PIAA Class A semifinals preview
Math, Civics and Sciences (14-14)
vs. St. John Neumann (30-0)
at East Pennsboro High School, Enola, 7 p.m.
MCS road to Final 4: in districts, beat GAMP, 100-21; Sankofa Freedom, 65-45; New Media, 64-49; in states beat Delaware County Christian, 100-50; Sullivan County, 57-39; Church Farm, 47-46
MCS facts: The Mighty Elephants are playing in their fourth straight Eastern final and are coming off a thrilling win over Church Farm. MCS captured the 2011 state championship and has lost to the eventual state champion in the last two Eastern finals. MCS is the last team to beat Neumann, defeating it 62-46 in last year’s second round. The Elephants received a huge boost from the return of 6-foot-5 guard Nazeer Bostick, who made some huge plays late in the game as they rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit. Bostick played tremendous while playing his first game in weeks because of a groin injury. Doctors advised him not to play, but Bostick stifled Church Farm’s leading scorer in the second half. Samir Doughty leads the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game and had 16 last Friday. The 6-4 guard averages 17 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and scored 45 points in the first round against DCC. Doughty has received offers from Rhode Island, Temple and St. Joseph’s. Mike Watkins is a 6-9 junior center who already has committed to Penn State. He has been a difference maker inside and had 11 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks against Church Farm. He averages 10.9 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.3 blocks per game. The Elephants have been ranked No. 2 throughout the season despite a losing record since they play almost nothing but large schools in and around the Philadelphia area and also around the country. They have played seven games in New York, North Carolina and Florida while also meeting traditional big school powers like Chester and Imhotep. Lou Myers scored the go-ahead basket against Church Farm with 1:20 remaining. The guard averages 9.6 points per game and is headed to Norfolk State. Sullivan County played MCS tough in the second round and outscored it in the second half. Neumann trailed MCS by one in the second quarter last year but the Elephants were able to pull away in the fourth quarter.
Neumann road to Final 4: in districts beat Muncy, 71-57; Mansfield, 74-62; Sullivan, 61-48; in states beat Greenwood, 64-50; Phil-Mont Christian, 51-48; New Hope Academy, 78-68
Neumann facts: The Knights are playing in their first Final 4 since 1972 when coach Paul Petcavage was the leading scorer on a team that captured a state Catholic school championship. Neumann is only the third District 4 boys team to reach the Final 4 in the 21st century, joining 2003 Muncy and 2009 Hughesville. It is trying to become District 4’s first state finalist since Williamsport in 1999. Neumann also is the district’s first team to win 30 games in the 21st century and has the longest winning streak by a District 4 team since Williamsport won 34 straight from 1998-99. The Knights have overcome fourth-quarter deficits in their last two wins over Phil-Mont and New Hope Academy. Senior Alize Johnson is having an outstanding season and has recorded a double-double in all eight playoff games. He is averaging 23.8 points, 15.5 rebounds and six assists during the postseason. But when Johnson missed all but 42 seconds of the third quarter against New Hope, Neumann turned a five-point deficit into a seven-point lead while showing how dangerous it can be when they are all playing well. Njoku-Ibe Amanze played his best game yet, scoring 20 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking five shots. The 6-8 center’s emergence comes at a crucial time, especially with Watkins in the middle tonight. Neumann had some costly turnovers against New Hope but cut down on the mistakes it made against Phil-Mont and again excelled down the stretch, outscoring the Mighty Ants, 20-10 over the final 5:23. Nasza Short was outstanding in the third quarter when he scored nine of his 13 points. If he plays the way he did without Johnson on the court as he does when he is on the court, Neumann becomes a much more dangerous team. Short has been key to Neumann’s postseason run, recording a double-double in a Heartland Conference championship win over Loyalsock and scoring a career-high 28 points against Mansfield. Point guard Richard Allen dealt six assists against New Hope while Kevin Anderson hit a clutch go-ahead 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. Reserve Kamaal Burkholder was big off the bench again and grabbed seven rebounds.
Winner plays: Either District 7 champion Lincoln Park (28-1) or District 6 champion Bishop Carroll (28-0)