By: John Knebels & Alec Kostival
Photos/Videos: Kathy Leister, Mike Nance & James Williamson
PCL PIAA Round-Up: Perfection.
That was the theme of the Catholic League’s overall performance in the first round of the PIAA boys’ basketball state tournament this past weekend. Eight teams played, and all eight emerged victorious.
Of course, the competition gets much tougher the further teams advance in this prestigious annual event.
Below is a brief breakdown of what happened in Round One and what players expect from their opponents in Round Two.
In Class 6A opening round action, the Explorers of La Salle faced off against 2017 state champion Reading and came away with a 47-42 victory.
“It was more a matter of digging in and our guys really did,” said La Salle coach Mike McKee.
La Salle had to fight to stay alive. Reading kept its offense quiet until the fourth quarter, when both teams went back and forth. With two seconds left in the game, it was junior Jake Timby who gave La Salle the final lead with a huge three.
“He works so hard at it," said McKee. "He’s in the gym nights before games taking hundreds of shots. It’s nice to see some fruits of his labor."
Senior Konrad Kiszka was the X-factor for La Salle, putting up 19 points and collecting six rebounds. Timby had 11 points to go along with his game-sealing trey.
Up Next: La Salle will face William Allen High School (18-9) in the next round on Wednesday, March 13 at the Reading High Geigle Complex. William Allen was the District 11 Champions and beat Perkiomen Valley, 52-46, in the opening round of states.
Class 6A – Roman Catholic (23-4 overall record; District 12, Seed 1) easily dispatched Spring-Ford (1-9), 92-48. Freshman Jalen Duren scored a career-high 22 points while seniors Hakim Hart and Seth Lundy added 18 and 17, respectively.
Up Next: Lower Merion (25-3; 1-3), March 13, at Cardinal O’Hara, 7:00.
Cahillite Chat: “We know them a little bit. Our coaches will have the scouting report for us at practice so we will learn quick. To win, we just need to play defense from the jump. Playing defense is our best offense. We definitely wanna push the pace.” – Louie Wild
Roman Catholic vs. Spring Ford Game Highlights by James Williamson:
Class 5A – Archbishop Wood (17-8; 12-1) received 16 from Rahsool Diggins, 11 from Daeshon Shepherd, 10 from Muneer Newton, and eight from Jalen Stinson– all sophomores – in its 52-41 victory over Holy Ghost Prep (1-6).
Up Next: Penncrest (23-7; 1-3), March 12, at Harriton, 7:30.
Viking Chat: “I really don't know anything about the other team besides they play similar to Holy Ghost Prep, so most likely we are going to speed them up and make them run.” – Rahsool Diggins
Class 5A – Coming into the PIAA 5-A state playoffs, Archbishop Ryan had just a 13-10 overall record. Friday night, the Raiders showed they belonged in the dance, defeating District 1 runner-up West Chester East, 63-54.
Although they were the underdog, the Raiders sure didn’t play like it. Ryan built up a 17-6 lead late in the first quarter and wouldn’t look back. West Chester East kept things interesting as they were able to trim Ryan’s lead to three in the second, third, and fourth quarters.
It was after the last lead of three in the fourth that Ryan ran away with the game. Senior Colin Reed hit a huge three with about five minutes left to play, starting a seven-point run for the Raiders.
While being clutch with his three-shot, Reed also led the way in scoring with 19-points in the game.
“You could tell he was ready for this moment and it showed tonight,” said head coach Joe Zeglinski.
Junior Gediminas Mokseckas was also a big contributor, putting up 16. Senior Ja’Quill Stone also cracked double digits, scoring 11.
Up Next: The Raiders will face another tough opponent in Moon High School, the district 7 runner-up who went 23-2 before states, on Tuesday, March 12 at Chambersburg Area HS at 7:30 PM.
Class 4A – Archbishop Carroll (16-10; 12-3) startled Allentown Central Catholic (11-2) 64-57, behind senior Luke House’s 20 points, senior Kiyl Mack’s 19, and junior Tairi Ketner’s 14.
Up Next: Lancaster Catholic (17-10; 3-2), March 12, at Reading’s Geigle Complex, 8:00.
Patriot Chat: “We know they’re athletic and can shoot, so we have to try to force them into making turnovers by pressuring the ball. We also have to close out on shooters and make them put the ball on the floor. We need to push the tempo offensively as well.” – Luke House
Class 4A – Bonner Prendergast (19-5, 12-1) was led by senior Isaiah Wong’s 23 points in a 64-38 win over Littlestown (3-5). Sophomore Malik Edwards added 13 points and junior Donovan Rodriguez chipped in with 10 more.
Up Next: Nanticoke (22-7; 2-2), March 12, at Bethlehem’s Freedom High School, 7:30.
Friar Chat: “I have seen some film on them and they are a lot similar to the team we just beat. So coach (Kevin Funston) was preaching defensive Intensity and ball pressure to win this game.” – Mike Perretta
Class 3A – Bishop McDevitt (19-7, 12-3) upended Camp Hill (3-2), 69-54, as the junior trio of Jamil Manigo (18 points), Robert Smith (13), and Shamir Mosley (11) all reached double figures.
Up Next: Loyalsock Township (27-1; 4-1), March 13, at Milton Hershey High School, 7:30.
Lancer Chat: “I know that they are big and hustle until the whistle. I believe that all we have to do to win is communicate on defense and execute on offense, and rebounding is going to play a huge role in this game.” – Jamil Manigo
Class 3A – Neumann-Goretti (20-7; 12-1) whipped Lancaster Mennonite (3-4), 83-48. Seniors Chris Ings (28 points), Cameron Young (15), and Ja’cor Smith (11) helped allow 11 different players to reach the scoring column.
Up Next: Wyoming Seminary (26-2; 2-1), March 13, at Bethlehem’s Freedom High School, 8:00.
Saint Chat: “We played them last year and they’ve basically brought back the whole team, so this game will not be easy. We’re going to watch film and get ready for the game.” – Chris Ings
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)
Neumann-Goretti vs. Lancaster Mennonite - photos by Kathy Leister:
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