Four area teams play Wednesday
District 11 Girls Class AAA
No. 9 Palmerton (13-9 overall; 8-8 Colonial)
at No. 8 Tamaqua (15-7 overall; 7-5 Schuylkill)
TIPOFF: Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.
COACHES: Palmerton: Don Delich; Tamaqua: Joe Berezwick
LEADING SCORERS: Palmerton: Kelsey Hay (6-2 senior center, 14.95 ppg), Jade Farquhar (5-9 freshman guard, 10.86), Morgan Mummey (5-10 junior forward, 6.68); Tamaqua: Maria Streisel (5-4 junior guard, 13.14 ppg), Kayla Hope (5-5 senior guard, 10.43), Christine Streisel (5-7 junior guard, 9.95).
GAME NOTES: Tamaqua is a three-time defending District 11 champion and returns to the District playoffs for the 10th straight season. Last year, Tamaqua claimed the Class AAA championship with a 46-42 overtime victory over top-seeded Allentown Central Catholic. The two previous seasons, the Raiders won the D-11 Class AA title ... Palmerton has qualified for the District 11 playoffs for the fourth straight season and eighth time in the last nine years ... Last season, Palmerton suffered a 47-31 setback to ACC in the D-11 semifinals ... Palmerton and Tamaqua last played in the semifinals of the 2009-2010 District 11 Class AA Tournament, where the Lady Raiders emerged with a 51-43 victory ... Tamaqua enters the playoffs as hot as any team in the area. After starting the season with a 2-5 record, the Lady Raiders have won 13 of their past 15 games including six in a row to end the regular season ... Tamaqua is 8-2 at home this season, while Palmerton is 5-7 on the road ... The Lady Raiders sport a 6-7 record against teams that have made the District playoffs, while the Lady Bombers are 3-9 against playoff-bound teams ... Dating back to 2005, Tamaqua has won 15 straight games against Colonial League opponents. Palmerton lost to Jim Thorpe, its lone Schuylkill League opponent, this year ... Tamaqua averages 44.6 points per game, while giving up 36.4 points. Palmerton averages 42.7 points per game, while allowing 34.2 points ... This first round matchip is a battle of speed (Tamaqua) vs. size (Palmerton). All five Palmerton starters (6-2, 5-10, 5-10, 5-10, 5-9) are taller than Tamaqua's biggest girl (Christine Streisel, 5-7) ... Christine Streisel has 35 three-pointers to lead the Lady Raiders, while Palmerton has converted just 27 three-pointers as a team this season ... Sixty-percent of Palmerton's scoring comes from Kelsey Hay and freshman point guard Jade Farquhar. Hay, a 6-2 senior center, has scored in double figures in 19 of her team's 22 games. Hay was also a unanimous First Team selection to the Colonial League All-Star Team, a year after being named the League's MVP as a junior ... The winner of this game will meet top-seeded Allentown Central Catholic in the quarterfinals to be played on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at Northampton.
QUOTEABLES: "We're obviously looking forward to the challenge of playing the defending District champions. We scrimmaged Tamaqua in the pre-season, so I'm anxious to see how much we've grown as a team and improved since then. The interesting thing about this game is that we're two completely different teams. We're much bigger than they are, so our plan is to try to get the ball inside (to Kelsey and Emelie) and slow down the pace of the game. They're much quicker than us, so they'll obviously want to speed things up and get their guards open shots and transition points. Plain and simple, we need to be able to control their guards (Kayla Hope and the two Streisels) to be competitive. Whichever team is able to successfully play to its strengths will have a huge advantage in determining the outcome of the game." - Palmerton head coach Don Delich.
"We played Palmerton two years ago in Districts and we scrimmage them every season, so I think we're pretty familiar with each other. Kelsey Hay is a tremendous post player and a lot of what they do revolves around her, so we just need to try to contain her as best as we can. This is a game of small (us) against big (them). We need to keep things at a high tempo and I'm sure they want to try to establish a half court game. This isn't the first time we've played a team substantially bigger than us and it certainly won't be the last. We just need to react by using our quickness to counter their height. I'm sure they're concerned just as much with our guard play, as we're concerned with their big play, which should make for a very interesting basketball game." - Tamaqua head coach Joe Berezwick.
District 11 Girls Class AAA
No. 11 No. Schuylkill (11-11 overall, 7-5 Schuylkill)
at No. 6 Northwestern (15-8 overall, 11-5 Colonial)
TIPOFF: Wednesday, Feb 16 at 7 p.m.
COACHES: North Schuylkill - John Rizzo; Northwestern - Chris Deutsch
LEADING SCORERS: North Schuylkill: Caitlyn Deeter (15.1 ppg) Justine Paul (6.0), Dominique Reinoehl (5.5), Nadya Spotts (5.4); Northwestern: Sara Jones (13.9), Sara Segan (8.1), Trista Cunningham (6.7), Sabrina Mertz (6.2).
GAME NOTES: Northwestern is 11-0 at home this season and is back in districts for the first time since 2009 ... The Spartans, winners of eight district titles since 1986, also missed districts last year. They won Class AAA crowns in 1986, '88, '90, '96, and '97 while earning AA titles in 2004, '05 and '07. North Schuylkill also won the 1992 Class AAA state title ... The last time the two teams met was in the 2005 Class AA district title game. The Tigers lost that game, 52-41, but returned to win the 2006 Class AA championship ... North Schuylkill had a 4-5 road record this year ... Northwestern and North Schuylkill had two common opponents this season. The Tigers beat Pottsville, 50-34, and lost to Jim Thorpe, 41-36. North Schuylkill played both those teams twice. The Spartans beat Pottsville, 48-18 and also 58-43. They lost twice to Jim Thorpe, 59-45 and 59-52 ... Both teams have had losing records over the second half of the season. North Schuylkill struggled down the stretch, going 3-7 in its last 10 games ... After starting the season with a 10-2 record, Northwestern went 5-6 the over its last 11 games ... The Tigers qualified for the Colonial League playoffs, losing to eventual champion Southern Lehigh in the semifinals ... North Schuylkill finished in a tie with Pine Grove for third place in Division I of the Schuylkill League. The top two teams in the division Jim Thorpe and Blue Mountain qualified for their league playoffs.
QUOTEABLE: "It's a challenge. This will be one of the more physical teams we've played. That's typical Schuylkill League basketball. They come from a tough conference that prepares you for district playoffs.
"They're a team that goes in spurts. They've been in games where they go off on an 18-point run. But we know what's at stake. This is do or die now.
"I'm happy to be back in the playoffs, especially for our seniors. They've gone through some tough times the last couple years and they stuck it out."
DISTRICT 11 CLASS AAAA BOYS
No. 11 Pleasant Valley (11-13 overall; 7-5 MVC)
vs. No.6 Easton (17-6 overall; 10-4 LVC)
TIPOFF: Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at Easton
COACHES: Pleasant Valley - Ken Piontkowski; Easton - Jim Hutnik
LEADING SCORERS: Pleasant Valley - Marquis Brown 10.0 ppg, Selvin Wright 12.1 ppg.; Easton - Lincoln Holley (11.6 ppg), Ryan Walsh (9.0 ppg), Noel Hightower (7.3 ppg)
GAME NOTES: Easton, the 50th ranked team in the state according to MaxPreps, has some height on its front line with forward Lincoln Holley and center Ryan Walsh each listed at 6-6. Fellow guard Noel Hightower also stands around 6-4. All three are seniors and are the Rovers' leading scorers. Holley and Walsh each shoot above 62 percent from the free throw line, and Holley is even capable of stepping outside as he leads the team with 32 three-pointers. Four other Easton players that will probably see the court include Devante Queen (Jr., PG, 6.8 ppg), James Middleton (Sr., G, 5.8 ppg), Ezra Gaines (Jr., G, 4 ppg) and Francisco Batista (Jr., G, 4 ppg) ... The Rovers will be looking to rebound since they last lost to Emmaus in the LVC semifinals last Tuesday ... Last year, Easton fell to Allen in the D-11 quarterfinals and hasn't made it past the semifinals since 2006-07 when it won the District 11 championship with a 28-1 record ... Pleasant Valley will come off a humbling loss to Pocono Mountain West in the MVC championship game. Although it didn't seem to slow him down too much, Marquis Brown's high ankle sprain should be in better condition come Wednesday. He had just eight points against West, but was the team's second leading scorer. Brown, along with fellow forward Sekou Jones, will be charged with handling Easton's bigs down low. Don't be surprised if sophomores Dakota Neubert and Jon Pazienza see the floor should either starter get in foul trouble. Both stand above 6-2 and should not get pushed around as easily as a smaller forward ... Last year the Bears fell to Bangor on a buzzer-beater in the first round of districts. Their last appearance before that was 2005-06 ... Each team has played Pocono Mountain West, Liberty, Dieruff, Northampton, Nazareth, East Stroudsburg South and Parkland. Easton was 6-2 against those teams, while Pleasant Valley was 5-5.
QUOTEABLE: "We haven't seen much of Easton but we know that they have some size down low. It will be imperative that Marquis and Sekou stay out of foul trouble because we don't have much size with experience after that.
"We will probably be looked at as the underdogs with not many people believing that we can win, but it was the same way against West and Parkland (lost by two).
"At this point we are playing with house money and have nothing to lose. I expect us to play hard and smart, but at the same time perhaps a little care-free because of that." - Pleasant Valley's Ken Piontkowski.