Friday, December 26, 2014

Boys' Hoops: Preview of Weekend's State Quarterfinal Games

And then there were 13.

Boys' Hoops: Preview of Weekend's State Quarterfinal Games

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Rondae Jefferson and two-time defending state champ Chester clash with District 1 rival Great Valley Saturday at Spring-Ford High in Royersford.

And then there were 13.

Of the 31 area teams that qualified for the PIAA boys' basketball championships, 13 are still alive on the road to Hershey. Quarterfinal-round action is set for this weekend.

The Class AAA and A playoffs continue Friday night, and the Class AAAA and AA tourneys resume Saturday afternoon.

Here is a closer look at the matchups involving the locals, with predicted winner in each:

Class AAAA

Great Valley (28-3) vs. Chester (26-3), 1 p.m. Saturday at Spring-Ford. In seven playoff games, the Clippers have won by an average margin of 29 points. That spells trouble for the Patriots.

Great Valley's chance at keeping it close hinges largely on the play of 6-foot-6 junior Mikal Bridges, who is averaging 20.2 points per game.

Pick: The Patriots' banner campaign ends against the defending champs. Pick: Chester, 66-41.

Coatesville (25-7) vs. St. Joseph's Prep (23-5), 1 p.m. Saturday at William Tennent. Talk about contrasting styles. The Red Raiders fly up and down the court. The Hawks mostly pick their spots, often from beyond the arc, in half-court sets.

Coatesville, led by St. Peter's commit Howard Sellars, has to avoid a game-long rash of turnovers. It overcame 18 in Wednesday's 58-52 win over Norristown.

St. Joe's Prep has a terrific one-two punch in Steve Vasturia (20.2 ppg.) and Miles Overton (16.1 ppg.). Wing guard Kyle Thompson and 6-4 sophomore Chris Clover are also dangerous.

Pick: Leroy Hoggard, a 6-4 swingman, returns for the speedy Red Raiders after a one-game suspension. He's the difference in a taut contest. Coatesville, 63-61.

Lower Merion (27-3) vs. Harrisburg (26-2), 1 p.m. Saturday at Reading's Geigle Complex. Like Coatesville-St. Joe's Prep, this one should be well worth the price of admission.

Harrisburg, the District 3 champ, has won eight straight games. The Cougars are led by senior forward Shaquon Sheppard (14.5 ppg.) and sophomore guard Jahaad Proctor (13.6 ppg.).

The Aces' bid to return to the final is headed by 6-7 swingman B.J. Johnson, 6-8 center Yohanny Dalembert, and savvy guards Raheem Hall and JaQuan Johnson.

Pick: This is a real toss-up. Harrisburg was our pre-tournament pick to make it to Hershey, and we're sticking with that choice. Harrisburg, 67-62.

Class AAA

Neumann-Goretti (23-5) vs. Donegal (25-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Coatesville. Carl Arrigale and the Saints are within three wins of their fourth straight crown.

Donegal, of District 3, is ignited by identical twins Jason and Martin Dietrich, 6-6 forward Matt Foltz, and senior guard Dylan Houseal. The Dietrichs combined for 43 points in a first-round win over Wilkes-Barre GAR.

Pick: Ja'Quan Newton's 24 points carried the Saints in Tuesday's overtime triumph against Scranton Prep. John Davis steps up in this one. Neumann-Goretti, 58-51.

Imhotep Charter (25-5) vs. Abington Heights (27-2). The Comets, of District 2, survived Philadelphia Electrical, 66-63, in OT in the second round. Abington Heights is powered by 6-2 junior guard J.C. Show (19.2 ppg.) and 6-6 senior center Jason Bamford (11.7 ppg.).

Pick: With Brandon Austin shining down the stretch, the Panthers escape the Comets. Imhotep, 56-53.

Archbishop Carroll (21-6) vs. Chartiers Valley (24-4), 7 p.m. Friday at Chambersburg. Derrick Jones and Patriots must keep a close eye on 6-6 senior center Spencer Casson, a shot-blocking machine.

The Colts have solid scorers in senior guard Michael Boulos (18 ppg.) and sophomore guard Matt McConnell (16 ppg.).

Pick: Jones gives Casson a battle, but Carroll falls short. Pick: Chartiers Valley, 60-57.

Class AA

Constitution (18-9) vs. Holy Cross (25-5), 1 p.m. Saturday at Parkland. Ahmad Gilbert, Raheem Liggins, Floyd Preito, and Kimar Williams spark the Generals.

Holy Cross, of District 2, is powered by 6-7 senior center Josh Kosin and junior guard Connor Callejas. The two combined for 54 points in Wednesday's 70-54 win over Del-Val Charter.

Pick: Kosin and Callejas end Constitution's run. Holy Cross, 66-54.

Class A

Sankofa Freedom (16-11) vs. Math, Civics and Sciences (25-2), 6 p.m. Friday at La Salle High. The Mighty Elephants have too many weapons for their third-year Public League rival. Pick: MC&S, 81-52.

Church Farm (24-6) vs. Roberts Vaux (21-8), 7:30 p.m. at La Salle High. Aondofa Anyam and the Griffins will find the going tough against Rysheed Jordan and the Cougars. Pick: Vaux, 66-47.

Rick O'Brien Inquirer Columnist
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About this blog
Rick O’Brien has been at The Inquirer since 1993, primarily covering high school sports in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Reach Rick at robrien@phillynews.com.

Rick O'Brien Inquirer Columnist
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