The PIAA basketball championships, which were delayed four days because of inclement weather, spelled an end to the 2017-18 campaign.
Of the 11 area boys’ and girls’ teams that earned a trip to Hershey’s Giant Center, seven returned with first-place trophies.
Since Roman Catholic faced Abraham Lincoln in all-District 12 Class 6A boys’ matchup and Central Bucks South met Upper Dublin in an all-District 1 6A girls’ contest, nine was the highest number of possible champs.
With five District 12 victors and two District 1 winners, it was another impressive showing for Philly area squads. Here is a look at some of the highlights, happenings, and tidbits from the three-day event in Chocolatetown.
Best game. Khalif Meares and Lincoln gave Roman all it could handle before bowing to the Cahillites, 92-80, in Wednesday’s finale.
In a rematch of the District 12 final, which the Railsplitters won by an 86-76 decision, a free throw by Shikeir Morrison cut Roman’s lead to 82-80 with just over a minute remaining.
Meares delivered 28 points, four steals, and four assists in Lincoln’s first appearance in the final. Seth Lundy (28 points), Hakim Hart (26), Lynn Greer (20), and Allen Betrand (14) spurred the Cahillites.
Top rookie. Behind freshman Jess Polin’s season-high 17 points, Upper Dublin, District 1’s No. 9 seed, nipped fellow Suburban One League member C.B. South, 41-39, for the program’s first crown.
Polin shot 5 for 6 from the field (3 for 4 from beyond the arc) and 4 for 5 from the line. “We just had so much fight in us,” said the 15-year-old from Maple Glen. “We were not going to come home with a loss.”
Best sixth man I. Lincoln junior guard Emeul Charleston drilled four of seven three-point attempts en route to 14 points vs. Roman.
Best sixth man II. Neumann-Goretti freshman forward TaQuan Woodley chipped in eight points, seven boards (three on offense), two blocks, and a steal as Neumann-Goretti downed District 6’s Richland, 57-42, for its fifth consecutive 3A crown.
Stalwart defender. Senior guard and Hartford recruit Jabria Ingram finished with more steals (10) than points (nine) as the Neumann-Goretti girls bested District 6’s Bishop Canevin, 63-65, in the 3A final for their fourth straight title.
Top facilitator. Sanhei Day, a 5-8 senior guard, handed out eight assists to help Lincoln stay close against Roman.
Clutch shot. Jenkintown’s Jennifer Kremp drained a right-wing three-pointer with 14 seconds remaining to force overtime in the Class A tilt against District’s 6’s Juniata Valley. The Drakes went on to beat the Hornets, 51-46, for their first championship.
Best comeback. Kremp (24 points) and company trailed Juniata Valley, 36-27, with 3 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in regulation. Jenkintown’s 8-0 burst was highlighted by Mia Kolb’s driving layup and putback.
Best showing in a loss. Robby Carmody’s 34 points were not enough for District 7’s Mars in the Fightin’ Planets’ 67-55 loss to District 2’s Abington Heights in the 5A final. Carmody, a 6-4 senior and Notre Dame signee, accounted for 27 of his team’s 30 second-half points.
Solid shot-blocker. Constitution’s Jabari Merritt, a 6-5 junior, rejected five shots as the Generals defeated District 7’s Our Lady of Sacred Heart, 81-71, for top 2A honors.
Tap-ins. Upper Dublin’s Polin is the grand-niece of former longtime George Washington football coach Ron Cohen. Cohen and his wife, Mimi, were on hand in Hershey and for the Cardinals’ two previous playoff games. … District 1 and 12 referees Mark Horn, John Loughran, and Paul McShane Jr. worked the Roman-Lincoln game … District 10’s Kennedy Catholic, which demolished District 4’s Lourdes Regional by 78-36 for its third straight Class A boys’ title, will play in 6A beginning next season. The school’s petition to move up five classes for the next two-year cycle was approved by the PIAA. That makes for a possible 2019 championship game between the talented Golden Eagles, who are led by 6-4 junior guard Maceo Austin (29 points vs. Lourdes) and 6-10 junior Oscar Tshiebwe (24 points, 19 boards), and Roman, which is expected to return Lundy, Greer, and Hart in its bid for a fourth crown in five seasons. Hart, a 6-5 junior, averaged 23 points in five state playoff games. … Unfortunately, longtime Jenkintown statistician and historian Dave Seitz was vacationing in Florida and not with the Drakes for their biggest victory. He watched the Pennsylvania Cable Network’s live stream of the game from the Sunshine State.