Area teams prep for playoff grind

Feb. 19—Area boys basketball teams start district playoff action tonight, and 13 teams get a chance to extend their season into March with runs to a district title.

Most of our teams are concentrated in Friday's Class 4A quarterfinals with Midd-West, Shamokin, Danville, Lewisburg and Mifflinburg all taking the court.

Action opens tonight with in Class A when Line Mountain (11-12), the No. 6-seed travels to Northeast Bradford (16-7) with a 6 p.m. start. The Eagles started the season by losing five of their first six games. Line Mountain's been off since a Tri-Valley League semifinal loss to Greenwood on Feb. 12. Northeast Bradford begin the season 14-2, but has gone 2-5 over the last seven games, including a loss in the Northern Tier semifinals to North Penn-Mansfield.

The other game tonight is in Class A where Meadowbrook Christian (13-13), the fourth-place finisher in the most recent Allegheny Christian Athletic Association Tournament, will travel to Bucktail (11-11).

Wednesday features the District 4-6 Class 5A semifinals, both at 7 p.m. No. 2-seed Selinsgrove (15-7) hosts Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I rival Central Mountain (13-9) in one semifinal. Ries Nagule leads the Seals at 21.6 points per game, and he's scored 26 points and 29 points in a sweep of the Wildcats this season. Both Xaivier Jackson (10.4 ppg) and Gavin Bastian (10.3) both average in double figures for Selinsgrove.

Central Mountain started the season at 8-2, but 5-7 since the calendar turned to 2024. Hunter Hoy leads at 17.4 points per game, while Xavier Persun averages 10.4 points per game, and a team-high 50 3-pointers. Caleb Mahoney, Central Mountain junior point guard, has also taken a step forward as the season has progressed. In Central Mountain's first 11 games, he reached double figures just twice — and both were 10-point performance. In the 10 games since, Mahoney has scored in double figures twice, including a career-high 20 against Shikellamy on Jan. 20.

Speaking of the Braves, Shikellamy heads to Hollidaysburg to take on the top-seeded Golden Tigers (18-4), which has won nine in a row since a 64-61 loss to Bishop Guilfoyle on Jan. 20. The Braves (12-10) are also playing well. Shikellamy won eight of its last 11 games, and senior guard Cameron Lenner (18.2 ppg) has been a big reason. In the Braves hot streak, the lefty has averaged 23.1 points per game.

The winners are tentatively set to meet in the championship game at Mount Alyosius College at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

No. 1-seeded in Class A Northumberland Christian (20-7), which claimed the ACAA championship on Saturday over Columbia County Christian, will host Benton (9-13) at 7 p.m. The Warriors are another team that has played better as the season as worn on. Four of the Warriors' losses came in the first five games of the season. Conner Bennett is averaging 17 points per game, and has scored at least 20 points in six of the last seven Warriors' games. Sam Garvin is second on the team at 14.2 points per game.

The Class A semifinals are set for Friday night.

Thursday features four games with three teams in the Class 3A quarterfinals, and Greenwood facing York Country Day at York Country Vo-Tech on 7 p.m.

The Wildcats (15-8), which lost in the Tri-Valley League championship game to Halifax, are led by two veterans from last year's TVL title team. Braeden Sarver leads the team at 13.5 points per game, while Ben Brinsoer averages 11.7 points per game, and leads the team with 37 3-point goals.

Freshman Ryan Maus leads York Country Day. He scores at 19.2 points per game, and leads the team with 50 3-pointers. They are a young team with one senior starter with two freshmen and two sophomores.

In District 4, Southern Columbia (16-6) is the only home team in Class 3A on Thursday. The Tigers host Wellsboro (14-8) at 7 p.m. Wilkes University-bound Brian Britton leads Southern Columbia at 19.6 points per game. He's also shooting 84% (94-of-112) from the foul line.

The Hornets are led by 6-foot-3 forward Hayes Campbell. He leads the team at 16 points per game, and recently pulled down his 500th career rebounds.

Warrior Run (14-8), the No. 5-seed, heads to North Penn-Mansfield (16-6). The Defenders, which won on the road at the buzzer last year at Wellsboro in the first road, are led by sophomore center Aiden McKee, who averages 15.9 points per game. Landon Polcyn has 32 3-pointers, and Cooper Wilkins has 26 3-pointers to open up the floor for McKee.

Mount Carmel (10-12) heads to No. 2-seed Troy, which is undefeated at 24-0 after winning the Northern Tier championship on Saturday night over North Penn Mansfield. Troy has won all of its games by double digit, but Lewisburg did push the Trojans to overtime on Feb. 3, before dropping a 72-62 decision.

All four quarterfinals in Class 4A feature a local team on Friday night.

Shamokin, Danville and Mifflinburg all host, while Lewisburg heads to No. 2-seed Montoursville. All games are set for 7 p.m.

It will be interesting to see how the Indians bounce back from last week's loss in the Heartland Athletic Conference semifinals. Shamokin (17-6) — the top-seed, will host Midd-West (7-15). The Indians got a big lift when freshman Logan Steele returned from an early season injury. They will have to defend the Mustangs 3-point shooters. Garrett Leitzel (48) and Noah Romig (43) are are two of the top shooters in the area.

3-point shooting defense will be key at Mifflinburg as well. Tyler Reigel leads the team at 17.8 points per game, while Jackson Griffith is second at 15.2 points per game. Mifflinburg swept both games from Central Columbia during league play.

No. 3-seed Danville (17-7) will host Athens (14-8). The Ironmen are coming off a three-point loss to Class 3A top-seed Loyalsock in the HAC title game on Friday. Three different Ironmen — Luke Huron, Hayden Winn and Daniel Walker — average between 11.3 and 11.8 points per game.

The final Class 4A quarterfinal will send Lewisburg (6-16), which has made the last two District 4 championship games, to Montoursville (16-6).