Last Saturday, 36 teams from around the Northeast of the US gathered to compete and one of the big traditional bouts of the PA quiz calendar. This was the largest field for Henderson Invitational yet.
Wilmington Charter A, up from Delaware seeking wins and trophies as they often do, came away with 1st place. They were undefeated, and had the highest points per bonus, points per game, and powers of teams in attendance. Charter might not be from Pennsylvania, but since Delaware doesn’t have much of a circuit of its own right now, we’re always happy to see them and they have shown they’re a real top 25 nationals contender this season. To win, Charter defeated Penn Manor A in the final. A number of teams were close statistically, but Penn Manor managed to come out on top with some very clutch wins, including a 5 point win over third place team and their Lancaster County rival Hempfield. Connor Mayers’ tournament leading performance, with an average of just a hair over 100 points per game, shows that he’s entered the clear upper echelon of players in the region. Penn Manor has proven they can do some major damage with this performance.
Hempfield’s third place was nothing to sneeze at, as Penn Manor was their only loss and Will Y.’s 70 points per game indicates he’s also one of the state’s strongest players this season. Fourth place went to Friends Select A. As a new look squad of sorts that has has to replace almost all their production this off season, FSS has rebuilt swimmingly. A 43/80/13 line from such a young group of players suggests continued success for this school. Manheim Township A took fifth, behind an impressive performance by Will S.(68 ppg) and solid performances in the 20s from Noah, Cyril, and Ryan. They had the second best statistical numbers on the day, and along with Charter were the only team to clear 20 ppb. In fact, Manheim Township pulled a grail, meaning they answered all 20 tossups correctly, against New York State’s Smithtown East A (winning 670-(-5) in the process!). Grails are very rare*, and with one also occurring at SAGACITY in Pittsburgh Saturday, Pennsylvania teams managed the extraordinary feat of two in one day. Their lineups for the remainder of the season still seem to be in flux, however, so it will be interesting to see what those changes do to keep improving the team. Great Valley took sixth behind another balanced performance.
The rest of the playoffs featured Mannheim Township’s program depth in full force, as their B,C, and D teams all made it, as well as solid performances by Great Valley B, Camp Hill, and Downingtown STEM. The later two, led by Sydney and Anish, respectively, are schools with a veteran senior that was a key role player on very successful teams of the past (Sydney on Camp Hill’s Very Small School SSNCT champion in 2017, Anish on last year’s state champion STEM) now getting the chance to lead a squad of younger, less experienced players. Though neither seems ready to compete with some of the teams listed above, both teams put up fine performances and both will seek to get ranked by season’s end.
In the lower brackets, a litany of other circuit regulars, such as Cedar Crest, PALCS, Downingtown East, Lancaster Mennonite, and Greater Nanticoke got in on the action, and it looks like a number of them did quite well. A strong, 57 point performance from Mennonite’s Jacob stands out for these teams. It’s great to see these circuit mainstays doing well, though it’s a shame Henderson did not attract any new teams to the event.
Overall, this seems to have been a successful tournament. Thanks go out particularly to Nick Luca and Ashish Kumbhardare for some logistical fixes that allowed this tournament to run smoothly. The overall state rankings picture looks very complex, as so many teams are of comparable skill, and this tournament could have finished many different ways (which makes Charter and Penn Manor’s top showings all the more impressive!) I look forward to the continued success of these quizbowl standouts.
* According to the quizbowl wiki, a grail happens in high school quizbowl about 6 to 7 times a year, on average, in America. The Manheim Township grail was the 2nd in PA quizbowl history, after Souderton’s grail of Renaissance Academy at GVQBT II in 2015. The Allderdice grail at SAGACITY was the 3rd.