Let the local high school madness begin

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South Philly is well-represented in the PIAA basketball tournament that gets underway on Friday

Photo by Mark Carosiello

By Bill Gelman

Can they do it again? The “they” would be the Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School boys basketball team — the defending AAA champs. The Saints enter Pennsylvania’s high school version of March Madness riding a streak of four straight state titles. The squad will begin its latest championship pursuit on Saturday (March 10) at a familiar site — Archbishop Ryan High School in Northeast Philly. The 18–6 Saints, who are the №1 seed out of District 12, will open tournament play against Steelton-Highspire out of District 3. Tip is 5 p.m.

Neumann-Goretti, 1736 S. 10th St., is hungry for another title after falling to St. Joe’s Prep in last month’s home Catholic League quarterfinal game. They turned things around last weekend by winning the District 12 AAA championship with a 78–49 victory over Dobbins.

Should the Saints return to the state final, they would play at the Giant Center in Hershey on Saturday, March 24 at 2 p.m.

Mastery South, 927 Johnston St., also made the field. The 14–8 squad will take the court on Saturday against Wyoming Seminary, the top seed out of District 2. Tip time is 6 p.m. at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre. The opposition enters the contest with a 21–4 record. The winner will play again on Tuesday against the winner of the Neumann-Goretti/Steelton-Highspire contest.

The Academy at Palumbo, 1100 Catharine St., girls basketball team will travel to Freedom High School in Bethlehem on Saturday for a PIAA 5A first-round game against Southern Lehigh out of District 11. Game time is 6 p.m. The local squad enters postseason play with an 8–12 record while the Spartans are 24–2.

The Universal Audenried High School, 3301 Tasker St., girls basketball team has secured a spot in the 4A bracket, and will open tournament play on Saturday against Lower Moreland out of District 1. Tip is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Jefferson University. The Grays Ferry-based squad is 15–10, which includes a 66–33 loss to Bonner-Prendie in Saturday’s District 12 4A championship game.

Prep Charter High School, 1928 Point Breeze Ave., is also representing South Philly in the 4A bracket. Like Audenried, the 13–6 squad has a first-round game on Saturday against Bishop McDevitt out of District 3. The Lady Huskies will travel to Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg. Tip is 4:30 p.m.

Should any of the local teams advance to the second-round, games will be played on Wednesday (March 14) at a site and time to be determined.

The Neumann-Goretti girls basketball team enters the PIAA tournament ready to turn things around after dropping back-to back games. The more recent defeat came at the hands of Public League champion Imhotep Charter, 62–59 in overtime, in Saturday’s District 12 3A championship game.

But the PIAA tournament provides the 17–7 Saints with a fresh start as they begin pursuit of a fourth-straight championship. Neumann-Goretti, the №2 seed out of District 12, will travel to Jefferson University on Friday (March 9) for their opening-round contest against 19–7 Pine Grove. Tip is 6 p.m.

The girls 3A second-round game will follow a Tuesday-Friday format, with the final taking place March 22 at the Giant Center in Hershey. Neumann-Goretti and Imhotep, District 12’s top seed, could meet again in the semi-final round on Monday, March 19. Time and location will be determined at a later date.

The bracket also includes another South Philly school in 19–1 Mastery South. The Public League squad will travel to West York High School for a 6:30 p.m. game against 13–13 York Catholic out of District 3.

PIAA Schedule

March 9

3A Girls Basketball
Neumann-Goretti vs. Pine Grove, 6 p.m. at Jefferson University
Mastery South vs. York Catholic, 6:30 p.m. at West York High School

March 10

3A Boys Basketball

Neumann-Goretti vs. Steelton-Highspire, 5 p.m. at Archbishop Ryan High School
Mastery South vs. Wyoming Seminary, 6 p.m. at Wilkes University

4A Girls Basketball
Audenried vs. Lower Moreland, 5 p.m. at Jefferson University
Prep Charter vs. Bishop McDevitt, 4:30 p.m. at Cumberland Valley High School

5A Girls Basketball
Academy at Palumbo vs. Southern Lehigh, 6 p.m. at Freedom High School