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Four Centre County Basketball Teams Set to Begin PIAA Tournament Play

by and on March 09, 2018 4:30 AM

It’s PIAA basketball tournament time, and it can only be very good news that four Centre County teams are still playing.

The State College girls and boys, Penns Valley girls and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy boys all have first round engagements on either Friday or Saturday as teams from across the state get together to vie for gold. Both State College teams and Penns Valley will begin play as the District 6 champions as No. 1 seeds, while St. Joe’s qualified as the D6 runner-up and the No. 2 seed.

As far as who the local fives are playing, it goes almost without saying that if a team made it into the tournament, it is most certainly a dangerous opponent worthy of close attention.

Here’s the lineup:



Three weeks ago, after losses to the two teams it would likely face in the District 6 tournament, it certainly looked like the State College girls had a steep hill to climb.

But that was a challenge these Lady Little Lions were preparing for, and they took out both Mifflin County (50-46) and No. 1 seed Altoona (42-41) to win the district championship and move on into inter-district play.

Now in the first round of the PIAA tournament, State College will face the No. 6 seed out of District 3, Dallastown.

The Lady Wildcats finished their season with an overall record of 19-9, and they had to grind their way through a crowded AAAAAA District 3 tournament.

They opened with a one-point win over Conestoga, but then fell to No. 4 Central Dauphin, 43-28, and dropped into the consolation rounds.

A win over No. 1 Manheim Township put Dallastown in the fifth place final, but a loss there to Cedar Cliff, 55-43, gave the Wildcats sixth place in a tournament that qualified seven for the PIAAs.

Dallastown boasts some impressive wins this season against such teams as Spring Grove, Manheim, Central York, Mechanicsburg, New Oxford and Red Lion. But the loss to CD, after an earlier win over the Rams, knocked it back from a chance at a D3 title.

The Wildcats have a balanced offense led by Sam Miller, Aniya Matthews and Julia Sutton. Against Cedar Cliff, that trio combined for a total of 27 points.

State College’s fortunes have been trending in the opposite direction. After an improved Mid-Penn season, the Lady Little Lions entered the D6 tournament facing teams that had beaten them three times in the regular season.

It didn’t matter, however, as State College showed its potential with wins over both. That will have to continue against a Dallastown team that also thinks it has a lot to prove.



The Penns Valley Lady Rams made up for two consecutive hard-luck seasons with a rousing 2017-18 campaign filled with successes.

PV finished with a 20-5 record, won the District 6 AAA championship, and qualified for the PIAA tournament for the first time in 21 years.

The Rams blazed through the D6 tournament with wins over Central Cambria (the team that beat them the past two years), Tyrone in the semifinals and, finally, Everett in the district final.

Penns Valley is now matched against Seton LaSalle, the No. 6 seed out of District 7, in the PIAA first round at BEA on March 9.

Don’t be fooled by Seton LaSalle’s modest record. It came against tough WPIAL competition and included an early-season seven-game losing streak. Coming into the WPIAL tournament, the Rebels had won six of their previous nine games.

They then started strong with a win over Riverside in the first round, but a loss to top-4 East Allegheny in the quarterfinals sent them into the district’s No. 6 seed.

Seton LaSalle averages 45 points per game and is led by senior point-guard Alayna Ziegler. Ziegler led the team in scoring (14 points per game), assists and steals. Her best games of the season came against Shadyside (24 points) and Carlynton (22) as the Rebels finished their regular season.

East Allegheny held her to just 11 points, which was a big factor in their tournament win.

Penns Valley will have to try to do the same. The Rams have thrived with a balanced offense and aggressive defense all season, and keeping Zeigler under control will be a big factor in this game.

The winner will draw either 3-2 York Catholic or Philadelphia’s 19-1 Mastery South on Tuesday, March 13.



St. Joseph’s Academy eliminated Saltsburg in the first round of the Single-A District 6 tournament and then took out No. 1 seed Juniata Valley, 71-54, in the semifinals.

Unfortunately, the Wolves didn’t have enough left against Bishop Carroll in the final and lost, 65-55, on Feb. 28 at Mount Aloysius.

SJCA is still alive, however, and will begin PIAA play against Shanksville, out of District 5, Friday, March 9, at Tyrone High School.

Shanksville comes into the game with an 18-7 record and a third-place finish in the Western Pennsylvania South Conference.

Shanksville was on a five-game winning streak when matched up with Shade in the District 5 final March 2. Shade took the game and the title with a 62-49 win, but with two teams qualifying, Shanksville still entered the PIAA tournament.

Shanksville is led by guard Dawson Snyder who was the team and conference high scorer in 2017-18. Snyder scored over 500 points during the season, an average of 24 points per game, and shot 58 percent from the field. He also nailed 37 3-pointers and shot 74 percent from the line.

Snyder scored 25 points or more nine times and went over 30 points twice. He also handed out 112 assists and had 95 steals.

Snyder also is not the only problem Shanksville presents. Junior captain Matt Addleman averages 17 points per game and was the team leader in rebounding with a total of 171.

Cyrus Brant, C.J. Salisgiver and Hunter Younkin also contribute to the team’s 60 points per game offense.

For St. Joe’s, 20 wins doesn’t seem enough, and the Wolves would like to make a run in the state tournament. The loss in the D6 final hurt, and nothing would make up for it more than some statewide wins.

Shanksville, however, is standing in the way, and the Wolves will need to control their scorers if they want to move on.

The winner will take on either Johnsonburg (19-6) out of District 9 or 7-6 Eden Christian (16-6) on Tuesday, March 13.



If this matchup looks familiar, it should. It is a repeat of 2017’s first-round game held at the same place on March 11.

In that game, State College needed a furious fourth-quarter comeback to overtake Woodland Hills, 82-71, and move into the second round.

The Little Lions went into the final eight minutes down 63-51, but went on to outscore the Wolverines 31-8 down the stretch and pick up the win.

That was then, however, and this year’s version of Woodland Hills is much improved.

Last year’s team finished 16-8 and with a .500 record in the WPIAL 6A Division 3. This year, the Wolverines are 20-4 division champs and, no doubt, sizing up the team that eliminated them last season.

After beating Canon McMillan, 57-52, in the WPIAL quarterfinals, Woodland lost a squeaker to eventual No. 2 seed Pine-Richland, 65-61, in the semifinals.

Woodland in the end secured the No. 4 seed and will again travel to BEA and face the Little Lions.

The Wolverines are not the only improved team in this game however. State College by any measurement has had a marvelous season.

Mid-Penn champs, District 6 champs, a 23-1 record and a 40-point win over Altoona in their last game, the Little Lions looked primed to take on whatever the state has to offer.

Senior Drew Friberg leads the charge for SC with 20 points per game, and brother Tommy is also in double figures with 10 per game.

Ryan McNulty, Brandon Clark and Keaton Ellis also throw in a combined 27 per game, and it all adds up to over 70 points for State College every time out.

Factor in a tough Mid-Penn schedule, which the Lions went through unbeaten, and State College stacks up to be a very unappealing draw.

But, Woodland had them on the ropes last season, and with both squads showing up virtually intact, this should be an explosive game between two teams that have their sights set very high.

The winner will get either Pine-Richland (20-6) or Pittsburgh Central Catholic (14-9) on Wednesday, March 14.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Pat Rothdeutsch covers Penn State football for The Centre County Gazette. Email him at [email protected]
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