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By Mike Copper, Tom Reisenweber, Jeff Kirik Erie Times-News staff bloggers
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PIAA basketball news and notes

The PIAA basketball playoffs don’t begin until Friday. After looking at all eight brackets, here are a few notes. Check back throughout the week for more information as 19 District 10 teams chase state championships.

-The Class AAA boys bracket sets up well for District 10 champion General McLane. If the Lancers can take care of business against Thomas Jefferson, they will get either Bradford, who Warren defeated twice by a combined 50 points, or Beaver, who West Middlesex handled 97-74 in non-region play. Two wins would give coach Andy Schulz 600 for his career, which is a District 10 record for boys basketball coaches. He would also become the third coach in recent history to reach 600 career wins in D-10. Girard’s Larry Seneta went over 700 last year and Bill Hager is currently at 670 wins, Hager, the coach of the Franklin girls, won 597 games as a boys coach.

Two wins would also set up General McLane to possible face District 7 champion Montour, which is coached by former Edinboro player Adam Kaufman. His assistant is another former Edinboro player in Daren Tielsch.

-Speaking of Class AAA boys, Girard will have its chances to beat the best in the west. The YellowJackets will take on Mars, the third seed from District 7, on Friday. 6-8 center Josh Goetz is averaging 10 points and 13 rebounds per game for the Fightin’ Planets and could pose a huge problem for Girard. If the ‘Jackets get by Mars, they would likely get a crack at Montour in the second round.

Strong Vincent opens with District 7 runner-up Chartiers Valley. Area fans better check out the Colonels if they can Friday. If Vincent pulls off the upset, the Colonels could be playing the rest of their games in the center part of the state against eastern teams.

-The Cathedral Prep faithful have come to expect the Ramblers to make another run to the PIAA semifinals. If Prep wants a rematch with Lower Merion in the semifinals, the Ramblers will likely need to run the WPIAL gamut. Prep opens the playoffs Saturday with 7-3 Seneca Valley, which has 6-2 sophomore T.J. Holl, son of former Prep football coach Don Holl. If the Ramblers keep winning, they’ll likely have to knock off District 7 runner-up Hampton in the second round and District 7 champion New Castle in the quarterfinals. Hampton (21-5) and New Castle (26-0) both moved up from Class AAA this season and have already taken over in the WPIAL.

The western team to reach the semifinals might not be guaranteed to face District 1 runner-up Lower Merion. The Aces fell to powerhouse Chester in the D-1 championship last week. Lower Merion will have to navigate through a tough eastern bracket and could run into District 3 powerhouse Harrisburg (24-2) in the quarterfinals.

-The most intriguing bracket for District 10 teams could be Class AAA girls. Franklin opens with District 6 runner-up Ligonier Valley. D-6 wasn’t strong this season meaning the Knights should advance to the second round where they likely get Elizabeth Forward (22-3). Franklin-Elizabeth Forward is one of several big-time showdowns between District 10 and 7 over the next week. Villa Maria will get Hopewell (21-4) and Hickory plays South Park (23-2) in the first round. South Park won the D-7 championship after routing Hopewell in the semifinals. Hopewell features Maryland recruit Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, an explosive guard. She is also a Division I recruit in volleyball and track and field but elected to play basketball.

Ironically, if Hickory pulled off the upset and Villa beat Hopewell, the two D-10 teams would meet in the second round. If D-10 teams keep winning, Franklin would meet either Villa or Hickory in the quarterfinals. The “western” half of the bracket also includes District 12 powerhouse Archbishop Wood, who beat Mercyhurst Prep in the state championship two years ago.

–Tom Reisenweber

Posted in: Basketball, PIAA

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