Friday, February 20, 2015

D6SN 2015 Boys AAA Basketball Playoff Preview

The Favorite - Hollidaysburg

Hollidaysburg enters the AAA playoffs as the two seed,  but they are still the presumable favorites to win the district six championship.  They played a more challenging schedule than anyone else, and the Golden Tigers responded with a 15-7 record. Brad Lear is a first year head coach, but immediately turned things around from a 6-15 mark last year.  Hollidaysburg is pegged with Johnstown in the first round, a team they handled by 39 points earlier in the year.

The Challenger  - Somerset

Somerset is out to defend their title, and there is an excellent chance of that happening. The Golden Eagles have a first round bye and enter the playoffs as hot as anyone with a ten game winning streak and a 19-3 overall record. Scott Close's team ended up being named the co-champions of the Laurel Highlands and it was rightfully deserved.  The guard oriented attack from Somerset will be tough to defend as Jake Heiple and Dyan Barnes are as good as they come in district six.

The Dark Horse - Huntingdon

The Huntingdon Bearcats made it to the AAA title game last season, and played Somerset very tough, but ultimately lost by seven points.  If they can duplicate that same kind of game plan, they may be able to give the top seed some trouble again.  Huntingdon has some good athletes size with guys like Kobren Frederick and Nate Gearhart.  This is an experienced team and may catch fire at the right time.

The Unknown - Johnstown

It's hard to know which Johnstown team will show up for these playoffs. It could be the team that looked dominant at times this season, or the one that got dominated by Hollidaysburg and Westmont.  Johnstown has some talent, but will be without their leading scorer going into the postseason. The Trojans will need to rely on their athleticism and senior leadership for the rematch against Hollidaysburg. This team has ability, but entering the postseason with some adversity and two straight losses is concerning.

The Long shot - Bellefonte

The Bellefonte Red Raiders enter the playoffs as the fifth and bottom seed in the AAA playoffs, and there is no doubt they are a step below the other four teams. An 8-14 record may not seem like much, but that's more wins than this program had the past two seasons combined. It was a nice turnaround for Bellefonte, and the playoff experience should be good for their younger guys in their program. They played Huntingdon tough once this regular season, so they can go into this first round game with nothing to lose.

The Picks 

(4) Huntingdon over (5) Bellefonte

(1) Somerset over (4) Huntingdon
(2) Hollidaysburg over (3) Johnstown

(1) Somerset over (2) Hollidaysburg

Monday, February 16, 2015

D6SN 2015 Boys District Six Class A Playoff Preview

The Favorites - Bishop Carroll

I mean could it really be anyone else?  The Huskies enter the postseason with a 21-1 record and have been ranked in the top ten of the state all year long. BC knocked off AAA favorites, Hollidaysburg to close out the year emphatically last week. They are paced by all-state guard Brandon Martinazzi, who is the best player in the bracket.  Cosie Aliquo's team is very guard-oriented and they Huskies will give their opponents relentless pressure and score plenty of points off their full-court press.  Not many teams will be able to match Carroll's combination of effort and skill in a playoff setting.

The Challenger - Homer-Center

The Homer-Center Wildcats enter the playoffs champions of the Heritage Conference and they own a gaudy 20-2 record. Homer was able to hand a very good Blairsville team two losses, and not many people expected that. Homer has been as consistent as anyone in class A for some time now, and they are ready to make another run to a district final.  Homer has the best chance of anyone to de-throne the mighty Bishop Carroll Huskies

The Dark Horse - Bishop Guilfoyle 

Other than Homer-Center, Bishop Guilfoyle may be the only team with a chance to take down Bishop Carroll.  You have to look deeper than their 8-13 record and their 9 seed, but just a few weeks ago they took Carroll to the wire.  The Marauders have typically played Bishop Carroll tough over the past three seasons and they have the recipe to take down the Huskies others seem to can't figure out. We know this group has athletes, given that they are the state football champs. We will find out right away, as this is projected to be BC's first opponent, provided Guilfoyle can beat Williamsburg in the opening round.

The Buzz -  Ferndale

There is a buzz around the Ferndale basketball program, and they have been one of the hottest teams the past month.  We know about Ray Hinton and how good of a player he is, but we are starting to see some capable players emerge beyond him. Ferndale is believing right now, and coach Ryan Durham is doing a heck of a job there. They open with a tough Saltsburg team in the 4/5 game, but Ferndale is more than capable of moving onto the semifinals.

The Forgotten - Portage

Not a lot of people are talking about the third seeded Mustangs, and that may be just how the boys from Portage like it. Portage is coming into the playoffs with a very good 17-5 record and they are working on one of their better seasons in recent history. Michael Bryja is a dynamic player and the senior is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.  Not many teams in this playoff field have an answer for an athletic 6'5" forward like him.

The Deeper Sleeper - Moshannon Valley

Moshannon Valley is a dangerous 11-11 six seed, and could definitely give Portage some trouble in the opening round. The Knights have played a good schedule and played some quality teams very tough and have given them some problems.  So even despite the record, this team will be battle tested and ready to play in a postseason setting.

The New Guys - Saint Joseph's

Saint Joe's is back in the postseason for the second time in a row. The school is only in it's second year of operation, but they are growing.  The Wolves went out and played a daring schedule. St Joe's played a lot of playoff quality teams, and may be able to steal a game over Glendale in the first round.

The Longshot - Williamsburg

Williamsburg has a daunting task to make any noise this postseason. They are scheduled with Bishop Guilfoyle in the 8/9 game, and if they make it out of that one, well it's the top dog, Bishop Carroll.  The Pirates will not be intimidated by Bishop Guilfoyle in that opener, and they will play with a chip on their shoulder.  Look for it to be a competitive game.

The Slide - Saltsburg

At one time, Saltsburg looked like a challenger for a top spot.  After a 9-5 start. the Trojans crawl into a playoffs with just an 11-10 mark.  They are going in the opposite direction of their first round opponent, Ferndale, who has been very hot lately. Still, it is the playoffs and you never now how things will play out.

The Big Man - Glendale

It seems Glendale got hot at the right time and have won five of their last six games. They have a dominating force that could cause some problems in this postseason. Big Shea O'Donnell is a beast of a player checking in at 6'5" 235. He has posted 17 double-doubles this season and is the main reason why this team has done anything this year.  If one player can carry a lower seed to some upset victories, it would be this kid.

The Picks

(9) Bishop Guilfoyle over (8) Williamsburg
(7) Glendale over (10) Saint Joseph's Academy

(1) Bishop Carroll over (9) Bishop Guilfoyle
(4) Ferndale over (5) Saltsburg
(2) Homer-Center over (7) Glendale
(3) Portage over (6) Moshannon Valley

(1) Bishop Carroll over (4) Ferndale
(2) Homer-Center over (3) Portage

(4) Ferndale over (3) Portage in consolation

(1) Bishop Carroll over (2) Homer-Center

Sunday, February 15, 2015

D6SN 2015 Boys AA Basketball Playoff Preview

The Favorites - Tyrone

Tyrone enters the 2015 playoffs as the team to beat, and that somewhat comes out of default. The field 1 through 16 are all capable of beating one another, but I think when it comes down to it, Tyrone mat stand out the most. The Golden Eagles won the Mountain League conference championship en route to a 17-3 regular season mark. Despite some big personnel losses from last season, the program of Tyrone stepped up and new play-makers emerged. Tyrone has played a challenging schedule that should prepare them for a big run, as the Golden Eagles hold a 13-3 record against teams that have qualified for postseason play. I like the battle-tested nature Tyrone has, and they will be ready for anything thrown at them in the district six playoffs.

The Challenger - Blairsville 

Blairsville enters the postseason with an imposing 18-4 record. Their only losses came to Hollidaysburg, Somerset, and Homer-Center twice. All three of those teams are legitimate championship contenders for their respective classes, and Blairsville lost all four games by a total of 10 points. The Bobcats are long and athletic and they are paced by perhaps the best player in the tournament, Troy Williams.  They also boast 6'0" senior guard, Cameron Livingston and 6'4" senior center and Slippery Rock football recruit, Rhadezz Henderson as second and third options. All three Bobcats average double figures, and could be the hero on any given night.

The Dark Horse - Bellwood-Antis

Bellwood is sitting as the sixth seed, but they are a very dangerous team on the bottom half of the bracket.  The Blue Devils have really stepped up down the stretch and will enter the playoffs riding a pretty good stretch of play. Bellwood had won 11 straight before falling in the ICC championship, but their month-long momentum should not be forgotten.  Junior forward Nathan Davis is having a monster of a season and has really put the team on his back all year long. He leads the team in scoring with an eye-popping 25 points per game, but he also has good rebounding, assist, and steal numbers.  The Devils are clicking on all cylinders right now, but they face a good Penn Cambria team in round one, a squad they lost to by 15 earlier in the year.

The Question Mark - West Branch

The 18 wins are hard to ignore, but the strength of schedule is what has a lot of people concerned.  You look at sixth seeded Bellwood, and they handled West Branch not too long ago.  They do not have many games (or wins) against quality opponents, and that's what is in question.  What is not in question is their ability to score the basketball and win games.  Sometimes it does not matter who you are playing if your teams know how to win - and this Warriors team has that mentality.  They play a pretty good Bald Eagle team right off the bat, and West Branch will be tested by the 15th seeded Bald Eagles.

The Defense - Penns Valley

Penns Valley has long been a program that runs on controlling tempo and suffocating opponents on defense.  The 2015 edition of the Rams are no different. Penns Valley has held their opposition to under 50 points on 12 occasions this season, but amazingly enough neither the Rams or their opponent hit 70 points in a game once this season. Terry Glunt's squads always impose their will, and they are coming off a recent 53-41 win over top-seeded Tyrone, thus proving they are ready to hang with anyone.

The Spoiler - Cambria Heights

Cambria Heights enters the tournament as the 16th seed, but they aren't just any old 16 seed.  The Highlanders hold some rather impressive wins this year over 2nd seeded A team Homer-Center, and top seeded AAA team Somerset.  It just goes to show you this Cambria Heights team can beat really good teams, and a lot of it has to do with their style of play.  Heights rolls with a small lineup that is shooter friendly, and if the outside shots fall, the opposing team is in trouble.  Cambria Heights also recently knocked off Central Cambria and Penn Cambria, so to put it as straightforward as possible, Cambria Heights could beat anyone in this field.

The Deeper Sleeper - Ligonier

If you look deeper into the bracket, you will see a good 10th seeded Ligonier team.  Looking at how the bottom half of the bracket may shake out, the Rams could be a candidate to make a bit of a run. They are paced by athletic forward Jordan Jones and he could put the team on his back and lead them to some wins. Ligonier played some quality non-conference games this year, and that could pay off for them in the playoffs.

The Unknown - Juniata

The Juniata Indians are a bit of an unknown as they play in a league outside the district.  They enter the playoffs with an impressive 16-6 record and they are seeded 7th.  If we examine things a little further, we know Juniata is 1-4 this year against District Six competition. Juniata played well and they most certainly improved in the second half of the year, but it's hard to ignore that they did not stack up well with some of the local teams in the regular season. I label them as an unknown, because it is hard to judge what they were doing playing a schedule mostly made up of District 4 teams.

The Return - Westmont

After a two year hiatus from postseason play, Dave Roman's Westmont squad is back and they are hungry.  The Hilltoppers battled back from a 1-5 start, and finished with a respectable 11-10 record. Westmont actually hit a bit of a dry spell late in the year, but closed out with a 10 point upset win over Johnstown and enter the postseason on a positive note. Westmont has a go-to-scorer in Connor Mendelson and he is surrounded by a mostly balanced attack, they do hold a win over top-seeded Tyrone this season, and it would make for a very intriguing second round rematch.

The Wrong Way - Central Cambria

After a memorable 55-39 win over Penn Cambria to improve to 12-7, the Red Devils dropped three straight games and enter the playoffs trending the wrong way.  Central Cambria is still a dangerous team, but going into the playoffs losing three straight games is not always ideal.  Unlike past CC teams, they do not have a great go-to-threat to scorer to get them instant points, but they are a balanced attack on offense with all five starters averaging at least 7 points, and not one that averages more than 11.

The Post - Bishop McCort

If Bishop McCort is going anywhere this postseason, it will be on the strength of their two post players. 6'3" senior Karch Helsel and 6'4" junior Alex Conohan really provide this team with consistency and they can control the paint if they are involved in the game early.  Bishop McCort has really struggled this season and their 9-12 regular season record is one of their worst marks in recent memory, but they are dangerous and many of their losses came down to the wire.  If the two McCort post players can control the paint, they may be able to steal one over 3rd seeded Penns Valley.

The Athletes -  Mt. Union

Mt. Union is a very athletic team, and many of the players from their 12-1 football team are back on the court.  Mt. Union can use their superior athletic ability to pressure teams into bad decisions and they may be able to use that for a run in the district playoffs.

The Repeat - Penn Cambria

Penn Cambria is not going for a repeat championship, but they are going for a repeat performance against Bellwood-Antis in the first round. They beat the Blue Devils by 15 points on a neutral floor, and that is a telling sign in this 6-11 first round battle.  If Penn Cambria can duplicate that same game plan over Bellwood, the Panthers may be moving onto the second round.  Penn Cambria is looking for their second district championship in three years, and they are a team that may have a run in them.

The Underachievers - Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle is better than their 8-14 record indicates, and they are a dangerous first round opponent for West Branch. The Bald Eagles have three players averaging over 14 points per game and anyone of those guys are liable to go off for a big game in a playoff setting. Brandon Getting, Trey Butterworth, and Jason Jones are all capable play-makers, and watch out for them in the first round game against West Branch.

The Forgotten - Central

Don't sleep on Central, as they did make the district final last year.  There are still plenty of great athletes in this school and they have been on quite a run in just about every sport the past three years, and not to mention - they have a great coach in Reggie Nevins.  They can make some noise for sure.

The Rockets - Southern Huntingdon

Last but not least, Southern Huntingdon comes into the playoffs with a 9-12 record.  They have lost 4 out of their last 5 games, and many of their losses have come at the hands of quality teams, but they do face a daunting task with Blairsville in the first round.

The Picks

(1) Tyrone over (16) Cambria Heights
(8) Westmont over (9) Central Cambria
(5) Mt. Union over (12) Central
(4) Blairsville over (13) Southern Huntingdon
(3) Penns Valley over (14) Bishop McCort
(6) Bellwood-Antis over (11) Penn Cambria
(10) Ligonier over (7) Juniata
(15) Bald Eagle over (2) West Branch

(1) Tyrone over (8) Westmont
(4) Blairsville over (5) Mt. Union
(6) Bellwood-Antis over (3) Penns Valley
(10) Ligonier over (15) Bald Eagle Area

(4) Blairsville over (1) Tyrone
(6) Bellwood-Antis over (10) Ligonier

(1) Tyrone over (10) Ligonier in consolation

(4) Blairsville over (6) Bellwood-Antis

Sunday, February 8, 2015

D6SN Boys Basketball Rankings: Final Regular Season Edition

With the last week of the regular season on the horizon, this will be the final weekly power rankings of the season. Next weekend, we will get you set for championship Saturday, and start the playoff previews by examining the brackets, and picking out contenders from the pretenders for a district championship.  It's almost the best time of the year, best of luck to everyone this week.


1. Hollidaysburg 12-6

The Golden Tigers handled Bald Eagle and Huntingdon this week, but did suffer a setback to AAAA State College by 7 points.  No matter, this team still appears to be the front-runner heading into the AAA playoffs. They play three LHAC teams this week as a tuneup for the playoffs, starting with Bishop McCort and Central Cambria at home before a road game at the area's top class A team, Bishop Carroll. 

2. Somerset 16-3

Somerset scored a three win week in rather convincing fashion by knocking off a trio of AA playoff teams in Penn Cambria, Westmont, and Bishop McCort all by 17 points or more. They have road games with Westmont and Bedford that they have to have to set up a winner take all section II championship against Johnstown on Thursday. Should Somerset take all three games, they will get a crack at avenging a close loss to Bishop Carroll Saturday night for the LHAC title. 

3. Johnstown 16-3

Johnstown keeps cruising right along, as they are riding an eight game winning streak. The Trojans rolled over Richland and Bedford this week, and will close out the season with three tough road games. Assuming Johnstown can beat Bedford and Westmont, it will set up a section II title on Thursday in Somerset for the right to play Bishop Carroll on Saturday. 


1. Tyrone 17-2

Tyrone scored a close win over Bald Eagle to secure a Mountain league championship for this season, and they head into the last week of the year with a slate full of Rams.   The Golden Eagles will take on Richland twice this week, and they host Penns Valley as well. All three games should provide a good tuneup for the postseason. 

2. Blairsville 16-3

Blairsville won three games last week without much trouble, and it sets up for a challenging final week of the year.  They will host Homer-Center and travel to an improved Ligonier team in what will be two very difficult games for the Bobcats. 

3. Bellwood-Antis 15-5

The Blue Devils are as hot as anyone right now in district six. Bellwood has won nine straight games, and they have really asserted themselves as a threat heading into the district playoffs. They have a road game at Moshannon Valley and host Tussey Mountain, neither game will be easy. 

4. Penns Valley 13-4

The Rams scored a rather impressive win over Clearfield last week to hand the Bison their third loss of the season.  Penns Valley will not be an easy out in the playoffs, as they are one of the best defensive-minded teams in the entire area. 

5. West Branch 17-2

West Branch responded to the Bellwood loss with two easy wins.  Obviously the big question heading into the playoffs with this team, will the strength of the schedule come back to haunt them?  The Warriors will have a chance to gain a quality win over Mt. Union this week to help their cause. 


1. Berlin-Brothersvalley 15-4

The Mountaineers dropped one to a very good Shanksville team on Saturday in a WestPac South showdown, but they did manage to pick up wins earlier in the week.  Heading into the last week, they head to Turkeyfoot Valley and welcome a surging Ferndale team to prepare for the playoffs. 

2. Tussey Mountain 13-6

Tussey Mountain continues to build momentum heading into the postseason.  The Titans have won nine straight games, and Dave Bailey has this team rolling right now. The winning streak will certainly be put on the line this week with a game against Chesnut Ridge and the regular season finale at Bellwood-Antis.

3. Chestnut Ridge 12-6

The Lions split a pair games last week by beating Northern Bedford, and losing to a very good Southern Fulton team. They have Southern Huntingdon and Central coming to New Paris this week, but they also have to travle to Tussey for a big one on Wednesday.

D6 A

1. Bishop Carroll 19-1

The Huskies survived a close game to long-time nemesis, Bishop Guilfoyle, by a score of 43-41.  It was a close game that should hep better themselves for a playoff run. They host Forest Hills and Hollidaysburg this week, and it will be interesting to see how they approach those games.  Carroll will be going for a second consecutive LHAC title on Saturday night, but will have a grueling game against Hollidaysburg on Friday.

2. Homer Center 18-2

A three win week essentially secured a two seed in the playoffs, and sets the bracket for a Bishop Carroll-Bishop Carroll final. They will look to sweep preseason favorites, Blairsville, on the seasons series and will close out the year in Clymer against a 6 win Penns Manor team.

3. Portage 15-4

The Mustangs won four games in four nights to improve to 15-4.  Mixed in there was a big win over Conemaugh Township, who has been a thorn in the side of this Portage program for the past few years.  Portage should be set for a WestPac North championship as they take on three teams with sub .500 records this week before a big rematch with Shanksville on Saturday night.

4. Ferndale 11-7

The Yellow Jackets have won eight of their 10 games since the New Year, and they have finally found a grove after some early season struggles. They take on North Star at home and will head to Berlin to close out the year.

5. Bishop Guilfoyle 7-12

I know about the record, I know about the amount of games they have lost recently, but I also know they only lost by two points on Bishop Carroll's home floor. I'm not so sure any other team could go into Ebensburg and play the Huskies that close.  If the projected standings are correct, Bishop Carroll and Bishop Guilfoyle will have a rematch in the first round of the district playoffs.

D5 A

1. Southern Fulton 20-1

Southern Fulton has held their past three opponents under 30 points. I don't think much more needs to be said about this team -  they are really, really good.  A quick tuneup over Everett should send them 21-1 heading into the postseason, with their lone blemish coming to a good AA Blairsville team by 6 points on a neutral floor. 

2. Shanksville-Stonycreek 18-1

I rank Shanksville #2, but they are essentially also the number one team in District Five - it's that close. They have Rockwood, a pesky Conemaugh Township team, and the WestPac championship likely against Portage this week, a team the Vikings already beat by 35.  Barring an upset, the District Five championship at UPJ with Southern Fulton and Shanksville in a few short weeks is must-see basketball. Start standing in line for tickets...NOW.

3. Conemaugh Township 14-6

If any team will ruin that dream matchup in the district five final, it would be Township. At 14-6, they continue to churn good team after good team. They should beat Blacklick, and give it a go at Shanksville and see where they stand against one of the favorites heading into the playoffs. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

D6SN Boys Basketball Rankings: Week Ten

Obviously the weather has made everything a mess, let me know if I missed a final or a record is incorrect. Sometimes Maxpreps isn't always updated with make up games. Thanks. 


1. Hollidaysburg 10-5

Hollidaysburg scored an impressive win over a very good Latrobe team on Saturday. The Golden Tigers won by a 14 point margin over a AAAA team with a 14-4 record.  Hollidaysburg will have road games at State College and Huntingdon this weekend, but will host Bald Eagle on Wednesday. 

2. Somerset 13-3

Somerset sat last week with a lot of snowed-out games, and will look to get back to it this week. Somerset will welcome upstart Westmont to town, and will head to Johnstown to take on struggling Bishop McCort. 

3. Johnstown 14-3

Johnstown came back to beat their rivals, Bishop McCort, by a score of 66-60 last week in their lone game. They will take on Richland and Bedford this week. 


1. Tyrone 15-2

Tyrone had an impressive week to climb back into the top spot for now. They handed a good Clearfield team its second loss of the season in a close 47-43 game. They play Bellefonte at home tomorrow, before hitting the road against Central Mountain and Bald Eagle. 

2. Blairsville 13-3

The Bobcats sat vacant last week, they'll play Purchase Line and Marion Center this week. 

3. Penn Valley 12-3

Penns Valley improved to 12-3 with an easy win over Philipsburg-Osceola last week. They travel to Huntingdon and host Clearfield in a very challenging week for the Rams. 

4. Bellwood-Antis 13-5

Bellwood-Antis is riding a seven game winning streak, and they are coming off an 18 point beatdown of previously #1 ranked West Branch. They welcome Mt. Union and Williamsburg to town this week. 

5. West Branch 15-2 

West Branch remains ranked with their gaudy record, but they certainly take a step back after the humbling defeat to Bellwood-Antis.  


1. Berlin-Brothersvalley 13-3

Berlin was able to handle a good Conemaugh Township team to move to 13-3 last week. They have a tough test with Shade and Shanksville on the docket. 

2. Tussey Mountain 10-6

The Titans have seemed to have found their stride having won six games in a row. They have a home game with McConnellsburg before traveling to Williamsburg and Everett to close out the week. 

3. Chestnut Ridge 11-5

Chestnut Ridge won a pair of games by four points total to move to 11-5 and right in the thick of the D5 AA race. They have a BIG test with a road game at Southern Fulton coming up tomorrow. 

D6 A

1. Bishop Carroll 17-1

The Bishop Carroll train just keeps rolling.  The Huskies have four games left before they make another run through the class A playoffs. This week they host Guilgoyle and travel to pesky Cambria Heights. 

2. Homer-Center 15-2

The Wildcats recovered from a loss to Purchase Line by handling United and taking down Ligonier on the road to get back on track and up to 15-2. They head to United and bring in Saltsburg this week. 

3. Portage 11-4 

The Mustangs head to Harmony and Blacklick Valley and welcome HOPE for Hyndman with an excellent chance to pick up three wins. 

4. Saltsburg 10-7

The Trojans have lost two straight, and it doesn't get any easier with road games against Central and Homer-Center this week. 

5. Ferndale 9-7

Don't look now, but Ferndale has picked up their play lately, and the Yellow Jackets are back over .500, and they could be a team to be reckoned with down the stretch with Ray Hinton leading the charge.  They welcome Meyersdale and Windber to "The Hive" this week. 

D5 A

1. Southern Fulton 17-1

This team just continues to cruise this season, as they picked up a pair of convincing double digit wins last week. 

2. Shanksville 14-1

The Vikings took down Windber in a snow shortened week. They have three road games with Meyersdale, Blacklick Valley, and Berlin coming up this week. 

3. Conemaugh Township 11-5

The Indians dropped with to Berlin, but I still keep them hanging around this week. They need to pick up a few easy wins this week with Turkeyfoot Valley and North Star on the schedule.