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

GPQB Podcast Episode 25: The Quizbowl Economy

Chris and Ben are joined by Coach Bern McCauley of Great Valley High school for an extended length podcast discussing the economics of quizbowl. Most of the discussion is focused on the high school game, but some of it discusses collegiate quizbowl. Topics covered include: what does an average quizbowl annual budget look like? How does this compare to other activities? Should it cost more or less? How to fundraise? Should quizbowl have more professionalization and charge accordingly?

Click here to listen!

0:00- Costs of regular season events
2:40- Costs of Nationals
5:05- Overall Yearly Expenditures
7:19- Debate: Is this the right amount of money to charge for quizbowl?
11:38- Comparison with other academic extracurriculars; pop quiz on costs!
14:30- Fundraising Ideas and Issues
18:40- The Prospect of Professionalizing Quizbowl
22:40- Does Professionalization have hidden downsides?
25:25- Trust, Relationship Building, and the Long Game for Quizbowl Economics
30:05- Predictions for the Future

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!

2017 Philadelphia City Championships Wrap-Up

This year, 10 schools from the city of Philadelphia gathered for the city-wide championships, which also double as an IU tournament and qualifier for the PA state tournament in Harrisburg. This is twice the number of schools as last year’s city champs and was the capstone for a year’s worth of explosive growth in participation in Pennsylvania’s largest city. Friends Select School played host and their Center City building provided an accessible and convenient location for the festivities.

Here are the final standings and complete individual stats for the day.
[updated w/nationals qualifiers]

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City champions Friends Select A, at ease before the finals games. From L to R: Rudyard, Jake, Richard, and Emma.

Friends Select A took home the title for the second year and will be going to Harrisburg as Philly’s representative. They were the unquestioned statistical leaders of the tournament, as their PPB (points-per-bonus) was four points above the nearest other team and their 41 powers (extra points for correct early buzzes) were more than twice that of any other team. We knew this team would be good after Richard and Jake went an impressive 4-6 at last year’s HSNCT, but the addition of Rudyard and his immense “real knowledge” has multiplied their early-buzz force. This junior-heavy team is completing quite the season and only loses pop culture specialist Emma next year. Friends Select’s B, C, and D teams also dominated as the school ended up with four of the six playoff bracket spots available. Other schools will have their work cut out for them against this deep roster of teams in the future.

Carver HSES A took second place, undefeated except for their final two loses to Friends Select A (completing a best-of-three final without need for a third game). In an ending a bit reminiscent of a video game, they had to play Friends Select D, C, B, and A in that order and made it to the “final boss” before yielding. They put on one of the most enthusiastic shows around, vigorously buzzing and collecting for spirited pep talks from Coach Shan Hogan. Carver’s teams (I read for both A and B) also play very smart–though they’re not a top-tier team at the state level statistically just yet, they do not make bad negs, they communicate well on bonuses, and they constantly encourage each other and high-five after good buzzes. This allows them to consistently punch above their weight and makes them a blast to read for. Their B team also earned several impressive wins throughout the day (including one over Masterman A) and showed a great deal of growth over the past few tournaments.

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Carver A receives advice from Coach Hogan before a match.

Central took the last remaining playoff berth. They went 5-4 on the day but did so against a brutal schedule. Though Central lacks an all-around power player outside of Marley (who had to leave in the afternoon, somewhat lowering their final PPB), all of their team scored well and they seem to get wins in a workmanlike fashion. Bodine and Rush finished tops in the Middle bracket. They were lead by the tournament’s second and first overall scorers, respectively. Bodine’s Alexandra, just a freshman, is going to be a top-flight player very soon, as she scores in volume and just needs to push up the power rate and focus during some rounds. Meanwhile, Rush deployed something of a secret weapon in Tara, who blasted 72 points per game in her first pyramidal invitational and consistently improved throughout the day. Awesome job by both.

The back end of the tournament contained a lot of newer or first time entrants from the city: Masterman, the Academy at Palumbo, and Furness all played their first quizbowl tournaments and each came away with at least one win. Franklin Learning Center and Franklin Towne Charter also returned and saw FLC win the battle of the Franklins by a combined 25 points over both FTC teams. It was good to see all of these teams participating and learning in this local environment; I saw some good buzzes from them and with continued regular events in the city, they will all improve in no time.

Overall, this was a nice example of how state qualifier/IU tournaments can run on good questions, use a fair format that allows teams to play many games (rather than just 1 or 2), and cater to teams of all levels of ability. The tournament was wrapped up before 3 PM and some teams finished as early as 2:15 or so. High School quizbowl in Philadelphia is rising and has so much potential, and we look forward to seeing its continuing development in future years!

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Franklin Learning Center vs. Academy at Palumbo, which occurred in round 5. Palumbo won a close match, 170-145.

-Ben Herman

Wissahickon Invitational Wrap-Up

16 teams competed in the first-ever Wissahickon Invitational on March 4th at Wissahickon HS in Ambler, PA. Full stats are available here.

Varsity
1. Friends Select A
1. Downingtown STEM A
3. Downingtown East A

JV:
1. Team Sahil of Parkland
2. Downingtown East B
3. Great Valley MS

Varsity

One thing that might be readily apparent from the final standings is the unusual presence of co-champions! After the preliminary rounds, Friends Select A finished with 1 loss and Downingtown STEM finished with 2 losses. This meant that FSS A would have the “advantage” in the final, meaning that FSS only needed to win 1 match to clinch while STEM would have to win both matches. STEM won the first match, but the second match wasn’t played as STEM was prematurely awarded the 1st place trophy. It was an honest mistake on the part of the hosts and the concept of an advantaged final is a bit tricky, though considering how superb the previous STEM-FSS matches were it’s a pity that second final match wasn’t played.

It’s usually a good idea for a tournament to make clear the finals scenarios to both teams before the finals begin (and as much as possible before the tournament, deciding for instance on how to play off potential ties) just so that everyone is on the same page before the finals start.

But that shouldn’t overshadow what was otherwise a great day for both STEM and FSS A, with STEM’s Vishwa averaging over 103 PPG individually and notching 51 powers. STEM’s Anish also contributed 36 PPG, which is a considerable number for being in the shadow of such a strong player. FSS A, finally playing with their full lineup after several months, saw three players amass 17 or more powers and sported a sterling 23.98 PPB. Both teams are young and look to be jockeying for position within the hierarchy of top 5 PA teams next year.

Downingtown East A also had a good run with a win over rival STEM and did it all without their all-star captain Jackie, who generously agreed to read rather than play to help make sure the tournament ran well. Kaushik and Zach both emerged as strong players in their own right and several normal B-teamers got a shot at playing on the A team. FSS B showcased FSS’ developing talent, with Jonah’s 13-1 power-to-neg statline being particularly impressive but with all of their players contributing. And Carver HSES A had their best-ever PPB on an IS-A set with 18.8.

It was great to see Hatboro-Horsham back at quizbowl tournaments after their debut at QFO in Decemeber. The MontCo schools’s stats, especially on tossups, are a bit depressed because the top-tier competition in the varsity bracket didn’t give anyone a chance to breathe, but they continued to fight until the end.

JV Division

In the JV division, Team Sahil of Parkland put on quite a show, with a dominating individual performance, especially for being the 2nd-ever pyramidal tournament by a sophomore! Downingtown East B made it clear that D-East is going to continue this year’s strong performance in future years and also played shorthanded. Great Valley MS is a real find; they have some glaring gaps because, well, they’re 7th and 8th graders who haven’t had a high school class yet, but they have very balanced coverage of all parts of the canon and, unlike many teams, excellent pop culture/sports knowledge. I also was pleased with their excellent sportsmanship, as they made sure to shake the hands of all their opponents immediately afterwards even when they lost close games.

Friends Select C, led by an every-improving Aidan, showed more of that trademarked FSS balance and depth while Hatboro-Horsham B exposed a new generation of their players to pyramidal questions and seemed to come out liking them. SLA had a bit of an off day, but Jack did well enough to secure the #2 individual scoring prize. Franklin Towne Charter sent two rather sleepy teams, given that half their members had been up for 24 hours at a dance thon event and then bravely came along to play a mentally taxing 9 rounds of quizbowl. We salute the iron men and women of FTC for such dedication and hope that they were able to include their academic competition services in their fundraisers as well. Carver HSES B notched a couple of wins themselves and also have an improving Aidan as well. William Tennent, making a rare appearance by a non-CBEAST Bucks County team, came with a very young team most of whom were making their quizbowl debut. Rachel V. in particular did a nice job of making the top 10 in individual scoring; hope that the WT team will come to some more events in the future.

All in all, the tournament went off logistically well up until the end–even a few hiccups in the afternoon like a disappearing reader and the internet crashing (again, note the dangers of trying to do wireless tournaments) didn’t delay it too much and 10 rounds were complete by 3:45. Wissahickon was a good venue and the hosts were enthusiastic and had plenty of well-compensated volunteer hour seekers, so hope that they can use their experience in the future to get run academic competition events in Montgomery County.

Tartan Invitational Wrap-Up

Also taking place this past Saturday was the 2017 Tartan Invitational. 18 teams from 12 schools gathered at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh to battle it out on the NAQT IS-162 set. Full stats from the tournament can be found here.

Even missing their two top scorers, State College A, paced by 79 PPG from Joshua Geselowitz and 54.5 PPG from Mia Cavener, went 11-0 on the day to clear the field. This included some close victories, particularly one by the smallest of margins, 360-355, over Winchester Thurston A, who placed third behind State College B, the latter of whom only lost two close matches to their A team. State College remains an interesting team to watch, as we’ve still only seen what is probably their true A team once this year. Remaining tournaments on the calendar should provide some good opportunities for them to continue to prove their skills before nationals.

Rounding out the top bracket were Shady Side AAllderdice, and Westmont Hilltop A. These are three improving teams to keep an eye on in future tournaments in western Pennsylvania as well. Shady Side’s A team even led the field in powers, notching a solid 51, with the one-two punch of William Lu and Will Davis recording 20 and 21, respectively. Shady Side’s B team went undefeated in the afternoon rounds behind a strong performance by Nick Becker. These teams appear to currently comprise a solid second tier in the west, behind State College and Alagar Homeschool.

Also in attendance were teams from Central Catholic, Hampton, Huntingdon, South Side, Kane, Yough, and Saegertown, who played their first pyramidal tournament of the year. We hope to see them and all the other attendees at more events in the future!

All in all, it was a good day for the teams out west. We’ll be looking forward to the next tournament, hosted on March 11 at Central Catholic!

Ryan Bilger

Great Valley Quiz Bowl Tournament IV Wrap-Up and Comments

40 teams from across Pennsylvania and beyond gathered at Great Valley High School in Malvern, PA for the 4th edition of the always-excellent GVQBT.

Final overall results on Neg5 are available here:
Open
Novice

And final playoff results (which determined placement) are here:
Open 
Novice

Open Division

1. Lehigh Valley Academy A
2. Manheim Township A
3. Camp Hill
4. Downingtown East A
5. Downingtown STEM

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Lehigh Valley Academy A (foreground) collaborates on a bonus question in the final against Manheim Township A (background)

The tournament came down to yet another skirmish between the two teams who have battled back-and-forth throughout the year for supremacy in Pennsylvania: Lehigh Valley Academy A and Manheim Township A. Both teams were at essentially fully strength once the afternoon came around and went undefeated throughout the tournament into what was basically a best-of-3 final. MT A came away with the first match and only needed to grab one of the remaining 2 potential matches to win. But after MT A jumped out to a 120-point lead in Game 2, Alex from LVA simply went off, going on a run of 10 tossups in a row with a series of deep knowledge buzzes, buzzer-race wins, and conversions on negs from MT. This run seemed to break MT A’s confidence going into the final match and, though they kept it close for a bit, Alex put up another 130-point performance to claim the 1st-place trophy. MT A definitely has the firepower to beat LVA, but Alex’s consistency (while most dominant in history, he no major weaknesses and usually buzzes right after the power mark in almost any category) has made LVA A the team to beat now in PA.

Camp Hill finished in 3rd and seems to be on a steady rise through the ranks of the top teams in PA. Colton has always been a solid all-around generalist with deep strengths in history, but what’s triggered the latest rise has been Sydney’s emergence as a bonafide deep literature specialist. If they can find consistent 3rd and 4th chair specialists (although their teammates today definitely contributed some key buzzes), they have a good shot at winning the whole SSNCT. Downingtown East A continued its string of solid performances and got a nice win over local rival Downingtown STEM, though STEM is yet another team on the rise. STEM actually had Manheim Township A on the ropes with a lead going into the final TU in their match, but unfortunately negged to lose by 15 points. STEM has major pockets of deep knowledge, especially in science, and if they continue to develop players around Vishwa (who averaged 100 PPG today) they’re only going to improve.

Lancaster Mennonite continued their aggressive play, racking up 49 (!) negs over the course of the tournament and continuing to demonstrate strong pockets of knowledge in religion and history in the top bracket. Concord (DE) showed up without their best player and rode a favorable schedule into the playoffs while an under-strength Manheim Township B just seemed content to make the playoffs with a narrow 15 points win over Friends Select A. FSS A got a measure of revenge by running through the top consolation bracket and notching wins over Henderson A and an understrength Delaware Valley A. FSS continues to demonstrate outstandingly deep knowledge (4th-most for powers out of all teams at the tournament) but still needs to close up a few gaps and get all of their Big 3 playing at once more consistently. Both Bermudian Springs and Central Bucks East made the most of their appearances as well by finishing in the middle of that same consolation bracket.

Novice Division

1. Manheim Township C
2. Haverford
3. Central Bucks East
4. Great Valley Middle School B
5. Friends Select C

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Tournament Director and Great Valley Coach McCauley makes announcements before the JV/Novice division final of Manheim Township C (left) and Haverford (right).

Manheim Township C won the novice division trophy by defeating Haverford High School in the finals. Interestingly, though Manheim C did not have the most impressive PPB in the novice division, their on-the-buzzer skills were more than enough to make up for that. This will be a group of underclassmen to watch as they move up within the Manheim system. This finish also marked Haverford’s first appearance on the pyramidal quizbowl circuit in five years and they became one of only a small handful for DelCo Hi-Q teams ever to play in a weekend quizbowl tournament n Pennsylvania. They made the most of their time with an exciting up-and-down day that culminated in the runner-up finish to Manheim C. Paced by Jack’s 62 PPG , Haverford would be an excellent addition to the circuit–hopefully they can bring along some other Hi-Q teams too!

Everyone’s favorite CBEAST‘s B team actually finished with the highest points-per-bonus of all the novice schools, but lost to Haverford to finish in 3rd place. CB East has long been one of the most involved Bucks County schools in quizbowl (often called “Scholars Bowl” in Bucks) and it looks like they’re loaded for the next few years. In the rest of the novice division top bracket, Friends Select B (a 3-person team) was solid, but they turned out to have a weakness: middle schoolers. Great Valley’s Middle School sent a team of 7th and another team of 8th graders and both finished in the top 6 in this novice division. Even better, all of them were fairly well-balanced scoring-wise.It looks like GV will have a very solid pipeline of talent for the next few years. Rounding out the top bracket were SLA, who started strong but faded a bit after lunch, and PALCS, which is in the middle of a rebuilding phase this year.

Downingtown East C, who missed the top bracket by the smallest of margins in losing a tiebreak game to GV MS, let loose some frustration in pretty much stomping all the teams who tried to get in their way in the middle bracket. Lehigh Valley Academy B featured some of Alex Schmidt’s loyal teammates who finally got a chance to play outside the considerable “shadow” and acquitted themselves nicely.

Let us extend a big welcome to Franklin Learning Center, who joined the teams on the Cheese Bus of Knowledge from Philadelphia and made their quizbowl debut here. They got ahead of their intra-Philly competition with a win over Bodine in the morning, which boosted them into the middle bracket, where they put up a solid fight but were a bit outmatched by more experienced teams. Bodine themselves had a rough morning, but a great afternoon, winning the lower consolation bracket.

Also a big shout-out to Renaissance Academy for sending 4 teams worth of students in both brackets and all topping 10 PPB. In fact, every team at this tournament finished with at least 10 PPB except for a short-handed DV B. It was a good day of competition all-around and teams definitely got their money’s worth with at least 10 matches for each (a very cool bit of scheduling by Great Valley to avoid byes) and finishing everything but the 2nd game of the finals by 4 PM.

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Renaissance Academy poses for a picture.

A note on the question sets: while the HSAPQ Novice Set used in the novice division was quite solid and reader-friendly (if a bit challenging on the bonuses), the GSAC set used in the varsity division had a number of major issues. While this might have been excusable if this had been the first use of these questions, this was apparently something like the 8th mirror of the set and there were still major factual errors, confusing grammar (esp. a problematic use of too many pronouns in Lit. questions), and a near-complete lack of alternative answer lines, which often made this frustrating to read and led to a number of protests. This is unacceptable. I would not recommend using iterations of GSAC in the future unless the editors make it clear that they will incorporate feedback and improve their product.

-Chris