Ches-Mont teams begin District 1 Class AAAA playoffs

After one of the best Ches-Mont League seasons in recent memory, the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs are set to begin today.

With how competitive the Ches-Mont has been throughout the year, its time for the league to represent itself on the district (and Southeastern Pennsylvania) stage. Plenty of the teams have the potential to make a district title run or qualify for the state playoffs.

Bishop Shanahan, the Ches-Mont champions, open the playoffs as the No. 9 seed and host No. 24 William Tennent Saturday afternoon at 1:30. West Chester Rustin earned the league’s lowest seed at No. 6. The Golden Knights kick off the league’s slate of district games tonight at 7 p.m. as they host No. 27 Council Rock South.

Downingtown East is the other Ches-Mont team to host a first round game. The Cougars earned the No. 11 seed and play No. 22 Haverford Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Unionville, Coatesville and Downingtown West are the other Ches-Mont teams that qualifed for the district playoffs. The Indians earned the No. 18 seed and travel to No. 15 Council Rock North Saturday at 3 p.m. Coatesville is the No. 21 seed and face No. 12 Central Bucks South on the road. Downingtown West got the No. 25 seed and head to No. 8 North Penn.

The Coatesville and Downingtown West games will be Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

If Downingtown East and West Chester Rustin win their first round games, the Cougars and Golden Knights will meet in the second round for an exciting rematch Tuesday. East ended Rustin’s 40-game Ches-Mont winning streak with a 57-40 win in the Ches-Mont Final Four last Saturday.

The same goes for Bishop Shanahan and Downingtown West if they win first round games. Both teams would meet in the second round Tuesday. The Eagles and Whippets split their season series.

The District 1 Class AAAA tournament has 32 teams and 10 qualify for the PIAA playoffs. Winning a first round game guarantees at least two more games. Wins in the first two rounds automatically qualifies a team for the PIAA Class AAAA tournament.

Here is a breakdown of the field, specifically the subregions the Ches-Mont teams are in:

Boyertown subregion

Teams: No. 1 Boyertown, No. 16 Spring-Ford, No. 17 Marple Newtown, No. 32 Central Bucks East.

Breakdown: For the Bears, the PAC-10 champions and district’s only unbeaten team at 24-0, the roud to states will be more difficult than expected. Spring-Ford reached the PIAA Class AAAA title game the last two years (winning in 2013) while Marple Newtown has one of the district’s best 1-2 scoring combinations in Rylee Power and Carley Hamilton.

Boyertown will have its hands full with either opponent in the second round as both teams have strong offenses. Spring-Ford and Marple Newtown will be a must-watch first round matchup.

North Penn subregion

Teams: No. 8 North Penn, No. 9 Bishop Shanahan, No. 24 William Tennent, No. 25 Downingtown West.

Bishop Shanahan has a tougher path to states than last season with North Penn as the No. 8 seed, but the Eagles might be the top team in this region at 21-3. North Penn is 18-6 and battle -ested playing in the Suburban One Continental Conference with Central Bucks West and Central Bucks South, but the Whippets are a tough opening matchup for the Knights. West lost 45-41 at home in December. William Tennent finished 13-9 in the regular season, good for fifth in the Suburban One National Conference. Shanahan and West have the potential to meet in the second round for a state berth if the Whippets can upset North Penn.

Garnet Valley subregion

Teams: No. 4 Garnet Valley, No. 13 Cheltenham, No. 20 Penn Wood, No. 29 Upper Merion.

Garnet Valley might have the best draw in all the subregions to advance to the PIAA Class AAAA tournament with favorable matchups against all three teams. The Jaguars won the Central League with a 22-2 record and have two prolific scorers in Maddie and Jordan Ireland. Penn Wood and Cheltenham should be an exciting first round matchup.

Abington subregion

Teams: No. 5 Abington, No. 12 Central Bucks South, No. 21 Coatesville, No. 28 Conestoga

This subregion could be the most entertaining with three teams that can score the basketball, making Abington’s road to state playoffs harder than expected. The Ghosts have Deja Rawls and Gabby Nolan on the perimeter, which is one of the top backcourts in the district. Coatesville and C.B. South will be a high-scoring first round game, which the Red Raiders certainly have a shot to advance if the big four of Nafisa Saunders, Zada Bookman, Demetria Irwin and Brianna White have strong games. Coatesville can score with anyone which makes them a tough out in this region. If they can get Abington in second round, they have the ability to pull off the upset as well.

Central Bucks West subregion

Teams: No. 2 Central Bucks West, No. 15 Council Rock North, No. 18 Unionville, No. 31 Owen J. Roberts

C.B. West may be the best team in District 1, winning the Suburban One tournament in a dominant win over Abington capping an unbeaten run in the league. They’re favored to get out of this region. Unionville has a tough road matchup with C.R. North, but the combo of Micayla Flores and Maddie Shanahan give the Indians a chance. C.R. North, also the Indians, finished 15-6 in the regular season, good for second place in the Suburban One National. Both teams are senior-led and returning to the district playoffs for the first time in a few years.

Upper Dublin subregion

Teams: No. 7 Upper Dublin, No. 10 Perkiomen Valley, No. 23 Neshaminy, No. 26 Pennridge

Upper Dublin finished 18-4 in the regular season, but Perkiomen Valley is the toughest potential second round opponent for anyone in the field. The Vikings have KT Armstong, the PAC-10’s leading scorer, and a deep bench to complement her. If both teams reach the second round, will be an entertaining matchup.

Mount St. Joseph subregion

Teams: No. 3 Mount St. Joseph, No. 14 Strath Haven, No. 19 Radnor, No. 30 Methacton

Mount St. Joseph might be the favorite to win District 1 with a 22-2 record and clinching the AACA title playing a rigorous schedule throughout the season. Their road through the subregion is favorable, but could face tough matchups in the quarterfinals with West Chester Rustin and Downingtown East in their region.

West Chester Rustin subregion

Teams: No. 6 West Chester Rustin, No. 11 Downingtown East, No. 22 Haverford, No. 27 Council Rock South

The intrigue in Rustin’s subregion is if the Golden Knights and Downingtown East will meet up for a rematch in the second round with a state berth on the line. The Cougars defeated the Golden Knights in the Ches-Mont Final Four matchup without Aryah Aungst in the lineup (Aungst is expected to be back Saturday). Both Ches-Mont teams have favorable first round matchups which potentially could set up the best second round matchup in the district. Haverford plays tough defense and could present problems for East, but a combination of Paige Warfel, Lindsay Kent, Kaelyn Johns, Laura Ochsner and Aungst should be able to get 40-plus points to advance to the next round. Rustin is still one of the top teams in the district and a darkhorse to win the tournament with the ability to score with anyone. The road won’t be easy with potentially East and Mount St. Joe’s in the region.

Daily Local News Top-10

(Records through Feb. 12)

1. Bishop Shanahan (21-3): Eagles clinch first Ches-Mont title with thrilling win over Downingtown East in championship game. Open district playoffs against William Tennant Saturday.

2. Downingtown East (18-6): Cougars ended West Chester Rustin’s 13-game winning streak with huge upset of Golden Knights in Ches-Mont Final Four. Open playoffs against Haverford Saturday.

3. West Chester Rustin (17-5): Golden Knights had 40-game Ches-Mont winning streak snapped with loss to Downingtown East last week. Open district playoffs against Council Rock South tonight.

4. Unionville (16-7): Indians fell to Shanahan in Ches-Mont Final Four after being tied with Eagles at halftime. Travel to Council Rock North for start of district playoffs Saturday.

5. Downingtown West (13-9): Whippets earn district berth after huge wins over Shanahan and Conestoga to close regular season. Travel to North Penn for first-round game Saturday.

6. Coatesville (16-6): Red Raiders team to watch in district playoffs in Abington subregion. Have offense capable of winning subregion. Open playoffs at C.B. South on Saturday.

7. Conestoga (12-9): Pioneers make District 1 Class AAAA tournament field. Huge accomplishment despite not having Ellie Mack for year. Open playoffs at Abington tonight.

8. Villa Maria (9-13): Hurricanes qualifed for playoffs as No. 6 seed and seek fifth straight District 1 Class AAA title. Open playoffs at No. 3 Merion Mercy on Feb. 21.

9. West Chester Henderson (10-12): Finished No. 40 in power rankings. Missed District 1 Class AAAA playoffs.

10. Great Valley (10-12): Finished No. 39 in power rankings. Missed District 1 Class AAAA playoffs.

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