Seven schools out of the Keystone State traveled to Chicago this past weekend to play in NAQT’s Small School National Championship. This tournament restricts eligibility to non-selective schools with an enrollment of 500 or less in grades 10-12, and is designed to service teams with less players and resources at a high level. The tournament sounds like it was well run, and had excellent social media presence for those of us following along at home.
The big story for Pennsylvania was the continuation of Lehigh Valley Academy‘s amazing weekend, as Alex Schmidt, playing solo, managed to go all the way to the second to last round and finished in 3rd place. This is the highest finish by any non-State College HS team at a pyramidal national for a PA squad. Alex absolutely dominated, being the tournament’s highest scoring all star by 40 points a game. This is a true testament to how well he has studied and his ability to just go on blitz-like tears. His best match was probably his second to last one, where he vanquished 4th place finisher Piasa Southwestern (IL) with a 10/8/0 individual stat line. Unfortunately he unraveled with 6 negs in semifinal, but this performance is one for the ages. Well done.
Camp Hill out of the Harrisburg area and Lakeland out of the Scranton area also made it to the playoffs, finishing tied for 11th and tied for 25th respectivly. Camp Hill capped off a solid season which saw them fly under the radar a bit due to some bad breaks at tournaments, but they put up great statistics and really showed their mettle at SSNCT. Their junior Colton Sanden finished #5 in scoring for the tournament (I originally reported Colton was a senior due to confusion over the NAQT stat report- mea culpa!). Lakeland is a fairly new program up and coming, but has quickly become a threat. With Delaware Valley poised to lose many big guns next year, Lakeland’s strong SSNCT performance suggests it could be a strong competitor for the best team in Northeast PA next season.
South Side, led by #8 overall scorer Senia Walton, finished 4-5, while Mountain View, Renaissance Academy, and Westmont Hilltop all finished 3-6. The former two are newer teams at their first national, and it was good to see them win some nice games. Westmont Hilltop made the playoffs last year, but missing key players for the day, could not repeat. They are in good shape to keep improving and make it back next time.
Overall, Pennsylvanian teams acquitted themselves beautifully at the first of the three major nationals. No team was completely overwhelmed and our national prestige increased. We congratulate all these teams on a fine finish and hope all they keep up the good work next year.