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?

 

Boy, I’m still buzzing over that PIAA Class AAA championship game Friday night between Neumann-Goretti and Chartiers Valley. 65-65, Goretti, but what a great effort by Chartiers Valley and start T.J. McConnell.

I’m pretty certain any team, Goretti included, would take him on its starting five. And what a gutsy effort by Sewickley Academy guard Tom Droney, playing hard with a nasty stomach virus. And the way Mount Lebanon’s Madison Cable and Villa Maria’s Kayla McBride unapologetically taking over their championship games. These are the kinds of stories and efforts that make the PIAA Championships special … in any sport.

Anyhow, this a reminder that rodfrisco.com will have live chats for all four of today’s game, starting with the Girls Class A championship game between Bishop Guilfoyle and Northern Cambria in their District 6 title game rematch.

In the meantime, here is what writers from around the state said about Friday’s championship games.

Class AAA boys
Neumann-Goretti 65, Chartiers Valley 63: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Philadelphia Inquirer, and here, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review here.

Class AAAA girls
Mount Lebanon 70, Archbishop Ryan 43: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review here.

Class A boys
Sewickley Academy 43, Reading Central Catholic 35: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review here, Reading Eagle here, and here.

Class AA girls
Villa Maria Academy 52, York Catholic 44: Erie Times-News here, and here.

Here’s a nice photo slideshow from the Post-Gazette.

 

Ah, Hoops Day is here. Just a reminder that rodfrisco.com will have live chats for each of today’s four games, starting with Class AA girls – York Catholic vs. Villa Maria Academy – at noon.

In the meantime, check out some of today’s newspapers stories related to today’s finals.

CLASS AA GIRLS (York Catholic vs. Villa Maria Academy)

From the York Daily Record: here and here.

From the Erie Times-News: here and here.

CLASS A BOYS (Reading Central Catholic vs. Sewickley Academy)

From the Reading Eagle Times: here and here.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: here.

CLASS AAA GIRLS (Archbishop Ryan vs. Mount Lebanon)

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: here.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: here.

CLASS AAA BOYS (Neumann-Goretti vs. Chartiers Valley)

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:here.

From the Philadelphia Daily News: here.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: here.

And nice piece of PIAA basketball championship memories from Mike White of the Post-Gazette: here.

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