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The Rise of a Circuit, Pt. 1: Structural Changes

It was a slightly warm November day, and Phoenixville High school was caked in the glow of morning sunlight. Students collected in the cafeteria, many of them unaware of the exact nature of the tournament before them. Many had traveled from Maryland and New Jersey for the upcoming quizbowl activities, and just as many were representing their school for the first time that day. 36 teams registered, but only 34 appeared, for Downingtown STEM decided not to notify the TD their two teams were not coming. The staff was a mixed lot of inexperienced students, inexperienced coaches, one former coach that had been around the block, and one college player. While the day was fun, a few critical mistakes, particularly trying to do all the stats on one computer, caused several delays throughout the day. Most teams seemed to be enjoying their experience, but struggled with IS-questions at times. Focus and competitive intensity proved hit or miss. The tournament ended with an all Wilmington Charter match, as a spirited B team unseated a lackadaisical A team. Few of the teams bothered to talk to each other between games.

This particular tournament, from 2013, was the first high-school-hosted pyramidal tournament to ever happen in Philadelphia and its four collar counties. It had been proceeded the prior spring by a 24 team tournament at Manheim Township, up from 8 teams in 2012. Outside of these, if one wanted to play pyramidal quizbowl, one had to go to the well established but weak and scattered western circuit, anchored by college-run events, or look outside the state of Pennsylvania. The idea of high quality Pennsylvania quizbowl was a theoretical one, and indeed, many firsthand recollections from the period indicate the PA squads who ventured into other circuits being mocked. It is worth mentioning Phoenixville as a good example of what has changed in Pennsylvania quizbowl since. Delays have become rare, teams are experienced and extremely competitive, scores are high, drops have decreased, and out of state teams don’t win here often. What made this change possible? What might the rest of quizbowl learn from our example? This post will be the first of a two part series covering the rise to prominence of Pennsylvania in the quizbowl world. The first will focus on the structure and quizbowl practices of the circuit, and the second will focus on community building.

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For one, it must be stated upfront that Pennsylvania has not been unique in developing a circuit where a weak one existed five years ago. Florida and Nevada are also excellent examples of other young circuits, though neither has yet had the on the buzzer success of Pennsylvania’s past season or two. Other circuits that were already strong, such as California’s Northern and Southern halves, Ohio, and Illinois, have continued to improve. Counter to this, some circuits, such as the Washington DC area, the Carolinas, and Tennessee, have declined in national prominence while still producing some elite teams. What we can draw from Pennsylvania should not be taken as panacea for outreach woes, as others have been successful and may have done things different. However, we’ve gone from little to a lot in just about five and a half years’ time, so it might be worth analyzing the methods we used to get there.

The first step was simply a survey of what we had to work with in the area. How many academic teams were there, of any sort? What formats did they play? In the lead up to GPQB’s 2014 launch, we put an immense amount of man hours into simply learning all of the local high schools, compiling e-mails, and sending personalized invitations to teams all over the Philadelphia area. The process was often frustrating. Response rates for e-mail blasts are very low yield in quizbowl, as we are selling a little known activity and often going against similar competitions with short seasons and low investment from their schools. This step was important, however, for simply gathering up what we had. There were some great players waiting out there, and some dedicated coaches too. We needed all the help we could get, and having a critical mass of people was important for future steps.

Secondly, we had to galvanize places to start hosting more, and hosting with good practices. In 2012-14, there were events in Pennsylvania, but they were scattered and tended to be poorly run. Formats were non-standard and experimental, using 10 team card systems, odd tiebreakers, and poorly trained staff. A 10 round event often wouldn’t finish until 5 or 6 pm, and at times teams only got 6 or 7 rounds on the day. Even in the 2014-15 season, delays were frequent. However, with invested time, TDs began to improve their directing skills. We gradually saw the wane of “random teachers unaffiliated with quizbowl” as moderators, the impositions of training programs, and a concerted effort to get more alumni to staff. This has helped allow Pennsylvania’s circuit to develop in two key ways. For one, badly run tournaments turn off new to quizbowl schools as much as bad questions do, so eliminating inefficiencies allowed us to keep more teams around. Secondly, uniform standards are easily explainable. First time Pennsylvania hosts can now start their own events with relative ease, knowing what needs to be done and where to get resources. This was not always the case.

With better tournaments and a good grasp on what was already on the ground in Pennsylvania, effective localized outreach could occur. This has been our bread and butter. One consistent thing we’ve encountered in the state is that if you can put a tournament within an hour of a school, the chance they will try out pyramidal increases significantly. Many of our gains have been local teams that will only attend events at nearby schools and not travel; likewise, many of our losses have been from teams near tournaments that no longer occur. While large e-mail blasts were not high yield, directed local outreach by coaches at neighbor schools has proved much more effective at getting new schools on board. Similarly, access to a nearby advocate who can show a team the ropes has been extremely helpful. Chris Chiego’s work starting 7 or 8 teams in the city of Philadelphia by going in and actually visiting shows what an in-person visit and phone call can do.

It may be obvious, but it must be said that the biggest reason Pennsylvania quizbowl became better was dedicated students studying, and wanting to achieve at a high level on tough questions. A good setup helps facilitate teams becoming elite at quizbowl, but those of us working on running tournaments and inviting teams to them are only clearing the fields for others to tend to and harvest. Once we had few established programs, students had clearer standards of what to study and how to do it well (and shared them). Players saw the best and could strive to be it. We inherited State College from the old days. Their success between the late 90s and 2011 was incredible, but it’s hard to really appropriate them for “Pennsylvania Quizbowl” as we define it today. They mostly played far away and their success was at a different time where the idea of state level circuits was much more nebulous. Manheim Township and Winchester Thurston both emerged in the immediate period before circuit building set in, and both got good fast. In the last few years we have had the group of Chester County Teams, LVA, Delaware Valley, Friends Select, and most recently Allderdice take advantage of resources and combine them with competitive drive to have a notable national finish. Having teams to prove the model worked was critical in giving us something to sell to other teams. That being said, we are extremely happy to have teams less interested in performing well at nationals as well. Schools that just show up three or four times a year to learn and have fun provide a backbone for the circuit and provide a fresh perspective on how the game can be written and organized.

Accompanying student drives for success, GPQB and individual teams worked to increase our visibility within wider quizbowl off the buzzer. Pennsylvania acquired a gradual social media presence between 2015 and today, between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Discord. I think our visibility was limited with the older guard of quizbowl during the first few years, as few Pennsylvanians carved out much of a forum presence. But, our high schoolers have clearly carved out an big niche in what I’ll dub “new quizbowl media,” places like Illinois Quizbowl Memes, Quizpolling Purposes, and off-forum chatrooms. We had good players in 2015 and 2016, but none achieved national attention. This past season, we had bonafide quizbowl celebrities. This, as much as anything, has solidified our place as a region everyone considers when they look at the lay of the land.

A final but crucial step to circuit building is the still ongoing process of what I call  “harmonization.” I define this as getting all tournament hosts, moderators, coaches, and even nearby parties in other states on the same page to produce optimal scheduling and distribution of resources and time. It doesn’t make sense to schedule two events near each other on the same day, or even back to back weekends. This burdens the staffer corps, which has been very generous in helping build Pennsylvania quizbowl up and will be talked about at length in Part 2. Key sets like SCOP and IS sets need to be distributed properly to cater to Pennsylvania’s three circuits.* The founding of a coaches association and the continued involvement of outreach gurus will hopefully help this, but there are still some overlaps to deal with.

Circuit building is a never-ending process. Of the 800 or so high schools in the state, only 80 played a pyramidal invitational in the past season, and of those only 50 did it regularly. The last five years have not made Pennsylvania a pyramidal haven to the level we’d like. However, we have established a base stability that produces top teams regularly and provides hundreds of students every year with the opportunity for fair play on good questions and fun times with friends. We have large national recognition for what our players have done on the buzzer and what our alumni have done to circuit-build. This is the legacy of the first era of Pennsylvania quizbowl, and also the first chapter in a long story of amazing things.

-Ben Herman

* (Pennsylvania essentially has three major groups of teams that play each other frequently and the other two groups infrequently: the “extended Southeast” of the Philadelphia Suburbs and Dutch Country, the Northeast including the Lehigh Valley, and the Western half of Pennsylvania. There are a few teams that shuttle between these regions but they tend to be ones that play a lot.)

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GPQB Writing Team Announcements

We are excited to announce that we will be joined by two new contributors beginning this summer and upcoming competition year. Both bring unique quizbowl expertise to better cover tournaments in the state, help outreach efforts, and lead community engagement in Pennsylvania quizbowl.

Emily Dickson started playing quizbowl at Downingtown East High School, where she helped establish the team as a circuit regular. She is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, where she is double majoring in history and international relations. She is currently the tournament director for Pitt’s high school events, and is also working on doing outreach to local schools in the Pittsburgh metro. She also is the administrator of the Facebook group Quizpolling Purposes, where quizbowlers from all over the world vote on polls regarding pyramidal quizbowl and silly stuff alike.

Rebecca Rosenthal is a junior at Swarthmore College and has played quizbowl since seventh grade. She was the captain of the team at Bergen County Academies in New Jersey from 2014-2016. She founded and leads the most recent incarnation of Swarthmore’s quizbowl club where she hopes to help expand the burgeoning Philadelphia area circuit as a tournament director and staffer. She studies Ancient History and Art History, and hopes to continue her involvement in quizbowl as an educator when she graduates.

We are thrilled to work with both Emily and Rebecca and look forward to continuing the tradition of exemplary quizbowl in Pennsylvania.

As a final announcement, our co-founder Chris Chiego will be on sabbatical from GPQB and the site’s associated social media accounts for the upcoming academic year, to focus on his schoolwork. We wish him good luck and hope to see him on tournament Saturdays.

-The Staff

End of Season Poll, 2017-2018

Friends,

No one would deny that this year was the most successful in Pennsylvania’s history for pyramidal quizbowl. More teams placed well nationally than ever before, and more of our players got recognition from the greater community of players, coaches, and advocates across America. So many teams deserve plaudits for their accomplishments this year, and one poll does not do them justice. Nevertheless, in annual tradition, we will forge ahead and crown a quizbowl champion for Pennsylvania among the rest.

15 voters participated in this poll. Voting was done AP style. Without further ado, here is the final poll for the elite play of the 2017-2018 season:

#1) Downingtown STEM, 150 points (+1, Unanimous choice for #1)
#2) Lehigh Valley Academy, 131 points (-1)
#3) Allderdice, 124 points (+4)
#4) Manheim Township, 104 points (+2)
#5) Friends Select, 85 points (-1)
#6) State College A, 72 points (+5)
#7) Henderson, 37 points (+2)
#8) State College B, 31 points (prev. u/r)
#9) Downingtown East, 29 points (+1)
#10) Great Valley, 25 points (-5)

Also receiving votes were Delaware Valley (22 points), Alagar Homeschool (10), Winchester Thurston (6), and Shady Side (4).

We congratulate STEM on being named GPQB champions for the season, and more importantly, we commend all of these teams, and those who did not get ranked, on their successful seasons. Have a wonderful summer, keep learning, keep exploring, and keep buzzing!

-The Staff

Voters in this poll were: Mitch Alday, Paul Birch, Ryan Bilger, Chris Chiego, Emily Dickson, Jack Edmondson, Ben Herman, Ashish Kumbhardare, Sebastien La Duca, Nick Luca, Andrew Nadig, Rebecca Rosenthal, Colton Sanden, Alex Sankaran, Steven Silverman

2018 PACE National Scholastic Championship Wrap Up

This past Saturday and Sunday saw the last major quizbowl event of the year, the PACE National Scholastic Championship. 96 teams from around the country competed for the title, including six Pennsylvania squads. Qualification for this tournament required finishing in the top 20 or 25 percent of teams at a PACE-certified tournament. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology A (VA) took first place, defeating Dublin Scioto (OH) in the first game of an advantaged final.

Full stats for the tournament can be found at this link. Please note that at the NSC, incorrect or unanswered bonus parts bounce back to the opposing team, and these bounceback statistics are displayed in the final three columns on the right, while traditional points per bonus stats appear to their left.

Downingtown STEM capped off their incredible season with a bang, finishing in 18th place with a record of 13-5. Vishwa Shanmugam was the tournament’s 6th-top overall scorer with 112.78 PPG, and Anish Gadgil and Rohan Vora each added solid contributions as well. STEM took home several victories against the nation’s top teams, including St. John’s (TX) as well as HSNCT runners-up Hunter (NY). For a team to go from not playing pyramidal quizbowl to placing 18th at NSC in 18 months is nothing short of astonishing, and D-STEM deserves tremendous credit for putting in the hard work to make it happen.

In the final act of Alex Schmidt’s high school quizbowl career, Lehigh Valley Academy took 21st place, with a 12-6 record, while also capturing the small school championship. Alex showed his ability to buzz all over the distribution once again, finishing with a whopping 138.89 PPG. He did fall to D-STEM in an exciting 370-330 match, but recorded strong wins as well over Robinson (VA) and Georgetown Day (DC). Speaking for myself, I saw Alex’s potential in playing against him when he was a freshman and I a senior, and it has been nice to see it pay off through strong finishes like this one.

Manheim Township A finished 30th overall (12-5 record), the highest finish at NSC in school history. Many of us counted out this group at the start of the year, and they certainly proved us wrong. Seniors Bryce Katch and Dan Nguyen led the way for the Blue Streaks, but fellow senior Michael Buffa and sophomore Will Steger both contributed over 20 PPG as well. Though they took a loss to LVA, the team scored a big-time win over national powerhouse LASA A (360-280), and were one tiebreaker away from making the top bracket. An excellent end to the season for this group.

Great Valley finished in 58th place, with a 6-9 record. Sam Scarfone demonstrated his skills once again with 59.33 PPG, while Dan Chen and Mark Neri also added over 20 PPG each. GV started the day 0-5, but rebounded to win 6 of their last 10 matches, including a nice victory over past SSNCT champion AMSA (MA). Not quite the ending this squad may have been hoping for, but it has still been fun to watch them develop over the years.

After missing HSNCT due to scheduling issues, Delaware Valley claimed 62nd place (7-8 record). As has been the case for most of the year, Colin Kawan-Hemler (46.67 PPG) and Frani King (29.33 PPG) set the pace, and DV also got noteworthy efforts from two returning juniors, Emma Dove and Chris Secular. The team squeaked out a tight 250-240 win over top Kentucky team Dunbar, and also beat strong teams in Okemos (MI) and Saint Joseph (IN). Overall, a nice weekend for the class of Northeast PA.

Finally, Manheim Township B took 86th place with a 5-10 record. This young team was composed exclusively of sophomores and juniors, including lead scorers Zac Stapler and Cyril Hainthaler, who will hope to play key roles next year as Manheim Township reloads for another season. This nationals experience will likely prove quite valuable in this regard.

And with that, another year in Pennsylvania quizbowl comes to a close. It has been an exciting campaign all around, and I have greatly enjoyed following it throughout. Stay tuned for our end-of-season rankings and final discussion on the season, coming soon!

-Ryan Bilger

2018 NAQT SSNCT Preview

Eleven teams representing nine Pennsylvania schools will be competing at the 2018 NAQT Small School National Championship Tournament in Chicago this weekend. 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 and Open divisions. The complete field is here.

Exterior

The Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago will host SSNCT.

Like HSNCT, there have been some changes to the format this year. 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.  This is up from the 9 games SSNCT has used in the past. In the playoffs, double elimination will reign. 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.

Here are quick summaries and a (just-for-fun, potentially very inaccurate) prediction for each team:

Traditional Public

Camp Hill

After winning last year’s Very Small School title and taking 3rd place in the 2017 Traditional Public division, several of this year’s players have experience with the format and the pressure of competing at SSNCT. Camp Hill has finished 11th or better among Small Schools for seven years running. Lead scorer Sydney has strong literature and mythology knowledge, and steady contributions from Alex and Ben helped them to a 1st place win at the Penn State Spring Academic Bowl last month. Their points-per-bonus on IS sets has improved throughout the year, increasing almost two points from 15.88 PPB at Henderson in November to 17.74 PPB at Allderdice in January. They have not found a replacement for last year’s GPQB First Team All-Star Colton, however, so they are unlikely to reach the peaks of last season’s run.

Prediction: 7-3 in prelims, top 20 finish

Huntingdon A and B

Andrew, David, and Max form a solid core for this team, each contributing around 20 to 30 points per game at the three tournaments they played together. We’re not sure what their team lineups will be at SSNCT (Andrew played on B for Penn State’s tournament, where he put up 72.22 individual PPG), but assuming their best players play together, their A team could be fairly potent while the B team might struggle some.

Prediction for A: 7-3 in prelims, top 25 finish
Prediction for B: 3-7 in prelims

Lakeland

Lakeland is led by star player Michael Goerlitz, who has a strong power rate and will likely be in contention for a tournament All-Star scoring award at SSNCT. Though several players from their 2017 team graduated, Michael’s rapid improvement this year could carry them to an even higher finish than last year’s T-19 result.

Prediction: 8-2, top 12 finish

Riverside

A regular on the WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage show in northeast PA, Riverside made their pyramidal debut at Wallenpaupack’s Big Lake Brawl in February. They showed improvement over the course of their first tournament and ended up winning three of their four afternoon games, and I expect that their stats will keep improving as they continue to get accustomed to quizbowl’s format and the structure of SSNCT.

Prediction: 3-7 in prelims

South Side

Evan, Sophia, and Drew provide balanced scoring, and some of their players have past SSNCT experience from playing on last year’s team. With a good power rate this year, I expect that they’ll do as well as (or possibly even better than) last year’s T-29.

Prediction: 6-4 in prelims, top 40 finish

Westmont Hilltop

Another team that has improved its power rate and PPB over the course of the year, Westmont Hilltop is led by senior player Ethan with good contributions from his teammates. Some players might have experience from playing on last year’s SSNCT team, which finished T-29.

Prediction: 6-4 in prelims, top 40 finish

Open

Friends Select

This formidable team was ranked 4th in PA in our midseason poll, and just last weekend they managed to defeat one of the country’s strongest high school teams on a collegiate set. Richard has emerged as their lead scorer followed by Jake and Rudyard, both of whom also provide deep knowledge and high point totals. Their impressive power rate and strong bonus conversion (their season best was 22.30 PPB on an IS set at Henderson) have combined for high tournament finishes throughout the year, and they should do very well at SSNCT. They have a tendency to have an occasional game where they will come down with a case of the negs, however, so they will need to ensure that they play clean during playoffs.

Prediction: 9-1 in prelims, top 3 finish

Moravian Academy A and B

With experience from playing on last year’s B team at SSNCT, current sophomores Alex and Neil have shown the ability to provide a one-two punch for this year’s A team. Their 16-17 PPB on A sets this year indicates that they’ll put up solid stats and get some wins at SSNCT.

Prediction for A: 4-6 in prelims
Prediction for B: 2-8 in prelims

Winchester Thurston

After taking 4th in their division at the 2017 SSNCT and making an extraordinary run to 9th place at last year’s HSNCT, their entire A team graduated and they had a coaching change. However, they’ve shown that they are still an extremely talented team, continuing their strategy of balanced scoring and specialist players. They won the Allderdice Invitational with all four players exceeding 25 PPG and 20.50 PPB, so they are in a good position to make a deep run into the playoffs this weekend.

Prediction: 8-2 in prelims, top 6 finish

Good luck to everyone at SSNCT! If you’d like updates from the tournament, be sure to follow NAQT’s livebloggers and their tournament coverage on Twitter (@NAQTLive) and Instagram (@NAQTqb).

-Jackie and Ben

GPQB All State Teams, 2017-2018

With the regular season over and nationals prep upon us, GPQB is pleased to once again announce our All-State teams for the quizbowl season. A panel of moderators and observers of the quizbowl circuit voted over the past week to select the team based on high performances across at least three individual all-subject tournaments, and in recognition of excellence on the buzzer in multiple academic categories. These players are the among top of among many fantastic players, and selection was as difficult as ever. We also have chosen a few other players for honorable mention. To all these players, as well as their parents, families, teachers, coaches, and friends, well done and well deserved. The 2017-2018 All-Star Teams are as follows:

First Team All-State

  • Richard Chen, Friends Select School
  • Sam Scarfone, Great Valley High School
  • Alex Schmidt, Lehigh Valley Academy
  • Vishwa Shanmugam, Downingtown STEM Academy
  • Jackie Wu, Downingtown East High School

Second Team All-State

  • Jakobi Deslouches, Allderdice High School
  • Jamie Faeder, Allderdice High School
  • Bryce Katch, Manheim Township High School
  • Collin Kawan-Hemler, Delaware Valley High School
  • Lily Zhang, State College High School

Honorable Mentions

  • Vijay Anne, Henderson High School
  • Anish Gadgil, Downingtown STEM Academy
  • Michael Goerlitz, Lakeland High School
  • Frani King, Delaware Valley High School
  • Dan Nguyen, Manheim Township High School
  • Aravind Sivaram, Henderson High School

Jackie Wu to join GPQB as Full Member

We are happy to announce that our student contributor, Jackie Wu, has been promoted to full membership in GPQB, effective immediately. Jackie has been responsible for a number of wrap-up pieces this year, and more importantly, created and has regularly updated GPQB’s Instagram account. She has also won the Cooper Young Ambassador Award from PACE for her outreach work in Chester County and SEPA more generally and represented PA as a member of the state NASAT team in 2017. We look forward to working further with Jackie to continue building quizbowl in Pennsylvania.

If any of our readers are interested in further opportunities to be a part of GPQB, we are always looking for contributors to help with tournament wrap-ups, advice posts, rankings coordination, and social media.

The Staff

Manheim Spring Wrap-Up 2018

On April 7, 18 teams (including 4 Manheim Township house teams) competed on the 25th iteration of Maggie Walker’s high school housewrite, GSAC, with questions at a slightly higher difficulty than the regular high school level.

Stats can be found here.

Photo from GV’s Twitter (@gvquiz)

First place went to Great Valley A. Sam Scarfone led them with 87.78 points per game and 22 powers, and Dan, Mark, and Chris each contributed significantly with several buzzes per match. Though they’ve gotten a reputation for high neg rates in the past, it seems that they’ve worked on cutting those down, and their neg count here was comparable with the other top-bracket teams.

Lehigh Valley finished second as a result of a 260-335 loss to GV in round 6. LVA’s 22.55 points per bonus was the highest of the tournament, and though Alex did have an uncharacteristically high number of negs (21), his 42 powers and 162.78 total points per game were still extremely impressive.

Friends Select A, missing Rudyard, still scored 19.51 points per bonus. Led by Richard’s 63.33 ppg and backed up with a solid performance from Jake, they came within 15 points of defeating GV in round 7 and took 3rd overall. They are definitely a strong contender in the Open division of SSNCT this year.

Penn Manor and a team from Downingtown STEM took 4th and 5th, with 13 powers each. PM, a young team led by Connor’s 66.67 ppg, played good games against the teams above them, even converting exactly half of the tossups heard in their game against FSS. The usual A team from Downingtown STEM had already played this set elsewhere, but a strong performance from Nori, Max (a freshman), and Catherine showed that they still have several talented players behind them as well. Hempfield A finished sixth, led by 2018 NASAT team member Will Yaeger with 60.56 ppg.

In the first consolation bracket, Great Valley B won each of their afternoon games, with Anshu, John, Rishi, and Dan each scoring at least 17 ppg. Friends Select B had a solid 16.20 points per bonus and another balanced effort from Matt, Jonah, Aidan, and Silas. Lancaster Mennonite was led by Jacob’s 56.67 ppg, and the rest of the bracket was rounded out by three Manheim Township house teams.

The last bracket featured Great Valley C, Manheim Township Middle, Lancaster Catholic, Hempfield B, Bermudian Springs, and another house team made up of Nate Rybner playing solo. Each of these teams scored well on a difficult set, and in particular MT Middle’s strong performance indicates they’ll do very well at MSNCT next month.

It was great to see a variety of teams challenging themselves on a hard set and nice to watch some of the state’s strongest teams continue their preparation for SSNCT at the end of this month, HSNCT in late May, and NSC in early June. As a current senior myself, it’ll be bittersweet to play the last few tournaments of my high school career, but I’m definitely excited as we all head into nationals season—good luck and happy studying to everyone out there!

-Jackie

Battle of the Burgh XXI (3/24/18) Wrap-Up

In the 21st iteration of the University of Pittsburgh’s Battle of the Burgh tournament, thirteen teams, including ten from eight different Pennsylvania schools, came together for a day of competition on IS 173-A. While an Ohio team, Copley A, came away with the tournament championship, several PA teams acquitted themselves nicely on the day.

Allderdice showed off their excellent depth once again, as their A and B teams claimed second and third place with one and two losses, respectively. Jamie Faeder continued his rapid improvement throughout the year, leading the A team with 72.56 PPG; Jakobi Deslouches continued his strong year with 61.86 PPG next to him, while Truman Jury and Andrew Gu rounded out the squad with solid contributions. Austin Davis (65.09 PPG) and Alana Dickey (42.67 PPG) led the way for the B team as well. The PPB for the A team was 25.72, around where you want to be on an A-set to have a shot at a decent run at HSNCT, and the B team’s wasn’t far behind, at 23.41. If Allderdice figures out their best four to put forward as their A team at HSNCT, they appear to be set for a nice tournament, and potentially a run into the playoffs.

Winchester Thurston came in next-highest among the Pennsylvania teams, finishing 5th overall. Tim Ganger’s 56.80 PPG topped the list for the squad on the day. While still in a bit of a rebuilding phase after last season’s magical run, Thurston is still well-poised to do some damage at SSNCT, coming up at the end of this month. Pittsburgh Central Catholic followed them in the standings, as Simon Sweeney and Zeke Stuart each notched 11 powers in the course of the day. Shady Side, which was Will Davis playing solo, finished 7th. Will led the tournament in scoring at 83.85 PPG, and he put up a solid 21 powers. He remains a solid player across the board and in his specialties, which should help the team to a good performance at HSNCT.

Elsewhere in the standings, DuBois made a nice run into the top playoff rounds, led by Drew Reiter’s 32.84 PPG. It’s nice to see them making the trek to keep participating in Saturday tournaments. Chartiers Valley rebounded from a rough opening stretch to win their last four games, while Hampton and an understrength Keystone Oaks both grabbed some nice wins and some more key experience.

As the season winds to a close, we’ll be next seeing the top teams from the west during nationals season. Study hard, and best of luck to all on the big stage!

– Ryan Bilger