District 1 Preview: Wissahickon gets another shot at Penncrest

All season long the Wissahickon boys basketball team has had its eyes set on Temple University’s Liacouras Center.

The Trojans wanted to secure a top-four seed in the District 1 Class-5A playoffs so they’d have two home games before moving to the sought after neutral site.

They finished as the No. 4 seed and those two home games were wins — a 67-48 blowout over Strath Haven and 55-48 victory over Great Valley.

Now, they’re headed to Temple — and facing the school that kept them from the North Philly college last year, Penncrest, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Lions beat Wissahickon, 60-56 in overtime, in 2017’s quarterfinals before going on to win the district championship.

The then-11th seeded Trojans had a chance to beat No. 3 Penncrest, but couldn’t score when they had the ball in a tie game with 10 seconds left in regulation. Lions guard Tyler Norwood scored four of his 30 points in overtime to send his side to Temple.

“It’s always there,” Wiss coach Kyle Wilson said. “The team that knocks you out of that opportunity. Last year it was overtime at their place. We thought our kids played well. You never know if you’ll get that chance again. We had graduated a couple players, a couple players transferred, so it was always like, man, what if we could get back there. Low and behold we get to the playoffs, the last day before the seeding meeting we play Springfield-Montgomery County and Chester … jumped us. We had dropped from the three seed to the four, which points us in line, if we advance, guess who we get another shot at?”

Norwood is back this season and better than ever. The senior, and all-time leading scorer in school history, played the main role in earning the defending district champions the No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament. He scored 20 points in the district opener against Upper Moreland and 18 points in the quarterfinals against Holy Ghost.

“I don’t know (how to deal with Norwood),” Wilson said. “That’s one we’re still trying to figure out. He just does so many things out there … He’s got a good supporting cast around him as well.

“You have to really defend and force them to take difficult shots. You have to make sure you don’t give them second shots.”

Wissahickon has relied on its defense all season, playing an up-tempo press style and forcing opponents into mistakes.

It’s impossible to prepare for a player like Norwood, but the Trojans have had some experience against quality guards. They’ve had two games against the Plymouth Whitemarsh trio of Ahmin Williams, Ahmad Williams and Ish Horn and two games against Cheltenham’s Ahmad Bickley.

“Coming up to this point we’ve played good teams,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if a lot of the teams have had point guards like this. You sort of have to pick and choose your spots with when you can pressure and when you can’t because he’s such a solid passer as well as a scorer. He gets other guys involved. Because we play in a conference with a PW, played and scheduled teams like a CB West, a Pennridge, scrimmaged teams like Abington. We figure we can play with speed. We can also play a half-court game and grind it out.”

Wissahickon will rely on guards Max Rapoport and Eddie Fortescue and point forward Zach Reiner to keep up with Norwood and the Lions.

The winner will face the winner of No. 3 Chester and No. 2 Bishop Shanahan in the championship Saturday at 2 p.m. back at Temple.

For in-game updates, follow @emor09 on Twitter

Boys Class-6A

Plymouth Whitemarsh vs. Central Bucks West >> Top-seeded Plymouth Whitemarsh faces No. 4 seed Central Bucks West in the semifinals Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Temple University.

The Suburban One League American Conference champion Colonials and Continental Conference champion Bucks met two weeks ago, when PW won, 62-41, in the SOL Tournament championship game.

Senior guards Ahmin Williams and Ish Horn led PW with 19 and 18 points, respectively. The Colonials forced the Bucks into 19 turnovers in the game, leading to a 20-20 game late in the first half becoming a 31-24 game at the intermission and a blowout for much of the fourth quarter.

The Bucks were without forward Colin MacAdams. The senior missed the SOL Tournament title game and a district playoff win over CB East with mononucleosis. He returned for West’s 48-41 quarterfinal win over No. 5 Coatesville and totaled 19 points and nine rebounds.

The 6-foot-5 200-pounder can make a big difference when the Colonials guards try slashing to the basket.

For in-game updates, follow @ADRobinson3 and @emor09 on Twitter

Abington vs. Lower Merion >> No. 2 seed Abington faces No. 3 seed Lower Merion in the semifinals Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Temple University.

The Ghosts aim to repeat as district champions and claim the crown for the third time in four years. It will be the fifth game on the Liacouras Center floor for senior guard Robbie Heath, who contributed to championships in 2015 and 2017.

It was junior forward Eric Dixon who powered the Ghosts to the semifinals. He scored 23 points in a quarterfinal win over No. 7 Norristown.

To advance to the title game, they’ll have to beat Lower Merion, which is looking for its first district crown since Kobe Bryant led the team in 1996.

Steve Payne led the Aces to a quarterfinal win over No. 6 Pennridge with 21 points and Jake Forrest added 19.

For in-game updates, follow @ADRobinson3 and @emor09 on Twitter

Boys Class-4A

Tamaqua vs. Lower Moreland >> No. 2 Lower Moreland hosts No. 3 Tamaqua at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals.

Both teams are coming off 17-point wins in the quarterfinals. The Lions beat Northwestern Lehigh, 60-43, while Tamaqua handled Jim Thorpe, 57-40.

The winner will face the winner of Bethlehem Catholic and Wilson in the championship Friday at a site and time to be determined.

Boys Class-2A

Dock Mennonite vs. Delco Christian >> No. 1 Dock Mennonite faces No. 2 Delco Christian in the championship Saturday at 4 p.m. at Council Rock South High School.

Dock topped Collegium, 62-53, in the semifinals while Delco Christian beat Calvary Christian, 64-52.

The schools met once earlier this year and Delco Christian won, at home, 55-48.

The Pioneers will look to win behind Nolan Bolton. The versatile Bolton leads the team is assists and charges drawn and is second in rebounds and steals. He’ll guard Delco Christian’s top offensive player.

Boys Class-A

Faith Christian vs. Phil-Mont Christian >> No. 1 Faith Christian faces No. 4 Phil-Mont Christian in the semifinals Tuesday at Souderton High School at 7 p.m.

Faith Christian had a first-round bye while Phil-Mont snuck past The Christian Academy, 51-48.

Faith Christian handled Phil-Mont twice this season, winning 70-34 and 56-44.

For in-game updates, follow @khunter10 on Twitter

Girard vs. Plumstead Christian >> No. 2 Girard hosts No. 3 Plumstead Christian in the semifinals Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Girard had a first-round bye while Plumstead beat Jenkintown, 48-45.

Plumstead enters the game winners of four of its last five games.

Girls Class-6A

Souderton vs. Garnet Valley >> No. 1 Souderton faces No. 4 Garnet Valley in the semifinals Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Bensalem High School.

Souderton topped Council Rock North, 49-39, in the quarters while Garnet Valley beat Abington, 56-48.

Tori Dowd did a little of everything to help Big Red get to this point. She scored eight points to go along with six rebounds, two steals and a block — all while playing great defense — against CR North.

For in-game updates, follow @ADRobinson3 on Twitter

Central Bucks South vs. Spring-Ford >> No. 2 Central Bucks South faces No. 3 Spring-Ford in the semifinals Wednesday at Bensalem High School at 6 p.m.

The Rams are coming off a 53-50 win over Plymouth Whitemarsh in the quarterfinals. South edged Neshaminy, 43-39.

Abby Goodrich led S-F with 19 points in the last round. Alexa Brodie led South with 15 points.

For in-game updates, follow @Thomas_Nash10 on Twitter

Girls Class-5A

West Chester Henderson vs. Mount St. Joseph >> No. 1 West Chester Henderson faces No. 5 Mount St. Joseph in the semifinals Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Harriton High School.

Henderson beat Radnor, 56-46, in the quarters while the Mount topped Springfield-Delco, 41-40.

Deirde Regan gave the Magic the lead with less than 15 seconds left against Springfield before the defense finished the win. Grace Kiekelski blocked a shot with four seconds left and last-second shot bounced off the rim to send MSJ to the semifinals.

Girls Class-4A

Lower Moreland vs. Gwynedd Mercy >> No. 1 Lower Moreland faces No. 2 Gwynedd Mercy in the championship Saturday at 12 p.m. at Council Rock South High School.

Both teams handled business in the semifinals. The Lions beat Springfield-Montco, 51-31, and Gwynedd topped Nazareth Academy, 36-23.

The Monarchs went on a 20-0 run over a nine-minute stretch to highlight their semifinal win.

Girls Class-A

Jenkintown vs. The Christian Academy >> No. 1 Jenkintown hosts No. 4 The Christian Academy Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals.

The Drakes had a first-round bye while TCA smoked Friends Select, 48-25.

Jenkintown beat TCA twice already in February, 47-13 at home and 45-20 in the Bicentennial Athletic League championship.

Sankofa Freedom vs. Phil-Mont Christian >> No. 2 Sankofa Freedom faces No. 6 Phil-Mont Christian in the semifinals Tuesday at Frankford High School at 3:15 p.m.

Sankofa had a first-round bye while Phil-Mont upset No. 3 Parkway Northwest, 55-33.

Phil-Mont comes into this game winners of four of their last five games.

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