Franklin-Hickory kicks off exciting week of hoops

   January 7, 2013 12:08 pm    0

 

Although the region season is just getting started, there will be several important boys and girls basketball games this week. The feature game tonight is between the Hickory and Franklin girls. Franklin won the District 10 Class AAA championship last year by defeating Hickory 48-38 in the title game. The Knights have six of their top nine back from last year and legendary coach Bill Hager decided to stick around one more year. The Hornets have plenty of talent back from last winter as well and are off to a quick 8-0 start. Both teams could find themselves back in the D-10 championship this year. Also, Fairview and General McLane play in a Region 4 showdown between two teams that are unbeaten in region play.

Tuesday’s boys slate includes a Region 2 showdown between West Middlesex and Lakeview in Stoneboro. West Middlesex moved up to Class AA this season after winning the District 10 Class A championship last year. Matthew Dogan, an all-state Gannon recruit, leads the Big Reds while Middlesex also returns most of its team from last season. Lakeview has been dealing with youth over the past few years and the Sailors have been building up toward this season. The Sailors’ Casey Greggs went over 1,000 points on Saturday against Wilmington. Lakeview is 9-1 and the Region 2 champion could be a heavy favorite to end Erie County’s reign of D-10 AA.

There is also a full slate of big Region 5 boys games, including Meadville at Franklin and Sharon at Hickory, but the most anticipated game of the night could be Central Tech at McDowell. Each Class AAAA boys team will get only four region games, making every one of them important. Central is in an early hole with a 76-66 loss to Cathedral Prep, which the Falcons were ahead in the final two minutes. McDowell has been outstanding this season meaning this game could be an instant classic. Central’s Eugene Husband went over 1,000 career points against Prep.

If that wasn’t enough excitement for Tuesday, fans can also check out the VisionQuest-Erie First boys game or the city showdown between East and Strong Vincent. Erie First is in District 10 this year but is independent. The Eagles are eligible for the D-10 Class A boys playoffs and a win over VisionQuest could all but clinch an at-large playoff spot. Erie First already has a win over Commodore Perry and is 10-1 this season. East and Strong Vincent are back in the same region for the first time in four years. Vincent moved down to Class AAA in the offseason and will get two games with East this winter.

On the girls’ side Tuesday, undefeated North East travels to Girard. The two traditional powers are contenders in D-10 Class AA and will play twice in region play after North East moved down from Class AAA.

Moving ahead to Thursday, there is a full girls schedule but a big boys game will take place in Edinboro when Warren travels to General McLane. The two developing rivals played three classic games last winter with the Lancers winning all three. McLane, the defending D-10 Class AAA champion, returns standout Jaymon Mason and big man Quinn Thompson. Mason scored 43 points in a close loss to McDowell last week. The Dragons graduated several key players but look strong once again. Warren’s only loss was a close one-point loss to Buffalo power Nichols at the St. Bonaventure tournament. The Dragons beat McDowell 79-77 earlier this season on a last-second 3-pointer by Matt Sandberg, building confidence for Warren to make another run this year. In the same region on the same night, Strong Vincent heads to Girard. Both teams entered the week tied for first in Region 6 at 1-0.

The girls games Thursday are headlined by archrivals Mercyhurst Prep and Villa Maria. Both the Lakers and Victors are young but have some experience. Villa moved up from Class AA in the winter after a strong run of D-10 titles and PIAA playoff appearances, while Mercyhurst has found plenty of success in Class AAA as well. The rivalry had some time off before restarting it two years ago. Mercyhurst won 41-40 at the Hammermill Center two seasons ago before beating Villa 45-39 in overtime last winter. Mercyhurst features Division I recruit Brenna Robbins and Villa counters with Indiana recruit Karlee McBride.

There are only two girls games Friday but a big showdown will take place between North East and General McLane. If North East survives Girard Tuesday, this game will include two teams tied for first place in Region 4. North East-General McLane could also be a future matchup for the D-10 championship.

Friday’s boys games could be entertaining as well. In Region 4, rivals Fairview and Mercyhurst Prep are tied for first place with unbeaten region records. Both teams held off a scrappy Northwestern team last week, including sophomore Andy Niland drilling a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to give Fairview a 51-48 win. Mercyhurst’s 67-63 win over Northwestern wasn’t as dramatic but it did come down to the final minute as the Lakers connected on several clutch free throws. Another big game is Hickory at Franklin. Both teams enter the week without a region loss and are contenders for the region and district titles.

There is only one region game Saturday but plenty of intrigue on the schedule. Villa Maria heads to McDowell to highlight the girls games, while several boys games will be interesting. General McLane will head to the Hammermill Center to play Cathedral Prep. It will be the first meeting of the two basketball games since Chet Moffett’s infamous e-mail to the Prep student body. Girard travels to McDowell and DuBois heads to Central Tech. DuBois will play the D-10 Class AAAA champion in a PIAA play-in game in February. Saturday also features an Erie BayHawks high school showcase. The boys tripleheader includes Conneaut-Maplewood, Corry-Iroquois and Union City-Saegertown.

–Tom Reisenweber

 

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