What a great set of PIAA boys basketball finals this weekend. All four games were battles, games in which the will was more important than talent and reputation.

Some of the memories will last a long time: T.J. McConnell’s 32-point, 32-shot, it’s-my-game performance in Chartiers Valley’s 65-63 loss to nationally ranked Neumann-Goretti … Sewickley’s Tom Droney stepping up and playing his leader’s role despite throwing up four times before his team’s 43-38 win over Reading Central Catholic … the sheer desire showed by South Fayette in its 49-47 win over favored Strawberry Mansion … and Plymouth-Whitemarsh’s exceptional turnaround, led by Whis Grant and C.J. Aiken, to stun Penn Wood 58-51.

All four games had something going on, all similar in the sense that they were all tests of will, but all with their own nuance.

The girls’ games? Um, a little less dramatic, save for York Catholic’s tremendous comeback against Villa Maria Academy in the Class AA game? Villa took a 22-2 lead that York Catholic whittled to two, only to watch Villa’s outstanding Kayla McBride take charge for the win. And Archbishop Wood turned a one-point game into a 10-point runaway in the fourth quarter.

In all, it was an entertaining weekend that drew more than 20,000 fans to Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center.

I’ve attended basketball finals somewhat sporadically over the years, watched some on PCN, and have no expertise in the history of the PIAA basketball championships whatsoever. But I have to believe the four games were among the best sets in years. It’s almost impossible to get two games full of drama; four is a gift.

And that’s what the fans received in State College this weekend.

Really, can a basketball fan ask for any more than that?

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