PIAA BASKETBALL: Abington Heights, Holy Cross back in quarterfinals; Dunmore, Lehman girls in showdown
Mar. 17—It's mid-March, and Abington Heights and Holy Cross are making their customary runs through the state boys basketball playoffs.
So are Dunmore and Scranton Prep girls.
The traditional powers are in action this weekend in the quarterfinals of their respective brackets.
Abington Heights (23-4), which is back in the PIAA postseason after a three-year absence, will play nationally ranked Imhotep Charter (27-3) on Friday at Easton Middle School at 7 p.m. in Class 5A.
Holy Cross (21-5) will take on Dock Mennonite (27-2) on Saturday at noon at East Stroudsburg South High School in Class 2A.
Since 2008, when Holy Cross started as a program following the closing of Bishop Hannan and Bishop O'Hara high schools, the Crusaders and Comets are the most successful boys teams in the Lackawanna League and District 2.
Under the guidance of Hall of Fame coach Ken Bianchi, Abington Heights is in the PIAA quarterfinals for the seventh time in the last 16 seasons. In that time, the Comets won more than 20 games 12 times and have an overall record of 358-102. The Comets won 29 games in 2009-10, 27 in 2012-13, and in 2017-18, and won the PIAA Class 5A championship in 2017.
Abington Heights is 13-2 in the state playoffs since the PIAA moved to six classifications in 2016-17. Both of the losses came to Archbishop Wood in the Class 5A semifinals in 2016 — 17 and 2018 — 19.
Holy Cross is a small-school power with 12 seasons of at least 20 wins since 2007-08, including a program-best 27 wins in 2012-13. Holy Cross is 342-95 all time.
Also led by a Hall of Fame coach in Al Callejas, Holy Cross reached the Class 2A quarterfinals eight times. The Crusaders are 24-14 in state playoffs game. They reached the 2012-13 final against Beaver Falls, and played in the semifinals in 2011-12 and 2017-18.
Bianchi continues to build on his lead as the coach in the Lackawanna League with the most career wins. He has an overall record of 868-381 with Line Mountain, Scranton Tech, West Scranton and Abington Heights. He is 587-141 in 27 seasons with the Comets.
Callejas, who started his career in 1992-93 and spent 15 seasons as Bishop O'Hara, is 566-259 and ranks behind Bianchi (868), Forest City's Julius Prezelski (757) and Scranton Prep's Jack Farrell (671) on the all-time wins list.
Now that both teams are at full strength, Dunmore tangling with Lake-Lehman (Friday, 7, Scranton HS) has the potential to rival the Lady Bucks' classic state semifinal win in 2011 over Mid Valley before 3,900 at Lackawanna College Student Union.
It's a round sooner, but the hype has been building since North Carolina recruit Ciera Toomey got back in the lineup for less than 3 minutes in Lake-Lehman's 51-40 overtime win in January.
Led by sophomore Sophia Talutto, Toomey, who played full-time minutes in the last three wins, and fellow senior Cadie Lewis, the Lady Bucks used big runs by an 88-10 margin to blow away a trio of Class 3A opponents.
Dunmore's found a different player to make big plays in all those wins, but no one had a bigger postseason moment than Black Knights' junior Molly Jenkins. Her 3-pointer with 2 ticks left at storied Martz Hall thrust third-seeded Lake-Lehman into the quarterfinals.
If experience matters, it favors Dunmore, which has been to the state quarters or beyond in seven of the last nine seasons.
Prepped for success
Scranton Prep is headed to the quarterfinals for the third straight year, this time behind seniors Rita Collins and Gianna Cafarella and a quintet of talented sophomores, led by, well, whoever's hot.
Four of the five, led by Maya Jenkins and Claire Philbin, average between 6.4 and 13 points per game, but defense is where the Classics make hay in Class 4A.
They've pressured some teams into submission, and escaped a close game Wednesday, one of the few they've played this season.
Jenna Hillebrand made a couple of buckets to start overtime and Jenkins went 4 for 4 at the foul line to close out Nazareth Academy.
Saturday's opponent for the 1 p.m. clash at Pottsville's Martz Hall has an even richer tradition, Trinity a regular in the PIAA tournament under the late Harry DeFrank. Not much has changed under veteran coach Kristi Britten, now in her 16th season with the Shamrocks.
Their record may not be sparking (20-12), but seven of those defeats came at the hands of teams that made the PIAA field.
A lackluster and turnover-filled fourth quarter nearly cost Montrose its second-round game with Marian Catholic, the Lady Meteors barely escaping when the Fillies missed a potential game-winning shot with 4 seconds to go. Montrose led by 17 early in the fourth quarter.
Before that, 6-foot-2 Paley Adams made big contributions — again — continuing her significant and improved play, Hayley Pompey continued her hot hand (14.5 ppg in four postseason contests), and Mia Snyder ripped the Fillies from long distance.
Montrose's second-longest run in school history also has Snyder within four points of 1,000, a number that's not as important to the senior as win No. 21.
They'll hope to extend that against District 1 champ Faith Christian on Friday at 7 p.m. at Wyoming Area High School.
Wasn't much question Mountain View would go as far as freshman Addison Kilmer could carry it in the Class 1A playoffs. The Lady Eagles are in the quarterfinals for the first time, meeting District 4 champ Meadowbrook Christian on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Wyoming Area.
In Mountain View's four postseason games, Kilmer is averaging 18.7 points, 14,5 rebounds, 6.5 blocks and 3.3 steals, but whether the Lady Eagles can tame the next step will also depend on the role players.
Ryleigh Kilmer, Claire Getz and Lily Sedlak don't need to be spectacular scorers, but their contributions in the last game were important on both ends, as Mountain View shut out Christian School of York in the first quarter.
Ryleigh Kilmer had seven assists, while Getz and Sedlak each had six rebounds.
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