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North Penn aims for 3rd win over Neshaminy in PIAA AAAA quarters

To reach the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals, the North Penn girls basketball team will have to do something it has done twice already this season.

Beat Neshaminy.

“Which is hard,” said Knights coach Maggie deMarteleire of a three-game sweep. “We really, really make sure we plan just the way we did the second game.”

Back in the quarterfinals for the third time in four season, North Penn looks to reach the states’ final four when they face Neshaminy 6:30 p.m. Friday at Spring-Ford High School.

“We’re feeling pretty good, not over-confident but pretty confident,” NP junior Jess Huber said. “We’re just going to play our game and keep the momentum going. Work hard in practice every day in order to win the game.”

John Strickler - Digital First Media North Penn's Sam Carangi grabs a rebound over PErkiomen Valley's Megan Jonassen.

North Penn’s Sam Carangi grabs a rebound over Perkiomen Valley’s Megan Jonassen during their PIAA Class AAAA second round game on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 (John Strickler/Digital First Media).

The Knights are one of six area teams still playing the PIAA playoffs. Friday night, Phil-Mont Christian and Lower Moreland both play at Philadelphia University – Lower Moreland against Neumann-Goretti 6 p.m. in the AAA quarters, while Phil-Mont faces Math, Civics and Sciences in the Class A quarters at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, the local action is at Archbishop Ryan. The Plymouth Whitemarsh boys meet Simon Gratz for a spot in the AAAAA semis at 2:30 p.m., while the Gwynedd Mercy and Archbishop Wood girls teams meet in the AAA quarters at 4:30 p.m.

North Penn (28-3) is back the 4A quarters for the first time since 2014 thanks to a 55-52 win over District 1 champ Perkiomen Valley Tuesday night at Spring-Ford.

PV beat the Knights 69-50 in the season opener, but Tuesday North Penn held a 13-point lead in the third then held off the Vikings’ charge in the fourth. PV twice took one-point leads in the final quarter, but senior Mikaela Giuliani answered both times with baskets inside.

Giuliani collected eight of her 12 points in the fourth while Huber knocked down four 3-pointers in finishing with a team-high 18 points.

Neshaminy (23-7), in states for the first time since 2004, advanced to the quarters in Tuesday’s earlier game at Spring-Ford, bouncing Upper Dublin 53-35. The Redskins hit 4 3-pointers to build a 25-12 lead at halftime and while UD cut the margin to eight, Neshaminy capped the contest with a 17-5 run.

North Penn handed the Redskins their last defeat as NP rolled to a 57-29 win in the District 1 fifth-place semifinals Feb. 24. Giuliani led all scorers with 19 points. The Knight also beat Neshaminy in the Suburban One League tournament semifinals 44-39 Feb. 6.

“We just have to keep playing the way we’re playing. We have to talk on defense – that’s what really runs our offense and dictates our offense is our defense,” Giuliani said. “So we have to buckle down on defense cause Neshaminy likes to drive more than they like to shoot anyway, so push the ball, buckle down on defense and we should be good.”

The PW boys cruised in their 4A state opener, but had to turn it on the second half against Bangor Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals for the second straight season.

The Colonials trailed the Slaters 26-23 at halftime of their second-round matchup at Reading High School, but PW opened the third with a 19-4 run and picked up a 58-44 victory, earning the a matchup with District 12 third-place side Simon Gratz. Xzavier Malone paced PW with 20 points while Mike Lotito added 16.

John Strickler - Digital First Media Plymouth Whitmarsh's Xzavier Malone puts a move on Bangor's Dylan Benton and takes ball to the basket.

Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Xzavier Malone puts a move on Bangor’s Dylan Benton and takes ball to the basket during their PIAA Class AAAA second round game on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (John Strickler/Digital First Media)

Plymouth Whitemarsh (27-2) is looking to reach its first 4A semifinal since 2011. Gratz, meanwhile is trying to make its first appearance in the final four since 2007.

The Bulldogs trailed J.P. McCaskey by six entering the fourth quarter of their second-round game Wednesday before erupting for 30 points in the final eight minutes for a 64-56 victory. Tyriek Meredith led Gratz with 19 points.

Meredith paced Gratz with 16 points as it defeated Lower Merion in the first round 63-61 in overtime.

In the second game at Ryan Saturday, Archbishop Wood (22-6) tries to keep it run at reaching a third straight PIAA final alive when it takes on District 1 champ GMA (25-4).

Wood, the Philadelphia Catholic League and District 12 champ, has won its last 18, the last two by comfortable margins in the state tournament. The Vikings routed District 3 champ Bishop McDevitt 62-38 in the first round then bested District 4 champ Danville 58-30 Wednesday.

Gwynedd Mercy also picked up a pair of double-digit wins so far in states. The Monarchs beat Bonner-Prendergast – which beat GMA in the PIAA first round last year – 58-31 before shutting down Greencastle-Antrim 39-22 Wednesday.

In Class A Friday, Phil-Mont Christian is looking to keep its high-powered offense going against District 12 runner-up Math, Civics and Sciences. Phil-Mont (30-1), which has won 27 straight, eclipsed 70 points in both of its PIAA victories, beating Paul Robeson 75-53 in the first round then York Country Day 71-45 Tuesday in the Round of 16.

MCS has put up some points in its state run. The Mighty Elephants bounced Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg 79-47 in their PIAA opener then topped Malik Archer dropped 31 points in the 69-56 second-round victory over Old Forge.
Phil-Mont Christian’s fellow Bicentennial Athletic League member Lower Moreland has the task of stopping Neumann-Goretti’s run at the third-consecutive PIAA 3A crown Friday.

The Lions (23-6) earned the school’s farthest state run Tuesday with a 52-47 win over Pottsville. Danny Duffy led LM with 23 points.

Neumann-Goretti has missed out on two postseason titles so far in 2016, falling to Roman Catholic in the PCL final and Imhotep in the District 12 title game. But the Saints (24-4) are three wins for a three-peat and head into the quarter off a 113-71 win over Scranton Prep.

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