Month: January 2020

Allegheny IU Academic Competition (1/31/20)

Six teams from five schools within the Allegheny Intermediate Unit competed this morning in the first-ever AIU Academic Competition, which used NAQT’s IS-187A set. Several of the teams were playing on pyramidal questions for the first time and did impressively well against other the other teams who had a bit more experience.

Stats can be found here.

1st Place: Pine-Richland

Pine-Richland finished in first place with a solid 19.38 points-per-bonus (PPB), averaging over 3 powers a round. Sam and Miles both exceeded 50 points-per-game (PPG) as individuals while Michael, Daniel, and Justin each added several buzzes en route to their undefeated 5-0 record.

2nd Place: South Fayette

The team from South Fayette finished in second with 19.61 PPB, the highest in the field. After taking their only loss to Pine-Richland in the first round, they settled into a 4-game winning streak led by the 60 PPG of lead scorer Jack.

3rd Place: Gateway

Third place went to Gateway. This six-person team was the third in the field to clear 19 PPB and did so with a relatively balanced scoring effort.

Chartiers Valley was powered by Shanti’s 62 PPG, making her the top scorer in the field. Two of their three losses had margins of under 100 points, indicating that they played some close and competitive games. Rounding out the field, Moon sent two three-person teams to their first pyramidal event in several years. Sam from Moon A put up 51 PPG to lead his team through the morning, while Moon B scored in the triple digits every game, coming within 35 points of a win against eventual runner-up South Fayette in round 5.

Overall, it was great to see some new faces competing in a small but fun event! We hope to see all of these teams at future tournaments like Pitt’s Battle of the Burgh and other competitions next year.


PALCS Invitational Wrap-Up (1/25/2020)

18 teams were on hand for Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School’s first-ever tournament, which occurred last Saturday. IS-190 was used as the set. Kudos go out to Coach Sommar and the folks at PALCS for running a smooth ship that was a bunch of fun to play as well as staff.

Stats can be found here.

Great Valley A and B with their first and second place trophies.

Great Valley high school dominated the day, with their A and B teams taking first and second place respectively. The A team ran the table undefeated, smashing 84 powers and only being seriously threatened by the B team. This team is rounding into form, and for the first time they looked like they had the “put-them-away” dominance a team needs to win states. They will go very far. The B team is right behind them, finishing with essentially the same points per bonus and 62 powers of their own. Their only loss was to their A team and they made a spirited comeback from down big to beat Friends Select by 15 to finish 2nd. Intriguingly, both teams had exactly 29 negs as well. This performance only further confirms GV is the deepest program in Pennsylvania right now.

Friends Select A seized 3rd place. This is also the best they’ve looked all year. Their A team core has improved, including Matt finishing 2nd in scoring for the tournament. Beyond that, a huge difference maker was Akilesh, who had several fantastic powers. While their season started slow, this lineup might be the one to take Friends Select back into the top five statewide, as they looked good all over the distribution. Trinity finished 4th, and continue to look sharp. They came closer to beating GV B than at Henderson in November, are notching more powers, and are doing better on bonuses. Oxford A took 5th. This is a team that seems stronger on housewrites than NAQT questions, but still has a lot of upside. They split with Trinity 1-1 on the day, and Chris led the tournament in scoring with 93.5 points per game. Maryland’s Quince Orchard high school finished sixth.

Carver HSES A and Friends Select B, about to square off in round 4.

In the consolation brackets, Great Valley again dominated, with their C and D teams taking 7th and 8th. Downingtown STEM, which some feared would fade after the 2018-19 team graduated away, finished 9th behind a strong buzzer performance from Sashwat, who scored over 50 points per game. Carver HSES and Friends Select B made the middle bracket, and played a close game that went 260-210 in Carver’s favor. These two teams are likely going to be competing for the 3rd HSNCT qualifying spot at Philly City Champs in March, and that’s going to be an exciting game. Henderson “A” also made middle bracket, but this was more like their C team, so this was good experience as they continue to improve and get ready to take over after Vijay and Vikram graduate. The low bracket was filled out with additional B/C/D teams and two teams from C. Milton Wright high school in Maryland.

I read for several fantastic games this tournament, including close bouts between Carver A and FSS B, Trinity and GV B, and FSS A and GV B. The spirit and competitiveness of these students continues to impress. Next weekend holds two more tournaments: Allderdice Invitational in Pittsburgh and Big Lake Brawl at Wallenpaupack.


GVQBT VII (1/4/2020) Wrap-Up

52 teams came to Great Valley High School in Malvern this past Saturday for the biggest tournament in the state this season. The Open division saw 24 teams compete on the challenging and variable Glasgow Scottie set, while 28 Novice division teams played the PSACA III novice set. Stats for both divisions can be found here.

Tournament Champions Manheim Township A

Another PA tournament brings another new champion this year, with  Manheim Township A taking home first place. The midseason poll #1 squad won almost all of their games comfortably, including a 460-225 victory over a strong duo from Clark HS (Nevada), who took second place on the day. I read their last game in which they needed to win to clinch the tournament and avoid a 1-game final, and I was impressed by the way in which they took the time to huddle up down by 15 at the half and just turned it on for the rest of the match. AZ’s emergence continues, as he outscored Will by over 10 PPG, while Cyril and Sanya contributed strongly as well as the main 3rd and 4th chairs. MT led the field in powers by far and, as we have said, really looked the part of a far and away #1 team in the state. Congratulations to Manheim Township on getting over the proverbial hump and claiming their first tournament win of the year!

Penn Manor added to their trophy cabinet with a 3rd place finish. This was my first time seeing Connor play this year, and I observed some good work from him even as the team fell narrowly to Clark on the final tossup. PM also had the highest PPB of any team in the playoff rounds, speaking to their depth as well. Their success this spring will depend on Connor’s ability to take over games, and this tournament showed his capability on that front.

Penn Manor just before the playoffs. They would finish in 3rd place.

While the stats link presents them in a different order, since tied records were broken based on head-to-head, fourth place went to Oxford A in one of the top stories of the day. Oxford recorded arguably the biggest upset of the GPQB era by demolishing Henderson A 405-205 in a game in which they took the lead early and never let up. They also defeated Hempfield by a 285-265 score on the final tossup. Chris Goodrich really broke out as a top-quality player here, with 72.14 PPG against the other playoff teams, and I observed all four players contributing on bonuses and getting buzzes of their own as well. Considering this tournament roughly marked a year since they began attending Saturday pyramidal competitions, their rapid improvement is nothing short of incredible, and Oxford represents a true model for how a new-to-quizbowl school can approach the game and work together to get better and better. Their performance here certainly puts them in the conversation for future state polls.

Based on the head-to-head tiebreaker, Hempfield finished 5th, followed by Henderson A in 6th. Though they narrowly lost their game for which I read, Hempfield seems like a squad with a strong “game sense,” knowing how to work well together as a team. Carsten and Sebastian led the way in scoring, but Colby and Michael also played nicely in the playoffs too. The unnamed “Henderson housewrite curse” struck again for them on this day, as they never really seemed to get up to full speed without the benefit of their NAQT category strengths. Vijay and Vikram were their top scoring players again, and they did notch a nice win over Penn Manor, but overall this was not their strongest outing. FSS A took 7th place behind balanced scoring from Matt, Jonah, and Silas, with victories over Oxford and 8th-place Henderson B, who struggled in the playoffs but showed me some good knowledge in the prelims too.

In the top consolation bracket, Moravian A went undefeated, with a 295-260 win over Manheim Township C their only close playoff match. Moravian remains a solid team hovering around the 11-15 range in the state at the moment, but a couple of strong spring tournament finishes could vault them up higher. Manheim Township B went 3-2 in the playoffs on incredibly balanced scoring, with their four players scoring 24, 24, 23, and 22 PPG in those rounds. Carver A had one of their strongest finishes by ending the day strong with two victories, paced by Sebastian Kennedy’s 51 PPG. West Chester Rustin finished at the bottom of this bracket, but I have been quite impressed by some of their real knowledge buzzes and bonus pulls whenever I have read for them.

The next bracket saw Western LehighCedar Crest A, and Wallenpaupack all finish at 4-1, with a circle of victories and losses against each other. Each of these teams had good contributions from all their players, and Western Lehigh had the strongest PPB by a decent margin of the three. Moravian B and Lancaster Mennonite rounded out the bracket, the latter led by Toby Palmer’s 50 playoff PPG.

The final bracket was swept by PALCS A, behind 49 playoff PPG from Max Lind. Archbishop Ryan came next, followed by FSS B, Renaissance, and a GV house team. These teams did a nice job on a challenging question set and gained some valuable experience for the future.

State College A with their novice division first place trophy

The novice division was won by State College A (typically the school’s C team at full strength), with an exciting 335-220 victory in the final over a Cedar Crest B team of emerging freshmen. SC demonstrated once again the great depth of their program, while Cedar Crest’s Danny Peelen led the division in scoring with 83 PPG. State College B (their typical D team) claimed 3rd place with a victory over Council Rock North, who turned in an extremely strong performance in their first Saturday pyramidal tournament ever, including a 360-230 victory over the tournament champions. Again, it’s great to see new teams doing well with an accessible question set that gives them good opportunities to do so!

Cedar Crest B with their second place novice division trophy

An interesting mixture of teams filled out the remainder of  the championship brackets. A Great Valley house team got major contributions from the GV middle school players, indicating that the pipeline remains strong there. Pine Grove A out of Schuylkill County finished 6-4 with balanced scoring and some impressive lit knowledge from lead scorer Jade Shollenberger, while Oxford B also finished 6-4 behind 60 PPG from CJ Evans-Ralston. Downingtown STEM did quite well to make the playoffs in their pyramidal return, and Carver C showed off the depth of their program by finishing 5-5. Both teams from ELCO also finished in the championship brackets as well, and Delaware’s Archmere Academy rounded out these teams.

The Pine Grove A team from Schuylkill County
Downingtown STEM’s team in their return to the pyramidal circuit

The first consolation bracket was topped by Carver B, who finished 7-2. Just behind them were Wissahickon B, who finished with the best PPB of any team in the division at 19.89 in an impressive display of knowledge. Archbishop Wood did nicely in their return to the circuit for the season, while Penncrest out of Media, PA notched some wins in their first pyramidal tournament ever. Teams from PALCS, Renaissance, and Henderson rounded out the bracket.

Wissahickon A tied with Conrad Weiser B at the top of the final bracket. Nice job by both teams, especially Conrad Weiser in their first tournament in a couple of years. Also of note in this bracket was Upper Moreland out of Montgomery County snagging four wins in their pyramidal debut, with Jack Geld scoring a strong 59.5 PPG.

Overall, despite some (not unjustified) gripes about the set in the Open division, it was a fun day with some excellent competition and a great way to kick off 2020 in PA quizbowl!

-Ryan Bilger