District 4 playoffs Week 2 previews
District 2-4 AAAA boys championship
No. 6 Scranton (19-5) vs. No. 1 Williamsport (21-2)
at Berwick Middle School, Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Scranton facts: The Knights have fought into the district final by surviving a double overtime game against No. 3 Delaware Valley and by rallying past No. 2 Hazleton 54-46 in Saturday’s semifinals. Scranton beat DV, 46-42 and then outscored Hazleton, 20-10 in the fourth quarter. Senior guard Karlon Quiller put on a show against Hazleton, scoring 29 points and hitting four 3-pointers. Quiller is one of District 2’s best all-around players and one of its quickest as well. He had 18 points against DV. Corey White hit four 3-pointers against DV and scored 14 points. Andrew Moran is the team’s defensive specialist and held DV leading scorer Brett Fragola to seven points. Jake McCarthy added 11 points in that win. Scranton trailed Hazleton by five after the first quarter, but allowed only 31 points the rest of the way. Williamsport beat Scranton in a thrilling overtime semifinal last year, ending the Knights title reign and handing the top seed only its third loss.
Williamsport facts: The Millionaires are seeking their second straight championship and third since 2009. They have won 12 straight and are coming off a hard-fought 67-56 semifinal win over Wyoming Valley West. Reserve Thomas Ross continued his strong late-season play, scoring 14 points and hitting three fourth-quarter 3-pointers. They were huge in a game that Williamsport led by just five in the fourth quarter. All-state forward Jahad Thomas recorded his second straight double-double and had 24 points along with 10 rebounds in last week’s 73-59 win over national power Princeton Day Academy. Penn State recruit Isaiah Washington scored a game-high 18 points against Valley West. He and Thomas are among the area’s leading scorers while Navy-bound Chris Kinley averages 12.6 points per game. Point guard Herb Stelly was outstanding against Princeton Day and forward Achilles Watson can do a little bit of everything. The bench has been bolstered down the stretch with Ross recording a series of strong games. Williamsport also has received a boost from Greg Ousley who is returning from a knee injury. Ousley is a versatile threat who can play like Thomas when healthy.
Winner plays: District 11’s third-place finisher in first round of states
District 4 AAA boys semifinals
No. 3 Milton (14-8) vs. No. 2 Athens (17-6)
at Williamsport High School, 7, tonight
Milton facts: A perennial district power for so long, Milton fell on hard times the past few years and is making its first playoff appearance since 2009. The Black Panthers captured five district titles between 2002-2007 and have made an eight-win improvement this year. Milton finished second in the HAC-I, behind defending champion Danville, going 11-3 in league play. Its only other league loss was to No. 4 Shikellamy in overtime. Michael Jacobs and Chad Diggan form a solid scoring punch and combine for close to 30 points per game. Jacobs is averaging more than 15 per game and Diggan is a 1,000-point scorer. Sophomore Ethan Baker also has developed into a solid player and Milton won 12 of 16 games at one point after starting 0-2.
Athens facts: The Wildcats opened the season as the team to beat in District 4 but lost some key players early in the season and finished second to Towanda in the NTL-East. Towanda downed Athens, 50-45 in the championship last Tuesday. Athens is a lot taller than Milton and has a front line that goes 6-6, 6-5 and 6-3. Forward Garrett Clark leads the team, scoring 14.9 points per game while 6-3 forward Curt Moore had 18 points in the Towanda loss. Guard Brandon Fauver can shoot from nearly anywhere and is averaging 11.6 points per game. He also has drained 30 3-pointers. Athens is back in Class AAA after being AA the last two years. It squandered a 13-point halftime lead against Southern Columbia in last year’s semifinals and finished third in the district, qualifying for states.
Winner plays: Either No. 1 Danville (19-4) or No. 4 Shikellamy (13-9)
District 4 AA boys semifinals
No. 4 East Juniata (19-4) vs. NO. 1 Wellsboro (22-1)
AT?MONTOURSVILLE HIGH?SCHOOL, 7:30, tonight
EJ facts: The Tigers have set a program-record for wins and are playing in the semifinals for the first time as a District 4 team. EJ thumped Towanda, 57-46 in the quarterfinals, building a big third-quarter lead. Nick Lorenz scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Bailey Coder, a 6-foot-6 center, had 19 points and 14 rebounds. Lorenz, a 6-1 guard, averages 22 points, 7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. He has hit 44 3-pointers. Coder averages 12.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. Dillon Leonard is a long-range threat who averages seven points per game and has hit 38 3-pointers. EJ has won eight of its last nine games with its only loss coming to Line Mountain. EJ handed Tri-Valley League Greenwood its only league loss late in the season, winning 42-40 after losing to it by 10 earlier in the season.
Wellsboro facts: The Green Hornets are trying to reach their first district final this century and enter on a 14-game winning streak. Wellsboro won its first playoff game since 2006 in convincing fashion last Friday, downing No. 9 Canton, 61-44. Wellsboro built a 43-17 halftime lead and played well in all facts throughout the first three quarters. Three players scored in double figures and seniors Matt Reese and Jordan Jackson combined for 14 assists. Jackson, Mike Pietropola and Joe Doganiero are averaging in double figures while forwards Dylan Prough and Kieron Smethers are close behind. Prough nearly had a double-double against Canton and Pietropola has been one of the district’s best sixth men all season. Wellsboro romped to its third straight NTL-West title and has lost just two league games the past three seasons. Wellsboro’s only loss was to Lewisburg, 43-38 at the Montoursville Christmas Tournament. Reese is a strong defender and hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to lift Wellsboro to a dramatic 65-64 midseason win over District 1’s Octorara.
Winner plays: Either Lewisburg or Loyalsock
No. 3 Loyalsock (22-3) vs. No. 2 Lewisburg (22-3)
AT MILTON HIGH?SCHOOL, 7:30, WEDNESDAY
Loyalsock facts: The Lancers are seeking their second straight championship and eighth since 2001. Loyalsock is the only team to beat Lewisburg this season, winning three close games against the state’s No. 10-ranked team, including in the inaugural Heartland Conference championship. Loyalsock, ranked No. 9 in the state, is 19-0 against Heartland teams this season. The Lancers held off Bloomsburg, 68-57 in Saturday’s quarterfinals after the Panthers cut an 18-point third-quarter deficit to six in the fourth. Senior center Roger Wilson has been outstanding this season and had 22 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Wilson has had a double-double in all three Lewisburg games and went for 15 points and 14 rebounds in the HAC championship. Kyle Datres dealt 13 assists against Bloomsburg while Mike Pastore had 11 points, six assists and five steals. Omar Little played well in the HAC final, scoring a game-high 18 points. Loyalsock clinched the HAC-II title when it won a 61-55 thriller at Lewisburg late in the season. Loyalsock overcame a fourth-quarter deficit in that win.
Lewisburg facts: The Green Dragons pounded Mount Carmel, 66-47 in the quarterfinals and are seeking their first final appearance since 2006. This is the third time in four years they are playing Loyalsock in the playoffs. Four players scored in double figures against Mount Carmel and those four, Travis Conrad, Erich Kline, Sam Allen and Mike Driscoll, all average more than 9.5 points per game. Allen and Kline, 6-foot-6 and 6-5, respectively combined for 26 points and 18 rebounds last Friday. Allen, a freshman, keeps getting better and had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against Mount Carmel. He had 16 points and nine rebounds in the HAC final. Kline had 16 points and eight rebounds against Mount Carmel while Driscoll hit 5 of 7 shots and Conrad scored a game-high 18 points. Lewisburg is the only HAC team to beat Division I champion Danville this season, defeating it 61-56 in the HAC semifinals. Lewisburg also handed Wellsboro its only loss last December, winning 43-38 at the Montoursville Christmas Tournament.
Winner plays: Either Wellsboro or East Juniata
District 4 A boys semifinals
No. 4 Muncy (17-6) vs. No. 1 St. John Neumann (21-2)
AT?DANVILLE HIGH?SCHOOL, 7:30, WEDNESDAY
Muncy facts: The Indians are seeking their first district championship since 2004 and this is the game they wanted. Neumann swept both regular season games from Muncy but the Indians nearly prevailed two weeks ago at Neumann, losing 59-54 after missing a go-ahead shot in the final minute. Muncy has three starters back from last year’s third-place finisher and new starters Nick Ring and Teddy Clark have blended right in, having strong seasons. The Indians looked terrific in the quarterfinals, downing Mansfield, 82-67 as four players scored in double figures. Jeff Scott had 12 points off the bench and hit two big fourth-quarter 3-pointers. Point guard Ammar Sabanovic had 11 points and 11 assists and sparks the offense. He is averaging a double-double as is Ring who averages a team-high 15 points and more than 10 rebounds per game. Dawson Fox had 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists against Mansfield and Billy Kolletzki, the fourth Indian averaging in double figures, played well against Neumann two weeks ago. Expect for the third quarter in the teams’ first game nearly every quarter has gone back and forth between these HAC-III rivals.
Neumann facts: The Knights are having their best season since 2002 when they won 23 games and reached the state tournament’s second round. Neumann also reached last year’s second round but lost in the district final. The Knights are seeking their first district crown since 2000. The Knights are undefeated against Class A teams and 5-0 against the Nos. 2-4 seeds in this field. Neumann captured its first HAC-III championship, going 13-1. Like Muncy, the Knights have four players averaging in double figures. Alize Johnson is averaging a double-double and was spectacular in the last Muncy game, scoring 27 points, grabbing 18 rebounds and dealing seven assists. Guards Jordan Cole and Richard Allen have played well in both Muncy games and they were instrumental to a big second-half push at Muncy last month. Cole had 23 points, including 17 in the second half, of that win. Noah Beiter is a strong defender and has made big strides offensively. Forward Tyree Vidal sprained his ankle in the last Muncy game but appears ready to go as two weeks off gave him valuable time to heal up. Vidal can be a force on the boards and averages 11 points per game.
Winner plays: Sullivan County or Lourdes
No. 3 Lourdes (18-5) vs. No. 2 Sullivan County (21-2)
at DANVILLE HIGH?SCHOOL, TONIGHT, 7:30
Lourdes facts: The Red Raiders are in the semifinals for a second straight year and are coming off a hard-fought 49-41 quarterfinal win over Sayre. Lourdes led by 13 late in the first half before Sayre pulled within two late in the game. Lourdes was strong at the line and on defense down the stretch. Zach Oquendo scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Anthony Pennypacker had 12 points and seven rebounds. Matt Savitski and Michael Menapace join those two averaging in or near double figures. Lourdes is a scrappy team that fights hard for every rebound and loose ball and that plays solid defense. The Raiders made a statement in only their second game this season when they beat New Hope Academy. Lourdes finished fourth in the district last year, dropping close ones to Neumann and Muncy in the semifinals and third-place game. The four players mentioned above started on that team. Lourdes is experienced and senior-laden.
Sullivan facts: The Griffins can clinch a third straight state tournament berth with a win. They are seeking their second straight district title and are coming off a 58-19 quarterfinal win over Galeton. Sullivan built a 47-3 third-quarter lead in that win and won its fourth straight district playoff game. The Griffins have five starters who either started or played significant minutes off the bench on last year’s championship team. Conner Wylie and Derek Wilkins have been strong inside and both are nearly averaging double-doubles. Wylie, Wilkins and point guard Kelby Mullen average in double figures while senior guard Zach Meyer is not far behind. Mullen and fellow guard Lucas Hatton are tenacious defenders and combined for 10 steals against Galeton. Sullivan finished second in the HAC-III, a game behind Neumann and its only two losses are to the Knights, who they beat in last year’s district final. Mullen is a four-year starter who has had his best offensive season. Sean Flannery and Adam Szklanka have developed into solid players off the bench and played well against Galeton. Sullivan rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit to win at Bloomsburg in overtime late this season nights after Bloomsburg had handed Neumann its first loss.
Winner plays: Either No. 1 Neumann or No. 4 Muncy
District 4 AA girls semifinals
No. 5 Muncy (17-6) vs. No. 1 Mount Carmel (20-4)
AT DANVILLE HIGH?SCHOOL, 6, WEDNESDAY
Muncy facts: The Indians are seeking their first district championship since 2001 and their first as an AA team since 1993. Muncy is also trying to reach states for a third straight year after doing so at the Class A level the past two seasons. Muncy is coming off an exciting 48-44 win over Williamson in which it rallied in the game’s final 90 seconds to prevail. Muncy effectively handled Williamson’s much taller front line and Charity Good converted a late 3-point play to put Muncy ahead to stay. Jordan Jones sank both ends of a 1-and-1 to clinch the win with 17 seconds remaining. Jones is a three-year starter and combines with Brianna McLaughlin and Gina Paisley to give Muncy a strong backcourt. McLaughin and Jones both average in double figures and Paisley has come on strong during the season’s second half. Sisters Charity and Crystal Good are inside and can do a bit of everything. Muncy finished second to Benton in the HAC-III, but handed the Tigers their only league loss late in the season. McLaughlin had 15 points and five steals against Williamson while Jones had 11 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Mount Carmel facts: The two-time defending district champions have won eight straight district games since losing to Towanda in the 2010 semifinals. They routed No. 9 Wellsboro, 67-31 in Saturday’s quarterfinals blowing it open in the middle quarters. Senior point guard Ali Varano scored 23 points, grabbed five rebounds and made four steals in the win. She is one of the district’s quickest guards and averages 14.7 points per game. Center Christina Perles averages a team-high 16.7 points per game and had 15 points and six rebounds against Wellsboro. Perles played at Lourdes the last three years, helping it win a Class A district title each year. She scored her 1,000th career point early this season. Junior Ana Raybuck also is tough inside although she was in foul trouble against Wellsboro. Paige Hornung and Isabella Starr are good outside shooters and combined for three 3-pointers last Saturday. Mount Carmel captured its third straight HAC-II championship, losing its only league game to Southern Columbia. Danville downed Mount Carmel in overtime of the Heartland Conference semifinals.
Winner plays: Lewisburg or Southern Columbia
No. 7 Lewisburg (17-7) vs. No. 3 Southern Columbia (18-5)
At MILTON?HIGH?SCHOOL, 6, WEDNESDAY
Lewisburg facts: The Green Dragons are in the semifinals for the first time since 2009 and are seeking their third championship since 2005. Lewisburg edged No. 2 Wyalusing in Saturday’s quarterfinals, 41-38. Senior forward Lois Lesher made a game-saving block with 21 seconds remaining and had nine points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Lewisburg played terrific defense and Emily Conrad held Wyalusing leading scorer Mackenzie Martin scoreless. Point guard Maria Kelleher scored her 1,000th career point in a 58-37 first-round win over Bloomsburg and had 26 points in that game. Lenore Doyle and Kirsten Blakeslee played well off the bench Saturday and sparked a pivotal second-quarter run. Lewisburg and Southern split two regular-season games with the home team winning each time by 10 combined points. Lesher had a double-double in the win while Emily Conrad scored 15 points. Southern won the regular-season finale, 41-37. Lewisburg gave Mount Carmel its toughest game down the HAC-II stretch, trailing by only three in the fourth quarter before losing, 41-34.
Southern facts: The Tigers defeated Montoursville, 41-32 in the quarterfinals, paving the way with some tenacious defense that included diamond-and-one and man-to-man looks. Mallory Tomaschik scored a game-high 18 points while Kayla Lavella added 15 and hit three straight second-half 3-pointers. Lavella is a 1,000-point scorer who averages 16.8 points per game. She has hit 42 3-pointers. Tomaschik and Mackenzie Clark each average 9.5 points per game and Clark adds 3.7 steals per game. Southern overcame being outrebounded 32-22 to defeat Montoursville for a second straight time. It also is the only team to beat Mount Carmel in HAC-II play. The Tigers finished second in the HAC-II after winning HAC-III championships the previous two years.
Winner plays: Either Muncy or Mount Carmel