in — the world of competition.”

Dallastown

  • 16-10 overall, tied third place York-Adams Division I Conference
  • Led by Will Barton (16.0 ppg), Da’Trail Albert (12.5 ppg) and Braden Caldwell (11.4 ppg)
  • How they got here: Defeated Central York (58-53); Lost to Reading (83-71); Defeated Cedar Crest (62-46); Defeated Harrisburg (63-61)

1-4 CENTRAL BUCKS WEST (20-6) vs. 11-4 EMMAUS (14-12) at Council Rock South (Saturday, March 10, 4 p.m.)
Central Bucks West

  • 20-6 overall
  • 10-2 SOL Continental Conference, first place
  • Led by senior F Collin MacAdams, senior G Shane McCusker, senior F Jake Reichwein and junior G Jack Mulhearn
  • How they got here: Defeated Central Bucks East (64-55) in district second round; Defeated Coatesville (48-41) in district quarterfinals; Lost to Plymouth Whitemarsh (68-46) in district semifinals; Lost to Lower Merion (68-49) in district third-place game
  • Quotable: “We’re excited to go to states,” head coach Adam Sherman said following his team’s loss to PW in the district semis. “It’s another chance for our seniors to play, and it’s always exciting to be playing basketball in March.”

Emmaus

  • 14-12 overall
  • 7-9 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, Skyline Division, tied fourth place
  • Led by Isaiah Howard (10.0 ppg), Deshawn Scarboro (9.7 ppg), Andrius Gaddist (9.6 ppg)
  • How they got here: Defeated Pleasant Valley (63-48); Defeated Easton (68-42); Lost to Northampton (58-54); Lost to Pocono Mountain West (58-45)
  • Emmaus lost to Abington in the first round of last year’s PIAA tournament

1-6 PENNRIDGE (19-7) vs. 12-2 ROMAN CATHOLIC (19-6) at Cardinal O’Hara (Saturday, March 10, 5 p.m.)
Pennridge

  • 19-7 overall
  • 9-3 SOL Continental Conference, second place
  • Led by junior G Sean Yoder, senior F Tyrese Lewis, junior PF/C Jonathan Post, sophomore F Jake Pestrak and senior G Mike Molettiere
  • How they got here: Defeated North Penn (43-41) in district second round; Lost to Lower Merion (63-39) in district quarterfinals; Defeated Norristown (61-51) in playback game; Lost to Coatesville (74-66) in district fifth-place game

Roman Catholic

  • 20-6 overall
  • 11-2 Philadelphia Catholic League, third place
  • Led by sophomore PG Lynn Greer III (16.0 ppg; offers from Temple, Oregon, Penn State, Saint Joseph’s), junior wing Seth Lundy (16.0 ppg; offers from Oregon, Temple, Saint Joseph’s, Penn State, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia, La Salle), senior SG Allen Bertrand (Towson commit) and junior SG Hakim Hart (offers from Tulane and Bowling Green)
  • How they got here: Defeated La Salle (56-46) in Catholic League quarterfinals; Defeated St. Joseph’s Prep (69-66) in Catholic League semifinals; Defeated Bonner-Prendie (51-49) in Catholic League championship game on a last-second bucket by Hart; lost to Lincoln (86-76) in District 12 6A title game
  • Quotable: “Very resilient group,” athletic director Dan DiBerardinis said. “Just trying to take this one game at a time.”

1-9 NESHAMINY (17-10) vs. 11-1 EAST STROUDSBURG SOUTH (24-3) at Pleasant Valley High School (Saturday, March 10, 4:30 p.m.)

Neshaminy

  • 17-10 overall
  • 7-5 SOL National Conference, tied third place
  • Led by senior G Chris Arcidiacono, senior Anthony Papeo, senior Charles Dominick and senior Danny Bodine
  • How they got here: Defeated Central Bucks South (50-47) in district first round; Lost to Abington (54-25) in district second round; Defeated Perkiomen Valley (70-60) in district playback game; Defeated Conestoga (59-55) in district playback game; Defeated Bensalem (50-49) in district ninth-place game

East Stroudsburg South

  • 24-3 overall
  • 14-2 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, Mountain Division, first place
  • Led by Jeremiah Anderson (18.3 ppg), Brian Rodriguez (7.5 ppg) and Jahi Hamilton (6.7 ppg)
  • How they got here: Defeated Easton (53-24); Lost to Allentown Central Catholic (54-51); Defeated Nazareth (53-50); Defeated Pocono Mountain West (52-49); Defeated Northampton (60-50)

1-10 BENSALEM (17-10) vs. 3-1 READING (24-4) at Governor Mifflin (Saturday, March 10, 3 p.m.)
Bensalem

  • 17-10 overall
  • 7-5 SOL National Conference, tied third place
  • Led by senior G Ward Roberts, senior F James Lieble, senior G Taco Douglas, senior G Kris Shields
  • How they got here: Defeated Pennsbury (58-55) in district first round; lost to Plymouth Whitemarsh (71-40) in district second round; Defeated Downingtown West (48-40) in district playback game; Defeated Downingtown East (55-47) in district playback game; Lost to Neshaminy (50-49) in district ninth-place game
  • Have gone 10-3 since 7-7 start to season
  • First state tournament berth since 2011
  • Quotable: “My goal when I started playing was to get to states before I leave high school,” said Roberts following Bensalem’s 71-40 loss to PW, needing to win two games to clinch a berth.

Reading

  • 24-4 overall, first place Berks County Division I
  • District 3 champions (21st overall)
  • Defending PIAA 6A champion
  • Led by junior Wesley Butler (16.0 ppg, 49 three-pointers), senior Larry Wingo (10.3 ppg), senior R.J. Dixon (9.4 ppg), senior Xavier Starks (9.0 ppg), senior Ricki Lopez (8.6 ppg)
  • How they got here: Defeated Dallastown (83-71); Defeated Manheim Twp. (57-49); Defeated Chambersburg (46-43) in district championship game