PIAA District 1 5A Championship Preview
#3 Penncrest Lions vs #8 Upper Merion Vikings
Villanova University - Saturday 2PM
This Saturday the Villanova University's Pavilion will host it's first ever District 1 5A boys’ basketball title match. The #3 seed Penncrest Lions and #8 seed Upper Merion Vikings will square off for the crown. Penncrest (18-6) find themselves in their first ever District 1 championship game. Upper Merion (16-9) seeks its first District 1 title since 1993.
The Lions of Penncrest are led by longtime coach, Mike Doyle. The O'Hara grad and former SJU assistant has led the Lions to nine consecutive district tournament trips. Doyle's squad is led by (JR) guard Tyler Norwood. Norwood recently surpassed the 1,000 career point total. He also dropped 21 points in Penncrest's semifinal victory against Great Valley. Forward Mike Mallon (SR) is also a threat offensively for the Lions. Manny Ruffin (SR) has been a defensive specialist for Doyle's team the past two seasons, usually taking on the task of sticking the opposition's top scorer. Quarterback of the football team, Chris Mills (JR) has been a big contributor to Penncrest's success on the hardwood as well.
Although Penncrest may be considered undersized, with no starter standing over 6’ 2”, their hard-nosed defense makes them a force to be reckoned with. 16 of their 24 games this season have been decided by single digits. The Lions are 10-6 in those 16 games, but without a legitimate big man, the combined effort and accountability of all their players on the defensive side have gotten them to where they are. It is not the size of the team in the fight, but the size of the fight in the team for this Penncrest squad.
The Upper Merion Vikings are led by fourth year skipper, Jason Quenzer. Quenzer's squad is run by an entire roster of seniors. This 2017 class has gotten better with experience, going from a 3-19 season two years ago, to a spot in Saturday's District 1 Championship. They are hoping to achieve something that an Upper Merion team hasn't done in 22 years: win the District One title.
Upper Merion's star is big man, and Holy Cross commit, Matt Faw. The Vikings have caught fire since Faw's return to the lineup in early February. 6' 7” forward Ethan Miller is also a threat for the Vikings. Miller scored a team high 15 points in Upper Merion's semifinal victory against Bishop Shanahan. The Vikings have a strong backcourt as well, led by shooter Andrew Persaud and point Aiden Newell.
The Vikings seem to be peaking at the right time as they recently took down powerhouse Chester on the road, and have held opponents to about 42 PPG in their three playoff wins leading into Saturday.
Upper Merion and Penncrest's defenses have gotten them to the Pavilion. Expect great guard play in this matchup, along with a hard-fought defensive effort. While Penncrest seeks its first District 1 title and Upper Merion seeking its first in 23 years, expect a lot of energy and edge from tip off to the final buzzer from both teams. This will be a well-played game as both teams have respected the process and enjoyed their journeys to get here. But the championship journey is just beginning.