Welcome to Greater Pennsylvania QuizBowl!

Welcome to GPQB! If this is your first time here, you might be interested in learning more about “What is Quizbowl?” and “How do I start a Quizbowl team?

Current quizbowl players and coaches might want to check out our resources for “How to Get Better at Quizbowl.”

Looking for a tournament to play in the Greater Pennsylvania area? Check out our tournament schedule for the upcoming year.

As always, feel free to comment on any post if you have any questions or feedback; we’re happy to help interested students or teachers with starting a new team at their schools. You can also follow us on Twitter at @paquizbowl or email us at gpquizbowl@gmail.com.

Trends in Quizbowl Questions to Know

Pyramidal quizbowl has never been a stagnant activity- the difference between sets from 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 is staggering in scope, style, and quality. Though the question writing process has gradually become more stable, the game continues to evolve to match the tastes of its production teams. While I don’t want to wade into deep question writing theory, it is worth noting that the canon is always in flux, and teams seeking to compete at the statewide level will need to keep pace with it. To this end, I thought it would be worth going over a few of the trends in question writing I’ve noticed over the past four or five years, and how this has changed the sets I’ve moderated and which our teams play.

Before going into specifics, it should be noted that trends in the high school game follow trends in the college game– by incorporating their distribution and then either normalizing or rejecting those changes. This is largely because the majority of editors, including large chunks of NAQT and HSAPQ writers as well as some outside hands on housewrites, are collegiate players of great experience. They write the game as they know it. In the not-too-distant past, non NAQT/HSAPQ question sets for high schoolers often looked eerily like college sets for the worse, with overemphasis on social science few high schoolers were exposed to, an excess of world lit which rarely is assigned in English classes, and too many niche topics and insider jokes that played better in the smaller, more national college circuit. These sorts of issues were very problematic even six or seven years ago, when I was playing, but have largely been rectified. Still, when there is no obvious disconnect between what high schoolers know and where the college game is going, the high school game tends to follow it.

Here are some of the trends in distributions and question writing of late:

  • More film in fine arts- Once confined to the pop culture realm, classic film has been booming within quizbowl packets. As a respected visual art with lots of criticism and ample gettable answers, film plays a seemingly a larger role in sets each new season. When in need of a study break from other subjects, it might not be a bad idea to pop on an old Hitchcock film or Oscar winner. It should be noted recent releases still fall under the pop culture distribution and haven’t increased their share- we’re talking venerated titles (the turn of the millennium is a good benchmark).
  • History questions becoming more conceptual- Quizbowl was once rife with simple rote military and political history pointing to very specific figures and moments in time. There’s still a fair number of questions on this, but increasingly we’re seeing tossups getting creative with their answer lines. Rather than, for example, writing a tossup on “The Roman Empire,” you’ll see tossups with an answerline like “women” or “taxes,” utilizing only clues from Ancient Rome. The same knowledge is tested, but using a general rather than a specific answerline. This has made the sets less stale, and in my opinion more fun. However, it has decreased the usefulness of classic study techniques like list memorization and flashcarding.
  • The limiting of the social science canon- Largely as a reaction to the flood of social science as a mirror of the college game (often a full 1/1 per round) that peaked in the late 00’s to early 10’s, all but the hardest housewrites have severely limited their social science use. This particularly applies to anthropology, sociology, and linguistics (less so for economics and psychology, as there are AP courses for these topics and high schoolers thus are far more likely to know them in depth). This makes these topics easy to master at regular difficulty and a tough but quite manageable challenge for nationals. I would highly recommend players specializing in larger categories pick up one or two of these fields as minor specialties for a steady 30-50 points per tournament.
  • Philosophy becoming the smallest piece of RMP- this is probably the newest trend, which I’ve only seen regularly in the housewrites in the last year or so. For similar reasons to the social science reforms, philosophy is shrinking at the expense of myth and especially religion in sets. It remains to be seen where this will stabilize.

Ben

Winchester Thurston Interview

I recently got the chance to chat with Jacob Dubner (JD), EJ Eppinger (EE), Nathaniel Hull (NH), and Aidan Place (AP), recent graduates of Winchester Thurston and members of the team that finished T-4 in the Private/Charter division of the 2017 SSNCT and T-9 at the 2017 HSNCT. They ended the season ranked #1 in Pennsylvania.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

JW: How did you first get into playing quizbowl?

EE: Freshman year, we have this fun activity trip with a couple of seniors, and I was chaperoned by the legend Nat Brodsky. Somehow the subject of British monarchs came up, and apparently he was very impressed by my knowledge of British monarchs, which is very ironic because I know nothing about them. He said “you should do quizbowl!” so I showed up at the first quizbowl practice. Then I kind of invited the others.
NH: For me, after first trimester of sophomore year, I had just finished soccer season. Since my brother had done quizbowl the past year, I decided to try it, and after a while, I told Jacob how cool it was.
JD: Sometime winter of sophomore year is when I joined in.
AP: I joined in the beginning of my junior year, mainly because they did it.
JD: We were already friends with Jack Chaillet, who was the quizbowl captain and superstar, which also helped bring us in.

JW: You went from #10 in PA in the mid-season poll to #1 at the end of the year. What did you do to improve so quickly and prepare for nationals?

JD: Early on in the year, where there were teams beating us, it kind of gave us a reality check. I think before, we didn’t really do any specialization, everyone learned what they felt like learning. But then this year, we realized, “we’re really bad at fine arts, we’re really bad at science.”
AP: I think losing Jack Chaillet, who was a generalist and all-around player, made us realize where the gaps were.
EE: I definitely think that we learned how to play the games well enough that we had a higher probability of winning games that were close, even if they didn’t need to be.
NH: At HSNCT, I feel like every game was close, starting from the first round. By the end of it, we were ready, even against better teams, to just outbuzz them in buzzer races.
EE: And we had very few dumb negs. If we were able to keep it close, we had an advantage in that we were more disciplined, I guess.
NH: It helps having four people. You don’t have to rely on one person.
AP: One person can have a bad round, and other people can step up.
EE: It’s like, if I were a one man team, and I had a round with no buzzes, I’d be kind of screwed.

JW: At HSNCT, do you remember what you were thinking while you were playing on Sunday? Were you surprised to find yourselves still going in the playoffs?

NH: When we came up against Lehigh Valley, we were thinking his stats were so much better than ours, so it was going to be really hard.
AP: We were sort of shocked that we made it that far. It almost helped in a way, because we expected to lose those later rounds. We didn’t start panicking if we fell behind in points. It was like, keep calm and keep our heads in, and we just kept on going.
NH: It makes it even better once you win.
JD: I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, going into playoffs on the second day, my goal was top 50, but then we just kept going. Every extra round we went, it was like “oh, we’ve already gone further than we were supposed to go,” so just have fun and do your best.
NH: Once we were playing against higher seeds, it was like, just see what happens.

JW: Do you have any other good study tips or tips for team cohesion?

JD: Even for non-quizbowl stuff, we spend a lot of time together, so having a good group of friends, it’s not a burden when you have to go to quizbowl practice and hang out with these people.
NH: There’s less of a chance of tempers flaring in a match, or any issues like that. In terms of studying, I think you have to actually know the basic stuff before you learn the really hard hints for things.
EE: At least for most people, the first year you spend at quizbowl, you’re just learning the quizbowl canon. Or how the questions are written, understanding how they would word things.
NH: I think one of the reasons we did so well at nationals was because, especially EJ and Aidan, they just learn random things because it’s what they do for fun. [Jacob and I] handle the “quizbowl” knowledge, they handle the other stuff.
AP: [EJ and I] were able to fill in with random powers. There’s always going to be unpredictable power hints that you’re never going to find if you’re only studying “quizbowl” stuff.
NH: Also, some of it’s just assessing the risk of negging, and where you think the other team will buzz.
EE: Especially against some poorer teams, you’re motivated to not neg at all and wait until you’re 100% sure. But then at nationals, you’re like “I was going to buzz, but they beat me to it” on every question.
JD: We were kind of lulled into a sense of confidence and conservatism by local tournaments. There were a lot of good, competitive western PA teams like the Alagars, Allderdice, Norwin, Shady Side, but most don’t go to nationals. We got used to being able to wait until we were really sure to buzz, and I think we realized at small school nationals that maybe that didn’t work as well, especially against these really good teams.
EE: Against the teams that are better than you, you know you have to be aggressive.

JW: You guys mentioned the differences between SSNCT and HSNCT and how you played there. In your opinion, which was more fun?

All: HSNCT!
AP: There’s so many teams there, the hotel’s gigantic. It’s such an event.
NH: Basically, small schools nationals was good practice. SSNCT was fun, but HSNCT was more fun.
AP: And also we brought more people to HSNCT. We brought Jack Chaillet, our former captain, so it was just a better experience.
JD: At small school nationals, you still see questions that you would see at a local tournament, whereas at HSNCT, you get to see a lot more of that stuff like “I’ve never heard a question on this before,” so it’s just the freshness of it all.
EE: At HSNCT, there are entire questions on things that would be clues in easier questions.

JW: From the past season, is there any specific victory you’re especially proud of?

JD: The Darien one.
All: And the Lehigh Valley game.
NH: We won by a decent margin, too.
EE: I think all of us had a good round that round.
NH: And I think because Lehigh Valley was the first round, we woke up and found out we were playing Alex Schmidt—
AP: We didn’t really know how far we were going to go, we didn’t expect to go all that far, so it was one of the most satisfying unexpected victories. We were like “ok, we can actually go somewhere with this.”
JD: Jack Chaillet wasn’t in the room for that match, so as we were leaving the room, we walked out there and the surprised look on his face, a face of wonder, it was pretty awesome.

JW: Do you have any memorable team moments or favorite stories you’d like to share?

AP: We took a van to History Bowl, a ways outside the city. We brought Jack Chaillet with us and accidentally left him at the place where the tournament was. He went to the bathroom and we didn’t realize he was gone, so we just drove off without him. We were at least three miles down the road before we realized. And we didn’t actually turn around because we had forgotten him, we turned around because our coach who just retired at the end of the season, Mr. Hallas, forgot his backpack at the tournament place. As we were on our way back, we realized that we had actually also forgotten Jack. He’s there in the parking lot, wondering where we were.
NH: Another story—in the last round of small school nationals, I negged on the Philippines, saying Italy. I heard “bunga bunga party” instead of Bongbong Marcos. In honor of my neg—
AP: We named our SSNCT trophy after the question we thought lost us the tournament.
JD: Our SSNCT trophy is named Bongbong Marcos and our HSNCT trophy is called Ferdinand Marcos, after his father… I guess overall, the best thing about quizbowl, better than any individual story, just the overall experience of doing something with your friends—it’s been a lot of fun. These people, I spend 90% of my time with, even when we’re not doing quizbowl stuff. I think just getting to do something with them was a lot of fun.

JW: Lastly, do you guys intend to continue playing and/or being involved with quizbowl in the future?

AP: In September, I’m staffing a tournament in western Pennsylvania.
EE: Once you’re done with high school quizbowl, you can apply to write questions for NAQT—
NH: And I think some of us are trying that.
JD: My days as a competitor, I think, are over, but it’d be fun to staff some tournaments and write some questions. Maybe some recreational quizbowl, here and there.
EE: I definitely think I would go to staff tournaments at CMU.
NH: Yeah, we’re all going to be involved in some way.

JW: Alright, thanks! Do you have anything else you want to add?

EE: Just a shout-out to David Hallas.
JD: One of the little things—at nationals, whenever the other teams would call timeouts, their coaches would jump up, start giving this really intense pep talk.
NH: We would call our own timeouts whenever we felt like it.
AP: (laughing) He would meander up to the table with his coffee in his hand and be like “well, you guys are doing pretty well.”
NH: But this coming year, he’s going to be replaced by Dr. Josh Andy.
JD: So yeah, shout-out to David Hallas and our incoming coach, Dr. Andy. I think he’s going to be the one to pass on the quizbowl legacy. At our school, we had, way back, Nat Brodsky, who was the old quizbowl legend, then he passed it on to Jack Chaillet, and then Jack Chaillet passed it on to us. And hopefully we’ll pass it on to someone else.

Thanks to Jacob, EJ, Nathaniel, and Aidan for participating in this interview!

-Jackie

Site Announcement: New Student Contributors

GPQB is happy to announce that we are welcoming two active high school players to write for us as associate content contributors for the upcoming academic competition season.

Jackie Wu is a senior at Downingtown East High School in Exton. Despite first being introduced to academic competitions through various bad formats in middle school, she is now working on bringing better quizbowl practices to her own program and to the local competition. As team captain during the 2016-17 season, she increased D-East’s participation in pyramidal quizbowl and directed two high school tournaments, winning the Benjamin Cooper Young Ambassador Award from PACE. She plays at most regular high school invitationals around the southeastern Pennsylvania area and can sometimes be found staffing nearby novice and middle school events.

Connor Mayers started playing quiz bowl in seventh grade at Marticville Middle School. While there, he captained the team for two years and led it to its first ever Lancaster-Lebanon Middle School Quiz Bowl League title in 2016.  Currently, he is a sophomore at Penn Manor High School in Millersville where he is the team captain. In the future, he hopes to continue playing and growing his club and pyramidal quiz bowl as a whole.

We look forward to working with Jackie and Connor to make content which speaks directly the the playing experience of the thousands of quizbowl playing students across Pennsylvania and neighboring states!

-The Staff

Quizbowl Summer Study Plans

With the end of the school year finally upon us, the summer break is an excellent opportunity for enterprising quizbowlers to get a head start on next season and learn more awesome stuff. Here are three tips for teams to think about during the break:

Read actual books/poems/plays/essays! Summer is a perfect time to compile a reading list and attempt books that you might have been introduced to during quizbowl. Actually reading a work will likely increase your chances of getting a good buzz on it during the season and will probably lead to a more lasting memory than flashcarding or just reading a summary. So go ahead and tackle those Shakespeare plays or Garcia Marquez novels.

Write up a store of practice questions, then share them with other members of your team. These could be on any subject, but the ideal would be to use the greater amount of free time to spend time going through the question-writing process and then sharing them with fellow members of your team. This might be useful for trying to close any holes that you noticed emerged over last season or if a senior with a strong subject specialty is graduating. Need to work on Religion? Assign someone religious holidays, another one religious texts, and another one various minor religions to write up questions and then share at a summer meet-up or over Skype/Google Video.

Read over the national championship sets from this year once they are available. PACE’s NSC has already been posted and is chock-full of good clues, interesting ideas, and grist for future question writers. NAQT’s HSNCT was available to teams who attended this year, but others can order copies of the set from NAQT here. And HSAPQ’s NASAT will be posted soon as well after some other mirrors of it (many open to high schoolers–check the HSquizbowl forums for details). Even if you’ve already played the sets, it can be immensely helpful to go back over them and note where you could have/should have buzzed and perhaps calculate how well your team did at various subject areas.

Do you have any other ideas for what you’ll be doing with your team? Feel free to post ’em in the comments! 

2017 NASAT Mini Wrap-Up

Pennsylvania once again sent two squads of five players each to the National All Star Academic Tournament, written by question provider HSAPQ to compete against teams representing 15 states total. The competition was hosted at the University of Kentucky.

Stats are here.

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Team Pennsylvania at NASAT (plus some parents and grandparents)

The A team finished tied for 9th place, while the B team finished 25th, in a field of 26. Eight PA high schools had players represented on the teams. The tourney was quite a rollercoaster, as both teams notched some good wins and frustrating losses over the course of the day. Hidden in this, however, were a lot of great performances against elite teams, including a 20 point loss to 4th place team California and a non-blowout against team Illinois A, who ran away with the event. Negs plagued the teams over the day, which will be something to work on for next year.

We congratulate all the team members- especially our seniors, Brandon, Colton, and Sebastien, for their hard work studying and playing. As for Alex, Jaya, Rajan, Vishwa, Jackie, Sydney, and Will, we hope to see them all back next year and many more PA power players at tryouts!

-Ben

GPQB 2016-2017 End of Season Rankings Results

Friends, Romans, Quizbowlers,

The 2016-17 season was one filled with some 81 Pennsylvania schools at invitationals, 23 of them at nationals, fierce matches, deep buzzes, and extreme fun for everyone involved. Every player contributed in their own way to our great quizbowl culture. As always, we saw it fit to end the year by honoring the best teams with the final poll. As fits a year that was so full of competition, opinions differed, the calls were close, and there were many deserving contenders. Here are the final results:

1) Winchester Thurston, 86 Points, +9 (Five 1st place votes)
2) Lehigh Valley Academy, 83 Points, = (Three 1st place votes)
3) Manheim Township, 74 Points, -2 (One 1st place vote)
4) Alagar Homeschool, 57 Points, +1
5) State College, 47 Points, -1
6) Great Valley, 45 Points, -3
7) Camp Hill, 41 Points, -1
8) Downingtown East, 29 Points, =
9) Downingtown STEM, 21 Points, New
10) Friends Select, 6 Points, -1

Also receiving votes: Delaware Valley (3) and Henderson (2).

With that, another chapter in Pennsylvania’s quizbowl story is closed. Congratulations to all these teams for years of hard work. Best wishes to seniors in the next step of life. Happy buzzing!

A podcast discussion of the final poll and season will be out soon. There will be other summer content, so keep your eyes peeled!

The voters in the poll were: Ryan Bilger, Paul Birch, Chris Chiego, Ben Herman, Andrew Nadig, Rebecca Rosenthal, Alex Sankaran, Steven Silverman, and Bill Tressler.

HSNCT 2017 Wrap Up – Cinderellas and Camaraderie

Last year at HSNCT, Pennsylvania set a lot of records for its performance and the teams generally exceeded expectations. This year, our students raised the bar even higher. Records were shattered, as 18 teams from 16 schools represented Pennsylvania at the event. With seven teams making the playoffs, three making the winner’s bracket, and two making the top-20 in the nation, Pennsylvania’s quantity was matched with some of its highest quality.

Full statistics for the event are here. Hunter College High A (NY) defended their national title, beating Detroit Catholic Central A (MI) in the finals.

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Winchester Thurston, PA’s biggest Cinderella run team in years, poses with their T-9th place trophy. Photo courtesy WT quizbowl’s twitter.

Winchester Thurston made waves across the tournament, becoming the first non-State College team from Pennsylvania to make the national top 10 with a T-9th place finish that almost got them to Sunday afternoon. Fresh from SSNCT’s 4th place, most pegged Thurston to do well, but not go beyond two or three Sunday rounds. WT had other ideas. Their true four-man effort from EJ, Jacob, Nathaniel, and Aiden (all of whom once again worked together and all exceeded 19 points per game) ended up resulting in a fantastic cinderella run, which included a brilliantly fought 390-335 win over Darien A (CT) to make it to T-9th. In the next round, Thurston was one question away from beating James Taylor (Katy, TX) to get into T-5th, but came up just short. To these fine young gentleman as well as (sadly retiring) Coach David Hallas, a hearty well done is in order. Winchester Thurston showed steady improvement across the course of the 2016-2017 season and I know our community will remember their efforts at HSNCT for a long, long time.

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Great Valley and Alagar Homeschool face off in round 10 of the tournament. Photo Courtesy GV Quizbowl’s twitter.

Here are some of the other storylines from PA teams at HSNCT:

  • Lehigh Valley Academy finished at T-15. They had to play Thurston in the first round of the playoffs and were upset by them, but rallied for three more wins while facing elimination each round. Alex Schmidt continues to impress, and his 130 ppg placed him 2nd among all players in America at HSNCT. With one more season left, it will be fascinating to see what he can do next to add to his growing legend. This year is the first year, ever, that PA placed two teams into the top 20 at nats. Will another team join LV up there next year?
  • Manheim Township finished at T-41. Though they lacked a signature win, they proved their continued consistency as a nationally relevant team. This senior class capped off their careers in style, as they can now claim an impressive three top-50 performances at nationals between NSC and HSNCT in separate years. All should be proud with what Manheim Township has built over the years and we hope to see their tradition continue in the future.
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Manheim Township, preparing for a Saturday morning match.

  • Four other Pennsylvania squads made the playoffs: Alagar Homeschool, State College A, Great Valley, and Delaware Valley. Due to the extraordinary number of teams, HSNCT split so that 6-4 teams with better stats got a bye and others did not. All four of these teams unfortunately lost their first playoff game and got knocked out, but Alagar Homeschool and State College did well enough to earn said bye and thus finished T-65 to GV and DV’s T-97. This was a first HSNCT playoff berth for the Alagars and Delaware Valley. Great Valley and the Alagars went head to head in round 10, and the Homeschoolers came out on top, with GV felled by too many negs, an issue that has stuck with them throughout this year and came back to haunt them at the wrong times this year.
  • Pennsylvania also put up a number of near playoff performances in 5-5 teams. Downingtown East was one of the statistically best teams to fall just short, putting up good numbers and a relatively high bonus conversion along the way but succumbing to a badly-timed lapse in the second half of their final round game. Spring Grove finished .500 in their first-ever true pyramidal tournament and hopefully they’ll stick around next year as well. Senior Adam Prusakowski made the most of his brief pyramidal high school career with 68 ppg, good for 20th in the individual standings at HSNCT out of 1472 players. We must continue to reach out to more schools in the future to find players like him at schools across PA. A young Henderson team led by freshman Vijay rolled up with a 5-5 record as well, and this young team could make a lot of noise next year. Friends Select A came up just a hair short due to one of their key players, Jake, missing the event due an emergency, but they acquitted themselves very well. Wallenpaupack, Downingtown STEM, and State College B also finished at this level, each having some solid victories and coming down to the wire in several games which could have swung either way.
  • Lower down, Lancaster Mennonite and Indiana Area finished at 4-6. Brandon Roe from Mennonite finished 27th in the country in scoring, capping off a fine career as the school’s heart and soul player. Indiana also had a nice return to form after a season in which they hadn’t done as well as the past, putting up stats in line with their past performances. Friends Select B finished 3-7, while scrappy Carver, the first public school from either of Pennsylvania’s two big cities to ever attend HSNCT, picked up a couple of wins to finish 2-8.
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PA students play a pick up trash game during a meet-up Saturday night. Great Valley, Henderson, Downingtown East, Downingtown STEM, Lancaster Mennonite, Delaware Valley, Friends Select, and Alagar Homeschool are represented in this photo.

We also continued the tradition inaugurated last year of having a meetup for all PA teams to socialize. Sam Scarfone and Vijay Anne were presented with their GPQB awards, and the students self-organized a spirited game of trash while the coaches discussed organizational plans for next year.

2017 HSNCT will be remembered for its surprises. Having moved up from regional afterthought after last season, Pennsylvania furthered its way along the path to quizbowl-wide prominence and the standard to beat is now set: get a team to Sunday afternoon (top 8). The Commonwealth’s 16 schools represented at nationals was also the 4th-highest in the country, only behind host state Georgia and more populous states California and Texas. As the circuit continues to expand, I expect 16 to look puny in the near future.*

-Ben

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Downingtown STEM, just prior to a round 2 win.

* Including SSNCT, 23 schools from Pennsylvania attended some sort of NAQT national this season.

2017 HSNCT Preview Podcast

In this mammoth sized preview for NAQT’s HSNCT, Ben and Chris discuss where the 18 PA teams competing stand going into nationals week, predictions for how each might do, and make our calls for where we expect each to finish (no doubt embarrassing ourselves for posterity). We also discuss how the tournament works a bit. This description runs until about 8:30, at which point we begin the team-by team breakdown.

Click Here to Listen

SSNCT 2017 Wrap-Up

This year’s NAQT Small School Nationals, which took place at the quizbowl landmark Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL, featured a record shattering 11 teams from 10 schools participating out of the Keystone State. Due to format changes, there were three small school titles up for grabs: an overall title for traditional public small schools, a title for very small public schools, and a title for private and charter schools (the later being an entirely separate sub-tournament).

Complete stats for both divisions are here.

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Camp Hill poses with their haul of hardware from SSNCT.

In the public school division, Camp Hill matched Lehigh Valley’s feat last year of a 3rd place overall finish, bringing another big trophy home to Pennsylvania. Camp Hill also finished their season by winning the inaugural Very Small School title. They lost twice each to Glasgow and Danville, the two finalists (both from Kentucky), but otherwise went undefeated. Colton’s 82 points per game were sixth in the tournament, capping a breakout senior season for the First Team All-State player. The team also got great performances out of Sydney, whose three powers in round 18 proved critical in clinching a top-4 finish, as well as from Alex, Joseph, and Ben, who saved their best performances for last this season. Congratulations to all these players and to Coach Gianelli, who has now coached seven consecutive top-11 small school teams nationally and received GPQB’s 2016-2017 award for Coach of the Year.

Lakeland finished T-19, second among PA squads. They did well enough on day one to start out in the winners’ bracket Sunday, and notched a close 335-315 win over perennial Small School power Hallsville (MO) to clinch the playoffs. Ty and Michael paced the team with 16 powers apiece to make a dent in opposing team’s morale. Though 3 of the 5 teammates were seniors, they went out in style and have a lot to be proud of representing the Scranton area. South Side and Westmont Hilltop out of Western PA also made the playoffs and finished T29. Super job to both schools, whom each only brought one senior and could well be back there and beyond in the future. Southern Fulton, Kane, and West Shamokin missed the playoffs, but all won several games each and should be proud of this year and motivated for more competition in the future.

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Winchester Thurston finished 4th in the Private/Charter division. Photo credit Ryan Rosenberg and NAQT

In the Private/Charter division, a sharp Winchester Thurston did what we’ve come to expect from one of PA’s steadiest powers and finished 4th overall. What’s truly amazing about Thurston’s performance is that all four of their players–Nathaniel, Aiden, EJ, and Jacob- finished between 52 and 32 points per game, and in the top 25 total of this division’s overall players. Thurston might be the most purely balanced team in terms of four-player talent in Pennsylvania that we’ve seen in many years! All four also banked at least 14 powers. They are the only SSNCT team in PA that will also be going to HSNCT, so we’ll get one last chance to see them show their stuff.

Lower down, Renaissance Academy and two teams from Moravian Academy missed the playoffs, but still fought admirably. Renaissance has been on the circuit a few years now and, while not yet a powerhouse, has slowly steadily improved as time has gone on. They hit 14 PPB for the first time at a national tournament, which shows increasingly strong depth, and playoffs next year is a very obtainable goal for them. Moravian B was all freshman, and though they only won one game, can channel that experience into growth. I expect great things from them and any other PA schools that venture forth onto the national stage.

Overall, SSNCT was a great success for PA, with a top 4 finish in each division, the Very Small School championship title, and many memorable performances. We will have to see what HSNCT can do to follow this up.

-Ben