H.S. Basketball: Two WVC teams seek to keep state title hopes alive

Mar. 15—The second round of the PIAA state basketball playoffs was rough on the Wyoming Valley Conference. Six entered the second round and only two emerged — the Holy Redeemer girls and the MMI Prep boys.

Now comes the quarterfinals for both on Friday.

Redeemer last made to the semifinals in Class 2A in 2015 where it lost to perennial power Neumann-Goretti. MMI Prep wasn't even a member of District 2 when it made its first and only trip to the semifinals in 1973. The Preppers, who were in District 11, went on to win the Class C (now Class A) state championship.

Two Lackawanna League boys teams will play in a quarterfinal doubleheader at Bethlehem Freedom High School. Unbeaten Abington Heights plays Imhotep Charter at 6 p.m. in a Class 5A game followed by Scranton Prep against Neumann-Goretti at 7:30 p.m. in a 3A game.

Holy Redeemer (23-5) vs. Loyalsock (26-3)

Class 3A Girls Quarterfinals

7:30 p.m. Friday

Hazleton Area H.S.

District 4 second seed Loyalsock has made the state playoffs eight consecutive years. Only one other time have the Lancers advanced to the quarterfinals. That appearance has an asterisk since it came in 2021 when only district champions made states because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancers started the state playoffs in the quarterfinals that year.

Loyalsock disposed of District 2 third seed Lake-Lehman 59-32 in the second round, marking the Lancers' fourth double-digit win over a WVC opponent this season. They also defeated Crestwood, Dallas and Nanticoke Area.

Inside player Alaina Dadzie had 13 of her game-high 24 points in the first quarter as Loyalsock seized control early. Lacey Kriebel added 17. The Lancers have size and everyone in the lineup can handle the ball. Dadzie looked just as comfortable on the perimeter as in the paint.

Loyalsock also forced 24 turnovers. Rather than bring relentless pressure immediately, the Lancers' press centers around trapping the player who gets the inbound pass and forcing a bad decision. Coach Curtis Jacobson said they used 10 different defenses vs. Lehman.

After a somewhat sluggish 45-30 opening-round win against Bloomsburg, District 2 champion Redeemer demolished District 3 third seed York Catholic 73-41. The Royals led 46-24 at halftime on their way to their highest points total of the season.

McKenzie Chimock (15), Bella Boylan (13), Gillian Parsons (11) and Lucie Racicky (10) led the scoring. Against Bloomsburg, it was Megan Albrecht and Angelina Corridoni, demonstrating Redeemer has plenty of players who can find the basket.

Redeemer also likes to press, but its version differs a bit from Loyalsock's in that it's more of an in-your-face approach. The teams know each other fairly well, having played twice in summer league action.

The winner plays in the semifinals Monday against either District 4 champion Hughesville (24-4) or District 3 champion Lancaster Catholic (23-2).

MMI Prep (16-10) vs. Linville Hill Christian (22-1)

Class A Boys Quarterfinals

6 p.m. Friday

Martz Hall, Pottsville

Three-time District 3 champion Linville Hill Christian is making its third consecutive appearance in the state quarterfinals. The Warriors lost in the state semifinals last year, but the starting lineup is somewhat different.

Linville Hill made it to Friday's game by defeating Bethlehem Christian 83-57 in the second round. MMI Prep defeated Bethlehem Christian 59-55 in the D2/11 Class A subregional semifinals.

Linville Hill junior Stephen Smucker was averaging 18.8 points entering the state tournament. He scored his 1,000th point in the opening round. Junior Derian Peterseim averages 14 points and is a 3-pointer ace with 66 baskets behind the arc going into states. Junior Giovanni Sejuste also averages about 14, while junior Jermone Stoltzfus is also a 3-point threat.

The Warriors have put up some impressive numbers offensively, scoring over 90 points four time. Unlike MMI Prep, though, they rarely ventured outside Class A for regular-season opponents.

As the WVC's only Class A school, MMI played Class 4A schools for most of its divisional schedule. The Preppers more than held their own, finishing tied for third place in Division 2.

MMI's success is no surprise as the team was sort of built for this season with seniors Brendon Brobst, Reed Floryshak, Lex Lispi and Ryan Sones along with junior Nick Pantages in the starting lineup. Brobst had 23 points in a 39-35 win over High Point Baptist in the second round.

The winner plays in the semifinals on Monday against either District 3 fifth seed Lancaster Country Day (18-9) or District 5 champ Berlin Brothersvalley (26-2).

Saturday's Schedule

While no WVC teams will be playing in Saturday's quarterfinals, five from the Lackawanna League will be including a doubleheader at Hazleton Area High School.

At Hazleton Area, District 2 champion Mountain View plays District 4 champion St. John Neumann in a Class A girls game at 1 p.m. District 2 champion Scranton Prep plays District 4 champion Central Columbia at 2:30 p.m. in a Class 4A girls game.

There is also a doubleheader at Easton Middle School. At 1 p.m., District 2 champion Scranton plays District 12 champion Archbishop Wood in a Class 5A girls game. The District 2 champion Holy Cross boys play District 1 champion Dock Mennonite at 2:30 p.m.

The District 2 second seed Abington Heights girls face District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic in a Class 5A game at 1 p.m. at Pleasant Valley High School.