Eight TIMES NEWS area teams will take to the hardwood this weekend as the quarterfinal round of the District 11 Basketball Tournament takes center stage.
No. 9 Panther Vy. (14-9, 5-7 Schuylkill) vs.
No. 1 Pottsville (21-3, 10-2 Schuylkill)
TIPOFF: Friday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Blue Mountain
COACHES: PV - Pat Crampsie (8th year), Pottsville - Dave Mullaney (3rd year)
STARTING LINE-UPS: Panther Valley - Logan Stano (Sr., Forward, 12.8), Brock Mitchell (So., Center, 12.5 ppg), Kyle Picht (Sr., Guard, 3.1), Zach Stanko (Jr., Guard, 6.5), Damian Lewis (Sr., Forward, 7.7); Pottsville - Bobby Schappell (Jr., Guard, 5.2), Tyler Heffner (So., Guard, 3.0), Josh Whalen (Sr., Guard/Forward, 12.2), Eric Leymeister (Sr., Forward, 5.0), Nick Schlitzer (Jr., Forward, 20.3).
OFF THE BENCH: Panther Valley - Joe Revell (So., Guard, 3.6 ppg), Thad Ogozalek (So., Guard, 1.9), BJ Ahner (Sr., Forward, 1.4), Nate Mathewson (So., Forward, 1.0), Tom Romanchick (Sr., Forward, 1.1); Pottsville - Saige Speze (Sr., Guard/Forward), Casey Guers (Sr., Forward).
GAMES NOTES: Panther Valley ended a 20-year District 11 dryspell when it pulled out a thrilling 50-49 double overtime victory over North Schuylkill in the opening round of the tournament on Tuesday. It was the Panthers first D-11 win since they topped Mt. Carmel on March 7, 1990 ... Panther Valley enters Friday night's quarterfinal contest against the District 11 Class 3A top-seed in Pottsville, which also happens to be a fellow Schuylkill League Division I counterpart and this year's SL champion ... This marks the third time the Panthers and Tide have faced one another this season. Pottsville swept the regular season series by scoring a 53-49 win in Lansford and a 54-36 victory at Martz Hall. In the first meeting, the Panthers held a 26-20 lead at halftime before the Tide rallied for the victory. Schlitzer led the Tide with a 25-point performance, while Mitchell was the lone Panther to hit double digits with 17 ... The Tide return to the district playoffs looking to turn a silver medal from a year ago into gold. A year ago they fell to Southern Lehigh, 48-35 in the championship game ... After years in Class AAAA, the Crimson Tide moved to Class AAA last season. The move paid instant dividends for Pottsville as last year was the first time since 2001 that it advanced past the quarterfinal round of bracket. In the previous seven years in Class AAAA, the Tide fell in either the pigtail game or the quarterfinals.
QUOTABLE: "Pottsville's good. They're very good. They can shoot. They have very good shooters. Everybody talks about Schlitzer and he is one of the top one or two players in the Schuylkill League but they also have other guys out there that can hurt you. When they're on, they're a tough team to stop. But, we're looking forward to getting another chance at them. Out of the last four times we played them, three out of the four have been very competitive and we were able to beat them last year up there. Last time we played them this season, we didn't do a good job. So, we're happy to have this opportunity again." Panther Valley coach Pat Crampsie.
No. 4 Jim Thorpe (16-7; 8-4 Schuylkill) vs.
No. 5 Blue Mt. (13-10, 8-4 Schuylkill)
TIPOFF: Friday, Feb.26 at 7:30 p.m. at Weatherly
COACHES: Jim Thorpe - Brian Carroll (3rd year); Blue Mountain - Dustin Werdt (7th year)
STARTING LINE-UPS: Jim Thorpe - Corey Cinicola (Sr., Forward, 12.2 ppg), Sam Lux (Sr., Guard/Forward, 13.5), Rashid Epps (Jr. Center, 16.9), Jaquan Richardson (Sr., Guard, 4.2), Darius Clark (So., Guard/Forward, 1.1); Blue Mountain - Matt Maloney (Sr., Point Guard, 13.5 ppg), Tyler Hartranft (Jr., Guard, 9.1), Jake Cryts (So., Forward, 7.8), Mark Garrity (Sr., Forward, 10.3), Matt LaScala (Jr., Guard, 5.1)
OFF THE BENCH: Jim Thorpe - Dean DiBonifazio (Jr., Guard, 6.4 ppg), PJ Johnson (So., Guard, 5.5), JT Otto (So., Forward, 1.1); Blue Mountain - Mike Tobash (Jr., Forward, 3.7), Ryan Rhody (Sr., Forward, 1.9), Kyle O'Brien (Jr., Forward, 1.7)
GAMES NOTES: This is the fourth meeting this year between the Olympians and Eagles – and the third time they've met in the last 13 days. The teams split their regular season meetings with Jim Thorpe winning, 65-55, on Jan. 19 and Blue Mountain winning, 47-42, on Feb. 14. That victory by the Eagles forced a playoff game for the Schuylkill League wildcard spot the following day, which Jim Thorpe won, 67-48 ... The Olympians lost to Marian in the semifinals of the Schuylkill League playoffs after beating the Colts twice during the regular season ... Jim Thorpe has now qualified for the District 11 playoffs seven straight seasons after going the previous seven seasons without qualifying for Districts ... The Olympians' victory over Northern Lehigh in their opening D-11 game a year ago, was the program's first since 1992. That year was also the last time a Jim Thorpe – boys or girls – qualified for the PIAA State playoffs. Since only two teams make states in the 10-team Class AAA field, Jim Thorpe must win two games to qualify ... This marks the 12th straight year that Blue Mountain has qualified for the district playoffs ... It will be the Blue Eagles' third straight game against the Olympians without playing anyone else in between ... Interestingly, all five Schuylkill League teams in the Class AAA field (Panther Valley, North Schuylkill, Jim Thorpe, Blue Mountain and Pottsville) are in the top half of the playoff bracket and the four Colonial League teams (Southern Lehigh, Saucon Valley, Northern Lehigh and Wilson) and Lehigh Valley Conference member Allentown Central Catholic comprise the bottom half of the bracket ...
QUOTABLE: "I think the loss to Marian was a motivating factor for us since it really stung losing to them especially in the Schuylkill League playoffs. Now, they don't want their season to end too early in districts. They know the potential we have when we put it together as a team." Jim Thorpe coach Brian Carroll.
No. 10 Saucon Vy. (11-12, 9-7 Colonial) vs.
No. 2 No. Lehigh (19-5, 12-4 Colonial)
TIPOFF: Friday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Catasauqua
COACHES: Saucon Valley - Matt Brown (9th year); Northern Lehigh - Rich Oertner (10th year)
STARTING LINE-UPS: Saucon Valley - Grant Reitz (Sr., Forward, 4.3 ppg), Tyler Mosher (Jr., Guard, 5.8), Eric Frans (Jr., Center, 11.9), Jon Clark (Jr., Guard, 11.9), Andrew Remaly (Jr., Guard, 4.0); Northern Lehigh - Joey Seremula (Sr., Forward, 5.8), Bobby Hahn (Sr., Guard, 7.8), Jordan Waylen (Jr., Guard, 14.8), Evan Biegley (Sr., Forward, 11.9), Nick Pappas (Sr., Center, 12.5).
OFF THE BENCH: Saucon Valley - Matt Figueroa (Jr., Guard, 5.1), Pat Kowalski (Jr., Guard, 4.2), Jason Okken (Jr., Forward, 3.3); Northern Lehigh - Devin Glose (So., Guard, 1.5), Josh Malaska (Jr., Guard, 2.4)
GAME NOTES: The two programs met once this season. Saucon Valley held Northern Lehigh to its second lowest scoring output of the season and walked off the court in Slatington with a 40-38 win back on Jan. 12. In that Colonial League contest, the Panthers received a balanced scoring attack from Frans, Clark and Kowalski, who each tallied eight points. The game's high scorer was the Bulldogs' Pappas, who netted 15 ... The Bulldogs are currently on a nine-game winning streak and are coming off a three-overtime win against Notre Dame in the Colonial League championship matchup ... Nolehi has made the district playoffs seven straight seasons. They won the Class AA crown in 2008 ... Last year, the Bulldogs lost in the quarterfinal round to Jim Thorpe ... Saucon Valley is back in the district playoffs for the third year in a row and fifth time in the last six years ... The Panthers opened this year's district playoffs with a 56-50 win over No. 7 seed Southern Lehigh on Tuesday ... It was the Panthers first district playoff victory since Feb. 21, 2003 when they knocked off Northwestern for a 59-43 quarterfinal win .
QUOTABLE: "Saucon Valley brings that big guy (Frans) into the middle and he changes your offense a little bit because he is so big. Last time we played them we didn't shoot the ball very well against them the first time. A lot of one passes and shots instead of pass, pass and a third pass getting a good shot. So, we want to be a little more patient this time. They played a triangle-in-two on us last time and we really didn't expect it. Although we have an offense for it, different guys were shooting the ball than the people who normally shoot it. After just watching the tape of that game, it might have been our worst game of the year." Northern Lehigh coach Rich Oertner.
No. 1 Marian (19-5, 13-0 Schuylkill) vs.
No. 8 Mahanoy Area (12-10, 7-6 Schuylkill)
TIPOFF: Friday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at Weatherly
COACHES: Marian - Mick Stefanek (11th year); Mahanoy Area (Mickey Holland 29th year)
STARTING LINE-UPS: Marian - Chris Barletta (Jr., Guard, 10.1 ppg), Chris Decker (Sr., Guard, 5.4), Tom Gottstein (Sr., Guard, 5.1), Matt Yaich (Sr., Forward, 13.5), Drew Sherkness (Sr., Forward, 9.8); Mahanoy Area - Josh Kimmel (Jr., Center, 6.0), Francis Senglar (Jr., Forward, 9.0), Jim Wagner (Jr., Forward, 10.0), Eric Moucheron (Sr., Guard), Mike Backo (Sr., Guard, 8.0)
OFF THE BENCH: Marian - Ryan Gimbi (Jr., Guard/Forward, 6.8), Vini Fital (Sr., Forward, 1.7), Mark Stawick (Jr., Guard, 1.6); Mahanoy Area - Mike Gavale (So., Guard), Neal Goodman (So., Guard), Sam Urban (Jr., Guard/Forward)
GAME NOTES: This will be the third contest between the two teams this season. The Colts won a close 31-29 decision at Mahanoy back on Jan. 9 and then earned a 42-30 victory at home on Feb. 15 to complete their perfect 13-0 Division 3 schedule. In the first contest, which Yaich missed due to injury, Sherkness and Stawick each had eight points to lead Marian in scoring. In the second game, Yaich finished with a team-high 11 points while Gottstein netted eight. A win would give the Colts their first 20-win season since the 1998-99 season. Marian has reached the district playoffs five straight years and 13 out of the last 14. Under Stefanek, the Colts are 8-11 in the district playoffs including a 5-2 mark in the quarterfinal round. They have also won four straight quarterfinal round games. Marian averages 51.4 ppg on offense and allows 42.0 a contest. Gottstein is the team's leading three-point shooter with 26. Moucheron is the top three-point threat on Mahanoy, also with 26, although Backo (23) and Gaval (21) can also hit from outside.
QUOTABLE: "This is going to be a difficult challenge for us because of a few reasons. First, we are coming off one of our worst offensive games in recent history. Second, over the years we have struggled in this gym to score points and third, Mahanoy Area is the toughest 8th seed that has been in the tournament in the last 12-15 years. This game isn't your typical 1 seed versus 8 seed draw. We can't control where other teams will be seeded. We controlled where we were going to be seeded and ended up where we wanted to be. You can't get a better 1 vs. 8 game than this. It will be an intense game between two teams who know each other very well. If we take the lessons learned from the Pottsville game and apply them in this game, we'll give ourselves the best chance to win." Marian Coach Mick Stefanek.
No. 4 Notre Dame ES (12-8 overall) vs.
No. 5 Weatherly (14-8, 6-7 Schuylkill)
TIPOFF: Friday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at Pocono Mountain East
COACHES: NDES - Bob Mullen (25th year); Weatherly - Ron Cann (3rd year)
STARTING LINE-UPS: Notre Dame (ES) - Stephen Lepre (Sr., Guard, 16.3 ppg), Tim Mullen (Sr., Center, 16.2), Kevin Karoleski (Sr., point Guard, 7.0), Nick Lewis (Sr., Forward, 6.0), Matt Long (Jr., Forward, 9.0); Weatherly - Keith Barna (Sr., Guard, 18.1), Nate Pfeiffer (Sr., Guard, 13.7), Brendan Rowan (Sr., Guard, 11.2), George Wallish (Jr., Forward, 6.4), Kyle Harris (Jr., Forward, 4.5)
OFF THE BENCH: Notre Dame (ES) - Mike Albarron (Sr., Guard, 8.0 ppg), Danny Carney (Sr., Forward, 4.0); Weatherly - Christian Ormiston (Jr., Guard, 1.0), Colton Wiechman (Jr., Forward, 0.3)
GAME NOTES: Weatherly is back in the District 11 playoffs for the first time since '05-'06 ... The Wreckers have drawn the same Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg program that handed them a heartbreaking setback four years ago in the District 11 Class A championship game ... While the Wreckers are back for the first time since that loss, the Spartans have been every part of the district playoffs for the entire 25 years of Coach Bob Mullen's stint as their head coach ... Prior to dropping semifinal setbacks the last two years as a No. 2 and No. 4 seed, Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg showed why they were seeded No. 1 from '05 to '07 by winning three straight District 11 Class A championships ... Weatherly secured a berth in the postseason back on January 19 with a 58-51 victory over Schuylkill Haven ... While they were 6-7 against Schuylkill League opponents, the Wreckers were 7-0 in non-league games. They knocked off West Side Tech three times, MMI Prep twice, and Columbia-Montour VoTech and Moravian Academy once. Three of the four Moravian Academy (District 11, Class A), MMI Prep (District 2, Class A) and West Side Tech (District 2, Class AA) qualified for postseason ... The teams played one common opponent this season Moravian Academy. The Spartans lost twice to the Lions (54-44 and 45-39) before finally beating them 44-29 earlier this month. Meanwhile, the Wreckers ended the regular season with a 66-56 win over the Lions ...
QUOTABLE: "The seniors are ecstatic and they have taken over a leadership role in terms of practice time and being true leaders. They want it. I don't know how to say it, but they're playing better, they're motivated. They're not just satisfied to reach our first goal of making the playoffs, but now they want to accomplish their second goal of winning a game in the playoffs. They're motivated to go and get a win." Weatherly coach Ron Cann.
No. 6 North Schuylkill (15-7, 7-5 Schuylkill) vs.
No. 3 Northern Lehigh (22-1, 16-0 Colonial)
TIPOFF: Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at Southern Lehigh.
COACHES: North Schuylkill - Paul Olsen (1st year); Northern Lehigh - Dave Oertner (4th year).
STARTING LINE-UPS: North Schuylkill - Shelby Weikel (Jr., Guard/Forward, 10.1 ppg), Abbey Noble (Sr., Forward, 6.3), Megan Temple (Jr., Forward, 7.0), Kristi Yesalusky (Sr., Guard, 3.7), Caitlyn Deeter (So., Forward, 5.7); Northern Lehigh - Christina Bastardi (So., Guard, 6.4), Maggie LeVan (Sr., Guard, 3.5), Sonya Josephson (Jr., Forward, 16.0), Lauren Oertner (Jr., Forward, 5.9), Aimee Oertner (So., Forward/Guard, 17.4).
OFF THE BENCH: North Schuylkill - Kendall Devaney (Jr., Guard/Forward, 5.6 ppg), Carisa Rupinski (Sr., Guard, 3.4), Kelsie Kramer (Jr., Guard/Forward, 3.3), Mimi Teter (Jr., Guard, 1.7); Northern Lehigh - Rebecca Howell (So., Forward, 1.2), Kristi Seiler (Jr., Guard, 0.4).
GAME NOTES: This is North Schuylkill's second year competing at the AAA level and it has now qualified for the district playoffs both times ... Last year, the Spartans fell to Bangor in their second game of the tournament. Bangor then topped Northern Lehigh in the next round ... North Schuylkill won three of the previous six district titles at the AA level ('04, '05 and '07) ... The Spartans are very deep (at least ten players) and like to spread the ball around, which is something that may be a problem for Northern Lehigh ... According to head coach Dave Oertner, the Bulldogs haven't gotten out well on opposing shooters. The Spartans are also patient on offense and boast five players with an average of at least 5.5 points-per-game ... Weikel is the team's leading scorer and had 18 points in the Spartans' last game against Williamsport ... As for Northern Lehigh, it is 2-0 versus the Schuylkill League this season. The Bulldogs have defeated Jim Thorpe (53-20) and Blue Mountain (36-32) ... The Bulldogs have now qualified for Districts in back-to-back seasons after not making the D-11 field six consecutive years ... All five starters average between two and three assists a game, with Bastardi leading the way. She also gets three steals-per-game and leads the TN area with a free throw percentage of 79 ... As a team, Northern Lehigh is second in the area with 63.3 percent (Tamaqua, 63.6) ... The Bulldogs boast the second best offense in the area (50.87 ppg) while having the stingiest defense (30.78) ... Aimee Oertner and Josephson are No. 2 and No. 3 on the area's scoring list ... Oertner grabs just over 10 rebounds and blocks nearly five shots a game ... Josephson gets seven boards a game, while Lauren Oertner pulls down five ...
QUOTABLE: "North Schuylkill is very deep, which may be a problem for us. They like to run an aggressive man-to-man defense and they can send multiple waves of people at us. They are a very good team and I am worried. I am always worried about our opponent. The key at this time of year is just to advance. We found that out in the Colonial League playoffs. It doesn't matter how you win - just that you do win." Northern Lehigh head coach Dave Oertner.
No. 5 Notre Dame (GP) (13-9, 8-7 Colonial) vs.
No. 4 Palmerton (14-8, 9-7 Colonial)
TIPOFF: Friday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at Northern Lehigh
COACHES: Notre Dame (GP) - Josh Copp (6th year); Palmerton - Don Delich (7th year)
STARTING LINE-UPS: Notre Dame (GP) - Alicia Bercier (Sr., Forward, 11.0 ppg), Allison Spirk (Sr., Guard, 5.6), Brittany Pierzga (So., Forward, 8.0), Leigh Ann Lively (Jr., Guard, 6.5), Lindsay Spirk (So., Forward, 0.9); Palmerton - Casey Rinfret (Jr., Guard, 10.0), Kelsey Hay (So., Center, 15.1), Kristen Romano (Jr., Guard, 8.1), Katie Reimer (Jr., Forward, 5.9), Jen Snyder (So., Forward, 1.6).
OFF THE BENCH: Notre Dame (GP) - Lexi McGivern (Fr., Guard, 3.4 ppg), Shannon Moran (Fr., Guard, 1.9), Megan Azzalina (Jr., Guard, 1.1), Allie Busalacchi (Jr., Forward, 1.1); Palmerton - Sam Smith (Jr., Forward, 0.9), Gina Farquhar (Jr., Guard, 3.3), Erin Meinhart (Fr., Forward, 0.7), Morgan Mummey (Fr., Forward, 1.1).
GAME NOTES: These two teams have met a lot recently, with Notre Dame of Green Pond getting the best of the match-ups. Palmerton has not defeated its fellow Colonial Leaguer in five years ... The two teams got together on Jan. 12, in which the Crusaders won 44-36. However, the Bombers were without star forward Kelsey Hay and got killed on the boards. Palmerton head coach Don Delich is hoping Hay will neutralize that disadvantage this time around ... These teams also met in the first round of last year's district playoffs. The Crusaders won that game as well, 49-36. Palmerton was down 16-2 after one quarter, but managed to get within two points in the fourth before coming up short ... Palmerton has qualified for Districts in six of the last seven seasons with the only exception being 2008 ... Notre Dame has made the playoffs each of the last seven years, but has lost its playoff opener three of those times. It was the district runner-up last year after losing to Tamaqua by three ... Alicia Bercier is arguably the team's best player and stands at 6-1 ... The Crusaders ran a 3-2 zone against the Bombers last time, but that was when the locals were without their inside presence in Hay ... Hay is also the area's fifth leading scorer and seventh leading free throw shooter (68.2 percent) ... Delich believes Notre Dame will instead play man-to-man defense on Friday ... Although nine players are listed for Notre Dame, it mostly rolls with its five starters for the majority of the game ...
QUOTABLE: "We are looking forward to the challenge of playing another Colonial League team. We know each other well. They have been pretty successful against us, as we haven't beaten them in five years. We are also aware of last year's district defeat and are looking to acquit ourselves of that time year. We were able to come back from a 14-point deficit, so I am hoping that if we come out stronger than we will have a greater chance at moving on." Palmerton head coach Don Delich.
No. 5 Minersville (11-11, 5-8 Schuylkill) vs.
No. 4 Marian (15-7, 9-4 Schuylkill)
TIPOFF: Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at Martz Hall
COACHES: Minersville - Chris Andruchek (2nd year); Marian - Paul Brutto (19th year)
STARTING LINE-UPS: Minersville - Emily Oakhill (Jr., Forward, 10.0 ppg), Casey Brophy (Sr., Center, 8.0), Lauren Leshko (So., Forward, 5.9), Christie Sborz (Jr., Guard, 5.8), Sarah Walasavage (Fr., Guard/Forward, 3.9); Marian - Angela Bellezza (Sr., Guard, 5.7), Kaysi McLaughlin (So., Guard, 8.3), Jen Linkchorst (Sr., Forward, 7.5), Kelly Shober (So., Forward, 3.6), Danielle Tristani (So., Forward, 9.1).
OFF THE BENCH: Minersville - Breann Bentz (Fr., Guard, 4.0 ppg), Lindsay Pukas (So., Guard, 3.7), Amanda Purcell (Fr., Guard, 2.0); Marian - Theresa Patten (Sr., Forward, 1.5), Emily Kennedy (Sr., Guard, 0.9), Kaycee Gutsie (Jr., Guard, 1.8), Katie Ferrello (Sr., Guard, 0.6), Corrine Markiewicz (Jr., Forward, 1.6).
GAME NOTES: Marian has now qualified for the District 11 playoffs and amazing 37 consecutive years. The Fillies' streak of 14 straight years of making the state playoffs ended last season ... Minersville has now reached the district playoffs in each of the last six seasons ... Three years ago, Marian beat Minersvile in the quarterfinals, 57-44 ... The two teams also met this year on Jan. 25, in which the Fillies won 45-21. Oakhill and Brophy both had miserable nights for Minersville. The two combined to score nine points (Oakhill with seven) on 2-of-15 shooting ... The Miners were 6-7 away from home this year ... Minersville scores just over 42 points-per-game and surrenders about 47 ... Leshko averaged 10 rebounds and three blocked shots during the regular season. She also hit a team-high 18 three-pointers, but shot just 27 percent from behind the arc ... The Miners are a very young team and this year's district playoff game should be a learning experience for all of them ... Marian head coach Paul Brutto exploited his team's size advantage inside (with Linkchorst, Shober, Tristani and Markiewicz) in the first meeting ... Brutto also said his team's goal is to always hold their opponent to their defensive average (35.36 ppg) - which they did. He hopes his Fillies can do both of those things again ... Brutto recalled the Miners being low on numbers and playing some of their players in both the JV and Varsity game. They won't have to do that on Saturday ...
QUOTABLE: "I know we beat them last time, but we are going to have to do it again. The win from earlier in the season doesn't count on Saturday. I am sure Minersville will even be using that loss as motivation. It's that time of the year when you can be one and done, so everyone is going to bring their best effort to the table." Marian head coach Paul Brutto.