Thursday, March 21, 2013

PIAA-AAAA girls championship pick

Spring-Ford girls basketball coach Jeff Rinehimer (center), an Alvernia grad just like the Poopster's owner, leads the Rams into Friday's PIAA-AAAA girls basketball championship against Cumberland Valley at 6 p.m. at Hershey's Giant Center.

By the Poopster
@BigPoppy_G on Twitter

It all comes down to this.
Spring-Ford. Cumberland Valley.
The PIAA-AAAA girls basketball championship on the line.
Hershey's Giant Center. Friday night. 6 p.m. Broadcast statewide on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.
The District 3 No. 5 seed Eagles (26-6) can scorch the basket thanks to the triple threat of 6-footers Jackie Falconer, Maddie Torresin and Kelly Jekot.
The Pioneer Athletic Conference and  District 1 champ Rams (31-2), meanwhile, play defense like they're guarding gold at Fort Knox.
Sammy Stipa, Shelby Mueller, Sarah Payonk, Brittany Moore, Sammi Haas, Courtney Hinnant, Maggie Locke and Co. have made a memorable and methodical march through March, and no situation can better prepare a squad for a state championship than Tuesday's epic 53-49 semifinal win over Cardinal O'Hara.
Cumberland Valley is a dangerous squad getting hot at the right time. But the Poopster doesn't quite think they are battle-tested enough to take down Spring-Ford. Defense wins championships, and nobody in the state plays it better than the Rams .... Spring-Ford 56-48.

Last round: 2-0.
Overall: 20-10.

Monday, March 18, 2013

PIAA-AAAA girls semifinal picks

Sammy Stipa and District 1 champion Spring-Ford face a stiff challenge from District 12 champ Cardinal O'Hara in Tuesday's PIAA-AAAA girls basketball tournament semifinal, set for William Tennent at 7:30 p.m.

By the Poopster
@BigPoppy_G on Twitter

The road to the state championship gets harder by the round, and so does the pickin' for the Poopster. The PIAA Class AAAA semifinals take place Tuesday, and here's his take on the Final Four:

Spring-Ford (30-2) vs. Cardinal O'Hara (24-5), at William Tennent, 7:30 p.m.
Two things that irritate the Poopster's ears are the screamo music his owner will sometimes blare and the sound of too many whistles during a playoff basketball game. Let 'em play, he says. This will no doubt be the toughest postseason challenge for the Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1 champ Rams against a battle-tested Lions outfit rife with height, talent and experience. That said, seniors Sarah Payonk, Brittany Moore, Courtney Hinnant, Sammi Haas and the rest of the Rams have been waiting to get back to this stage since falling to Archbishop Carroll in last year's semis. This one could go either way, but as long as there's no funny business from the guys in stripes, the Poopster says ... Spring-Ford 48-44.

Cumberland Valley (25-6) vs. Chartiers Valley (22-7), at Altoona, 7 p.m.
The District 3 No. 5 seed Eagles, who start two sophomores, one freshman and just one senior, are maturing in a hurry and getting hot at the right time. They took out North Penn 53-36 in the quarterfinals, and have two victories over District 1 runner-up Mount St. Joseph Academy to their credit. The District 7 runner-up Colts, meanwhile, dispatched traditional power Mount Lebanon 48-37 in the quarters despite being without starters Mariah Wells (13 ppg) and Jenne Devinney due to injury. Interestingly enough, Chartiers Valley faced Spring-Ford in the KSA Classic in Orlando back in December, falling 43-37. ... Cumberland Valley 51-48

Last round: 2-2.
Overall: 18-10.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

PIAA-AAAA girls quarterfinal picks

Shelby Mueller (5) and District 1 champion Spring-Ford take on District 3 No. 4 seed Dover in a PIAA-AAAA quarterfinal Friday at 6 at Garden Spot.

By The Poopster
@BigPoppy_G on Twitter

Had it not been for a couple of double-digit blown leads, the Poopster would have gone 7-1 in his second-round picks. Alas, like the Poopster's owner's old college buddy (who happens to coach Spring-Ford) told him the other night, "Hey, it's states. Nobody's going to stop playing."

In that spirit, the Poopster will not stop picking. Here's his take on Friday's PIAA-AAAA girls basketball quarterfinals.

Spring-Ford (29-2) vs. Dover (27-3), at Garden Spot, 6 p.m.
Though the Rams' defense has been a constant, their offense hasn't quite been clicking over the first two rounds. The Poopster believes that will change and the PAC-10 and District 1 champs will get a big effort from their bigs, Sarah Payonk and Shelby Mueller, against the District 3 fourth seed Eagles, who are led by junior guard Alayah Hall (15 ppg). ... Spring-Ford 66-43.

Cardinal O'Hara (23-5) vs. Central Dauphin (22-6), at Governor Mifflin Intermediate, 7:30 p.m.
The District 12 champion Lions, who have won 14 straight, got 11 points from 6-foot-4 La Salle University-bound Lisa Mintzer in Tuesday's 47-32 second-round victory over C.D. East. The District 3 runner-up Rams rallied from 10 down to top defending state champ Archbishop Carroll 56-44 thanks to 24 points from Precious Martin. The Poopster doesn't have a real good feel about this one, but is going to say ... O'Hara 49-46

North Penn (24-5) vs. Cumberland Valley (24-6), at Garden Spot, 7:30 p.m.
The Poopster has mucho respect for veteran Maidens coach Maggie deMarteleire and American-bound 6-2 forward Lauren Crisler, but he's still trying to figure out how the District 1 No. 6 seeds stormed back from a 10-point halftime deficit to stun vaunted Wilson 56-49 Tuesday. District 3 No. 5 seed Cumberland Valley, meanwhile, cruised to a 55-39 victory over Manheim Township, as University of Pennsylvania-bound Jackie Falconer scored her 1,000th career point. Another toughie for the Poopster. ... North Penn 46-45.

Mount Lebanon (24-3) vs. Chartiers Valley (21-7), at North Hills, 8 p.m.
This will be the fourth meeting of the WPIAL Section 4 foes. The District 7 No. 4 seed Blue Devils took the two regular-season meetings by scores of 48-45 and 49-40, but the District 7 runner-up Colts got a measure of payback in a 31-27 win in the district semis. The Poopster expects another tight, low-scoring affair. ... Mt. Lebanon 39-34.

Last round: 5-3. Overall: 16-8.

Monday, March 11, 2013

PIAA-AAAA girls second round picks

The Poopster likes Spring-Ford in Tuesday's PIAA-AAAA girls basketball tournament second-round game against Wallenpaupack, set for Bethlehem Freedom at 6 p.m.

By The Poopster
@BigPoppy_G on Twitter

Since I went 11-5 in my first-round picks of the PIAA Class AAAA Girls Basketball Tournament, @MercSmokinD said he will let me finish up the bracket. So here is my take on Tuesday's second-round action.

Spring-Ford (28-2) vs. Wallenpaupack (21-5), at Bethlehem Freedom, 6 p.m.
The Poopster isn't sure about the status of Rams starting guard Sammi Haas, who suffered an injury to her rib area in Friday's 59-41 first-round win over Hershey. But he knows Sarah Payonk, Brittany Moore, Courtney Hinnant, Shelby Mueller, Sammy Stipa and the rest of the District 1 champions are on a mission. The District 2 champ Buckhorns are led by 6-1 center Alexix Roman, who averages 16.9 points per game. ... Spring-Ford 57-34.

Dover (26-3) vs. Nazareth (22-5), at Reading High, 5 p.m.
The District 3 No. 4 seed Eagles are coming off a miraculous 54-53 first-round win over Bayard Rustin in which they rallied from a 16-point deficit. The Poopster thinks they won't be so fortunate against the District 11 champ Blue Eagles. ... Nazareth 47-43

Cardinal O'Hara (22-5) vs. C.D. East (21-6), at Governor Mifflin Intermediate, 6 p.m.
The Poopster heard the District 3 third seed Panthers were the beneficiaries of some curious whistles in the closing seconds of their 58-56 first-round win over C.B. West. They will need a lot more than that to knock off the District 12 champ Lions, who advanced with a 46-34 win over Methacton. ... O'Hara 50-36

Archbishop Carroll (18-7) vs. Central Dauphin (21-6), at Governor Mifflin Intermediate, 7:30 p.m.
In the second leg of this Philly/Mid-Penn challenge of sorts, the Poopster is going to give a slight nod to the defending state champ and District 12  No. 3 seed Patriots against the District 3 runner-up Rams. ... Carroll 51-49.

Wilson (27-2) vs. North Penn (22-5), at Coatesville, 7:30 p.m.
The District 3 champ Bulldogs got a big scare in their first-rounder, when they trailed by a point to heavy underdog Garnet Valley before coming away with a 41-34 victory. The District 1 sixth seed Knights took down District 11 runner-up Pocono Mt. West, but the Poopster doesn't see another upset in the cards. ... Wilson 55-41.

Cumberland Valley (23-6) vs. Manheim Township (23-5), at Lebanon, 7 p.m.
These squads met just two games ago, when the Eagles downed the Blue Streaks 40-28 in the District 3 fifth-place game. The Poopster expects more of the same in the rematch. ... Cumberland Valley 39-33.

Mount Lebanon (23-3) vs. Penn Trafford (19-6), at Baldwin, 7:30 p.m.
The Poopster was quite proud of himself for correctly picking the District 7 No. 4 seed Blue Devils to knock off District 7 champ Bethel Park in the first round (which they did 37-34). He's going to keep riding the Mt. Lebo train against the District 7 No. 5 seed Warriors, who took out District 6 champ Hollidaysburg in the opening round. ... Mount Lebanon 49-44.

Chartiers Valley (20-7) vs. Gateway (20-6), at Hempfield Area, Greensburg, 6:30 p.m.
The District 7 runner-up Colts (who routed District 8 champ Taylor Allderdice 70-41 in the first round), hung tough with Spring-Ford in a 43-37 loss in Orlando in December. That's good enough for the Poopster to take them against the District 7 No. 3 seed Gators, who barely got by District 10 champ McDowell in their opener. ... Chartiers Valley 40-34.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

PIAA-AAAA Girls Basketball Picks

Brittany Moore and District 1-AAAA champion Spring-Ford take on District 3 No. 7 seed Hershey in a state tourney opener Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Norristown

By The Poopster
@BigPoppy_G on Twitter

Ever since the Poopster got his paws wet making the Week 5 picks last football season, he's been champing at the bit to get back in the prognostication business.

With three Mercury-area teams competing in the 32-team PIAA Class AAAA Girls Basketball Tournament, which begins Friday, the Poopster is raring to do some bracketology. Here's his take on all the first-round action:

Spring-Ford (27-2) vs. Hershey (21-5), at Norristown, 7:30 p.m.
The Rams' pressure defense creates turnovers like the Poopster creates empty cans of Fancy Feast. It should be no different against the District 3 No. 7 seed Trojans. ... Spring-Ford 62-39

Wallenpaupack (21-4) vs. Parkland (20-7), at Scranton High, 7:30 p.m.
The Poopster recalls a former sports editor of his owner repeating the mantra "Parkland's good" over and over. The District 11 No. 3 seed Trojans did beat Boyertown by 11 at Spring-Ford earlier in the year and get the nod in what should be a tight affair over the District 2 champ Buckhorns. ... Parkland 45-41

Rustin (20-7) vs. Dover (25-3), at Norristown, 6 p.m.
The Poopster is a big fan of the Rustin coaching staff. Unfortunately, after winning 18 in a row the District 1 No. 4 seed Golden Knights head into states having lost two straight. The District 3 No. 4 seed Eagles, likewise, are 2-3 since a 23-0 start. Call it ... Rustin 52-51.

Nazareth Area (21-5) vs. Pennsbury (14-13), at Catasauqua, 7:30 p.m.
Twin sisters Morgan and Molly Calabrese lead the way for the District 11 champ Blue Eagles, while the District 1 No. 8 seed Falcons head into states on a three-game losing streak. ... Nazareth 39-31.

Cardinal O'Hara (21-5) vs. Methacton (24-6), at Monsignor Bonner, 7:30 p.m.
The District 1 No. 9 seed Warriors are one of the Poopster's favorite squads, since virtually the entire team and coaching staff follow @PottsmercSports on Twitter. Unfortunately, this is not a good draw. Methacton will have to rely on the experience of its three games against Spring-Ford and have to play a nearly flawless game to have a shot at the upset against the District 12 champion Lions. .... O'Hara 45-31

C.D. East (20-6) vs. C.B. West (20-7), at Milton Hershey, 6:30 p.m.
The Poopster sometimes gets confused with the alphabet-soup abbreviations of some of these schools, but he'll give the edge to the District 3 No. 3 seed Panthers and 5-9 junior guard CaLee Gelbaugh (19.5 ppg) against the District 1 No. 5 seed Bucks. ... C.D. East 55-47

Upper Dublin (25-2) vs. Archbishop Carroll (17-7), at Cheltenham, 6 p.m.
The District 1 No. 3 seed Cardinals reeled off 23 straight wins between a season-opening loss to C.D. East and a District 1 semifinal defeat to Mount St. Joseph Academy. Their reward? A first-round tussle with District 12 No. 3 seed Carroll, which incurred heavy graduation losses from last year's state champion squad but is nonetheless a tough out. ... Carroll 40-39.

Central Dauphin (20-6) vs. Boyertown (19-9), at Milton Hershey, 8 p.m.
The Poopster has much love and respect for the District 1 No. 7 seed Bears, but has a bad feeling it will be the end of the road for  Kaitlyn Eisenhard and Co. against the District 3 runner-up Rams and sisters Precious and Perfect Martin ... Central Dauphin 52-47

Wilson (26-2) vs. Garnet Valley (20-8), at Garden Spot, 6 p.m.
The District 3 champion Bulldogs are coached by Doug Myer (an old acquaintance of the Poopster's owner), while star forward Carley Brew has one of the Poopster's favorite names. ... Wilson 65-41

Pocono Mountain West (23-4) vs. North Penn (21-5), at Pleasant Valley, 7 p.m.
Tough call here, says the Poopster, but he'll take the District 11 runner-up Panthers against the District 1 No. 6 seed Maidens, coached by former Lansdale Catholic coach Maggie deMarteleire. ... Pocono Mt. West 42-37

Mount St. Joseph Academy (25-3) vs. Cumberland Valley (22-6), at Cheltenham, 7:30 p.m.
Perhaps the best of the first-round matchups, this is a rematch of the season's second game, when the Eagles took a 55-50 decision. The Magic have lost only to Spring-Ford (twice) since, and though they took a 21-point beating in the District 1 final the Poopster feels coach John Miller will have Alex Louin, Carly Monzo and the troops ready to bounce back. ... Mount St. Joe's 49-46

Central (15-6) vs. Manheim Township (22-5), at Germantown High, 6 p.m.
The Poopster always pulls for any team with a Twin Valley connection, so with former Raider Kevin Raquet as the AD at Township he'll give the nod to the District 3 No. 6 seed Blue Streaks against the District 12 runner-up Lancers, who were held to 10 points by Cardinal O'Hara in their district final. ... Township 63-59

Bethel Park (23-3) vs. Mount Lebanon (22-3), at Baldwin, 6 p.m.
Maybe the most intriguing of the opening-round contests, since it will be the third meeting between the Black Hawks and Blue Devils. District 7 champ Bethel Park won the first meeting 60-54 before District 7 No. 4 seed Mt. Lebo won the rematch 49-35. The Poopster's going to say ... Mt. Lebanon 52-50.

Hollidaysburg (22-2) vs. Penn Trafford (19-5), at Altoona, 6 p.m.
The fact that the District 6 champion Golden Tigers have scored at least 70 points on ten different occasions perked the Poopster's ears up. He thinks they'll prevail in a shootout over the District 7 No. 5 seed Warriors. ... Hollidaysburg 77-67

Taylor Allderdice (12-13) vs. Chartiers Valley (19-7), at Carrick, 7 p.m.
The Poopster doesn't know Taylor Allderdice from Taylor Swift, but he saw that the Dragons lost to District 7 champ Bethel Park by 41 points, so he'll go with the District 7 runner-up Colts. .... Chartiers Valley 59-38

McDowell (14-10) vs. Gateway (20-5), at Gannon University, 5 p.m.
Though the District 7 No. 3 seed Gators will have a long trip, the Poopster still likes their chances against the District 10 champ Trojans. ... Gateway 48-39