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Previewing the D-11 basketball playoffs

There will be six games involving Times News area teams as the District 11 basketball playoffs take place Friday and Saturday.


District 11 Class 4A

No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 2 Allentown CC

Friday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m. at Allen


Northwestern faces one of the hottest teams in the Lehigh Valley. After starting the season 0-4, Central Catholic caught fire and has won 17 of its last 21 games. That streak includes the post-season championship of the powerful Eastern Pennsylvania Conference - its first EPC title since 2014.


Northwestern (11-11)

... Gavin Nelson (team-leading 12.6 points per game, team-leading 95 fields goal made); Cayden Fitch (11.6 ppg., team-leading 89% free-throw percentage on 54-for-61 shooting).

Allentown Central Catholic

(17-8) ... Nico Pulieri (10.6 ppg., 22 three-pointers, 78% free throw percentage on 62-for-80 shooting); Jahrel Vigo (12.2 ppg., 304 total points); Lucas Mushrush (11.4 ppg., team leader in both three-pointers (64) and free-throw percentage (91%).


• 0 – Teams with a winning record that Northwestern has defeated this season.

• 2 – Games the Tigers have played on a Friday. That’s the fewest of any area boys’ team. Northwestern is 2-0 in those games.

• 6 – This is the sixth straight season the Northwestern boys have reached the district playoffs. The six straight years come after a stretch of not making the postseason for nine consecutive seasons (2009-2017).

•.730 – The Tigers are 168-of-230 from the foul line this season. Their .730 percentage is the best of any TN area team.


“We did speak about the game last year against Bethlehem Catholic (a 50-45 setback) and that was a good team too. We played well in that game. You never know what can happen in a district game if a couple of things go our way. Obviously, it’s a tough challenge. But we’re going to go out there ready to compete.” – Northwestern coach Cory Cesare.

District 11 Class 2A

No. 5 Marian vs. No. 4 Minersville

Friday, Feb. 24, 5 p.m. at Martz Hall


The seven-team Class 2A bracket may have the most balanced field in the tournament. There is also a very familiar feel to it, with six of the seven teams part of the Schuylkill League. Marian played regular season games against each team in the field, going 5-3 in those contests. The results include a split with top-seeded Mahanoy Area, and a sweep of seventh-seeded Nativity. The Colts have also defeated third-seeded Schuylkill Haven and fourth-seeded Minersville, while losing to second-seeded Tri-Valley and sixth-seeded Lincoln Leadership Academy.


Marian (14-9)

... Frank Valente (15.73 ppg., 5.5 rebounds); Jesse Rodino (8.0 ppg., 8.0 rebounds, team-high 30 blocked shots); Julius Currie (15.1 points per game, led team in scoring in 10 of 22 games, had a team-high 13 points in Marian’s 47-43 regular victory over Minersville).

Minersville (14-8)

... Dante Carr (16.3 ppg., 22 three-pointers, had a team-high 12 points in the regular-season loss to Marian); Haidyn Urquiza (6.5 ppg., leads Miners with 37 three-pointers).


• 6 – Marian’s longest winning streak during the regular season. The streak lasted from Jan. 5-17, and included a 47-43 victory over Minersville on Jan. 12.

• 13 – Number of games Marian played this season that were decided by 10 points or less. Colts were 7-6 in those games.

• 18 – This is the 18th straight season the Marian boys have reached the district playoffs. The last time they failed to do so was in 2005.

• 67 – Julius Currie hit 67 three-pointers in 23 games this season - the most of any area boys’ player.


“I’m very proud of Marian’s tradition. I have a great deal of respect for the coaches, players, and teams that came before me, and came before us. So, it was satisfying to qualify for the Schuylkill League and District 11 playoffs this season. But, at the same time, we’re not satisfied. We have more to do. We have more we aspire for.” – Marian coach Scott Murphy.

District 11 3A Quarterfinals

No. 4 Palmerton vs. No. 5 Panther Valley

Saturday, Feb. 25 at Whitehall at 2:30 p.m.


The Bombers and the Panthers square off in the District 11 tournament for just the third time since 1990. The winner of this game is guaranteed at least two more games, with three teams from District 11 3A heading to the state tournament. The 2020 district semifinal match-up between the teams was one of the more exciting local playoff match-ups in recent Times News history. Palmerton will be seeking retribution after PV stormed back from 17 points down in that game to defeat the Bombers, 66-59. The Panthers would then go on to defeat Notre Dame Green Pond for the district title.


Palmerton (18-6)

... Matt Machalik (leads Palmerton in scoring at 16.7 ppg., and needs just 12 points to reach the 1,000-point mark in his career); Brayden Hosier (16.2 ppg., has attemped 114 free throws - no other boys’ player in the area has even attempted as many as 100 free throws).

Panther Valley (13-9)

... Stephen Hood (leads a balanced Panther attack with a 13.7 ppg.); Chase Weaver (11.4 ppg.); Drew Kokinda (9.6 ppg.).


• 10 – Palmerton started off the year 10-0 and didn’t lose its first game until Jan. 7. Since then the Bombers have gone 8-6, including a three-game losing streak late in the season.

• 50 – When Palmerton holds its opponents to 50 points or less, it is 18-1 this season. When the Bombers give up over 50 points, they’re 0-5.

• 66 – The number of three-pointers Palmerton has made this season - the fewest of any area team.

• 173 – The number of three-pointers the Panthers have made this season (7.9 per game) - which leads the area.


“It starts with taking care of the ball against their pressure. If we’re able to do that and get some good looks, then we should be in a pretty good position during the game. Of course, we need to come out and hit some shots and knock down some early ones. I’ve also been impressed with the way they work on the offensive boards, especially Machalik. He does such a good job of scoring off offensive rebounds by beating them to the ball with his jumping ability and quickness. So, keeping them off the offensive glass will be a focus for us as well.” - Panther Valley head coach Pat Crampsie.

“Our number one priority coming into this game is that we need to play solid defense. We need to play solid and smart defense where we don’t lose their shooters, and we contest every shot. They like to throw a few different defenses at you, so offensively we just need to execute and share the ball, and not settle early in a possession. We have to be able to react to whatever they throw at us.” - Palmerton head coach Ken Termini.


District 11 Class 4A

No. 5 Jim Thorpe vs. No. 4 Blue Mountain

Saturday, Feb. 25th, 2:30 p.m. at Martz Hall


Jim Thorpe enters the postseason as the defending District 11 Class 4A champion. Despite losing four starters from that team and suffering several injuries to key players this season, the Olympians surpassed most people’s preseason expectations by qualifying for districts.


Jim Thorpe (12-10) ... Mackenzie Yuhas (16.1 ppg., - second best in the Times News coverage area, shot 76% from the foul line, scored double figures in all but one game - and in that game finished with nine points); Gabby Cinicola (joins Yuhas as the only two Olympians to play in all 22 games, averaged 9.7 ppg., had a team-leading 47 three-pointers).

Blue Mountain (20-4) ... Kylie Conway (11.6 ppg., team-leading 22 three-pointers); Emily Heydt (5.7 ppg; 16 three-pointers); Skylynne Hardy (coming off a season-high 14 points in Schuylkill League playoff loss to Marian).


• 5 – This is the fifth straight season Jim Thorpe has qualified for the district playoffs.

• 6.5 – The average margin of victory in Blue Mountain’s two regular season wins over Jim Thorpe (41-35 on Jan. 6, and 37-30 on Jan. 30)

• 41 – The Olympians are 9-2 this season when they score 41 or more points.


“We were resilient this season. We had a lot of things happen during the season that put us into positions that maybe we weren’t so comfortable in. But I think that has made us grow, and it has helped us develop. Those challenges have made us better basketball players, and better people. We need to have the same sort of mindset as we go into the district playoffs because we know everyone is bringing their “A” game.” – Jim Thorpe coach Nadia Gauronsky.

District 11 Class 4A

No. 6 Saucon Vy. vs. No. 3 N’western

Saturday, Feb. 25th, 1:30 p.m. at Catty


Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch hopes last year’s playoff experience serves as a lesson learned for his Tigers. Northwestern - which is coming off an impressive regular season, a Colonial League championship and a regular season victory over its upcoming District 11 opponent - was in that exact same situation a year ago and was upset in the quarterfinal round by No. 7 seed Lehighton.


Northwestern (24-1)

... Paige Sevrain (surpassed the 1,000-point plateau this season, leads NW with 12.2 ppg., has a 76% free throw percentage on 62-for-82 shooting); Cara Thomas (10.3 ppg., has hit double figures in 13 games this season); Brook Balliet (8.5 ppg., team-leading 31 three-pointers)

Saucon Valley (8-14)

... Allison Cort (15.2 ppg., scored a Panthers’ high eight points in regular season setback to Northwestern); Aubrey Petersen (joins Cort as the only Saucon Valley players to play in every game this season, averages 3.6 ppg).


• 3 – The number of times Saucon Valley has qualified for the district playoffs in the last 10 years.

• 16 – The number of consecutive appearances Northwestern has made in the district playoffs.

• 23 – Northwestern’s current win streak after losing to Palmerton in the second game of the season.

• 2006 – The year Northwestern won its lone District 11 championship under Deutsch. The Tigers defeated Pine Grove 57-55 in overtime in the Class 2A final that season.


“As a coaching staff, I feel we’re very fortunate to coach such a great group of young ladies - and they’re even better young ladies off the court. They really represent our school first class. They have been so enjoyable to coach, and hopefully we can keep this going. We have had so much fun this year,” – Northwestern coach Chris Deutsch.

District 11 2A Quarterfinals

No. 4 No. Lehigh vs. No. 5 Panther Vy.

Saturday, Feb. 25 at Whitehall at 1 p.m.


The Bulldogs will take on the Panthers for a chance to advance to the both the District 11 3A semis, as well as a chance to play in the state tournament. District 11 3A will have three participants heading to the state playoffs this season.


Panther Valley (12-10)

... Maddison Maynard (passed the 1,000-point plateau on Feb. 1 with a 34-point performance in a win over Mahanoy Area, Maynard leads the Times News area in scoring, averaging 22.1 ppg); Sera Robin leads the team with 52 three-pointers, averages 10.7 ppg.); Morgan Orsulak (9.7 ppg).

Northern Lehigh (13-10)

.. Aubrey Pollard (averaging a team-high 16.0 points a game, scored 21 points in Northern Lehigh’s regular season victory over the Panthers); Katelyn Barthold, 11.3 ppg.).


• 5 – The Bulldogs enter the game having lost their last five games - including a blowout loss to Palmerton in the Colonial League playoff quarterfinals.

• 9 – The Panthers’ Maynard has scored 25 or more points in nine games this season - the most by any girl or boy player in the area.

• 14 – The margin of victory in the season-opening game between the two teams that Northern Lehigh won, 69-55.

• 2000 – The year of Panther Valley’s most recent District 11 playoff win - a 63-49 victory over Catasauqua in the Class 2A semifinals.

• 2012 – The last time that Northern Lehigh won a District 11 playoff game - a 43-38 Class 2A quarterfinal round win over Salisbury.


“ Whoever wins this game is just going to do what they do better than the other team. Honestly, it’s a simple as what teams plays better and is able to impose their will. We have to do a better job on Pollard this time around, and keep her off the glass. We also need to know where their shooters are and run them off that three-point line. I think if we’re patient, and we’re able to knock down some shots, we could be in a good spot.” - Panther Valley coach Rob Kovac.

“A big key for us in the game is that we will need to get back in transition. The last time we played them we gave up way too many transition points. The battle on the boards is also going to be huge in this game.” - Northern Lehigh coach Chris Heery.

Chase Weaver Panther Valley
Brayden Hosier Palmerton
MacKenzie Yuhas Jim Thorpe
Julius Currie Marian
Cayden Fitch Northwestern