In this podcast, Ben and Jackie go over the 24 teams headed to HSNCT 2019. Ben makes some just-for-fun predictions.
This year’s Small School National Championship Tournament saw over 152 teams from across the country gather outside of Chicago for a weekend of quizbowl competition between small schools. Despite upsets along the way, the favorites in both the Traditional Public and Open division took home the gold. Congratulations to Glasgow (KY) and Miami Valley (OH) on their SSNCT titles for public and open, respectively.
Stats for the tournament are here. If you need a refresher on the format, see my preview post from earlier this week. For this post, I’m going to summarize some of the major headlines regarding the Pennsylvania teams.
Friends Select and Winchester Thurston Shine, Build Friendly Rivalry
In terms of finish, the Pennsylvanians that scaled the highest were Philadelphia’s Friends Select and Pittsburgh’s Winchester Thurston, both finishing T-11th in the Open Division. They did well against a stacked field, but also worked to build what’s becoming one of the state’s most enjoyable quizbowl rivalries. The card system pitted them together twice in the prelim rounds. In Round 3, Thurston pulled out the last tossup to win a hard-fought squeaker, 360-355, in what all involved said was a great match. Friends Select avenged themselves 345-240 in the afternoon. After they didn’t get a chance to play for a third time in the playoffs, the two teams wanted to settle the question with a best-of-3 match, and scrimmaged each other informally (WT won) before playing some celebratory pop culture matches. It’s fantastic to see that the schools have not only started a charismatic, Philly-Pitt rivalry for top small private schools, but also are friendly and great sports as well.
Huntingdon Impresses in Traditional Public Tournament
The other playoff qualifier for PA this year was Huntingdon, who swung T-17th in the Traditional Public division. Taking my prediction to heart, they made sure to rub in their successes every time I encountered the team. It’s great to see them continue to do well and represent Central PA with honor and pride year in, year out. I can remember watching their first tournament appearance in 2015, and since then they’ve continued to study hard and enjoy quizbowl to the fullest. Well done!
Despite Strong Effort, Camp Hill’s Streak Ends
In something of a sad note, Camp Hill’s streak of eight 11th-or-better finishes ended this year, with a series of tough losses after a promising 4-2 start as Raceland-Worthington (KY) beat them in a win-and-in game between 5-4 teams in the last round. By points-per-game, Camp Hill was the best team to miss the playoffs, and exceeded the points-per-bonus of many playoff entrants to boot. While it’s a shame that the streak ended, this only means an opportunity to begin a new one. Sydney capped off a memorable career with just shy of 60 points per 20 tossups, good for 15th nationally individually.
First-Timers Sharpsville and Germantown Friends Have a Blast
PA had a first-time entrant for nationals in both divisions, and both had some highlight moments. In Traditional Public, Sharpsville went 4-6. PA alum Adam Swift and I, who were moderating together, had them come through our room twice on Saturday, and they seemed to be having a blast. Jared and Brenna both had great, multi-buzz performances in a defeat of Gold Beach (OR) we read, which was their first win. Meanwhile, Germantown Friends debuted in open, and went 5-5. This team had no seniors and performed well against a very tough schedule draw. They will be on many PA pollsters’ radars come the preseason for the 2019-2020 season.
Numerous PA Schools Build For the Future
While it may not have been the first rodeo for these schools, Westmont Hilltop, Lakeland, South Side, and Southern Fulton also contested the Public division, and Moravian A and B contested in Open. All went either 5-5 and 4-6, acquitting themselves well on these questions. Once again, many of these players are underclassmen, and surely learned quite a bit at this tournament. Josh from Southern Fulton made the top 20 players for Public with 53 PP20TUHs (Points-Per-20-Tossups-Heard–yeah it’s a mouthful, but it’s used at NAQT nationals because the number of tossups heard each game is variable and so they normalize scoring by every 20 tossups heard).
This tournament was a thrill to staff. I have done a few SSNCT wrap-ups in the past, but it’s completely different to be on the ground and experience it as the players do, with twists and turns, highs and lows of emotion, and wonderful friends and conversations. At its heart, quizbowl is about people, and this SSNCT showed that. Major props to Nathan Murphy and the NAQT logistics team, who ran this event without a hitch and made the staffer experience a breeze.
Twelve teams from eleven different Pennsylvania schools will be competing at the 2019 NAQT Small School National Championship Tournament in Chicago this weekend. The event is designed for schools with small enrollments, and thus a smaller pool for team members. 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 School and Open (Private + Charter) divisions. The complete field can be found here.
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. In the playoffs, double elimination will decide the champion. 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, so it will be easier than the larger HSNCT tournament later this month. PA teams have had success at SSNCT in the recent past, with Camp Hill obtaining 3rd in the Public School division (and 1st among the Very Small Schools) two seasons ago, and Friends Select and Winchester Thurston finishing in the top four of the Open Division within the last two years.
Here are quick summaries and my just-for-fun (and often comically wrong!) prediction for each team:
Few things are as sure in Pennsylvania Quizbowl as Camp Hill ranking among its top small schools. They will be looking to extend an impressive streak of eight consecutive top-eleven finishes for Small Schools nationally this weekend. Sydney, a longtime veteran and a great lit and myth player, will lead them. Unfortunately, their stats have been weaker than in years past and outside of Sydney, they lack a deep threat. Their good bonus conversion and high-pressure experience should get them to the playoffs easily; we will watch excitedly to see if the top-eleven streak continues.
Prediction: 7-3 in Prelims, top 15 Finish
Another team from Central PA, Huntingdon has developed over the years into a steady presence in Pennsylvania Small School rankings. They finished in a tie for fifteenth at last year’s SSNCT. I want to predict similar success this year, but their statistical record has a ton of red flags (low PPB on sets above the A-Set level, a healthy neg rate). SSNCT Public has a lot close games, and hopefully the senior-heavy lineup from Huntingdon’s experience serves them well. I think they’ll make playoffs again, but won’t make it quite as far as last time.
Prediction: 6-4 in Prelims, top 25 Finish
Lakeland will be the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area’s lone representative at SSNCT. After losing last year’s all-state honorable mention player Michael Goerlitz to graduation, Lakeland went into a rebuild. They improved significantly as the year went on, going from about 10 to 14 PPB on IS sets. I don’t think they’re quite a playoff team, but Lakeland shows potential for a strong 2020.
Prediction: 5-5 in Prelims
Coming from the New Castle-Hermitage Area, Sharpsville will be making their nationals debut this SSNCT. They’ve been playing regularly and enthusiastically, and it’s great to see them challenge themselves with the top small schools. They should enjoy their trip to Chicago and keep building buzzer experience.
Prediction: 3-7 in Prelims
A longtime regular on the circuit out of Beaver County, South Side is coming off a SSNCT playoff appearance last season. They’re not quite as strong statistically this year, but did manage a solid 7th place finish at Battle of the Burgh. SSNCT will be a good test for them, as a lot of their opponents will be similar to schools in their weight class in the Pittsburgh area.
Prediction: 5-5 in Prelims
This is something of a mystery team for us. Despite being from Pennsylvania, Southern Fulton hasn’t played at a PA event in years, instead showing up as an occasional competitor at Maryland events. They have excellent neg control this year it seems, though never finished above 27th at a tournament. It’s hard to get a grasp on them, and we’d love to see them around Pennsylvania more often.
Prediction: 3-7 in Prelims
Famous for “the recorder dance” that blew up on NAQT’s instagram a couple SSNCTs ago, Westmont Hilltop is back for more. They have a fantastic player in Moses Zeidan, who piloted them to a strong 2nd place at the Allderdice Invitational this year. Without him in tow, however, Westmont Hilltop has struggled mightily to even clear 100 points per game this season. I will make my prediction assuming they are at full strength.
Prediction: 6-4 in Prelims, Top 30 Finish
Friends Select is coming of a 2nd place SSNCT finish last year, and while much of that team has graduated, there’s still quite a bit left in the tank for another run. Matt D’Annunzio has been one of this season’s breakout players, and Rudyard Lynch has turned into a grizzled veteran who feasts on NAQT categories like current events. The rest of the team can pitch in, and FSS always finds a way to leverage good real knowledge into a successful performance. They’re dropped back a bit on their abilities on science and fine art since last season, but they’ll make a deep run again.
Prediction: 8-2 in Prelims, Top 10 finish.
As for the other Quaker School, GFS is what we at GPQB might call an “Archetypal Emmaus”: a school which had never played quizbowl before, shows up in the fall, hits the ground running, and becomes an immediate impact team. Germantown Friends didn’t finish below 2nd at any event they played in season, with impressive stats (PPBs in the 20s, good power rate). The biggest concern for them is that they’ve never seen questions harder than the A-Set or introductory level, so the difficulty jump to nationals might be jarring. Because of this, I don’t expect too deep a run, but playoffs seem a reasonable goal and they will undoubtedly catch an unprepared team off guard.
Prediction: 6-4 in Prelims, Top 25 Finish
Moravian Academy A
Moravian has slowly risen through the ranks to become a solid performer out of the Lehigh Valley, and made playoffs at SSNCT last year. The entire roster from that run returns. They seem all-around solid, and their stats might not wow you, but they have a few top five tournament finishes to their name. I expect a similar result to last year.
Prediction: 6-4 in Prelims, Top 25 Finish
Moravian Academy B
Like their A team, these are hardworking players looking to cap off a great season. Stats don’t indicate a ton of depth with this program. I doubt they make the playoffs, but they should get good experience to keep Moravian a contender for years to come.
Prediction: 3-7 in Prelims
Winchester Thurston has spent nearly a decade as one of the Pittsburgh Area’s best schools, and this year is no exception. They have been significantly hampered by not being able to play with their full lineup this season, but flashed some excellent potential (a 59/96/19 line with 22 PPB during a winning performance at Allderdice Invitational, notably). They finished 4th in 2017 and T5 last year. This team seems similar in some ways, and should do almost as well.
Prediction: 7-3 in Prelims, Top 10 Finish
As has been the case since our first year as a blog, we give out a Player of the Year, JV Player of the Year (9th and 10th grade), and Coach of the Year award to prominent individuals in the Pennsylvania quizbowl community. These award both on the buzzer achievements, as well as representing the way we play the game with sportsmanship and honor. These individuals join an elite club of some of the best to ever contest the game, and deserve recognition for their hard work and many hours of time invested in quizbowl and achieving excellence.
Congratulations to Will Yaeger of Hempfield High School for winning Player of the Year for 2018-2019. This award recognizes his rapid pace of improvement, leading his Hempfield team to stronger and stronger finishes as the season went on, as well as consistent points per game numbers in the top five of tournaments he played. Will has shown the ability to be a deep powering threat in multiple areas of the distribution, and strong performances have won respect from all corners of the state and beyond.
Congratulations to Albert Zhang of State College High School for winning JV Player of the Year for 2018-19. After bursting onto the scene with a tour de force performance at HSNCT last year, Albert has lived up to expectations and piloted his State College squad to continued success. He is only the 3rd JV-eligible player to make one of our all-state teams, and has emerged as the most potent scoring threat on some very deep State College rosters.
Congratulations to Steve Sobieck of Henderson High School for winning Coach of the Year for the 2018-19 season. This award recognizes both the past and present success of the Henderson program, which has remained a constant contender across several seasons and regularly features among the top finishing Pennsylvania teams. Further, under his tutelage, several significant players have developed into major scoring threats, with new Henderson Warriors emerging into the spotlight seemingly each year.
Fourteen teams out of six schools were on hand last week for the final scheduled tournament in the state of Pennsylvania this year, at Berwick High School.
This was a novice tournament late in the season, allowing some less experienced players to shine. Delaware Valley‘s A team captured 1st, leading the tournament in bonus conversion by about three points (very statistically significant). Lucas and DJ both had 47.5 points per game in a solid effort. Greater Nanticoke A came away with the silver, behind a fine 59.5 ppg from Gabe. Squads from Montgomery, Lakeland, Wallenpaupack, and house team Berwick also participated. Delaware Valley B’s Adam Kanterman was the top scorer, with 83 ppg and a tournament leading 13 powers, more than twice those by all but one other player.
Hopefully, this was a chance for Northeast PA’s players to build some confidence heading into next season. Next stop: SSNCT.
It’s that time of year again folks! As has been our tradition, we are here to recognize some of top players in the state with our two all-state teams of five, plus honorable mentions. Panelists that participated agreed that this was the most difficult year yet for picking players, and many top notch students deserved consideration for a place. We congratulate all these players for their hard work and dedication to learning and playing quizbowl.
Without further ado, here are the 2018-19 GPQB All State selections:
- Vijay Anne, Henderson High School
- Austin Davis, Allderdice High School
- Jakobi Deslouches, Allderdice High School
- Connor Mayers, Penn Manor High School
- Will Yaeger, Hempfield High School
- Matt D’Annunzio, Friends Select School
- Alana Dickey, Allderdice High School
- John Li, Great Valley High School
- Will Steger, Manheim Township High School
- Albert Zhang, State College High School
- Sid Chenrayan, Henderson High School
- Rudyard Lynch, Friends Select School
- Truman Jury, Allderdice High School
- Anshu Nunemunthala, Great Valley High School
- Rishi Raman, Great Valley High School
- Leo Sweeney, Allderdice High School
- Ryan Zhang, Hempfield High School
A geographically diverse field of Pennsylvania (and upstate NY) teams gathered at Penn State on March 30-31, allowing top teams from both the eastern and western PA circuits to face off in a weekend of close competition. The first half of the tournament was a 15-team NAQT DII SCT mirror, while the second PACE-style half consisted of a 10-team round robin with 20-point powers and no negs on the Florida Spring Tournament question set.
Stats are here.
The dominance of Ithaca (NY) provided a good measuring stick for the various in-state schools. They secured first place in both of the weekend’s events with PPBs almost 3 points above the next highest team and deep specialist buzzes from Isaiah, Julian, Kaelan, and Vaynu, and it was refreshing to see their great team chemistry during games (lots of fist-bumps!), especially in a match where they came back quickly from a 70-point deficit going into tossup 16 in a round against Hempfield by rallying to get the next five tossups in a row. Hempfield, finishing second in both events, did not lose to a single non-Ithaca team the entire weekend (even while playing shorthanded during the PACE tournament) and they’ve clearly shot up from their ranking of 7th in our mid-season poll. Will Y.’s high scoring led the team as always, but the consistent support from Ryan, Carsten, and Nishant has taken them to the next level. A shorthanded Allderdice A, missing Truman and later also playing without Leo in the PACE event, competed against eastern PA schools for the first time this year and put up similar stats to Hempfield to finish third, though with more powers and half the negs. This team is extremely strong in history, and the one-two punch of Jakobi and Austin supplemented by Leo’s current events and pop culture knowledge during the NAQT portion of the tournament got them close to defeating Hempfield a few times.
Great Valley secured wins in close games against teams like State College B and Henderson to take fourth in the NAQT SCT mirror, with balanced scoring from John, Rishi, Anshu, and Dan. State College B tied for fifth in the NAQT part, led by Albert and Allen, and the addition of Jupiter on Sunday got them to a fourth place finish in the PACE event. Also tied for fifth in the NAQT tournament, Henderson was the only team able to defeat eventual champion Ithaca, which they did in an exciting 345-325 victory by converting exactly two more bonus parts than their opponents (both teams had identical 2/9/3 statlines). Sid and Vikram each contributed over 20 PPG to back up star player Vijay’s performance. Manheim Township A and Allderdice B rounded out the T-5 bracket of the NAQT tournament, led respectively by Will S. and Alana.
Trinity, from the Harrisburg area, had an impressive performance at their first weekend pyramidal tournament, powering six times in their round one game against Hempfield and following that feat with wins over teams like Great Valley, Penn Manor, and Allderdice B. Juniors Luke and Connor led the team in scoring, and we’re excited to see them at HSNCT this May and at more local events next year. State College A had a solid PPB of 17.55 on Saturday, high than some of the teams finishing higher than them, and this senior-heavy team led by Taran came close to defeating Allderdice A in a 210-275 match.
Penn Manor consisted of Connor playing solo on both days, showcasing his strong generalist abilities with wins during the NAQT event over Allderdice B and over Delaware Valley from the northeast corner of the state, which was led by Emma’s 46 PPG. The B team from Manheim Township got a solid 315-80 win over Trinity, while Malaika from Downingtown East played solo and Geneva (NY) got a few wins to round out the NAQT field. A C team from State College joined the competition for the PACE tournament and managed a 260-110 win over Penn Manor, a great flash of potential for the 6-person team of sophomores and juniors.
This pre-nationals prep event served as a state championship of sorts, and except for the absence of southeast PA contender Friends Select, the field included most of the other top teams in the state. Hempfield finished the highest of the PA teams present, which they’ve done consistently since the tournaments at Penn Manor and Great Valley in February. Yet, the teams finishing below them showed the ability to threaten their dominance. The current parity amongst many top PA teams will make for an exciting nationals season as teams add back missing players and continue studying for the next month or two. Good luck and enjoy the rest of the season!
17 teams from 12 schools came to the University of Pittsburgh to compete at the 22nd installation of the Battle of the Burgh on NAQT IS-177. Full stats for the event can be found here.
Camp Hill cleared the field with a 10-0 record to claim first place. Sydney Preston demonstrated her generalist abilities once again to lead the team in scoring, with 74.72 PPG. All five Camp Hill players made significant contributions on the day, with Charlie Caddell, Gus Eberlein, Sam Haas, and Bobby Latham all scoring between 12 and 29 PPG in their time in the lineup. Camp Hill was only seriously threatened once, in a narrow 265-260 victory over Huntingdon A, who took second place. Andrew Buonaccorsi put up a solid 72.96 PPG on the day, and the team defeated all non-Camp Hill opponents on the day. Both of these teams appear well-poised to make another nice run at SSNCT this year!
Mercyhurst Prep finished in third with a 7-2 record. Kevin Hogan’s 84.80 PPG led all scorers on the day, and Tyler Warzynak added 20.47 PPG in support. Morgantown, out of West Virginia, took fourth. Fifth place went to Pine-Richland, paced by the dual scoring of Daniel Krill (42.38 PPG) and Sam Stella (31.13 PPG). They notably increased their PPB and power numbers from their last IS-set outing at SAGACITY, demonstrating some nice improvement as the year has developed. Bishop Canevin and South Side also qualified for nationals bids by virtue of their finishes in 6th and T-7th, respectively, with Hampton‘s A and B teams also in that tie.
It was also nice to see Sharpsville play another PA tournament in advance of their SSNCT trip, while teams from Westmont Hilltop, North Catholic, and John Marshall (WV) rounded out the field. As the season winds down, we wish these teams the best of luck in preparing for nationals and/or finishing off their academic years!
17 teams, including several first time quizbowl schools, were on hand in State College for this year’s Penn State Spring Academic Bowl. It was very spirited, and fun was had by all.
Due to an error with the bracketing, the playoffs were decided by single elimination for this tournament. State College A took home the top prize, after an undefeated run. A stellar 32/39/11 line from their captain Pabitra resulted in 81 points per game, second at the event. It’s worth noting several of State College’s better players did not play this tournament, so their depth really shone through. State College B took 3rd, C took 5th, and D took 6th. I’m sure almost every school in the country envies their stash of talent.
Better still, the new teams absolutely thrived at the event, as none of them finished in the lowest bracket and all of them held their own in an unfamiliar setting. Dallas from Northeast PA thrilled in an 8-2 2nd place finish, handily beating State College B twice. Raymond led the tournament with 112 points per game and 36 powers. Dallas qualified for HSNCT with this performance, and looks to have registered; it’s always exiting to see a new team surprise like this. Notre Dame from Elmira, NY finished 4th. Meanwhile, Blair County’s Hollidaysburg made a long awaited return to the circuit after ten(!) years away, having last played at HSNCT 2009. They finished 7th. Lastly, we welcome Greenwood from Perry County, who finished tied for 9th. All these teams did a wonderful job showing what they know, and we hope to see them again soon.
In addition to the above, Hughesville returned to the circuit with an all-new lineup after winning at Berwick last season. They put up another respectable showing, finishing T9. Teams from Kane, Montgomery, Westmont Hilltop, and Wellsboro rounded out the field. It’s always exciting to see the diverse field from all over the state that turns up at PSU events, and I look forward to seeing results from their pre-nats prep Keystone State Invitational in a couple weeks.
This past Saturday, eighteen teams from ten schools competed in the fourth annual Philadelphia City Championship. The tournament was hosted by the Carver High School of Engineering and Science and used NAQT’s IS-184A question set.
Stats are available here.
Friends Select‘s A team claimed its fourth city championship title, going undefeated. The lineup of juniors Matt, Silas, Jonah, and Aidan averaged 524.50 points per game and 23.72 points per bonus, well above every other team in the field, and the relatively easier questions of the A set allowed for many quick first-line buzzes. With another talented player in Rudyard, who wasn’t at this tournament, it looks like FSS A is gearing up for competitive runs at the upcoming SSNCT and HSNCT.
Second place went to Germantown Friends, competing in their first Philly City Champs since discovering quizbowl last October and winning the novice division of the Philly Fall Tournament. Led by 66 PPG from Lucas, GFS handily defeated most of the teams finishing below them and gave FSS A a few scares, even tying with them at the half of their first game. Their finish qualifies them for both the HSNCT and the open division of the SSNCT, which we’d love to see them attend.
Friends Select B finished in third place following a 250-335 loss to GFS and a 260-440 loss to their A team. This team of Akhilesh, Peter, Jeremy, and Minas had balanced scoring and great neg control, with only 7 negs to 40 powers. Science Leadership Academy A took fourth, powered by Jack’s 69.44 PPG. They put up an impressive 5/5/1 statline to get a 320-260 win over Carver A, which was led by Sebastian’s 52.22 PPG and featured scoring support from Ellen, Mohamed, and Kim. Carver did a great job of conferring on bonuses and ended up with 17.85 PPB for the day. Bodine ended in sixth place and was carried by Alex, a junior who topped the individual stats with 88.35 PPG in the prelims.
In the second bracket, Benjamin Rush B outperformed its A team and won all four of its afternoon games with 28+ PPG from Michael, Dylan, and Elijah. The C team from Friends Select showed off the program’s depth, while Carver B, led by Aidan, nearly defeated Bodine in their first round. A new team from MaST played well (albeit a bit cautiously) with zero negs from lead scorers Vaughn and Matthew, and SLA B and Franklin Towne A each got a couple of solid wins.
Carver C finished at the top of the third bracket with a 46.88 PPG performance from Kamal. Carver D, a last-minute house team made of students who had never played quizbowl before, showed promise as the team got four wins behind Preston’s 43.53 PPG. Rush A, Furness, Franklin Towne B, and West Catholic rounded out the bracket and played a variety of close games.
Overall, although the Friends Select dynasty continued its impressive winning streak even with an entirely different A team lineup than last year, several other teams emerged as solid contenders. Many of the teams were led by strong underclassmen, suggesting an exciting future for the Philly circuit. Carver continued its reputation for excellent tournament hosting, and it was great to see the support from the School District of Philadelphia. We hope to see all the schools back again next year!