Rick's Picks: District 1 boys' basketball previews

In the inaugural year for six PIAA boys' basketball classifications, there are four District 1 championship games and one District 1-11 subregional final on tap this weekend.

Here is a look at the five contests, along with a predicted winner in each. District 1 does not have a finalist in the Class 4A subregional with District 11.

District 1 Class 6A

No. 4 seed Coatesville (23-4) vs. No. 3 Abington (23-4), Saturday, 8 p.m. at Villanova.

Abington is seeking its second large-school district crown in three seasons; Coatesville is trying for its first since 2001.

The Red Raiders are ignited by freshman guard Jhamir Brickus. He scored 11 of his 22 points in the third quarter of Tuesday's 79-58 semifinal romp over Cheltenham. Coatesville's defensive pressure forced the Panthers into 21 turnovers.

Also in the mix for Chuck Moore's squad, which shot 28 for 43 from the line against Cheltenham, are senior guard Kamau Brickus, Jhamir's cousin; 6-9 junior center Tyrel Bladen, and freshman guard Dapree Bryant (17 points vs. Cheltenham).

Abington's offense is centered around 6-foot-7 sophomore Eric Dixon. The Division I prospect delivered 29 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday's 71-67 semifinal defeat of Plymouth Whitemarsh.

Chuck Grasty's Ghosts beat the Colonials by only four but comfortably led, 37-20, late in the first half and were in front, 67-42, with five minutes to play.

Dixon averages 19.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. Strong support comes from junior guard Robbie Heath (16.1 ppg.), 6-9 senior forward Joe O'Brien (6.7 ppg., 63 blocks), and sophomore guard Lucas Monroe (5.8 ppg.)

Pick: Abington, 68-63.

District 1 Class 5A

No. 8 Upper Merion (16-9) vs. No. 3 Penncrest (19-7), Saturday, 2 p.m. at Villanova.

Undersized Penncrest has to find a way to slow a pair of Upper Merion senior forwards: 6-8 Matt Faw and 6-6 Ethan Miller.

In Wednesday's 45-30 victory over Bishop Shanahan, the Vikings scored 22 of their 35 second-half points in the paint. Miller netted 15 points, and Faw, who is ticketed for Holy Cross, had eight.

Penncrest's catalyst, junior point guard Tyler Norwood, netted 21 points in Wednesday's 41-33 win over Great Valley. He shot 9 for 10 from the stripe in the second half.

Norwood (24 ppg., 5.1 apg.) has drilled 79 threes. Mike Mallon, a 6-3 senior forward, managed 11 points (five on offense) and eight points against the Patriots.

Pick: Upper Merion, 56-50.

District 1-11 Class 3A

No. 2 Notre Dame-Green Pond (17-8) vs. No. 1 Valley Forge Military Academy (23-4), Saturday, 1:30 p.m. at Plymouth Whitemarsh.

Myles Bunyon and the Trojans take on the Easton-based Crusaders.

In addition to the quick-footed Bunyon, VFMA has capable scorers in fellow senior guards Devin Hill and Arion Lewis.

Pick: VFMA, 64-59.

District 1 Class 2A

No. 2 Christopher Dock (16-9) vs. No. 1 Church Farm (17-9), Saturday, 2 p.m. at Council Rock South.

Church Farm seeks to defend its crown against its Bicentennial Athletic League rival.

The Griffins are led by senior guard James Lawton and 6-10 sophomore center John Bol Ajok. The Pioneers are paced by 6-4 senior wing Deins Bergis (18 ppg.) and sophomore guard and three-point threat Jackson Scialanca.

Pick: Church Farm, 57-48.

District 1 Class A

No. 3 Girard College (19-8) vs. No. 1 Faith Christian (24-3), Saturday, 8 p.m. at Council Rock South.

Faith will have its hands full with talented and speedy Girard.

The Cavaliers have a terrific one-two punch in 6-8 sophomore wing Mikeal Jones (21.8 ppg.) and 6-4 junior guard Daiquan Copeland (19.8 ppg.). The Lions are powered by 6-5 senior forward Zeke Snowden.

Pick: Girard, 67-54.