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BLOG: PIAA basketball finals promise to be fascinating

Steve Heiser
717-505-5446/@ydsports

This weekend's PIAA state basketball championship games won't have any York-Adams League representatives.

That doesn't mean, however, that the games aren't of interest in these parts.

First of all, the games are just up the road in nearby Hershey at the Giant Center. It's only a 45-minute car ride. As a result, there will no doubt be hundreds of high school basketball fans from York County making the journey.

They'll have some fascinating story lines to watch.

Philly domination: The most interesting might be that Philadelphia City Schools (District 12) have the opportunity to win seven of the eight titles. A Philly school made a final in every class but Girls' A. If the Philly schools go unbeaten in those games – granted that's an unlikely scenario – they would win an unprecedented seven state titles in one weekend.

Public-vs-private debate: Another story line to watch in the annual private-vs.-public debate that erupts every year at state playoff time. Of the 16 finalists, 11 are private schools – either parochial or charter. There is a private school in each of the eight finals, and three of the finals feature a battle of private schools – AAA girls, A boys and A girls. If the private schools would happen to sweep all eight championships, or even the majority of the eight, you can expect the private-public debate to again reach a fevered pitch. Cries of unfair private school recruiting will be heard far and wide. As will demands that the private schools be: 1. Taken out of the PIAA field completely; 2. Placed in the highest classification possible (AAAA); 3. Forced to play up a class.

The unbeatens: Two schools have an opportunity to finish perfect seasons with a state title. Aliquippa (29-0) in AA boys and Villa Maria (29-0) in AAA girls. Going 30-0 with a state gold medal would be a feat for the ages.

AAAA boys' final:

HEISER: Long-suffering Penn State basketball program finally offers reason for hope

The marquee matchup of the weekend, as always, will be the AAAA boys' contest between Philadelphia's Roman Catholic (26-4), the defending champion, and Pittsburgh's Allderdice (27-1). Three of the Roman Catholic players have already committed to play for Penn State (Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and Nazeer Bostick). Those three helped push PSU's 2016 recruiting class into the top 20 in the nation. Allderdice, meanwhile, will try to become the first AAAA champion from the City of Pittsburgh since Schenley in 2007. Neither Roman Catholic nor Allderdice has been challenged thus far in the state playoffs, winning each of their four games by double figures.

Matchups: Here are the eight matchups in the PIAA finals.

CLASS AAAA BOYS

Saturday’s Final

(12-1) Roman Catholic (26-4) vs. (8-1) Allderdice (27-1) at Hershey’s Giant Center, 8 p.m.

CLASS AAA BOYS

Friday’s Final

(12-2) Neumann-Goretti (26-4) vs. (7-3) Mars (23-6) at Hershey’s Giant Center, 8 p.m.

CLASS AA BOYS

Saturday’s Final

(12-2) Mastery Charter North (27-3) vs. (7-1) Aliquippa (29-0) at Hershey’s Giant Center, 2 p.m.

CLASS A BOYS

Friday’s Final

(12-2) Math Civics and Science (15-14) vs. (10-1) Kennedy Catholic (27-2) at Hershey’s Giant Center, 2 p.m.

CLASS AAAA GIRLS

Friday’s Final

(12-1) Cardinal O’Hara (26-3) vs. (3-1) Cumberland Valley (28-3) at Hershey’s Giant Center, 6 p.m.

CLASS AAA GIRLS

Saturday’s Final

(12-1) Archbishop Wood (24-6) vs. (10-1) Villa Maria (29-0) at Hershey’s Giant Center, 6 p.m.

CLASS AA GIRLS

North Star's Olivia Zuchelli drives around Karns City's Emily Hegedus during a PIAA Class AA second-round playoff game earlier this month. North Star will face Neumann-Goretti for the AA girls' state title on Friday. North Star is just one of five public schools in the PIAA finals.

Friday’s Final

(12-1) Neumann-Goretti (28-1) vs. (5-1) North Star (28-2) at Hershey’s Giant Center, noon.

CLASS A GIRLS

Saturday’s Final

(4-2) Lourdes Regional (23-6) vs. (7-2) Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (27-3) at Hershey’s Giant Center, noon.