Six area teams in quarterfinals
Six TIMES NEWS area basketball teams will be in District 11 quarterfinal round action.
The Marian boys, Pleasant Valley girls and Northern Lehigh girls will all play tonight.
The Panther Valley boys, Jim Thorpe girls and Palmerton girls will all be in action Saturday.
DISTRICT 11 CLASS A BOYS
Marian (12-10, 4-4 Schuylkill League)
vs. Moravian Academy (11-11)
TIPOFF: Friday, Feb. 24th at 6 p.m. at Northern Lehigh
COACHES: Marian - John Patton; Moravian Academy - John Donmoyer.
LEADING SCORERS: Marian: Ryan Karnish (5-11, 11.9 ppg), Alden Whah (6-3, 8.5 ppg); Moravian Academy: Luke Gutenkust (19.4 ppg), Ted Messman (7.2 ppg).
GAME NOTES: Marian enters district play for the sixth straight season and for the 14th time in 15 seasons. The Colts have won the past two District 11 A Championships and have qualified for the State Tournament the last three. Marian comes into their match-up with the Lions winning six out of their last seven games. Their lone loss in that stretch came to the No. 4 seed in the AA bracket in Shenandoah Valley. Moravian Academy is coming in going 2-2 in their last four games including a surprising victory over No. 2 seed in the class-A bracket in Pius X. Marian is a combined 3-2 against the opponents they have faced that have qualified for the District 11 class-A tournament including a win over No. 1 seed Mahanoy Area back on January 30th. The Lions are 1-3 against that same group. Marian handled Moravian in their first meeting by a score of 47-22. Marian's leading scorer and TIMES NEWS area three-point leader Ryan Karnish (53) had 12 points in that game including three treys. Marian out-scored Moravian 25-10 in the second half of that game back on January 10th to help earn the victory. The Colts just need to keep playing the type of basketball they've been playing. In their recent win streak defense has been the key for Marian holding opponents to just 40 ppg over the last seven contests. For Marian to advance they have to stop Moravian's Luke Gutenkust. Gutenkust averages almost 20 ppg and was an Easton Express Times Honorable Mention selection as a sophomore. Gutenkust was held to just 8 points in the Lions previous match-up with the Colts.
QUOTEABLE ... "The two week layoff has helped some of our players recover from injuries and it should really show in our offensive execution. We will look to play good man-to-man defense and hopefully that will translate to success on the offensive end of the floor. It will be important for us to stop Gutenkust, he is their leading scorer but they have a couple of other guys in Ender, Anderson, and McCambridge who have really started to shoot the ball well towards the end of the season. We need to close out and get a hand up on their shooters and try to put them in a one shot and done scenario."
DISTRICT 11 CLASS AAAA GIRLS
No. 1 Pleasant Vy. (16-8 overall; 9-3 MVC)
vs. No. 9 PM West (14-10 overall; 10-2 MVC)
TIPOFF: Friday, Feb. 24th at 7 p.m. at Stroudsburg
COACHES: Pleasant Valley - Nadia Gauronsky; Pocono Mountain West - Stacey Perryman
LEADING SCORERS: Pleasant Valley - Kelecia Harris (Sr., 13.67 ppg), Amber Chieffo (Sr., 7.78), Arden Cisluycis (Jr., 6.58), Keri Dekmar (So., 5.58), Mackenzie Dorney (So., 3.83); Pocono Mountain West - Ramonia Benitez (Jr., 13.54 ppg), Jackie Benitez (Fr., 9.04), Stephanie Davis (Jr., 8.29), Tanisha Blake (Jr., 5.41)
GAME NOTES: Pocono Mountain West knocked off No. 8 seeded East Stroudsburg South Tuesday night to set the stage for another showdown between the two MVC rivals at Stroudsburg High School. Instead of a MVC title being on the line this time around, the teams will play for the right to keep their season alive and advance to the semifinals of the district playoffs ... Pocono Mountain West has qualified for the district playoffs nine straight years in the 10 years that the school has existed. The Bears failed to make the postseason in Gauronsky's first season with the team (2010), but prior to that the program made the postseason 15 consecutive years and have now qualified for districts in 17 of the last 18 years ... This season, the Bears earned their second No. 1 seed in as many years after winning their second straight MVC championship ... Pleasant Valley is looking to advance further than game one for the first time since the 2006-07 season. ... Pocono Mountain West won its first game last season with a 55-40 win over Stroudsburg in a first round game, but bowed out in the quarterfinals, dropping a 41-24 decision to Parkland ... Pocono Mountain West has never won a district championship. Pleasant Valley won its last district title back in 2002-03 under the guidance of coach Dave Stefani ... Two weeks ago, Pleasant Valley captured its eighth MVC title with a 60-55 overtime victory over Pocono Mountain West. Kelecia Harris paced the Bears with an 18-point performance, while Amber Chieffo showed off her peimeter skills by hitting double digits with 13 points. The Benitez sisters led the Panthers as Ramonia finished with a team-high 13, while Jackie ended up with 12. The teams also met twice druing the regular season with West picking up a 53-44 win on Jan.6 an Pleasant Valley pulling out a 36-34 win on Feb. 3 ... Gauronsky said it's important the Bears maintain their composure through all the "little spurts and runs," which happen during a game. Gauronsky also wants her team to rely on its strengths Amber Chieffo's perimeter game (37 three-pointers on the season) and Kelecia Harris' inside presence (a team high 328 points) ... With two starters and the first three players (Jordan Meckes, Courtney Miller, Julia Craig) off the bench being sophomores, Gauronsky is looking to seniors Chieffo and Harris to provide the necessary leadership in a pressure packed elimination game.
QUOTEABLE: "Our girls are excited because they worked really hard to get to this point. We know that West is going to come out with a lot of intensity and a lot of aggression because we just knocked them off in the MVC title game.
"I think everybody's really excited about the team this year. We're young, but we are also focused and very dedicated. Hopefully, we can push through to get a win at districts and continue advancing against some tough LVC (Lehigh Valley Conference) teams.
"We're going to come in with the same mindset that we had for the MVC championship and hopefully the outcome is the same." - Pleasant Valley coach Nadia Gauronsky.
DISTRICT 11 CLASS AA GIRLS
No. 5 Northern Lehigh (11-11, 7-9 Colonial League) vs. No. 4 Salisbury (11-11, 6-10 Colonial League)
TIPOFF: Friday, February 24, 2012 at 6 p.m. at Allen High School Gymnasium
COACHES: Northern Lehigh - Dave Oertner; Salisbury - Bob Mazziotta
LEADING SCORERS: Northern Lehigh - Aimee Oertner (18.8 ppg), Christina Bastardi (11.0 ppg); Salisbury - Meagan Eripret (14.7 ppg), Megan Hrebik (13.9 ppg).
GAME NOTES: Northern Lehigh will play the game without head coach Dave Oertner. Oertner received a pair of technical fouls in the Bulldogs regular season finale against Palmerton. The technical not only carry with them an ejection from the game, but a mandatory suspension for the team's next contest. Since Northern Lehigh hasn't played since then, this game will be his forced suspension. Bulldog assistant coaches Mike Lehtonin and Sue Lynn will be sharing the duties of head coach in this first round game … This is the Bulldogs' fourth straight appearance in the District 11 playoffs. A year ago, they reached the D-11 title game before falling to Pine Grove. Salisbury makes its first district playoff appearance since 2005, when the No. 4 seed Falcons lost to No. 2 seed Pine Grove. Salisbury, which went 8-14 last season, is in it's third season under Mazziotta. The Falcons are playing without senior forward Hailey Undercuffler, a three-year varsity starter who injured her knee in midseason. A key match up will be the 6-foot-2 Oertner, a senior and this year's Colonial League MVP who's headed to Army next year, against Eripret, the Falcons' 6-2 freshman. The teams met once during the regular season with Northern Lehigh winning 42-39. In that game, Dave Oertner conceded that Hrebik, a prolific shooting guard, was going to get her points, but tried to make sure his team held Eripret and the rest of the Falcons in check. Hrebik led her team with 18 points, but Eripret had just five. Aimee Oertner scored 19 points and Bastardi chipped in eight. In that game, Salisbury attempted a junk-type defense to try and limit touches for Oertner and, according to Dave Oertner, will more than likely use try it again this time … Northern Lehigh will rely heavily on Oertner and Bastardi to carry the load. The two combined for 646 out of their 935 points on the season equaling almost 70% of their offensive output. Other than Oertner and Bastardi only three other Lady 'Dawgs have scored in double figures in a game this season.
QUOTABLE: "We're preparing like usual. It will just be a matter of the girls going out and performing on that night. We're going to need to be aware of Hrebik at all times on the floor and hopefully, if we can limit her scoring, we should be fine. It's just up to the girls and their execution." - Northern Lehigh head coach Dave Oertner.
District 11 Boys AA
Panther Vy. (11-11, 4-8 Schuylkill )
vs. Notre Dame GP (15-8, 11-5 CL)
TIPOFF: Saturday, Feb 25th at 7:30 p.m. at Dieruff High School
COACHES: Panther Valley - Pat Crampsie; Notre Dame Green Pond - Pat Boyle
LEADING SCORERS: Panther Valley: Nate Mathewson (6-5, 11.1 ppg), Nick McArdle (5-10, 7.4 ppg), Brock Mitchell (7.7 ppg); Notre Dame Green Pond: Connor Hughes (6-1, 13.7 ppg), Alex Gregg (6-1, 12.88 ppg), Noah Miller (6-0 6.1 ppg).
GAME NOTES: No. 6 seed Panther Valley will be heading to the District 11 playoffs for the third time in four years and will face No. 3 seed out of the Colonial League in Notre Dame Green Pond. Panther Valley is 1-0 vs. the CL this season with a win over Palmerton on February 4th. Notre Dame GP hasn't faced a Schuylkill League opponent all season. The Panthers come into their match-up with Notre Dame playing well having won three out of four. The Panthers won three straight to qualify for a district bid before losing to District 11 AA No. 2 seed Pine Grove in the last game of the season. The Crusaders however, are coming off of back-to-back losses to District 11 AAA No. 5 seed Wilson and AA No. 1 seed Salisbury. Notre Dame won four straight before that including an eight-point victory over Salisbury on February 3rd. Panther Valley is 3-9 vs. playoff qualifying teams this season while Notre Dame is 5-5. Notre Dame has the edge on offense, scoring a little over 58 points per game with PV scoring almost 13 points less at 45 ppg. The Panthers 1-3-1 zone makes teams play very ugly, but the Crusaders definitely have the firepower to shoot the Panthers out of it having three players with over 20 three-pointers in Dillon Huerta (28), Tannor Reed (24), and Connor Hughes (21). Panther Valley will also have to keep Crusaders' guard Alex Gregg from getting to the hoop. Gregg has gotten to the line 110 times this season and shoots 76%. The Panthers can shoot it as well hitting 103 treys on the season with Jake Szczecina (29) and Nick McArdle (30) leading that charge. The Panthers will need to handle Notre Dame's full-court pressure and that could be an issue as they do not have a pure ball-handler on the roster. The Crusader's Connor Hughes and the Panthers Nate Mathewson is a match-up to look out for. The two play very similar with Hughes being the better outside shooter of the two. Mathewson has good length and poses more of threat inside and needs to be aggressive in the paint if the Panthers want to advance. This one will come down Panthers defense. If they can hold the Crusaders to a game in the low 40's they have a shot to advance.
QUOTEABLE ... "Defensively we need to make them play in the half court. They will look to push the ball and attack the basket against us and we can't let that happen. Connor Hughes and Alex Gregg are very athletic and skilled offensive players so we need to be aware of where they are at all times. Most importantly, we need to control the boards. We cannot let their big man Eze get their offense second and third shots. It sounds simple, but offensively we need to work to get ourselves quality shots each time down the floor. Empty possessions against this team will hurt, and we have to limit our turnovers. Overall, we feel like we have become a very good basketball team over the last four weeks and are excited about having the opportunity to play a team like Notre Dame Green Pond that is at the top of District 11 AA year in and year out." - Panther Valley coach Pat Crampsie
DISTRICT 11 CLASS AAA GIRLS
No. 5 Jim Thorpe (19-4 overall; 10-2 Sch.League)
vs. No. 4 Blue Mtn. (17-7 overall; 10-2 Sch. League)
TIPOFF: Saturday, Feb. 25th at 6 p.m. at Martz Hall in Pottsville
COACHES: Jim Thorpe - Rob Kovac; Blue Mountain - Ruth Weidman
LEADING SCORERS: Jim Thorpe - Celeste Robinson (Sr., 24.79), Chelsea Smelas (Sr., 11.54), Kristin Lawrence (Sr., 6.70); Blue Mountain - Shanelle Koch (Sr., 11.8 ppg), Jillian Grapsy (Sr., 8.9), Alyssa Starr (Sr., 7.4), Beth Kerns (Sr., 5.1), Anne Schu (Sr., 4.6)
GAME NOTES: Jim Thorpe returns to the district playoffs for the second consecutive year under the guidance of fifth-year coach Kovac. Blue Mountain will make its seventh straight postseason appearance since Weidman took over the program back in 2004 ... Both teams lost their D-11 playoff opener last year. The Olympians fell to eventual Class 3A champion Tamaqua 43-30 at Martz Hall, while the Blue Eagles suffered a 31-28 setback to Southern Lehigh ... This will be the fourth meeting between the Schuylkill League Division I rivals this season. Blue Mountain handed Jim Thorpe its first loss of the season by knocking it off 41-35 on its home floor back on January 3rd. The Olympians avenged that loss later in the month with a 45-41 victory in Orwigsburg. In that game, the Olympians' Celeste Robinson became the school's all-time leading scorer. On February 11th, Jim Thorpe and Blue Mountain were forced to play a tie-breaker game after both programs had a 10-2 record in Division I. Jim Thorpe walked off with the Division crown with a 52-44 victory ... After losing to Blue Mountain earlier in the season, Jim Thorpe went on a 10-game winning streak before losing to Minersville on Jan. 29th ... Both teams are looking to rebound from losses in the Schuylkill League playoffs. The Olympians dropped a 38-36 decision to Marian while the Blue Eagles lost to eventual league champion Tri-Valley 51-46 ... Blue Mountain enters the game having lost six of its last eight games, which includes setbacks to Jim Thorpe and non-conference foe Northern Lehigh. Over the Christmas break, Jim Thorpe knocked off Northern Lehigh 52-37 to win the Lady Indian Holiday Classic at Lehighton High School ... While Kovac isn't planning any real changes in the game plan, he said Koch is going to be a No. 1 priority to focus on, calling her "a real nice shooter." In addition to Koch, Starr is a physical presence inside and Schu has the ability to hit from any where on the perimeter. Kovac is also focused on Blue Eagles' point guard Grapsy. "The key to the last game was we attacked Grapsy early and got her in foul trouble. She went to the bench and didn't play a lot. They're a much different team when Grapsy is on the floor." ... Blue Mountain won its only district championship in 1999 when the Blue Eagles advanced to the PIAA semifinals. The Olympians have never won a District 11 title.
QUOTEABLE: "Obviously, we're not thrilled about playing Blue Mountain. We certainly would have perferred to play someone different. I think it's certainly a disadvantage for us to play teams that have seen us and seen the way we play multiple times now. If anybody has had a good look at us, it's Blue Mountain because we played them three times already and all three games have just been wars from tip to horn. Playoff basketball, it's a cliche, but it will probably come down to who executes better or who has a better shooting day or who plays a more mistake free. We're talking about two pretty evenly matched teams that are very familiar with each other's personel.
"We're excited. It's a District playoff game. Again, with six seniors, we understand at that this time of the year we're going take the floor with it being the possibility of being our last game. I expect our kids to rise to the occassion. It's been a banner year for our program. It's been probably the best girls' basketball team in history of our school. I think to a person nobody wants to see it end this early. We realize if we win on Saturday it gives us at least an extra week to play basketball. I think everybody understands that and everbody understands what it's going to take on Saturday to go out and get a win. Having said that, Blue Mountain is a great team. I would have much rather matched up somewhere else, but we have no control over that." - Jim Thorpe Rob Kovac
DISTRICT 11 CLASS AAA GIRLS
No. 1 Allentown Central Cath. (23-1; 14-0 LVC)
vs. No. 9 Palmerton (14-9; 8-8 Colonial League)
TIPOFF: Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at Northampton High School
COACHES: Allentown Central Catholic - Mike Kopp; Palmerton - Don Delich
LEADING SCORERS: Allentown Central Catholic - Kerry Kinek (18.42 ppg, 10.75 rpg, 2.9 blocks per game), Jenna Kocsis (10.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 27 three-pointers), Alyssa Mack (8.58 ppg, 27 three-pointers); Palmerton - Kelsey Hay (15.0 ppg), Jade Farquhar (10.96 ppg), Morgan Mummey (6.74 ppg).
GAME NOTES: Palmerton is coming off a 44-39 win over Tamaqua on Wednesday in the first round of districts ... Central Catholic received a bye in the first round. The Vikings last played on Friday, Feb 17 when they defeated Bethlehem Catholic in the Lehigh Valley Conference championship game ... Palmerton and ACC met last year in the District 11 semifinal round. Like this year's contest, that game was also played at Northampton. A year ago, the Bombers only trailed the highly-touted Vikettes, 19-16, at halftime, before ACC went to work in the second and eventually pulled out a 20-point win …Central Catholic was then upset by Tamaqua in the title game, ending a span of 11 straight District championships … With three teams moving on to the PIAA State Tournament from this bracket, the winner of this contest is guarenteed at least two more games … Palmerton coach Don Delich is hoping that his players will not be intimidated by the "Central Catholic mystique" and will continue to play the way they have been in the latter stages of the season … ACC's strength is its inside game which is led by Division I recruit (Lehigh) Kerry Kinek. Palmerton, with 6-2 Kelsey Hay in the post, also relies heavily on its interrior play. Hay is a Division I recruit as well, heading to the University of Pennsylvania for track ... The Kinek vs. Hay matchup could be interesting as Hay has shown in the past that she is capable of going toe-to-toe with any big girl in the District … Allentown Central Catholic is 4th in the Harrisburg Patriot Class AAA rankings.
QUOTABLE: "Central is obviously a good team because you don't get the record they have and win that league without some talent.
"We are going to show up and play hard and we're going to try not to be intimidated. We need to be patient, take care of the ball and we're hoping to keep this game a low-scoring one. With their strength being their big girls inside, we are going to have to try to stop them." - Palmerton head coach Don Delich.