Girls tourneys unpredictable as ever in D4.

By: Chris Masse | Williamsport Sun-Gazette | February 20, 2018

 

The common denominator throughout this season has been unpredictability. Once one thinks he or she has things figured out, something changes. More so than in years past projecting how the tournaments unfold is a difficult task. But let's try anyway.

Williamsport, though, competes in the District 2 tournament. The Millionaires (6-16) are the No. 3 seed and play No. 2 Hazleton in the semifinals. Williamsport hung with the Cougars in December before fading late in a 67-43 loss. When Williamsport has its inside-outside game working, it is dangerous. Jada Whaley is an excellent point guard, Katelyn Wilson is a good shooter and Shelly Floyd and Samiyah Little form an imposing inside duo. The record, though, makes it hard to think Williamsport can defeat the defending champions, so Scranton over Hazleton is the pick.

District 4 Class AAAA

(8 teams, top 3 advance to states)

Lewisburg (20-4) earned the top seed and won the program's first league championship since 1976. Lewisburg leads the area in points allowed, holding 10 teams to fewer than 30. Point guard Grace Kelleher is one of the field's best, and 6-footer Emily Sholly is a defensive difference-maker. Bethany Rippon has provided a big lift after missing all but a few games last year and Megan O'Hara had 19 points with seven rebounds in a HAC-II title clinching win at Central Columbia.

The Green Dragons have a tough quarterfinal against No. 8 Selinsgrove. The Seals (11-11) were 1-7 at one point, but then won eight consecutive games.

No. 3 Mifflinburg (17-5) is the field's hottest team, winning 12 games in a row. Mifflinburg hosts No. 6 Jersey Shore and has not lost since dropping a 38-31 decision to Lewisburg. It defeated the Dragons, 28-15, in the rematch. Three starters are back from last year's runner-up, including 1,000-point scorer Reagan Griffith.

No. 2 Shamokin (18-5) has five senior starters, captured the HAC-I championship and went undefeated in league play. It also defeated Mifflinburg in December and has four starters back from last year's 15-win team. The Indians host No. 7 Shikellamy (11-11) which has a strong inside game and Trayln Hummel is especially dangerous.

No. 4 Athens (15-7) hosts No. 5 Danville on Saturday a year after capturing the NTL championship. Emily Lunger is an outstanding player who topped 1,000 points earlier this season. Danville (15-7) has won 8 of its last 10 games and its only losses during that time were two-point heartbreakers against Mifflinburg and Lewisburg.

Tournament sleeper–Jersey Shore: No. 6 Jersey Shore (15-7) reached states for the first time since 2001 last season and has performed well despite losing three starters from that team. Junior guard Hannah Kauffman already has topped 1,000 points and has 43-point and 32-point performances. Averie Hess is a good leader and relentless competitor. The Bulldogs are a team that never backs down and are 14-2 in games decided by six points or fewer the last two years.

Player to watch–Aubrey Stetts: One of several younger players who has emerged to help Jersey Shore, Stetts is a tough inside player. She gives up inches but little else and has been one of Jersey Shore's top rebounders.

Projected Semifinals: Lewisburg over Danville; Mifflinburg over Shamokin

Projected Final: Mifflinburg over Lewisburg

Third-Place game: Shamokin over Danville

Class AAA

(8 teams, top 3 advance)

Mount Carmel defeated Hughesville in last year's final and has won seven district championships over the past eight seasons. Hughesville, Loyalsock and Warrior Run threw scares into Mount Carmel this season, but the No. 2 Red Tornadoes consistently found a way and won each time, including two games against Loyalsock decided by eight total points. Mount Carmel should have little trouble rolling past No. 7 Wyalusing and appears on a collision course to meet No. 3 Loyalsock in the semifinals.

Loyalsock (19-5) captured the HAC Tournament championship and has overcome season-ending injuries to Maddie Fox and Cassie Gee to win 12 of its last 13 games. The Lancers swept four games from Warrior Run and Hughesville, defeated HAC-I champion Shamokin twice and played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in District 4. Freshman Summer McNulty has been outstanding during the season's second half, Sam Stopper and Juliana Cruz are solid guards and Sarah Van Fleet and Rhiallie Jessell are double-double threats inside.

The Lancers host No. 6 Williamson (12-10), which lost every starter from last year's team but has put together a nice season. Emylee Yusko and Lilly Fitzmartin are both averaging more than 9 points per game.

No. 5 Hughesville reached its first district final a year ago as the No. 6 seed and will have a tough road again, opening at rival Warrior Run. The Spartans swept two hard-fought games against Warrior Run and have won the last three in the series. Four starters are back from last year's finalist and the new starter, guard Jade Cordrey, has played especially well late this season. Emily Akers is one of the field's best shooters, Kendra Smith is a four-year starting point guard and Alisha McKinley can be a difference-maker inside.

Warrior Run (15-7) plays the same kind of stifling defense that Hughesville does and has one of the field's best post players in Messiah-bound Megan Zimmerman, who scored her 1,000th point earlier this year. Hayden Divers and Sydney Hoffman are quality guards and heat up from outside.

Wellsboro (21-3) earned the top seed after starting 13-0, but is coming off an NTL final loss to Athens. Point guard Tory Self is having an all-state caliber season, leading the area in both scoring and assists while Emma and Lizzie Poirier both average more than 12 points per game. Wellsboro, which hosts No. 8 Bloomsburg finished fourth last season and returns three starters from that team.

Tournament sleeper–Bloomsburg: The Panthers (7-15) competed in the HAC-III which sent every team to the playoffs and defeated Williamsport late in the season. Freshman Rylee Klinger has had some big games as has senior guard Megan Haines. Keep an eye on Emily Pitonyak and Gabby Wittman as well.

Player to watch–Taylor Coup, Warrior Run: The junior point guard is one of the area's best defenders and will hound opposing point guards. She also has good vision and leads Warrior Run in assists.

Projected Semifinals: Warrior Run over Wellsboro; Mount Carmel over Loyalsock

Projected Final: Mount Carmel over Warrior Run

Third-Place Game: Loyalsock over Wellsboro

Class AA

(7 teams, top 2 advance)

Top-seeded Sayre (17-6) captured its first district championship last season and is the only team that received a first-round bye. Sayre plays strong defense and captured the NTL-II championship.

Sayre will play either No. 4 Northeast Bradford (11-12) or No. 5 South Williamsport (9-13). The Panthers finished second to Sayre in the NTL-II and have shown some explosiveness.

South Williamsport has made major improvement after winning one game two years ago and is in the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Mounties are battle-tested and hungry after playing in the rugged HAC-III. South won its last two games on the road to qualify and those basically were playoff games since a loss would have eliminated it. Megan Weber is a talented guard and Alyssa Johnson can be tough inside. Julie Anthony, Jaela House, Amiya Harris and Sydney Bachman also played well late.

No. 2 Southern was the only HAC-III team to beat Mount Carmel and also defeated runner-up Loyalsock, both on the road. Madison Klock is one of the field's best players.

Southern hosts No. 7 North Penn-Mansfield, one of the area's youngest teams that has a bright future. It split two games from Northeast Bradford and dropped a seven-point game to Sayre last month. JoAnne McNamara is a talented sophomore point guard who had 22 points in that NEB win while Lizzi Welch consistently has had big rebounding games and Jeanette Montefusco has heated up late this year.

No. 3 Muncy (12-10) is seeking its first playoff win since 2013 and hosts No. 6 Line Mountain (9-13). The Indians rallied from a 4-7 start and ended their regular season on a big high, defeating Sullivan County, 40-38, snapping its 27-game Mid-Penn winning streak. Senior center Makenna Snyder is a four-year starter and a constant double-double threat. Point guard Sasha McMonigle is playing through a torn ACL and her return provided a huge boost. Players like Emma Bigelow and Kaitlyn Copeland do a lot of the dirty work necessary for winning, while young players like Bella Fave and Aleaha Bigelow have come on strong.

Tournament sleeper–Line Mountain: The Eagles edged Muncy, 41-39 last Tuesday after rallying in the fourth quarter. Samantha Snyder, Maura Lundy and Autumn Czaplicki all average more than seven points per game for the 2017 semifinalist.

Player to watch–Haley Neidig, South Williamsport: The sophomore point guard is one of the area's breakout players and can make things happen on both ends of the court. Neidig is quick, tenacious and had 17 points with 4 steals in a 37-28 early-season win against Muncy.

Projected Semifinals: Sayre over South; Southern over Line Mountain

Projected Final: Southern over Sayre

Class A

(8 teams, top 4 advance)

Mid-Penn champion Sullivan County and defending champion Lourdes met in last year's final. Because of a ridiculous seeding system that does not use strength of schedule or common sense, however, both teams that produced the best regular-season resumes are in the same bracket.

Sullivan (20-2) went 13-1 in the Mid-Penn and lost a close game at Lourdes a few weeks ago. Guard Mykenzie Malacuksy and forwards Jessica King and Stef Kramer all average in double figures. Malacusky and Kramer are dangerous from the outside and Alexis Randall is a solid defender.

The Griffins host No. 8 Montgomery (5-17). Sullivan won two blowouts against Montgomery, but the Raiders have come a long way since starting 0-11. Riley Fry has been a double-double machine inside, Brynna McHenry recorded a double-double against Bucktail last week and Jessica Umpstead is one of the area's fastest players.

No. 4 Lourdes, which hosts No. 5 Canton, has experience, excellent shooters and a solid inside-outside game. Canton (11-11) is in the playoffs for the first time this decade and has had a tremendous bounceback season. Sophomore Tamara Hess has been terrific, averaging 14.9 points per game and scoring 32 against Montgomery.

No. 2 Cowanesque Valley (14-7) hosts No. 7 St. John Neumann and also has made super progress this season after winning five games a year ago. CV is in the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and has several different players who have produced big games this season. CV was the only NTL-II team to beat champion Sayre and has won nine of its last 11 games. Amaya Walker, Makayla Vargeson, Karmen Short, Brynn Williams and Nicole Hummell have produced double-digit scoring games.

No. 3 Benton (14-8) hosts No. 6 Galeton in a rematch of last year's third-place game that Benton won. Benton has a good core back from last year and is led by 1,000-point scorer Dana Kingsbury. Galeton (11-11) is in the playofs for a fourth straight year and is seeking its second straight state appearance.

Tournament sleeper–St. John Neumann: The Knights are healthy at the right time after Gabby Lisi returned last week. Neumann has playoff experience as well as one of the field's best players in senior guard Shayna McNamee. Six-footer Abby Henderson has played especially strong the last two weeks and can be a big difference-maker while Lisi helps Neumann with her quality all-around play. The Knights split two games against Benton.

Player to watch–Makaya Shadle, Galeton: The senior guard scored her 1,000th career point early this season and is five rebounds from becoming the first player in program history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. Shadle plays well in all facets and is the engine that powers Galeton.

Projected Semifinals: Lourdes over Sullivan; Benton over Cowanesque Valley

Projected Final: Lourdes over Benton

Third-Place game: Sullivan over Cowanesque Valley

Dr. Masse's Top Five

1. Loyalsock (19-5); 2. Lewisburg (20-4); 3. Jersey Shore (16-6); 4. 3. Wellsboro (21-3); 5. Sullivan County (19-3)

Player of the Week

Juliana Cruz, Loyalsock

Cruz was sensational in the championship against Lewisburg, shadowing Kelleher everywhere she went and disrupting the Dragon offense. Cruz also ran the offense well and hit three 3-pointers in the semifinals against Shamokin.