The fun is about to begin for 17 SOL schools.
Talk to some of the coaches, and the District One Tournament would be a whole lot more fun if they weren’t looking across the court at an all-too-familiar opponent. Four schools will be matched up against conference opponents as Norristown will host Upper Dublin and Souderton will travel to Central Bucks East. Norristown and Upper Dublin did battle last Thursday while for East and Souderton, it is the third meeting in a month.
“Before the power ratings came out, the rule was pretty simple that you could not play a team in your conference in the first round,” said East coach Tom Lonergan. “I think that’s a pretty good rule.
“It certainly doesn’t benefit our team to have to play them for a third time, but it is what it is. We have to go out there and play the way we’re capable of playing.”
Souderton coach Lynn Carroll echoed those sentiments.
“The power rating system is certainly beneficial,” she said. “It’s a shame this kind of thing happens.”
There are three other all-SOL matchups, including William Tennent at Cheltenham, Pennridge at Abington and Bensalem at North Penn.
The SOL owns two of the top three seeds with Cheltenham ranked number one and Council Rock North not far behind at number three.
Here’s a quick look at the SOL teams in action.
William Tennent (32) at Cheltenham (1) – Paul Veltre didn’t think his Panther squad had a shot at earning a spot in the district tournament.
“I packed everything up,” the Panthers’ coach said. “I made my little speech about how disappointed we were and how things had to change in the offseason.”
The good news was that the Panthers earned a spot in districts. The bad news – they will face the tournament’s top-seeded squad.
“I was shocked because I didn’t see how we could manage to get in,” Veltre said. “I don’t think we’re a conventional #32. However, we’re playing an excellent, excellent fast team.
“We’re such a long shot, but we have nothing to lose. If we just come close that would still redeem a portion of the season. They have proven they can win 21 times. We have not proven we can win and play well.”
Tennent is led in scoring by Sarah Godfrey (9 PPG). Ashley Alden (8.5 PPG, 7.5 rebounds) and Megan Zimmerman (8.5 PPG) are also contributors.
“The idea they have expressed is that they have yet to play a game that they’re proud of,” Veltre said. “In 22 games, we did not play well. Perhaps in the 23rd we’ll finally show up.
“They know it’s a daunting task, so we’ve kind of sold them on the fact that there’s no pressure, but they still need to redeem themselves.”
The 10-12 Panthers will be facing a Panther squad that is 22-1.
“Nobody expected us to do this poorly,” Veltre said. “But nobody expected us to make the playoffs, especially us, so we’ll see what happens.”
The Lady Panthers – if they win - could face SOL foes in their first three games.
“There’s no question about it – on a given day, anybody can beat anybody,” coach Bob Schaefer said. “I like our seed. It’s not going to be easy, but the real truth of it is, our district championship is probably equivalent to a lot of state championships.
“The quality of the play and the competitiveness and parity is equal to a lot of other states that don’t have that many big schools.”
The top-seeded Lady Panthers are led offensively by Monet Constant (13.9 PPG), Shayla Felder (12.5 PPG), Dayna McCrewell (9.6 PPG) and Jenna Peoples (7.2). Peoples averages 8.4 rebounds while freshman Sydni Epps (6.3) and McCrewell (6.1).
Upper Dublin (17) at Norristown (16) – Add Upper Dublin coach Vince Catanzaro and Norristown coach Ashlee Harrison to the list of people opposed to teams facing conference opponents in the opening round.
“This happens every year I’ve been in this,” Catanzaro said. “It just seems to happen to a lot of us in the American Conference, and I have no idea why it keeps working out like that.”
“It’s very difficult,” Norristown coach Ashlee Harrison said. “It will test us, for sure, especially because we match up fairly well against them.
“It will come down to who comes to play and who plays well.”
When the Flying Cardinals take the court on Friday night, they will be motivated by their 48-42 loss to the Eagles just eight days earlier.
“We beat them by 20 (58-38) and then lost by six and played terrible,” said Catanzaro, whose team rebounded from that loss to defeat Upper Merion 56-47 one night later. “We challenged the kids because (the Upper Merion game) was for second place, and we just came out and dominated. We were up 20 in the third period.
“Dani (Derr) was on fire.”
Derr, who had 26 points and 12 boards, and Kristen Fuery (12 points) were both under the weather when they faced Norristown.
“We played like we were under the weather,” Catanzaro said. “I can’t use that as an excuse.”
The Eagles are led in scoring by Mercedes Harris (11 PPG) while Natasha Matthews averages close to nine rebounds a game. Brittney Rose, Netta Wise and Cashae Hinton also are capable of putting points on the board.
“That’s what’s good about us – we haven’t had anyone play a box-and-one or a triangle-and-two because we have other people who can put the ball in the basket,” Harrison said. “Mercedes has been the most consistent, but the other four have all had their time to shine.”
Friday’s game will be part of a girls/boys doubleheader.
“I think it will be interesting,” Harrison said.
Pennridge (24) at Abington (9) – This matchup, which will be played on Thursday, features a pair of former National Conference rivals.
“Our girls are familiar with Abington,” Pennridge coach Brooke Martin said. “They know they have to play well.
“Again, we’re faced with a big height disadvantage, but we’re hoping our defense will create a lot of our offense. We’re hoping our quickness will overplay their height.”
The Rams’ tallest starter is 5-9 senior Lindsey Lyons, a guard, and they will have to contend with a lineup that features 6-2 forward Emily Leer, 5-11 guard Ajanae Boone and 5-10 freshman Aijannah Peal.
Still, Abington coach Dan Marsh is concerned.
“Pennridge worries me,” he said. “I’m not going to lie. They’re little, but they’re well-coached. If they’re hitting their threes, it’s going to be a long night. We’re hoping we can stop them from the perimeter.”
The Ghosts have come back strong after a decisive loss to Council Rock North, defeating Methacton and avenging an early season loss to Bensalem.
“We have had ups and downs, but fortunately, we have been able to bounce back,” Marsh said. “I was proud of them.
“Everybody had that (Council Rock North) game circled on their calendar. We really thought it was going to be a proving ground for us. Whether we won or lost, we wanted to be competitive, and we weren’t. We had to go re-evaluate again.
“We’ve had great practices since then. They just all re-committed and understand we have to work hard.”
Leer, who had just returned from an injury in the Rock North game, is healthy again, and the Ghosts closed the regular season by playing like the team they were projected to be this season.
“We got back to team ball,” Marsh said. “Everybody is excited.”
Leer is averaging 16.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while Peal is averaging 9.2 points, Boone, nine points, and Jen Kelly, seven points. The Rams have a balanced attack that features junior Jordan Dominic (11.5 PPG) as well as seniors Marissa Kunkle (10.2 PPG, 4.5 rebounds), Lyons (9.9 PPG, 4.1 rebounds) and Shannon Zickler (8.0 PPG, 4.7 rebounds).
Boyertown (20) at Council Rock South (13) – Rock South celebrates its return to the district tournament for the first time since 2006 with a home game against PAC-10 foe Boyertown.
For the Golden Hawks, it’s been business as usual.
“They’re real excited about it, but they’re staying focused because they really would like to continue on,” said coach Monica Young. “We have the home court, and we want to take advantage of it.”
The key, according to Young, will be balanced scoring and solid defense.
“Holding them in the 40s would be great,” she said. “I think we can do a great job rebounding.”
The Golden Hawks are led by Ann Silverthorn (10 PPG, 4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 5.5 steals), Alex Wheatley (9.4 points, 8.4 rebounds), Chelsea Allen (8.6 PPG, 8.1 rebounds), Emily Nowicke (7.6 PPG) and Lea Britton 5.6 PPG, 3.5 assists).
Wissahickon (28) at Upper Darby (5) – The Trojans will have their hands full against an Upper Darby squad that can push the ball up and down the court.
The Trojans, who lost four of their last five games, will count on the outside scoring of senior Anne Bracaglia. Point guard Casey Bill will direct the offense while Rachel Schaible and Colleen Hinde will provide an inside presence.
Quakertown (21) at Chester (12) – Quakertown hopes to dictate the tempo in its game against the high-octane Clippers.
“We need to play our game, try and slow things down and just play sound basketball,” said coach Greg Swavley. “Our girls are focused on the second season, which is playoffs. What happened during the season is done.
“Unfortunately, we hit some up and down parts, but the girls realize now it’s play well or go home. We set this as a goal from the beginning of the season. They’re excited to get there, but they want to win one now. That’s our next goal. We have to play defense, we have to play with some emotion. Hopefully, we’ll bring our ‘A’ game.”
Daniella Ciccarone averaged 15.3 points a game to lead the Panthers. She also averages 5.8 rebounds. Colleen Gavin is right behind with 14.2 points and 9.1 rebounds. Lauren Starzecky (9.6 PPG, 5.4 rebounds) and Kristine Jackiewicz (8.4 PPG, 4.1 rebounds) also are major contributors.
Bensalem (18) at North Penn (15) – Earlier this season, North Penn downed Bensalem 35-26 in a non-league game that was played the day after tough contests for both squads.
“That’s not the way they always play, so we have to be ready for their ‘A’ game,’” Maiden coach Maggie deMarteleire said. “I don’t think either team played that well.
“I’m hoping that we play the way we’re capable of playing, and I’m sure they’re hoping the same thing as well.”
Bensalem coach Don Bogan is certainly hoping for an improvement over the initial meeting between the two squads.
“We looked at the tape, and it was a horrible game,” he said. “It was a boring game, to be honest. I almost fell asleep watching the tape.”
The Owls lost three of their last four games to close out the regular season and struggled since astrong start.
“We kind of imploded,” Bogan said. “Right now we can’t score, and then we get frustrated and make mistakes on defense.”
Bogan knows his team will have its hands full against the Maidens.
“North Penn has been playing well the second half of the season,” he said. “We have to get back to playing a good matchup zone and running the floor. We haven’t run the floor in two weeks.”
Sharmane Hall (15 PPG, 18 rebounds) leads the Owls while Jackie Deegler (9 PPG, eight rebounds) and Kristen Gilroy (8 PPG) also contribute.
“We’re going to play the whole team and ask everybody to give 100 percent,” Bogan said. “We have nothing to lose.
“This is a winnable game. We played at their pace the last time, and we have to go back to our tempo. “
Shakia Robinson averages 16.6 points a game for the Maidens. Taylour Alston (6.4 PPG) and Steph Knauer (6.0) also contribute.
“I’m really pleased with the progress of my point guard (Mary Ward) as well,” deMarteleire said. “She made some big plays against Pennridge that won the game for us.”
Souderton (26) at Central Bucks East (7) – The Patriots won both regular season meetings between the two schools, downing the Indians 64-51 in the initial meeting and more recently earning a 42-28 win.
“Hopefully, we’ll come with our ‘A’ game,” East coach Tom Lonergan said. “We were fortunate to bring it the last two times, but Souderton is a very good team. We know we’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game. “
The Indians have never beaten the Patriots in coach Lynn Carroll’s five years at the helm.
“They have always made things tough for us on the offensive end,” she said. “We have always had a difficult time scoring, and pretty often we go into the game with that on our minds as opposed to thinking of what we need to do to be successful.
“A lot of it has been our mindset because of what’s happened in the past. The first time we played them this year was the best we’ve ever competed with them.”
According to Carroll, it will take a gutsy effort to beat the Patriots.
“We don’t consistently show up with guts,” she said. “We don’t have five players on the court who consistently are willing to go out and get it. Oftentimes when the going gets tough, they’re looking for someone else to do it.
“We talked about that, and they really seem to have responded to it. It’s been a really good week so far. Everybody needs to show up on Saturday, and it’s got to be all of the time. Obviously, we have to do a lot of things well.”
Liz Martin has been a dominant player in the paint for the Patriots, averaging 11.8 points and over 10 rebounds a game. Jamie Donovan (12.1 PPG) and Caitlin Vasey (10.3 PPG) also have been major contributors.
The Indians are led by Brittany Sandone (11.7 PPG, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals) and Monica Schmidt (8.3 PPG, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks).
Central Bucks South (23) at Perkiomen Valley (10) – The Titans will face a Perk Valley team that is led by a pair of outstanding guards – Megan Finn and Courtney Formica.
“Obviously to win, we’re going to have to show up to play,” coach Beth Mattern said. “I like the matchup. I like the fact that there’s no 6-1 post player like Shakia Robinson in there.
“In the same respect, their guards are their dominant players, so they’re not a team to be taken lightly.”
The Titans boast a balanced attack that features Calla Miller (11 PPG), Katelyn Schneider (8 PPG) and Laura Duffy (6.5 PPG). Since Jan. 1, Schneider has been averaging 11 points a game.
“It’s going to come down to which team defensively is going to execute and therefore execute on offense,” Mattern said.
Marple Newtown (30) at Council Rock North (3) – Don’t look for the Indians to get much of a fight from this Central League squad. If the tournament follows its seeding, a Rock North would set up a date with a Methacton squad which sent the Indians packing in the second round last year.
“It won’t be hard to get my kids motivated for a little bit of revenge, knowing how long our break was last year” coach Lou Palkovics said. “I don’t think it will be hard to get them motivated for the second round game.
“I don’t think it matters which team we get in the second round. It’s that feeling that they experienced last year that I’m going to keep remining them about.”
Sarah Kiely averages 16 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Indians. Devin Gold is next, averaging 8.6 points a game. Juliann Fricke and Lauren Gold average 7.5 while Kelly Scull (7.2) and Kate Logan (6.2) are right behind.
Neshaminy (27) at Great Valley (6) – The Redskins will be matched up against a veteran playoff team when they face a Patriot squad that has lost just twice this season.
“We know they’re a pretty disciplined team,” coach Joanne McVey said. “Certainly, they’re the favorite, but we feel like we’ve shown we can compete with anybody. Whether we finish the deal is a different thing.
“We had a 10-point game with Council Rock North, and they’re the three seed. We have shown when we play four quarters we can compete. What we’ve really been focusing on is every possession. We know they’re a very good team, but we’re not walking in there David versus Goliath. We’re going to go to play, and we’re going to go in there thinking we have a chance to win, and we’ll see what happens.”
McVey has tried to take the pressure off her players.
“I told the kids you get nothing out of going in scared – you paralyze yourself,” she said. “It’s pretty easy to go in and play as hard as you can, and win or lose, you can walk off the court with your head held high. That’s what we’re focusing on. We’re going to go out and play Neshaminy basketball with the hope that really good things happen.”
Kelsey Ryan is averaging 13.5 points and nine rebounds a game for the Redskins. Avery Wunder is averaging close to nine points a game.
Pottsgrove (10) at Upper Merion (7) - The power ratings did the Vikings no favors. Upper Merion will be facing a red hot Pottsgrove team that is coming off back-to-back upsets to capture the PAC-10 title, downing heavily favored St. Pius X in the championship game.
“The AAA playoffs are as deep as anytime in my memory,” coach Tom Schurtz said. “There are usually so many solid teams, so we see a lot of upsets in the first round because you’re only dealing with 12 teams who have been fairly successful.
“We have a home game. That’s all that’s working in our favor.”
The Falcons are led by 6-1 junior forward Stephanie Schultz.
“She has averaged 20 in the last four games,” Schurtz said. “She’ll be a problem for us, and they play good defense.”
The Vikings will be led by Lisa Ridgeway (11.5 PPG, 9.8 rebounds), Cassidy Koenig (9.2 PPG), Jessica Moore (8.9 PPG) and Alex Galdi (7.8 PPG, 14.6 rebounds).
Galdi, according to Schurtz, has quietly had a superb season.
“A lot of teams don’t realize how important she is to us,” he said. “She’s easy to ignore because she’s quiet, but she’s had monster games where she has 14, 15, 16 rebounds.”