By Amauro Austin Sr
PIAA District 1 covers the very large Philadelphia Districts from the 4 local Suburban Counties (Chester, Delaware, Bucks & Montgomery). The Large School 6A division has a 24-team playoff field that’ll produce a dozen State Playoff bids, the largest by far of any other district in the state, doubling Suburban Pittsburgh’s District 7. I’ve had plenty of favorable memories covering the D1 playoffs over the years.. The Chester – Lower Merion rivalry always comes to mind.. The Fabled Chester Clipper program period always brings high drama to the stage.. The great Norristown runs and Pennsbury runs and Coatesville runs and Penn Wood and Plymouth Whitemarsh.. And how could I forget my favorite place ever to watch a game, the now closed Glen Mills School for adjudicated youth.. I’ve seen my share of great hoops over the years for sure..
This year‘s 6A field, by most credible accounts is down in overall quality as compared to years past .. Chester, whose usually the cream of the crop of the field is on the outside looking in after losing its two best players via transfer to Catholic League schools. With those two guys, the Clippers are amongst the favorites to win the District title. Also once high quality programs with solid traditions like Ridley, Springfield Delco, Hatboro Horsham, Wissahickon & Souderton are also home early.. And a quality program like Cheltenham barely snuck into the field at the last minute with a big win over Penn Wood on the road in its Season Finale..
So what can we expect? Well the tournament kicks off on Thursday and Friday night with 8 1st round matchups in 6A + 4 more in 5A.. Staying on the 6A field, many believe it’s a wide open tournament but most believe #3 seed Plymouth Whitemarsh to be the top team as they’ll come into their 2nd round matchup on Tuesday against the winner of Norristown at Penn Wood with a sparkling 23-2 record and a recent 28-point thrashing of 4-seed Central Bucks East in the SOL Tournament Final.. Lower Merion is the #2 Seed and though their always a player, this year’s group isn’t as dominant as those in the past.. Sr G Sam Brown (Penn) is a 4-year Varsity Starter.. The lefty sniper is very dangerous and can win a game by himself on a given night.. The 1-Seed is a good, young Spring-Ford club that’s probably arrived a year earlier than expected.. 6-4 Soph wing Jacob Nguyen is a D-1 prospect who recently put up back to back 25 point performances en route to winning the Pioneer Athletic Conference Tournament Title.. Downingtown West, the winner of the Chestmont Tournament is the #5 Seed. The Whippets are led by the tandem of whirlwind Sr PG Dylan Blair (Army) & 6-5 Soph SF Donny Fromhartz. Both are pedigreed basketball players who’s parents played at high levels. Blair is an all-timer at D-West in his 4th year as the starting PG. Fromhartz is a D1 prospect in own right whose had some monster performances this season.. There are also a few Dark Horse teams to watch like the always playoff ready Abington if they can get by Pennsbury. The Ghosts could be trouble in a 2nd round matchup with CB East.. William Tennant could be tough for Downingtown West if they handle their business in the 1st round against Haverford.. WC Henderson has the talent to match #1 Spring-Ford but first they must get by a tough 1st round game on the road at Pennridge.. Coatesville could be big trouble for North Penn in the 2nd round providing they get by Harriton in round 1.. And the winner of the likely game of the tournament in round 1 between Cheltenham & Upper Darby could advance even further in an even talent matchup AT Perkiomen Valley in round 2..
5A in District 1 is as good/deep as it’s been since the PIAA went from 4 to 6 classifications in 2016.. The Clear cut favorite is undefeated Central League Champion & #1 seed, Radnor. Not only are the 24-0 Raptors the best 5A team in D1 but in my opinion the top overall team from the Burbs. Radnor is the biggest threat to challenge Imhotep’s 5A reign in the State Tournament, a true neighborhood team that has been together since Middle School. The Leaders: Bookend 6-5 Sr wings Jackson Hicke (Princeton) & the athletic Charlie Thornton. Thornton has opened plenty of eyes late and has caused many to question why D1s aren’t in the picture for his services. 6-7 sr F Jackson Gaffney, a transfer from St Joseph’s Prep, has given the Raptors a different element with a strong interior presence. In ranking order: Chichester, Unionville, West Chester East, Upper Dublin, Pottstown & Holy Ghost Prep are ALL quality clubs who’d be Pick’ems against one another on a neutral court.. Chi is the Del-Val League Champ and coached by 2009 Penn Wood 4A State Champion Coach Clyde Jones.. Unionville is the runner-up in the Ches-mont and their both deep & well-coached.. West Chester East is led by 6-3 Soph PG K.J. Cochran, one of the better 10th graders locally, statewide and possibly even Nationally.. Upper Dublin has a deep, balanced attack that is now fully healthy for the first time all season.. Pottstown is both deep and athletic also mentally tough.. And HGP is always a player behind venerable head Coach Tony Chapman..
Here are 5 other players whom you may or may not know that could break out in this playoff season: Tennant Jr G Kirby Mooney.. Perk Valley Jr G Julian Sadler.. Coatesville Jr G Dior Kennedy.. Penn Wood Sr G Nasir Washington (Season possibly pending due to transfer rules).. Abington Jr G Jeremiah Lee..
Good Luck Boys!!! Please Like, Share & Subscribe.. —AA