Month: December 2015

2015-2016 State Mid-Season Rankings

It’s the time of year for the latest edition of team ranks. We are permanently replacing rankings entailing opinion pieces of one author with a new, AP poll style voting system. A panel of seven voters from the community not currently affiliated with any particular high school cast ballots, ranking ten teams in order. A first place ranking received 10 points, a second place 9, and so on. Thanks goes out to all our voters for taking the time to parse through all of the stats so far, contributing their eye test as moderators, and making some tough calls.

Without further ado, here are the 2015-2016 mid season top ten. All teams here are “A” teams for their school, unless specified. Followup commentary and discussion will be the topic of GPQB’s next podcast.

The Rankings

  1. Manheim Township A, 68 Points (5 first place)
  2. State College, 65 Points (2 first place)
  3. Delaware Valley, 52 Points
  4. Lehigh Valley Academy, 51 Points
  5. Great Valley, 38 Points
  6. PALCS, 28 Points
  7. Winchester Thurston, 26 Points
  8. Henderson, 21 Points
  9. Cedar Crest, 12 Points
  10. Manheim Township B, 11 Points

Also receiving votes were Alagar Homeschool (10) and Allderdice (2). Congratulations to all these teams for their hard work and many wins. We will see where they go next in the spring tournament slate!

The voters were: Ryan Bilger, Chris Chiego, Ben Herman, Andrew Nadig, Victor Prieto, Steven Silverman, and Bill Tressler.

Manheim Township Academic Challenge Wrap-Up


Henderson A (closer to camera) vs. Cedar Crest A duke it out, with the always excellent Bill Tressler (former national-champion coach) reading the varsity division final.

44 quizbowl teams, likely a record number for pyramidal quizbowl in Pennsylvania, gathered at suburban Manheim Township HS in Lancaster on Saturday, Dec. 19th to compete in the Manheim Township HS Academic Challenge. The tournament was, from a logistical standpoint, practically perfect, and kudos to coach Missy Doll and the Manheim Township team for getting through 11 rounds by 3:30 PM.

Full statistical results with the NAQT nationals qualifiers are available here.


Henderson A (closer to camera) vs. Cedar Crest A duke it out, with the always excellent Bill Tressler (former national-champion coach) reading the varsity division final.

Varsity Division Results

Henderson A, missing one of their best players in the morning rounds due to illness, barely made the playoffs after two close losses in the morning. Unfortunately for the other teams in that playoff bracket, in particular Great Valley A, Henderson was at full strength in the afternoon rounds and went undefeated in their championship playoff bracket. In the other championship bracket, Cedar Crest A used a balanced, consistent attack to reach the finals against Henderson and leaped out to a 260-point lead in the final, seemingly sewing the game up at the half. Henderson then mounted a furious comeback, pulling into the lead by 25 going into the final tossup. NAQT pop culture then chose the most inopportune moment to come up for Cedar Crest and, despite Henderson negging the tossup, Cedar Crest couldn’t convert the final question and lost by 20. It was a thrilling match and, in the eyes of one GPQB contributor, the “best match ever in PA quizbowl history.” Great Valley A, who had lost by 5 to Henderson earlier, won the 3rd-place trophy and was playing slightly shorthanded.

Two relative newcomers rounded out the top 5, with Friends Select A displaying a go-for-broke style that got them several big wins and a few close losses. Hempfield A, in contrast, played with impressive discipline (only 6 negs across the whole tournament!) and definitely ought to attend more pyramidal tournaments. Both of these schools qualified for HSNCT in their NAQT tournament debut.

Rounding out the other automatic HSNCT challengers, Camp Hill A, gunning for a deep SSNCT playoff run this year, showed some solid game as well with deep history and literature knowledge. Cedar Crest B finished in 7th (qualifying two Cedar Crest teams for nationals).

Lancaster Mennonite also played impressively in their pyramidal weekend tournament debut, as did Bermudian Springs A and Boiling Springs A. Wallenpaupack and Great Valley B also made the championship brackets. It was great to see so many new-to-weekend quizbowl teams from all around Eastern PA there to compete.


Carver HSES A with their trophy. From L to R: William Z., Dalya H., coach Shan Hogan, Collins E., and Su L.

JV Division Results

The JV division was a wild dogfight. PPB and averages didn’t matter–every game was about getting the W and surviving. When the dust cleared, the top bracket had a distinctly Philadelphia flavor with 3 of the top 5 teams coming from the city itself, including the JV Champion, Carver HSES A. Though playing in only their second-ever tournament, Carver plays smart, disciplined quizbowl–they always confer carefully on bonuses, spread the responsibility for various categories around to all four of their main players, and seemed to get better after lunch. Wissahickon A, with an impressive 18 PPB, couldn’t translate that into tossups in the final and finished as the runner-up to Carver.

Philadelphia Central finished with two teams in the top bracket, with their B team outperforming their A team this time by capturing 3rd win a win over Henderson C, who finished in 4th. Central A beat Bucks County’s William Tennant A (who performed nicely in their first competition of the year) in the 5th-place game. All-in-all, this was a superb tournament for Pennsylvania quizbowl and I was impressed by all the teams that I saw playing. Good luck studying to all teams over the break and congrats again to Henderson A and Carver HSES A on winning!

QFO at Penn Wrap-Up

34 teams gathered at the University of Pennsylvania last Saturday, December 5th to compete at the Quaker Fall Open. The tournament featured two divisions of 17 teams each: a novice division designed for the six new-to-quizbowl schools and other new players, and an open division for more experienced teams to compete in. Friends Select A won the novice division while Wilmington Charter A won the open division.

Full stats are available here.

Novice Division

Friends Select A, playing in their first quizbowl tournament ever (and having only apparently practiced on buzzers once before), blew away the competition by going undefeated, with an impressive 24.27 PPB average over the course of the tournament and multiple 500+ point games. Though the novice division played on the relatively easy SCOP novice set, this is still a very strong first-time performance and speaks to a strong raw knowledge base that could translate well to higher difficulties.

Central Bucks East B used a balanced scoring attack to claim 2nd place in the novice division. Though they never had major blowout wins, they also were quite competitive in their losses and won a 3-team circle-of-death by statistical tiebreak to finish in 2nd. While many of the other Bucks County teams were eventually unable to make it, it was great to see Central Bucks East do so well.

Carver HSES A won 3rd place behind another relatively balanced scoring ensemble. This team has improved an incredible amount in less than a month thanks to an enthusiastic and experienced coach, and a large amount of interest from students that led to two full teams, plus spectators at QFO. Friends Select B finished in 4th, followed by a game Delaware Valley D team.

Among some of the other newcomers, Philadelphia Central High School‘s two teams were quite competitive, but both barely missed out on the championship bracket. They seemed to have a ton of interest and potential, so I hope to see them back at more tournaments as they build up their program. Science Leadership Academy rode the 55 PPG of 4th-leading-scorer Chucky to an up-and-down series of 3 wins and 5 losses, many of them quite close (note their solid 16.49 PPB). Norristown also notched 3 wins and Franklin Towne Charter got a win over Carver B.

Open Division

The Open division saw the continued dominance of the High Tech, Wilmington Charter, and East Brunswick trio, and the rise of a new regional contender, Great Valley A. While the results mostly played out according to seedings and the national rankings, the process of generating those results led to some incredible matches.

In perhaps the match of the semester in the Mid-Atlantic, Great Valley A played neg-free to take a strong 255 to 85 lead after 12 TUs over Charter A in the semifinal matchup. Charter battled back, but GV responded with a couple powers of their own (including a daring power-vulch on TU 18) to maintain a lead. Going into TU 19, GV clung to an 85 point lead. This meant that the only way for Charter to win outright would be to power both TUs and 30 both bonuses.

And they did. After negging TU 18, Rohan (the #2 overall scorer in the open division) powered the last two TUs and the team 30’d the last two bonuses to emerge with a 340-335 win. It was an instant classic and probably drained Charter A, as they then lost the tournament final to a dominant High Tech Team (who got revenge on Charter A beating them earlier in the day) with a 535-205 win for the championship. Great Valley continued their strong play in the 3rd place game, beating East Brunswick A to claim 3rd.

Carlisle High, making their Saturday tournament (though not pyramidal, as their league uses NAQT questions) debut, chose to compete in the Open division and played quite well against the regional powerhouses. The Gunston School, out of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, got several wins and lost a few other close matches.

Overall, this tournament seemed to be a positive introduction to quizbowl for many new teams and a competitive opportunity for more established programs. Much will depend on how some of the newer schools follow-up on this tournament–hopefully they will continue to attend Saturday tournaments and work to keep learning! There’s much untapped talent yet in Pennsylvania and more tournaments like this plus the Nittany Lion Novice will help encourage the spread of good quizbowl in the state.

Nittany Lion Novice 2015 Wrap-Up

Central Pennsylvania, notably bereft of good quizbowl invitationals for several years (the last regular format one took place five seasons ago), woke from its long slumber for a novice event featuring teams from many corners of the state. Penn State’s Nittany Lion Novice featured 17 teams from 8 different high schools duking it out for three trophy spots. The SCOP set was used, and full statistics are available here.

Manheim Township A (consisting of freshman and sophomore players) followed in the footsteps of their upper teams with a big time win, clearing the field undefeated and leaving no need for a final. This performance included 23.6 points per bonus, which is strong even on a novice set.

NLN Champs Manheim Township A with their trophy.

NLN Champs Manheim Township A with their trophy.

The second place team was Indiana A. Indiana is coming off a great season, which finished with a four win nationals appearance, and working to replace a lot of critical graduating seniors. Into the void came tournament MVP Sooraj Sharma, whose 86 points a game was dominant. I saw him get many nice powers in the matches I read for him, and the team combined for lots of really solid wins. Westmont Hilltop‘s A and B teams finished 3rd and tied for 4th respectively. This small school form the Johnstown area has consistently been a Middle School power, and that’s paying dividends at the high school level, with the two teams doing a lot of damage. The A team had better tossup stats, the B team did better on bonuses. It will be interesting to see where Westmont falls against other strong small school teams like Camp Hill and Lakeland by season’s end in PA.

The playoffs were rounded out by Huntingdon A and State College A. Huntingdon, who had previously competed at NHBB but were making their all-subject quizbowl debut, showed they know more than history for sure. I was particularly impressed with many of their literature buzzes; strong knowledge of this subject helped them force and then win a tiebreaker against Indiana in one of the closest matches I’ve read yet (final score: 345-330). State College did more or less what they always do, getting consistent points across subjects in an efficient manner. Pabitra Roy emerged as the next potential State College star.

An in progress playoff bout between Huntingdon A (left) and Westmont Hilltop B (right)

An in progress playoff bout between Huntingdon A (left) and Westmont Hilltop B (right)

Last but not least, there were three other schools that came up short of the playoffs: Schuylkill Haven, Southern Fulton, and Kane. While they didn’t make the top six, these teams still got in many good buzzes and contributed a lot to a great day. Schuylkill Haven in particular should be commended for 20 points per bonus from their A team, which shows some strong depth of knowledge. All three come from under-represented areas of the state in terms of Saturday quizbowl participation, so it was great to see them competing and any one could become a contender. I hope to see all the teams that came to Nittany Lion Novice again soon!

-Ben Herman