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SSNCT 2017 Wrap-Up

This year’s NAQT Small School Nationals, which took place at the quizbowl landmark Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL, featured a record shattering 11 teams from 10 schools participating out of the Keystone State. Due to format changes, there were three small school titles up for grabs: an overall title for traditional public small schools, a title for very small public schools, and a title for private and charter schools (the later being an entirely separate sub-tournament).

Complete stats for both divisions are here.

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Camp Hill poses with their haul of hardware from SSNCT.

In the public school division, Camp Hill matched Lehigh Valley’s feat last year of a 3rd place overall finish, bringing another big trophy home to Pennsylvania. Camp Hill also finished their season by winning the inaugural Very Small School title. They lost twice each to Glasgow and Danville, the two finalists (both from Kentucky), but otherwise went undefeated. Colton’s 82 points per game were sixth in the tournament, capping a breakout senior season for the First Team All-State player. The team also got great performances out of Sydney, whose three powers in round 18 proved critical in clinching a top-4 finish, as well as from Alex, Joseph, and Ben, who saved their best performances for last this season. Congratulations to all these players and to Coach Gianelli, who has now coached seven consecutive top-11 small school teams nationally and received GPQB’s 2016-2017 award for Coach of the Year.

Lakeland finished T-19, second among PA squads. They did well enough on day one to start out in the winners’ bracket Sunday, and notched a close 335-315 win over perennial Small School power Hallsville (MO) to clinch the playoffs. Ty and Michael paced the team with 16 powers apiece to make a dent in opposing team’s morale. Though 3 of the 5 teammates were seniors, they went out in style and have a lot to be proud of representing the Scranton area. South Side and Westmont Hilltop out of Western PA also made the playoffs and finished T29. Super job to both schools, whom each only brought one senior and could well be back there and beyond in the future. Southern Fulton, Kane, and West Shamokin missed the playoffs, but all won several games each and should be proud of this year and motivated for more competition in the future.

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Winchester Thurston finished 4th in the Private/Charter division. Photo credit Ryan Rosenberg and NAQT

In the Private/Charter division, a sharp Winchester Thurston did what we’ve come to expect from one of PA’s steadiest powers and finished 4th overall. What’s truly amazing about Thurston’s performance is that all four of their players–Nathaniel, Aiden, EJ, and Jacob- finished between 52 and 32 points per game, and in the top 25 total of this division’s overall players. Thurston might be the most purely balanced team in terms of four-player talent in Pennsylvania that we’ve seen in many years! All four also banked at least 14 powers. They are the only SSNCT team in PA that will also be going to HSNCT, so we’ll get one last chance to see them show their stuff.

Lower down, Renaissance Academy and two teams from Moravian Academy missed the playoffs, but still fought admirably. Renaissance has been on the circuit a few years now and, while not yet a powerhouse, has slowly steadily improved as time has gone on. They hit 14 PPB for the first time at a national tournament, which shows increasingly strong depth, and playoffs next year is a very obtainable goal for them. Moravian B was all freshman, and though they only won one game, can channel that experience into growth. I expect great things from them and any other PA schools that venture forth onto the national stage.

Overall, SSNCT was a great success for PA, with a top 4 finish in each division, the Very Small School championship title, and many memorable performances. We will have to see what HSNCT can do to follow this up.

-Ben

2017 Pennsylvania State Academic Competition Wrap-Up

On Friday, April 28, 2017, 24 teams from most corners of the state of Pennsylvania gathered in Harrisburg to participate in the annual Pennsylvania State Academic Competition (PSAC). It was a rather exciting day of several intriguing storylines including a surprise but worthy champion. We saw some great buzzes from teams all throughout the day, as well as some items for improvement that remain embedded the structure of the competition just like last year’s PSAC. All told, it was a fascinating day that very, very slowly (and often repetitively, given PSAC’s insistance on needless complete re-readings of questions) unfolded in the chambers of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate.

In a fairly shocking upset, Lincoln IU #12 representative Spring Grove, out of York County, took home the title of PSAC champion. Spring Grove, even though we have not seen them attend a Saturday pyramidal tournament, showed a great aptitude for the rigors of the NAQT questions used from the beginning of the day for the tossups. They claimed the #1 overall seed heading into the playoffs, albeit with a fairly easy schedule that featured only one eventual playoff team. After a rough semifinal, in the final match they defeated two of the top 100 teams in the country, defending champions Lehigh Valley Academy and Great Valley, with a series of extremely impressive buzzes. In that final match they demonstrated great real knowledge to pull away from their competitors and claim a 5 point victory. Congratulations go out to Spring Grove for their victory, and we hope to see them come out to play in some weekend pyramidal tournaments going forward!

Though they may have lost in the finals, Lehigh Valley Academy and Great Valley both looked very impressive on the day. Alex Schmidt continued his incredible play this season, especially in LVA’s win in the semifinal-of-death over Manheim Township and Friends Select. Great Valley also played very well on their road to the finals with a real team effort, certainly earning their berth in the final three.

Outside of the regular pyramidal tournament attendees, some newer schools also did well in showcasing their knowledge. Upper Dublin (Montgomery County), Haverford (Delaware County), Blue Mountain (Schuylkill County), and Bethlehem Catholic (Northampton County) all qualified for the playoffs, with Burrell (Westmoreland County) missing out on the final spot in a tiebreaker. Seeing these teams perform well on difficult questions is great to watch, and like Spring Grove, we’d love to see all of them more in the future (Haverford has already attended at least one pyramidal tournament and Blue Mountain competes on pyramidal questions in the Schuylkill League).

Though it was indeed great to watch the incredible depths of knowledge on display from the players today, issues with the overall format of the tournament continue to plague PSAC. The insistence on teams playing only two matches of three teams each based on a completely random draw led to great imbalances in the playoff matchups since the playoff seedings were based on total points scored. In addition, the fact that drawing a slip of paper determined who ended up in a semifinal with Lehigh Valley Academy and Manheim Township, arguably the two best teams in Pennsylvania this year, is simply unfair. The best teams in PA deserve more than just two preliminary rounds that are extremely dependent on the luck of the draw for matchups; every team deserves more of an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge against a greater variety of opponents and over a larger sample space of questions (example: teams that do not make the playoffs hear a grand total of 40 tossup questions for the whole tournament!).

The setup of rounds themselves also continues to maintain too great a degree of randomness. The imbalanced difficulties of fanfare rounds meant that in several cases games and scores were determined by which team got the more forgiving set of questions, which seemed to alternate between standard fair knowledge parts and bizarrely verbose current events and trivia. As a former 3-time PSAC player, I can attest to how frustrating it is to see your shot at the championship washed away. If fanfare rounds are to remain in place, which is possible, greater care must be taken to ensure that difficulty is standardized across them.

A true state championship should be about providing fair and fun competition to determine the best team. Format gimmicks and question imbalances actively detract from this mission, and it is these issues that PSAC must overcome to become a tournament that fulfills its potential for the state of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, it is clear that only pressure from coaches and students may lead to changes in the structure of the tournament that will bring about a fair and fulfilling experience for all teams present. We hope that they will do so in the future to make Pennsylvania’s state competition the fairest and most rewarding opportunity possible for academic teams in PA.

-Ryan 

GPQB Awards Announcement, 2016-2017

Friends,

It is with great honor that the GPQB voting panel announces the recipients of our 3rd annual awards for Player of the Year, JV Player of the Year*, and Coach of the Year. These individuals have been dedicated, hard working, and exemplary quizbowl citizens in their pursuit of excellence for this extra-curricular activity. Their achievements deserve commemoration in the rapidly growing annals of pyramidal Quizbowl history in Pennsylvania. Without further ado:

  • Congratulations to Sam Scarfone of Great Valley for winning Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season, in recognition of multiple high scoring finishes, team leadership, and a steady buzzing presence across categories.
  • Congratulations to Vijay Anne of Henderson High School for winning JV Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season, in recognition for repeated high power performances to buoy continued success of the Henderson program.
  • Congratulations to  Andrew Gianelli of Camp Hill High School for winning Coach of the Year for the 2016-17 Season, in recognition of his school’s repeated national contention at SSNCT (six straight top 11 finishes), as well as several high tournament placements at Pennsylvania invitationals this season,

All recipients of the GPQB awards will be awarded a plaque for their achievement. We are honored to have all these individuals as part of the Pennsylvania quizbowl community and wish them continued success, both on and off the buzzer.

*Students are eligible to win the JV Player of the Year Award if they are currently enrolled in the 9th or 10th grade. Students my not win each of the two awards more than once in their playing career.

GPQB All-State Teams, 2016-2017

Dear Readers,

It is with pleasure that our panel presents you our selections for our All-State Teams for the 2016-2017 season. These players have put in countless hours of study, impressed with killer buzzes across the distribution, and distinguished themselves with excellent knowledge in academic material. They represent many of our best ambassadors for playing good quizbowl on the invitational and national circuit. We also have chosen a few other players for honorable mention. The selection process involved nomination by those who have moderated and watched countless matches in the state, debate by the panel, and an AP Poll style vote. In order to receive mention, a player must have appeared at at least three all-subject quizbowl tournaments during the season. To all these players, as well as their parents, families, teachers, coaches, and friends, well done. The 2016-2017 All-Star Teams are as follows:

First Team All-State

Shayar Bhattacharjee, Manheim Township
Colton Sanden, Camp Hill
Sam Scarfone, Great Valley
Alex Schmidt, Lehigh Valley Academy
Vishwa Shanmugam, Downingtown STEM Academy

Second Team All-State

Dan Chen, Great Valley
Rudyard Lynch, Friends Select
Ahan Patel, Manheim Township
Brandon Roe, Lancaster Mennonite
Jackie Wu, Downingtown East

Honorable Mentions

Richard Chen, Friends Select
Jacob Dubner, Winchester Thurston
Collin Kawan-Hemler, Delaware Valley
Sebastien La Duca, Wallenpaupack

We once again congratulate all these players on their stellar play!

The panelists for this selection were: Paul Birch, Ryan Bilger, Chris Chiego, Ben Herman, Brian McNamara, Victor Prieto, Alex Sankaran, Steven Silverman, and Bill Tressler.

Battle of the Burgh (3/25/17) Wrap Up

This past Saturday saw a renewal of quizbowl competition out west, with a mixture of circuit regulars and first-time attendees bringing about an exciting day for the teams. Stats can be found at this link; be warned, though, that some of the PPB statistics do not properly add up.

At the top of the table, three teams finished tied at 9-1 in a “circle of death.” Allderdice A defeated Winchester Thurston A, but took a loss to Allderdice B, whom Winchester Thurston beat. Thurston ultimately took the title on the day based on their strong statistics, though after Allderdice was incorrectly announced as the winner due to a quirk of SQBS. All three of these teams should be commended for their impressive performances on the day. Winchester Thurston’s 1-2 punch of Nathaniel Hull and EJ Eppinger set the tone for the victors; Nathaniel particulars scored an impressive 26 powers, doubling up the next-closest competitors. Allderdice showed a great degree of depth across both their squads. Jakobi Deslouches led  the way for the A team, but all players on the A team scored at least 20 PPG. Three of the four players on Allderdice B scored over 30 PPG as well. With most of their roster consisting of returning players, Allderdice will be an exciting program to watch in the future.

Rounding out the playoff bracket were Huntington APittsburgh Central Catholic, and Rocky Grove, who returned to a Saturday tournament for the first time in 6 years. Huntington is a program that is continuing to show improvement as they come to more tournaments, and it appears to be paying off for them with a balanced scoring group behind Tom Tuten’s team-leading 40.31 PPG. Central Catholic again had a large contingent of players, and though they ran into some trouble in the afternoon rounds, Simon Sweeney’s 60 PPG, including 13 powers, provides them with a strong building block. For Rocky Grove, Josiah Montgomery tallied a strong 48.47 PPG, with players behind him ready and able to add their knowledge. I hope we can see some more of this team in future years and that they will continue to build on their strong performance.

The middle and lower playoff brackets also saw some solid outings. Special congratulations go out to Mercyhurst A, who went 7-3 in their first-ever pyramidal tournament. Thomas Russell notched 5 powers and 56 tens countered by only 4 negs to finish as the third overall scorer for the day. Vince Birch also had a solid day for Indiana Area A, claiming the second overall spot with 68.23 PPG. Hampton finished strong with three wins in a row to go 6-4 on the day, while Northwest Penn Collegiate‘s two teams combined to go 11-9 on the day, with great power potential. Circuit stalwarts Kane saw their A team also go 3-1 in the playoff rounds, while their B team picked up a couple of wins as well, while General McLane and a rebuilding DuBois returned for some competition too. We also welcome West Shamokin out of Indiana County to the circuit as they also made their Saturday tournament debut.

All told, the Battle of the Burgh saw impressive performances from new and old teams alike. With the Allderdice Invitational coming up in just over a week, it will be interesting to see these teams come out to play one more time before the final gearing up for nationals.

-Ryan Bilger

Big Lake Brawl Wrap Up (3/26/17)

12 teams were on hand for a snow-delayed bout at Wallenpaupack High this weekend, marking the school’s first time hosting. Upstate New York quizbowl guru Scott Blish served as director, and the event went on without a hitch.

Stats are here.

The event was won by a Barnstorming team from Ithaca, NY. Not their usual national-title contending A team, a team of younger players still dominated, and came out on top with just won loss in the round robin. Behind them, the Pennsylvanians performed admirably. Delaware Valley A, at full strength for the first time in a few months, finished 11-2, with both losses on account of their 1-2 record against Ithaca. Collin led the way again with 56 ppg, but everyone scored at least 17. DV is a true team effort among our elite teams, perhaps more so than any team in Pennsylvania this year. The four man squad should do well at nationals if they are all together.

Behind them, hosts Wallenpaupack A finished a strong 3rd. Led by NASAT team member Sebastien and closely behind by Tyler, the team racked up 40 powers and 21 points per bonus. Wallenpaupack steady improvement has been a treat to watch all season. Parkland capped off their first pyramidal season in 4th, behind power sophomore Sahil’s 90 ppg, which lead the event. Parkland is a team to watch for the next season.

Behind them were B,C, and D teams from Wallenpaupack and Delaware Valley, and two teams from Berwick. Kudos go out to Berwick B, who flashed brilliant potential in a 4-7 performance that included 8 powers. It will be fun to see if this translates into even more for their squad.

Northeast PA has gone from zero to one to three tournaments in the last year. As pyramidal quizbowl there continues to grow, I expect teams to continue to show what they know and put up impressive performances like these.

-Ben Herman

Lancaster Lebanon League Report

-Editors Note: We are trying something new, with a guest post from an active high school player. We thank Penn Manor’s Connor Mayers for reaching out to us and volunteering his time to write this wrap-up.

At the end of last month, 24 teams traveled to Manheim Township High School for the annual Anne Clouser Memorial Playoffs to finish up the Lancaster-Lebanon Quiz Bowl League for the 2016-2017 season. Teams have been playing head-to-head matches since October, while battling out for the best regular season records. Schools played three matches against six different schools for a total of 18 regular season matches. Teams were seeded based on record and scoring, and the top 16 teams qualified for a double-elimination, pyramidal, card-system tournament (the non-qualifying schools participated in a consolation league).  Manheim Township downed Hempfield in two straight matches to cap off an amazing final and a great and exciting tournament. Full results and statistics can be found below:

http://www.hsquizbowl.org/db/tournaments/4307/stats/playoffs/teamdetail/#t9

The top four teams were as followed:

  1. Manheim Township
  2. Hempfield
  3. Ephrata
  4. Penn Manor

Manheim Township finished in first place. They started off strong, beating 16th seeded Donegal. Their second round match-up pitted them against Garden Spot, and in the most shocking result of the tournament, fell 350-355. They bounced back and convincingly won four consecutive matches, beating Cedar Crest, Lancaster Mennonite, Penn Manor, and Ephrata, which set them up with a finals match against the at the time undefeated Hempfield team. Having not lost, Hempfield needed to lose two back-to-back matches to lose the title. The first match went 390-225 in favor of Manheim Township. The dynamic duo of Shayar Bhattachajee and Ahan Patel led the team, scoring 9 of the team’s 11 toss-ups, including five powers. The second match finished 415-345, again in the favor of Manheim Township, giving them the title.

Hempfield had an impressive tournament, falling nobly to Manheim Township and finishing 4-2 overall. They downed Cocalico, Penn Manor, Lancaster Mennonite, and Garden Spot before facing Manheim Township. Will Yaeger finished with an impressive 30 toss-ups, including 19 total powers earning 61.67 points per match. Jon Lawrence, Ryan Zhang, and Alden Dumas put in solid performances as well. Hempfield works brilliantly as a team, and will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Ephrata finished in an impressive third place, also finishing 4-2 overall. They had wins over Manheim Central (twice), Elizabethtown, and Garden Spot, falling only to Lancaster Mennonite and Manheim Township. Edwin Crockett and Chase Weber both performed well, each scoring over 40 points per game.

Penn Manor also finished 4-2 overall, earning a very respectable fourth place. They recorded wins over Cedar Crest, Annville-Cleona, Lampeter-Strasburg, and Garden Spot, losing only to the winners and runner up, Manheim Township and Hempfield. Connor Mayers shined, scoring an even 45 points per game to lead his team.

The tournament proved to be very exciting, and it was a great sign of things to come for the Lancaster-Lebanon Quiz Bowl League. We hope to see this league grow and become even more competitive to really expand quiz bowl in Pennsylvania!

-Connor Mayers

Pittsburgh Central Catholic Invitational Wrap-Up

Just over a week ago, on March 11, several of western PA’s circuit regulars gathered at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh for a small but exciting tournament day. Full stats from the tournament can be found here.

Winchester Thurston A continued their excellent season by clearing the field (9-0). Their PPB was quite high, with a mark of 25.87 showing an impressive breadth and depth of knowledge even on an A-set. All four of their players provided solid contributions throughout, topped by Jacob Dubner’s 57.22 points per game, and they were only seriously threatened once during the day. Thurston A is definitely making its case to be considered among the top ten in Pennsylvania at season’s end.

Three teams very close to one another occupied the next tier just below Thurston: NorwinAllderdice A, and Shady Side A. Norwin continues to be led by senior Andy Halza, who put up 53.33 PPG to pace his team on their way to a second place finish via tiebreaker over Allderdice A. Allderdice had the tournament’s leading scorer on the day, Jakobi Deslouches, with 57.78 PPG. Their only losses on the day came to Thurston A and Shady Side A. Shady Side continues to be led by the duo of William Lu and Will Davis as their top scorers, but they also saw solid contributions from Fuad Youssef and Max Kurke.

The great degree of parity among these western teams, both in terms of team play and individual scoring as we have seen, makes tournaments in this region incredibly exciting affairs. The match of the day was an intense 285-280 victory for Thurston A over Shady Side A, exemplifying just how well-matched these squads are. This makes for some intriguing matchups and can hopefully spur these teams on to improve as much as they can over these final months of the year.

Outside of the top 4, Central Catholic was still able to field two teams while hosting, showing they have a great deal of enthusiastic players. The A team even put up over 21 PPB; well done to them. Allderdice B notched a win over Shady Side A, led by Jahnik Kurukulasuriya, adding a feather to the caps of this young team. Winchester Thurston BShady Side B, and Westmont Hilltop A also brought solid contingents to bear and acquitted themselves well with some wins throughout the day.

With Pittsburgh’s Battle of the Burgh tournament coming up next week, Pittsburgh will continue to be very active.

-Ryan

Announcement- Pennsylvania NASAT Teams 2017

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Pennsylvania NASAT committe, we are once again happy to announce our selections for this year’s National All-Star Scholastic Tournament, to be held this June 24th-25th at the University of Kentucky. NASAT pits teams consisting of the best players from each state against each other in a head-to-head setting. The event uses difficult collegiate questions and many of its players have gone on to outstanding careers in collegiate and higher level quizbowl. This is the only all-star tournament to highlight teams on a state-by-state basis.

In keeping with changes to the format, Pennsylvania is now able to send two teams from to compete. Participants had to try out and were selected in a blind procedure by a five member panel of college players in the state. Without further ado:

The “A” Team for Pennsylvania will consist of:

Jaya Alagar, Alagar Homeschool

Rajan Alagar, Alagar Homeschool

Brandon Roe, Lancaster Mennonite

Alex Schmidt, Lehigh Valley Academy

Vishwa Shanmugam, Downingtown STEM Academy

The “B” Team for Pennsylvania will consist of:

Sebastian La Duca, Wallenpaupack

Sydney Preston, Camp Hill

Colton Sanden, Camp Hill

Hunter Stecko, Norwin

Jackie Wu, Downingtown East

We congratulate all these excellent quizbowlers for their fantastic specialist knowledge at extremely tough college level questions during tryouts and commend the hard work put in by the students and their coaches, teachers, parents, and mentors. We look forward to cheering on team PA in Lexington, KY this June!