The good news for the Daniel Boone boys basketball team was that the Blazers — despite a killer schedule this winter — were able to grind out a berth in the eight-team Berks Conference playoff tournament.
The bad news for the Blazers is that they drew an ultra-formidable opponent in two-time defending county champion Berks Catholic.
Seventh-seeded Boone (3-7 Berks 1, 11-11 overall), which received one of the league’s two wild-card berths due to power rating criteria, faces the second seed Saints (10-0 Berks 2, 19-3) in quarterfinal action Monday at Wilson at 6:30 p.m.
The semifinals are slated for Wednesday at Reading’s Santander Arena, with the championship taking place Friday at Santander Arena.
“Our strength of schedule was certainly challenging, which is why we are headed to the county playoffs despite a 3-7 league record,’ said Blazers coach Ian Gendreau said, whose squad finished 22nd in the final District 3 power ratings and failed to qualify for the 20-team District 3-AAAA draw. “Honestly, our challenge was a couple earlier losses that came back to bite us: losing to Lancaster Mennonite by one (51-50) on a buzzer-beating 3, and losing a 12-point lead at Mifflin (in a 59-55 loss). Either one of those wins gives us a great shot at districts.’
At any rate, the Blazers will be partaking in postseason play, though they will be decided underdogs against a Saints squad that features 6-foot-9 Nana Foulland (21.4 ppg) and 6-foot-7 Connor Jack (10.9). Pop Lacey, who played at Boone last year before transferring to Berks Catholic, averages 5.6 points for the Saints.
That said, Boone hung tough in a 53-46 regular-season loss to Berks Catholic, which heads into the postseason on a 14-game winning streak and is 43-0 against Berks competition in its three-year existence.
“They’re very tough, but there are two kinds of teams in the playoffs: those happy to be there, and those who want to win the whole thing,’ Gendreau said. “If you’re the latter, you have to face them eventually, so it might as well be right off the bat. With Wilson, Reading and Berks Catholic featured in this field, anyone else has to pull off a big upset to get very far anyway.
“What makes them so tough is size, pure and simple. A D-1 caliber big man (Foulland) is something no one else in the county has, and there is no question he’s option No. 1. Add in Jack and you’re dealing with size you rarely see. Two of the keys for us will be rebounding and shot selection. Keeping Nana and Connor off the boards is no easy task. Even if you manage to slow them down on the first shot, they’re great at getting second and third shots. They also do a terrific job of blocking or altering shots, so at some point you really have to be able to knock down high quality jump shots. Otherwise they can just sit underneath and swat shots all day.’
Senior guard Kenny Worthington is averaging a team-high 14.9 points for the Blazers, whose starting unit also includes guard Lee Kelsey, forward Steve Sievers, center Dan Downs (7.8 ppg) and either forward Cedric Mann or guard Paul Galanti, with guard Doug Shilling and forward Mike Dabney coming off the bench.
The Blazers have had their share of injury issues, with Stephon Williams going down with a knee injury early in the year and Keyon McCutchen more recently being sidelined by a broken foot.
In Monday’s other Berks quarterfinals, Wyomissing faces Exeter at Wilson at 8 p.m.; Wilson takes on Tulpehocken at Governor Mifflin at 6:30 p.m.; and Reading meets Conrad Weiser at Governor Mifflin at 8 p.m.
After snapping a 16-game losing streak with a 60-39 win over Kutztown Thursday, Upper Perkiomen made it two wins in two days by taking down Palisades 54-50 Friday. Isaiah Stokes had 15 points and 12 rebounds and Matt Ruskey scored 14 points in the Kutztown win, then Stokes (15 points) and Ruskey (11) also hit double figures in scoring against Palidades.
“The last two games saw our guys amp up their defensive intensity and communicate effectively,’ first-year Indians coach Jared Krupp said. “Our defense set the tone early in both victories. Also, our guys played really well within our offensive system and our execution on offense was the best I have seen all season. Our scoring was very balanced in both of our wins.
“It was great to finish the season with these two wins, send our seniors out on a good note, and carry some momentum into the off-season.’
Perkiomen School will be the top seed in the Tri-County League Tournament, which begins Monday with quarterfinal action. The Panthers will play host to eighth seed Kimberton Waldorf at 5:20 p.m. … Liberty Division champion Spring-Ford (20-2) and Liberty runner-up Methacton (14-7) square off in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship Tuesday night at Pottstown’s Strom Gymnasium at 7 p.m. The Rams won the two regular-season meetings 65-45 and 59-53. … The Hill School received the No. 3 seed and Perkiomen School received the No. 9 seed in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Tournament, which is slated to begin Friday. The Blues will play host to 14th seed Germantown Friends School Friday at 5:30 p.m., with the Panthers taking on Episcopal Academy at a date, time and site to be determined in their opener.
DISTRICT 1 DOINGS
The District 1 seeding meeting was moved from Sunday to Tuesday due to last week’s weather situation. The District 1 tourney kicks off Friday with opening-round action in the 32-team Class AAAA draw.