Holy cow, was this a good one. Not a whole lot of schools were in tow (9), but this tournament in West Chester made up for it with many action packed nail biters and an absolutely stacked field, with 10 of 24 teams clearing 17 ppb and lots of high drama bouts.
Manheim Township A came out with an undefeated first place finish. Garret Anderson swapped in to join Jake, Ahan, and Shayar on this conquest. The results were quite fine, as the Blue Streaks were not seriously threatened until the Championship match and won six games by a margin of 400 points or more. That, my friends is dominance. In the finals they faced Lehigh Valley Academy– and we can say that as a whole school this time. Alex Schmidt had three teammates with him, which was great to see. LVA also entered the final undefeated. The road was narrower than for Manheim, with a close prelim game against Cedar Crest A and a 30 point squeaker against Manheim Township B along the way, but nonetheless an impressive day. Alex broke his own Henderson Invitational points per game record with 168 ppg! From a sophomore! That kind of dominance is rare indeed.
The final itself was a classic. Manheim Township triumphed, pulling ahead on the last question to win 340-310. Manheim shot out to an early lead (200-35 after 8 tossups), but Lehigh Valley chipped away to peek 20 points ahead on the 17th tossup. Manheim got two of the last three to avoid the upset. These are both dominant teams which have already achieved a lot this season, and will achieve more.
The 3rd and 4th place finishers, Great Valley A and PALCS A, deserve plaudits of their own. PALCS won a matchup between the two in the morning, but Great Valley avenged this with an equally exciting 305-245 win in the 3rd place match, which was also separated by just 15 points going into the last tossup. I thought both these teams had lots of pre-season potential, and both appear to have realized it. Their MVPs (Sam Scarfone for GV; Gianni Manginelli for PALCS) put up big time points and established themselves as some of the state’s top players. Their respective help (Everett Beuaregard, Daniel Chen, and Deakon McCurdy for GV; Alex Gustafson, Zane Kodama, and Ethan McPeak for PALCS) was also fantastic, not a single player on these squads had less than 15 points per game yesterday. Well done all around!
Manheim Township’s B and C Teams took the tied-for-5th spots, showing the absolutely insane depth they have. They’ll be contending for years. Cedar Crest competed outside Lancaster-Lebanon league play for the first time this season, and performed well. They’re not quite as consistent as some teams, but they are losing close games to good teams- the breakthrough could well come by the spring or next year. Depleted by losses of excellent seniors, West Chester East, Downingtown East, and Emmaus all took steps back from last year (each was ranked by this site at one point or another last season). While not contenders, none of these schools are weak by any means, with good buzzes all around. Hopefully they take advantage of rebuilding years to study hard and improve further, since there’s plenty to work with. Last but not least, one of the circuit’s newer squads, Renaissance Academy, sent three teams to play. Their inexperience led to some struggles, but their teams won games late and there’s many many students involved. Give it a year or two of playing invitationals and I have no doubt Renaissance will be highly competitive.
Thanks to all the teams for competing! So great to work with sharp kids on Saturdays!