Saturday’s PIAA playoff games
Wellsboro (23-2) vs. Delone Catholic (17-8)
at Northern York HS, 5 p.m., today
Wellsboro facts: The Green Hornets are making their first state tournament appearance since 1999. Wellsboro is having its best season since that year and had won 15 straight before losing to Loyalsock, 57-37 in the district final. The Hornets led that game 15-4 early but struggled in the second half. Wellsboro is fast, balanced and hard-working. All five starters averaged in or near double figures all season and guards Jordan Jackson and Matt Reese are relentless defenders. Mike Pietropola averages 12 points off the bench. He and Joe Doganiero are outstanding shooters. Forward Kieron Smethers has explosive potential and came up huge in a big early-season win at Athens. Wellsboro routed Canton and East Juniata in its first playoff games and romped to its third straight NTL-West championship. The Hornets have recorded three straight 20-win seasons, going 65-8 during that span. Jackson is a three-year starter who is averaging 14 points per game.
Delone Catholic facts: The Squires captured their second straight District 3 championship in dramatic fashion, beating Trinity, 58-56 on Brandon Austin’s buzzer-beating putback. Delone does not have a player taller than 6-3, but still outrebounded the bigger Shamrocks, 26-20. The Squires are led by point guard Brett Smith, a 1,000-point scorer who is could at running the offense and taking his game inside and outside. Jake Wiles is a good outside shooter to and scored 20 points in a semifinal win over Camp Hill. He and Smith combined for nine 3-pointers in that win. Austin works hard underneath and had 13 points along with eight rebounds against Trinity. Coach Jim Dooley won his 700th game against Camp Hill in the semifinals. Delone lost in last year’s first round to Imhotep, the eventual state champion.
Winner plays: Notre Dame Green Pond (15-10) or Constitution (16-9)
-by CHRIS MASSE
Lewisburg (23-4) vs. Holy Cross (23-5)
at Carbondale HS, 5 p.m., today
Lewisburg facts: The Green Dragons are having one of the best seasons in school history and are ranked No. 9 in the state. Lewisburg has only lost to Loyalsock, dropping each game, including in the Heartland Conference championship and district semifinals, by nine points or fewer. The Dragons regrouped and routed East Juniata in the District 4 consolation game, winning 71-35 while inflicting the mercy rule. Senior guard Travis Conrad is having an outstanding year, averaging 14.4 points per game while Erich Kline is coming off a double-double performance. Kline 6-5 and freshman Sam Allen, 6-6, give Lewisburg a strong front line. Allen missed the EJ game with a hip injury but has been a force late in the season and went for 15 points and 12 rebounds against Loyalsock. Swingman Mike Driscoll averages 10 points per game and point guard Jesse Flannery runs the offense well. He had five assists against EJ. Nick Costigliola has shined off the bench all season and played well against EJ while subbing for Allen in the starting lineup.
Holy Cross facts: The Crusaders reached last year’s state semifinals, losing a heart-breaker, 37-35 to eventual champion Imhotep. Holy Cross avenged a previous defeat to Wilkes-Barre Meyers and beat the state’s No. 2 team at the time, 59-45 in the District 2 championship last Saturday. The Crusaders also have lost to Scranton, Abington Heights and Mid-Valley. The Crusaders are ranked No. 4 in the state and feature one of the state’s premier players in 6-6 junior Josh Kosin. He was an all-state selection last year and averages 16.9 points per game. Kosin had 27 points against Meyers in the final while Connor Jones added 16. Kosin and Conner Callejas are three-year starters and were on the 2011 team that lost to Hughesville in the first round. Callejas averages 9.5 points per game while Jones averages 6.3. Holy Cross shoots well from the outside and is a solid defensive team. Kerry Kearney has hit 33 3-pointers and the team has made 137.
Winner plays: Conwell Egan (8-15) or Delaware Valley Charter (9-15)