2018 NAQT SSNCT Preview

Eleven teams representing nine Pennsylvania schools will be competing at the 2018 NAQT Small School National Championship Tournament in Chicago this weekend. These teams qualified for SSNCT by finishing in the top 30% of teams from eligible schools at tournaments and leagues throughout the state, and they will be competing in separate Traditional Public and Open divisions. The complete field is here.

Exterior

The Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago will host SSNCT.

Like HSNCT, there have been some changes to the format this year. In both divisions, teams will be playing ten power-matched prelim games on Saturday using a card system, and those with a winning record (6-4 or better) will make the next day’s playoffs.  This is up from the 9 games SSNCT has used in the past. In the playoffs, double elimination will reign. Further details can be found in our guide to national championships. Last year’s set was approximately the same difficulty as a NAQT IS set.

Here are quick summaries and a (just-for-fun, potentially very inaccurate) prediction for each team:

Traditional Public

Camp Hill

After winning last year’s Very Small School title and taking 3rd place in the 2017 Traditional Public division, several of this year’s players have experience with the format and the pressure of competing at SSNCT. Camp Hill has finished 11th or better among Small Schools for seven years running. Lead scorer Sydney has strong literature and mythology knowledge, and steady contributions from Alex and Ben helped them to a 1st place win at the Penn State Spring Academic Bowl last month. Their points-per-bonus on IS sets has improved throughout the year, increasing almost two points from 15.88 PPB at Henderson in November to 17.74 PPB at Allderdice in January. They have not found a replacement for last year’s GPQB First Team All-Star Colton, however, so they are unlikely to reach the peaks of last season’s run.

Prediction: 7-3 in prelims, top 20 finish

Huntingdon A and B

Andrew, David, and Max form a solid core for this team, each contributing around 20 to 30 points per game at the three tournaments they played together. We’re not sure what their team lineups will be at SSNCT (Andrew played on B for Penn State’s tournament, where he put up 72.22 individual PPG), but assuming their best players play together, their A team could be fairly potent while the B team might struggle some.

Prediction for A: 7-3 in prelims, top 25 finish
Prediction for B: 3-7 in prelims

Lakeland

Lakeland is led by star player Michael Goerlitz, who has a strong power rate and will likely be in contention for a tournament All-Star scoring award at SSNCT. Though several players from their 2017 team graduated, Michael’s rapid improvement this year could carry them to an even higher finish than last year’s T-19 result.

Prediction: 8-2, top 12 finish

Riverside

A regular on the WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage show in northeast PA, Riverside made their pyramidal debut at Wallenpaupack’s Big Lake Brawl in February. They showed improvement over the course of their first tournament and ended up winning three of their four afternoon games, and I expect that their stats will keep improving as they continue to get accustomed to quizbowl’s format and the structure of SSNCT.

Prediction: 3-7 in prelims

South Side

Evan, Sophia, and Drew provide balanced scoring, and some of their players have past SSNCT experience from playing on last year’s team. With a good power rate this year, I expect that they’ll do as well as (or possibly even better than) last year’s T-29.

Prediction: 6-4 in prelims, top 40 finish

Westmont Hilltop

Another team that has improved its power rate and PPB over the course of the year, Westmont Hilltop is led by senior player Ethan with good contributions from his teammates. Some players might have experience from playing on last year’s SSNCT team, which finished T-29.

Prediction: 6-4 in prelims, top 40 finish

Open

Friends Select

This formidable team was ranked 4th in PA in our midseason poll, and just last weekend they managed to defeat one of the country’s strongest high school teams on a collegiate set. Richard has emerged as their lead scorer followed by Jake and Rudyard, both of whom also provide deep knowledge and high point totals. Their impressive power rate and strong bonus conversion (their season best was 22.30 PPB on an IS set at Henderson) have combined for high tournament finishes throughout the year, and they should do very well at SSNCT. They have a tendency to have an occasional game where they will come down with a case of the negs, however, so they will need to ensure that they play clean during playoffs.

Prediction: 9-1 in prelims, top 3 finish

Moravian Academy A and B

With experience from playing on last year’s B team at SSNCT, current sophomores Alex and Neil have shown the ability to provide a one-two punch for this year’s A team. Their 16-17 PPB on A sets this year indicates that they’ll put up solid stats and get some wins at SSNCT.

Prediction for A: 4-6 in prelims
Prediction for B: 2-8 in prelims

Winchester Thurston

After taking 4th in their division at the 2017 SSNCT and making an extraordinary run to 9th place at last year’s HSNCT, their entire A team graduated and they had a coaching change. However, they’ve shown that they are still an extremely talented team, continuing their strategy of balanced scoring and specialist players. They won the Allderdice Invitational with all four players exceeding 25 PPG and 20.50 PPB, so they are in a good position to make a deep run into the playoffs this weekend.

Prediction: 8-2 in prelims, top 6 finish

Good luck to everyone at SSNCT! If you’d like updates from the tournament, be sure to follow NAQT’s livebloggers and their tournament coverage on Twitter (@NAQTLive) and Instagram (@NAQTqb).

-Jackie and Ben

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