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.
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.
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 Lehigh, Cedar 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.
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!
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 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!