Quirky PAC regular season comes to a close; playoffs start Tuesday night

The Pioneer Athletic Conference basketball playoff fields are finally set … all 10 teams included.

For the first season, in response to the league adding new members Norristown and Upper Merion, the PAC playoffs in basketball features a Final Five.

Coaches, teams and supporters spent much of the season unclear on the format that qualified the two division champions and three wild-card qualifiers from two sets of standings (division and league, which included three official divisional crossover games). Finally, that confusion has dissipated.

The PAC playoffs begin Tuesday night at Norristown with a girls-boys doubleheader pitting the No. 4 and 5 seeds against one another for a place in the semifinals.

Boyertown’s Abby Kapp (23) pulls up for a basket in front of Spring-Ford’s Maddie Haney during the first half Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

The opener features the No. 4 Spring-Ford girls team (6-4 PAC Liberty, 9-4 PAC, 15-7 overall) against No. 5 Perkiomen Valley (5-5, 8-5, 11-10), which qualified for the final spot over Pope John Paul II via tiebreaker on district power points (PV 8.299, PJP 6.065). The Liberty Division rivals meet at Norristown at 5:30 p.m.

To follow, the No. 5 seed Norristown boys’ team (5-5, 8-5, 11-8) hosts No. 4 Methacton (6-4, 9-4, 12-10) at 7:15 p.m.

The respective winners move on to face the No. 1 seeds – the Boyertown girls (9-1, 12-1, 19-3) and Perkiomen Valley boys (8-2, 11-2, 18-3), which claimed the top seed over Spring-Ford via head-to-head tiebreaker.

The boys’ semifinals are set for Friday at Norristown. The No. 2 seed and Frontier Division champion Upper Merion (8-2, 9-4, 13-9) meet No. 3 Spring-Ford (8-2, 11-2, 16-6) at 5:30 p.m.; top-seeded Perkiomen Valley, also currently ranked No. 1 in the District 1 Class 6A field, faces the winner of Tuesday’s Methacton/Norristown matchup at 7:15 p.m.

A night later, the girls’ semifinals take center stage at Perkiomen Valley. It opens with No. 2 seed and Frontier Division champion Upper Merion (8-2, 8-5, 14-8) taking on No. 3 seed Methacton (8-2, 11-2, 17-5) at 5:30 p.m. No. 1 Boyertown, the No. 2 ranked team in the latest District 1 Class 6A power rankings, meets the winner of Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley at 7:15 p.m.

The boys’ final is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. at Norristown. The girls’ final will be played Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. at Perkiomen Valley.
With so many moving parts, more than a couple elements were determined by tiebreakers and late-season developments.

PV, locked even at 8-2 PAC Liberty (11-2 PAC overall) with No. 3 seeded Spring-Ford, used head-to-head tie-break criteria to claim the boys’ top seed. The Vikings won both matchups with the Rams this season, first a one-sided 74-46 win in late-December, then a 65-58 matchup in January.

Upper Merion’s 53-50 win over Pottsgrove on Saturday night put a stamp on the PAC’s regular season in thrilling fashion. With the win, the Vikings (8-2, 9-4) claimed the Frontier Division crown — and the PAC’s No. 2 seed — while Phoenixville (7-3, 8-5) was left out. Had UM lost Saturday night, Phoenixville would have taken the No. 2 overall seed.

Norristown (5-5 PAC Liberty, 8-5 PAC overall) earned the No. 5 seed over Phoenixville – both 8-5 PAC – based on head-to-head tie-break criteria. The Eagles beat the Phantoms 58-56 in a divisional crossover game on Jan. 17.

As for the girls, Boyertown (9-1 PAC Liberty, 12-1 PAC overall) locked up the PAC’s top seed with Friday night’s win over Norristown. Upper Merion (8-2, 8-5) claimed the No. 2 seed with the top finish in the Frontier Division, neither requiring any tiebreaker, similar to Methacton’s strong standing as the No. 3 seed.
Despite equal PAC overall records at 8-5, Perkiomen Valley edged out Pope John Paul II for the No. 5 seed based on tie-break criteria. Since they did not meet during the regular season – the league’s schedule allots for three divisional crossover games – the tie-breaker shifted to District 1 power rankings, which fell the Vikings’ way.

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