Tournament Coverage

Lakeland Land-Of-Lakes Classic Wrap-Up

A number of schools from Northeastern Pennsylvania and a few from out of state gathered on the edge of the Wyoming Valley for the first-ever tournament hosted by Lakeland Jr./Sr. High School.

Full statistics are available here.

The winners of the tournament were out-of-staters Ithaca (NY) A, who took advantage of a rare tournament relatively close to their rural NY location to play a regular-difficulty NAQT IS set. Out of the in-state teams, Wallenpaupack A and Delaware Valley A represented Pennsylvania well, finishing behind Ithaca A but atop the rest of the field. Both schools also had solid PPBs and appear to be on-schedule in preparing for their return to HSNCT Nationals in Atlanta in the spring. Delaware Valley’s B team also tussled with Ithaca’s B and C teams for the remainder of the spots in the top playoff bracket and scored notable wins over both of those NY teams. 

The tournament also marked the welcome return of Lehigh Valley Academy Charter as well as Mountain View High School, both of whom had attended quizbowl tournaments in the past but whose current status was unclear. Both programs performed well and were in the mix with a variety of B and C teams, including several Lakeland house teams and two teams from Berwick.

The tournament was also notable as the pyramidal weekend quizbowl tournament debut for Montrose and Carbondale. While the regular IS set was definitely challenging for these new-to-quizbowl teams, both schools got several wins during the day along with hopefully useful experience for both the WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage TV show and future quizbowl tournaments.

The success (as seen by repeated trips to quizbowl nationals) of rural teams in Northeast Pennsylvania like Lakeland, Delaware Valley, and Wallenpauck is a testament to what excellent coaching can do for any school in Pennsylvania. With Lakeland hopefully joining these schools in hosting again, NEPA also has a solid stable of tournament hosts set up for the future.

Quaker Fall Open V Wrap-Up

29 teams gathered in Philadelphia on Saturday, December 7th to compete in the Fifth-Annual Quaker Fall Open. When this tournament began 5 years ago, no UPenn high school tournament had ever had a team from Philadelphia in the field. This year, 10 out of the 29 teams in attendance hailed from the City of Brotherly Love.

Most stats from the two divisions, Nationals and Open, are up here.

Nationals Division

In the Nationals division, the teams competed on a college-level set, the Early Fall Tournament (you can see last year’s EFT question set here to get an idea of how difficult it is). Ithaca A (NY) ran the table with a strong four-player effort to take first place and cemented their status as a national contender this year. After a spirited final that saw Ithaca A narrowly triumph 265-235, Manheim Township A continued their impressive but frustrating run of runner-up finishes to take 2nd. Though MT A easily won against the other PA schools at the event, they’re still chasing some of the top teams in the Northeast region as a whole.

Below the top came a 3-way tie for third place, with a Connor-led (91.88 PPG) Penn Manor tying with a depleted Great Valley A (several of their normal A-team members were absent so several B-teamers played on A here) and Friends Select, who scored an overtime victory (195-185) over Penn Manor via a higher bonus conversion rate. The Great Valley team put up an impressive 15.84 PPB but also an aggressive 7 to 29 power-to-neg ratio. In contrast, Friends Select played much more conservatively, with only a single power for the entire day.

Finishing just below that tie was Hotchkiss, who came down from Connecticut and put together a solid 13 PPB performance anchored by Cooper’s 52.5 PPG. Moravian A and B both braved the EFT questions as well and, along with Wissahickon A, rounded out the field in the Nationals division.

Open Division

Given some of the unusual team compositions necessitated by regular members being absent from some of the larger programs’ teams, the Open division was wide-open this year. The LOGIC question set used in this division had generally accessible answerlines and bonuses (though science and literature, per quizbowl tradition, tended to be particularly unforgiving) while the tossups often had fairly challenging and lengthy lead-ins. The teams at QFO seemed game for the questions overall though and, though no open team broke 20 PPB, only 5 were below 10 PPB.

Great Valley “B” won the division with an impressive performance from Rahul, whose 90.5 PPG topped the division. Rahul displayed a strong mastery of the quizbowl canon, nabbing tossups across a whole array of categories, and rarely getting stumped on any bonus. GV continues to display considerable depth and the regular GV C team will be a tough out for other teams at future events.

In the runner-up position, Germantown Friends School put on an outstanding display of buzzer aggression, with 39 powers to go with 33 negs in the prelims and a total of 50 powers and 49 negs for the day. In contrast to GV B, they still have some holes in the regular quizbowl canon (particularly in literature), but also deep pockets of knowledge that led to impressive NBA Jam-style “on fire” streaks. While they still have a ways to go, they may yet challenge Friends Select this year for the Philadelphia City Championship.

Manheim Township B also put on a strong performance in the prelims with Deeya (44.4 PPG) and Ellie (11 powers) leading the way, though they faltered a bit at the end of a long day in their cross-bracket matches against GV B and GFS. Downingtown East A‘s top-bracket performance was led by Maggie (62.2 PPG) yet maintained a balanced attack. Just below, Ithaca B played high-risk high-reward quizbowl that led to some impressive victories and agonizingly close losses (their 3 losses were by a total of 65 points). Manheim Township C continued to display the standard MT brand of solid, disciplined quizbowl and balanced performance that covers most of the canon well, though rarely spectacularly so. And Archbishop Ryan continued to ride the Ryan (76.6 PPG) train, with their performance varying directly with their star player’s PPG, while Wissahickon B rode a wild coaster of 5 straight losses followed by 4 straight wins and then 2 more losses to round out the day.

D-East also demonstrated strong depth with their B team’s solid day as well (led by Nora’s 38.8 PPG) while Carver A (with Sebastian’s 45 PPG) suffered 3 one-tossup losses, but finished with a solid 16.05 PPB and 20 powers. Below those teams, the crossover bracket seeding got a little more random with Carver B and Great Valley C having solid mornings but tougher afternoons, Bodine displaying impressive breadth (see Alex’s 71.6 PPG) but not making much headway against stronger teams, and Wissahickon’s C and D teams curiously clustering together. The field was rounded out with two more Carver teams (C and D), Franklin Towne Charter A (featuring Mansi’s 39.3 PPG) and B, and Moravian C.

A Word of Advice: Have an Organized System for Answering Bonuses 

One of the big differences that I noticed at all levels (from the lowest-bracket to playoff bracket teams) when reading was between teams that had a clear system in place for working together on bonuses versus those teams that had little or no organization on bonuses. The teams with a system usually ran things through a designated captain: the captain would listen to their teammates while sometimes asking for confirmation or probing for new information before offering a response to the moderator. The other team members repeated what was being asked for and made guesses as needed. This kind of structured system reduced unforced errors and often generated solid guesses.

In contrast, other teams engaged in a kind of chaotic, anyone-can-say-anything experience with no set structure in place on bonuses. This would then lead to frequent miscommunications between team members and poor guesses. Though it may not change a team’s performance that much, on average I suspect better-organized teams would get 3-4 more bonus parts each tournament than a similar less-organized team, which in close matches could be the difference between winning and losing.

Furthermore, as a reader, it’s much easier to focus simply on whether or not an answer is correct when a team has a clear system of responding in place instead of multiple players shouting out responses with varying degrees of directedness. If you want your team to maximize its bonus performance and reduce the stress levels of everyone in the room, spend a bit of time getting a system in place for responding on bonuses.

-Chris

Sagacity XV Wrap-Up (11/16/19)

Thirty teams were in action this past weekend at the fifteenth iteration of Sagacity, one of the longest-running western PA tournaments hosted by the University of Pittsburgh. The event used the NAQT IS-189A question set and timed 9-minute halves.

Stats are here.

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1st/2nd place State College A and B

For the second year in a row, first place went to a State College team led by Albert Zhang, last season’s JV Player of the Year. Albert was joined by Allen, Jupiter, and Ananya on State College A, and the team combined for 90 powers and 25.40 points per bonus over the tournament. Clearly the strongest team in the field stats-wise, we look forward to seeing how they stack up against other in-state competitors at future tournaments.

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Allderdice A

State College A’s undefeated record was only ever seriously threatened by their B team, who lost 330-390 in the finals to finish in second. Allderdice A won a 385-335 game against Winchester Thurston A to take third place, their only losses being extremely close games against their own B team and State College B. A shorthanded WT A was led by 83.18 and 65.91 points per game from Johnny and Andy respectively, and the team’s 12 total negs indicate they played more cautiously than many of their playoff competitors whose neg counts were double or triple as high. With the addition of more A team regulars, WT’s 19.61 PPB should continue to increase.

Kiski Area and Morgantown A (WV) ended third in their parallel championship brackets to tie for fifth overall. Playing solo for Kiski, Eddie put up 125 PPG in the prelims and scored a 5/7/2 statline to get a 415-365 playoff win over State College B. He accumulated the highest individual points per game of the tournament. Central Catholic A and Allderdice B tied for seventh. Central Catholic was led by Jude’s 83 prelims PPG and supported by contributions from Joe, Xander, and Jack. Hampton A and North Catholic ended in ninth, and the top brackets were rounded out by Bishop Canevin and Armstrong A, the latter of whom we welcome to the Saturday invitational circuit after two HSNCT appearances.

In the first consolation bracket, Mt. Lebanon, Dubois, Central Catholic B, and Shady Side Academy played close games against each other. Following their impressive showing at Mellon Bowl last month, Mt. Lebanon continued their trend of balanced scoring across a five-person team with contributions from Nathan, Aryan, Ben, Katherine, and Jacob. The only afternoon loss for Dubois was a 205-245 game against Shady Side, which consisted of Andrew playing solo with 80 PPG in the prelims. The rest of the bracket included SSNCT regulars South Side A, led by Jacob’s 71 PPG, and Sharpsville A.

In the next brackets, Chartiers Valley featured a strong 63.50 PPG from lead scorer Shanti and overcame a 2-3 morning to ease into an undefeated afternoon performance. Apollo-Ridge and two teams from John Marshall (WV) joined B and C teams from aforementioned schools, and every team at the tournament finished with at least one win.

Overall, teams were able to hear over 20 tossups in almost every game and had fun competing against each other. While there aren’t any upcoming Pittsburgh tournaments in the next two months, we hope these schools keep studying and look forward to seeing their continued improvement at events this spring!

-Jackie

Philly City-Wide Novice Wrap-Up (11/2/19)

Ten teams from five schools in Philadelphia gathered at Carver HSES last Saturday to kick-off the quizbowl season in Philadelphia at the Philly City-Wide Novice tournament. Though many of the teams are familiar names, most of the students were making their quizbowl debuts on the very-accessible (although wordier-than-usual-on-the-bonuses) SCOP question set.

Full statistics are available here.

An all-Freshman team (FSS B) from Friends Select won the event, powered by the 77.78 PPG of Charlie, who may be the latest scion of a veritable quizbowl dynasty. The other FSS B players were quite solid as well and FSS looks, once again, to be undergoing the Quaker equivalent of “reloading” rather than rebuilding their team over the next few years. Coming in second was FSS A, an all-senior (yet new-to-quizbowl) group that was paced by Nyeema’s 46.67 PPG. In third (by a one-tossup head-to-head loss to FSS A) was Carver HSES A that also displayed the depth of Carver’s program as well as some aggressive buzzing tendencies (18 powers to 27 negs over 9 matches).

Coming in just outside the trophy tier was the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, who continued their tradition of finding solid generalists with Elijah’s 66.11 PPG. Their run was highlighted by a 200-170 win over Franklin Towne Charter, who finished just behind Rush at 5th and brought a large number of novice players and observers that formed a rotating all-around cast. Behind them came FSS C, composed of 8th graders (!), and then the B and C teams from Carver HSES. Though they finished with only 3 wins, Carver C did notch an impressive 290-125 upset over FSS A. Rounding out the field was Bodine A and B, coached enthusiastically by both their regular coach and their returning senior Alex.

Although no new #phled schools were able to make it to the event this year, hopefully more schools will be ready to go in time for the City Championships in March to join the young talent on display at this event as well as the returning veterans from each school.

2019 SSNCT Wrap-Up

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

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Friends Select, on the way back to the airport, did quite well at SSNCT with several strong wins.

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

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Sharpsville is all smiles as they wait for their next opponents.

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).

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South Side, having fun during the preliminary rounds.

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.

-Ben

Bulldog Buzzer Battle II Wrap-Up (4/13/2019)

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.

Stats are here.

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.

-Ben

2019 Keystone State Invitational Wrap-Up

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.

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Hempfield, 2nd place (L to R: Carsten, Will, Ryan, Nishant)

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.

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Great Valley after the 3rd place game against Allderdice A (L to R: Rishi, Dan, John, Anshu)

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.

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Allderdice A and B (clockwise from L to R: Jakobi, Leo, Austin, Omri, Alana, Michal, Antonia)

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!

-Jackie

Battle of the Burgh XXII Wrap-Up (03/23/2019)

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.

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Camp Hill and Huntingdon A in the finals

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!

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Mercyhurst with their 3rd place trophy

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!

-Ryan

Penn State Spring Academic Bowl III Wrap-Up (3/16/19)

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.

Stats can be found here.

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Tournament champions State College A, with one player making the photo “in spirit.”

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.

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Dallas, with their 2nd place trophy.

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.

Ben