Henderson Invitational Wrap-Up

Yesterday saw a landmark tournament, as a field containing a record 27 Greater Philadelphia teams competed for the inaugural title at the Henderson High in West Chester, PA. There were some incredible stories out of the event, so let’s get right at it:

Emmaus pulled out an incredible underdog victory over Manheim Township A, claiming their school’s first ever pyramidal tournament win. They did take one loss along the way to Unionville A, but fought back to get through a tiebreaker into the final, where Ryan Bilger rattled off seven gets in a row on questions 4-10 to put it away early. They played sharp all day with just 14 negs. Congratulations to Emmaus for their deserved victory!

The other big story was freshman Alex Schmidt of Lehigh Valley Academy, who managed to take third place over West Chester East. I would never have guessed he was so young based on the way he played, and he was the Tournament MVP, leading the field in scoring during the prelims. Having read for him a few times, I did notice he has a couple holes in his game still (Literature in particular), but he has three years to get better and I expect him to become a historic player in our region. Congratulations to Alex on your hard work!

Though they couldn’t close it out at the end, Manheim Township still had a great day. The A team went undefeated until that final and led all teams in points per bonus. The B team showed similar well roundedness and finished tied for 7th. Unlike Emmaus and Lehigh Valley Academy, Manheim seems to consist of a group of good players and doesn’t rely on one individual to do most of the heavy lifting. They are still a big time contender in our region, and the 2nd place finish should be good motivation to keep on improving.

Many schools made their first appearance on the season, and there is much to talk about there. Others came for a second event, giving us more ideas on them. We’ll address them in lightning mode.

  • Archmere- Their early promise shown at UDFT did not translate to normal difficulty questions, and they finished 17th. Ashish Mahuli is their future, and is still young. I think Archmere will be getting better and better, but I don’t expect to see them in the playoffs of regular events this year.
  • Cedar Crest- These guys have the unfortunate position of being the other Lancaster-Lebanon team at most events, and suffer from comparisons to Manheim. Taken apart from that, they are a pretty good team. They took 9th place behind a balanced performance where all four teammates contributed.
  • Concord- It was good to see this Delaware High School back out again to events in PA. They finished 14th with appropriate stats. They look far better than they did up until they significantly improved last season, so we’ll see if they take another step forward.
  • Downingtown East- The A team finished 8th. They were solid enough, but have yet to find Neil Vinjamuri 2.0. They need to get more power buzzes before they become contenders for titles again.
  • Great Valley- They had four teams, which finished all over the lower brackets. They seem to play inconsistently- sometimes they look solid and they can absolutely beat anyone but the top 10-12 teams in our area, but sometimes they take embarrassing losses. If they can find some consistency, they can probably make the playoffs of some spring events.
  • Moorestown Friends- A first time team out of South Jersey. They got to 10th place, which was an overperformance of their stats. However they have an excellent player in the form of Brett Barbin, who was in the top 5 for the tournament. There is potential here if they continue with pyramidal.
  • PALCS- Strange stats: The A team finished where we expected them to based on Princeton, smack dab in the middle. The B team, however, pulled off some nice wins, with two victories over Cedar Crest A and a 40 point win over Manheim Township D. This got them to 6th place. PALCS is better than I thought.
  • Unionville- Finished 5th, but with weaker stats than PALCS B, Manheim Township B, and Downingtown East A. This is another team with a good foundation and the ability to last line things and get a consistent 15 points per bonus. They will need to work a bit to get to the next level, which I think they certainly could do.
  • West Chester East- With their 4th place finish, they showed that at least for right now, they are probably the class of Chester County. Joe Mariano is a really excellent player, only stopped by facing Ryan Bilger and Alex Schmidt. If he improves and the rest of the team can contribute more to help him (Grace Kier was the only other significant scorer), East might have a realistic shot to win a tournament by the spring.
  • Wissahickon- Another squad where the B team outperformed the A team. They were at the bottom this time, but they show up to things and I see no reason why they can’t improve.

Thanks to all teams for coming out! I enjoyed reading for you and helping to direct this event, and I hope you had as much fun as I did!

-Ben Herman

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