Breaking down the PIAA boys basketball playoffs

| Thursday, March 6, 2014, 10:18 p.m.

Class AAAA

WPIAL/City League: New Castle (26-0), Hampton (22-4), Kiski Area (17-6), North Allegheny (21-4), Bethel Park (18-6), Allderdice (21-4).

Around the state: Philadelphia's Roman Catholic (22-4), the District 12 champion, has two senior guards with Division I scholarships: Shep Garner (Penn State) and Rashann London (Drexel).

• Chester (22-2) won the District 1 title for the 11th time in 13 seasons behind 6-foot-8 center Tyrell Sturdivant (Stony Brook) and 6-1 guard Conrad Chambers, who has Robert Morris among his offers.

• Martin Luther King (23-5) won its first Philly Public League title, but lost to Roman Catholic, 58-55, in the District 12 championship.

• Pennsbury (22-5), the District 1 runner-up, has a junior-heavy lineup that includes 6-8 center Derrick Woods (Binghamton).

• Erie McDowell (22-3) is coached by Kevin O'Connor, whose brother Ben coaches Bethel Park.

• York (22-6), which starts three sophomores, won the District 3 title with 6-3 junior Jahaire Wilson (14.4 ppg).

Don't overlook: Lower Merion (19-7), fifth in District 1, hopes to defend its PIAA title behind 6-4 senior Justin McFadden (Binghamton).

Notable: Lower Merion beat Chester in last season's PIAA final 63-47. The past six PIAA champions have come from District 1. Schenley won the 2007 title. ... Chester won 52-49 over Pennsbury in the District 1 final Feb. 28. ... New Castle had a 62-59 double-overtime win over Lower Merion in Philadelphia on Jan. 18 ... McDowell beat Cathedral Prep, 66-52, in the District 10 final.

Finals prediction: Chester over New Castle

Class AAA

WPIAL: Central Valley (21-4), Chartiers Valley (24-2), Thomas Jefferson (22-3), Uniontown (21-2), Montour (16-8), Mars (15-9)

Around the state: District 12 champion Neumann-Goretti (22-4) has 6-2 senior guard Ja'Quan Newton (21.7 ppg), a Miami recruit who scored 26 in the district final, and two other seniors signed with Campbell: Troy Harper (6-1) and Tony Toplyn (6-6).

• Allentown Central Catholic (27-0) won its fourth consecutive District 11 title and 6-4 senior Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman has mid-major offers.

• Abington Heights (25-1) in Lackawanna County won its third straight District 2 title behind a pair of Division I seniors: 6-2 guard J.C. Show (Bucknell) and 6-9 center Evan Maxwell (Liberty).

• Defending PIAA champion Imhotep Charter (20-6), fourth in District 12, features 6-6 senior Basil Thompson, a St. Francis, Pa., recruit.

• Archbishop Carroll (21-4), third in District 12, has 6-6 junior Derrick Jones, who has offers from Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse.

Don't overlook: Berks Catholic (24-5) has a talented frontcourt with 6-9 senior Nana Foulland (Bucknell) and 6-7 junior Connor Jack, whose brother Donovon plays for Penn State. But the fifth-place team from District 3 draws Neumann-Goretti in the first round.

Notable: Imhotep won the 2013 title with a 54-48 victory over Archbishop Carroll. It also won Class AA titles in 2012, 2011 and 2009. ... Neumann-Goretti beat Class AAAA Roman Catholic, 53-48, in the Philly Catholic League championship. ... Imhotep lost 53-37 to Archbishop Carroll in the D12 playoffs. ... Farrell (22-3) won its first district title since 2009.

Final prediction: Neumann-Goretti over Imhotep Charter

Class AA

WPIAL: Seton-La Salle (25-1), Greensburg Central Catholic (22-3), Beaver Falls (18-7), Aliquippa (18-6), Summit Academy (16-6), Quaker Valley (21-3), Neshannock (18-6)

Around the state: Constitution (23-5) won the District 12 title behind 6-6 forward Ahmad Gilbert, who has offers from Drexel, Hofstra and Rhode Island.

• West Middlesex (20-5) won the District 10 title behind 6-3 junior Trey Staunch, who had 21 points and 12 rebounds in the final.

• Lewisburg (23-3) won the District 4 title with a 61-45 victory over Loyalsock (24-3).

• Dunmore's Holy Cross (20-6), PIAA runner-up in 2013, lost the District 3 final without injured leading scorer Connor Jones (16.9 ppg).

Don't overlook: Fairview (22-3) lost 55-54 to West Middlesex in the District 10 championship, ending a 16-game winning streak.

Notable: The past 10 champions in Class AA came from either the WPIAL or District 12 (Philadelphia public and Catholic schools). ... Beaver Falls beat Holy Cross in last season's PIAA championship 69-63. ... District 3 winner Trinity (12-12) was a state semifinalist in 2013.

Final prediction: Constitution over Seton-La Salle

Class A

WPIAL/Heritage: Lincoln Park (25-1), Monessen (20-6), Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (15-10), Vincentian Academy (22-3), Homer-Center (22-3).

Around the state: Philadelphia's Math, Civics and Sciences Charter (11-14), the District 12 champion, has 6-9 junior Mike Watkins (Penn State), 6-3 senior Louis Myers (Norfolk State) and 6-3 junior Samir Doughty, who has Atlantic 10 offers.

• Williamsport's St. John Neumann (27-0) claimed the District 4 championship behind 6-6 senior Alize Johnson, who had a triple-double in the semifinals.

• Schuylkill County's Mahanoy (24-2) won the District 11 title 62-42 when Lehigh football recruit Tyler Cavenas (6-5, 275) scored 32 points.

• Ebensburg's Bishop Carroll (25-0) remained unbeaten with a 51-49 victory over Bishop Guilfoyle in the District 6 final.

• Church Farm (23-4), a private school in Exton, won its fourth consecutive District 1 title.

Don't overlook: Johnsonburg (21-4) finished third in District 9, but still has its two leading scorers from last year's lineup that was the PIAA runner-up.

Notable: Vaux won last year's title but the Philadelphia school has since closed. ... MCS Charter's record includes two losses each to Imhotep Charter (67-60, 58-55), Constitution (62-54, 59-56) and MLK (65-62, 75-56), and one to Chester (62-61). Six other losses came out of state. ... Kennedy Catholic (14-9) was removed as District 10's third qualifier after disclosing it used an academically ineligible player. Taking its place is Eisenhower (14-9), which lost to Kennedy Catholic, 66-62 in two overtimes.

Final prediction: Lincoln Park over MCS Charter

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