Northeastern, Susquehannock face formidable state foes
- The Northeastern boys will face Meadville in a PIAA Class 5-A semifinal game on Monday.
- The Susquehannock girls will take on Archbishop Wood in their PIAA Class 5-A semifinal.
- With wins, the two York County teams will advance to state title games on Saturday.
One more win.
For the Northeastern boys and Susquehannock girls, that's all that stands between them and a much-coveted berth in a PIAA Class 5-A state basketball championship game.
That's the good news.
The bad news?
Getting there will not be easy — not by a long shot.
Both the Bobcats and the Warriors will face teams that have higher state rankings.
Of course, at this time of season, state rankings aren't always worth much.
Both Northeastern and Susquehannock earned victories on Saturday against teams with better rankings.
Northeastern captured a double-overtime thriller over Archbishop Carroll, 86-84. In the latest City of Basketball Love state rankings, Northeastern came in ranked No. 9, while Carroll was ranked No. 7.
Susquehannock, meanwhile, used a dominating second half to rout Southern Lehigh, 56-38. In the @PaGirlsHoops rankings, Southern Lehigh was No. 2, while Susquehannock was No. 5.
Here's a look at the semifinal games facing both Northeastern and Susquehannock.
District 3 champion Northeastern (30-2) vs. District 10 champion Meadville (25-1) at Altoona High School, 7:30 p.m. Monday: Meadville, from the Erie area, enters this game ranked No. 5 in the latest City of Basketball Love 5-A rankings.
The Bulldogs beat three WPIAL (District 7) teams en route to their semifinal berth, including a 53-46 victory over Mars in the quarterfinals.
Despite that relatively low-scoring semifinal, the Northeastern-Meadville game has all the makings of a run-and-gun affair.
Mars comes in averaging 68 points per game, while Northeastern averages more than 72 points per game.
Armoni Foster, a 6-foot, 2-inch senior, is the undisputed leader for Meadville, averaging 27.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.9 steals per game. He's the school's all-time leading scorer.
Simeal Wofford, a 5-10 senior, has scored more than 1,000 career points and is averaging 15.3 points, 4.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.
The final member of Meadville's “Big Three” is 6-7 sophomore Lashon Lindsey, who averages 14.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
No other Meadville player averages more than 4.1 points per game.
Meadville's only loss came to Erie Strong Vincent, 66-54, back on Jan. 20. Strong Vincent has advanced to the Class 4-A state semifinals.
Northeastern, meanwhile, will enter with a “Big Three” of its own in 6-2 junior Antonio Rizzuto (19.4 ppg), 5-11 junior Fred Mulbah (16.7 ppg) and 6-2 senior Brandon Coleman (14.0 ppg).
Coach Jon Eyster's Bobcats, however, may have a bit more depth. Austin Greene, a 5-10 senior, averages 9.7 ppg.
Seniors Coleman and Greene are coming off big efforts in the double-OT win over Bishop Carroll. Coleman made his final nine shots en route to 31 points, while Greene added 12 points.
Northeastern doesn't have anyone who can match Lindsey's size inside, but that's nothing new. The Bobcats have faced taller teams nearly every step of the way in the postseason. They have made up for their lack of height with outstanding athleticism.
The winner of the Northeastern-Meadville game will advance to the state championship game at 8 p.m. Friday at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The Northeastern athletic department will offer a fan bus for students and community members for the 150-mile, 2 1/2-hour trip to Altoona. The cost is $5 to ride the bus. Those interested should contact the athletic office to register at email@example.com or at (717) 266-3644 ext. 8. The bus will leave from in front of the high school at 4:30 p.m. All tickets sold at the game will be $8.
District 3 champion Susquehannock (26-4) vs. District 12 champion Archbishop Wood (22-7) at Gov. Mifflin, 7 p.m. Tuesday: Don't let Archbishop Wood's seven losses fool you. This is a seriously talented team. There's a reason Wood is ranked No. 1 in 5-A in the latest state rankings.
The powerhouse Vikings, who won the 3-A state title in 2016, play a national schedule. Their only loss to a Pennsylvania team came to Cardinal O'Hara, 35-30, back on Feb. 27 in the Philadelphia Catholic League title game. O'Hara is ranked No. 2 in the state in 6-A and has advanced to 6-A semifinals. O'Hara beat York-Adams League champion Central York in a 6-A second-round game, 55-35.
In the state playoffs, Wood has been dominant defensively, allowing less than 30 points per game. The Vikings are coming off a 61-35 pounding of Wyoming Valley West in the quarterfinals.
In that win, Wood was led by Cassie Sebold with 18 points and Katie May with 11 points.
Susquehannock, however, proved Saturday that it's not intimidated by higher-ranked teams.
Coach Dave Schreiner's club is not terribly deep and must stay out of foul trouble if it's to upset Wood.
Tyler Williams (13.6 ppg), a 5-9 senior, leads a balanced Warriors attack, followed by 5-10 sophomore Jaden Walker (10.2 ppg), 5-3 sophomore Jayla Galbreath (9.7 ppg) and 5-8 junior Anna Mahan (6.9 ppg).
The winner of the Susquehannock-Wood game will advance to the state title game at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Giant Center is Hershey.
Reach Steve Heiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.