The first action of the season occurred at Princeton’s annual high school tournament, where six teams from four Pennsylvania schools competed. The eventual winner was Bethlehem High of New York. We won’t go over the entire stacked field of this tournament, and instead just sum up the Pennsylvania-on-Pennsylvania games and give some commentary on each team.
#2 State College A 425, #6 Lehigh Valley Academy 250
#6 Lehigh Valley Academy 305, #8 State College B 265
Henderson A 325, #8 State College B 185
#8 State College B 425, Henderson B 25
State College A finished in 5th place overall. They showed PHENOMENAL periphery statistics: 23 points per bonus, 50% of their buzzers powered, and only a hair over a neg a game. This team is the real deal. Unfortunately they lost a chance at a podium finish by losing a 10 point match to Hunter (NY) B, which is a big egg for them. I’m inclined to think that was kind of a fluke, and that they hopefully got their “whoops” out of the way early. To be putting up stats like that this early in the game is a sign that we are looking at a dangerous team when we’re talking both the State and National tournaments. Watch out for the Lions!
Lehigh Valley Academy finished 9th. Alex Schmidt basically did what he always does, which is score oodles and oodles of points based on superb knowledge in his fields. As was the case basically all of last spring, this led to a bunch of blowouts against lesser teams, but struggles in the playoffs where more seasoned teams can go toe to toe with him on tossups and he has no backup if he has an off round. He did beat State College B, but didn’t get a signature win elsewhere. Alex was the second highest overall scorer for the tournament, with 128 points a game- quite a feat considering the strong field. Is this pattern of prelim domination and playoff struggles the plateau for Alex without teammates? Time will tell.
Henderson A had pound for pound their best performance in eighteen months, with an extraordinarily solid 15th place finish and a 6-4 record. All four players contributed to the campaign, putting up a fair number of buzzes. The tossup rate seems not to have improved too much, but the bonus conversion (up to 19 from last year’s 15-16) has skyrocketed and the negs have gone down. The biggest story here is Henderson beating a GPQB-ranked State College B in the state’s first big upset of the year, and by a healthy triple digit score.
State College B didn’t fair quite as well as the A team, finishing 16th. This team looked a bit shakier than I expected, with north of two negs a game, and middling bonus and power stats. This is probably inexperience and youth to some extent. Though they came up on the short end against LVA and Henderson, they did mix in some quality wins and made a 6-4 record for the day, so I wouldn’t hit the panic button too quickly yet.
Henderson B consisted of mostly players who were new or barely played on Saturdays last year. They downright shocked the world with a 3-2 prelim, scraping by with two one-question wins into 18th place overall. Thier stats showed this was some luck and in the afternoon they got punched around, but that morning is impressive nonetheless. There is some potential here.
Camp Hill rolled up in 25th place. 7th place finishers at last year’s small school nationals, Camp Hill is a tiny enrollment public school outside of Harrisburg and thus at a recruiting disadvantage. They survived that to have 15.16 points per bonus, a solid score, and despite only going 1-4 in the morning, they did much better in the afternoon. While they may not have shown big-time potential to win any events soon, Camp Hill did look better than last year and showed they are still very much in the hunt for any small school titles available. They did not get the chance to play other PA schools at Princeton.