Central Bucks West girls’ basketball coach Zach Sibel and Pennsbury coach Frank Sciolla have some history together. On Saturday at 5 p.m., they will be trying to make some history against each other in the District 1 Class 6A championship game at Temple University’s Liacouras Center.
Starting in 2007, Sibel played for Sciolla at Pennsbury when Sciolla was the Falcons boys’ coach.
“Frank and I have a great relationship,” Sibel said. “He’s an awesome guy. He’s been an awesome mentor. In many ways, he’s really shown me a lot about life, not just the game of basketball. So it’s an interesting mix of emotions is how I would say it.”
Sibel, in his first year as the Bucks coach, not only played for Sciolla, but was an assistant on Sciolla’s AAU team, the Mid-Atlantic Magic. Sciolla, in his fourth season as the girls coach, is not particularly looking forward to facing Sibel.
“You never like to coach against your friends because you don’t get the great feeling when you win, and certainly losing is never fun,” Sciolla said. “It’s not the first time that I coached against a former player that I’m very close to. But it’s definitely the first time I’ve coached against a former player that I’ve coached with because he helps me out with my AAU team.”
There is some familiarity between the teams. Pennsbury (22-4) and West (23-4) played each other on Feb. 8 in the Suburban One League Challenge. The Bucks won, 30-23. But according to both coaches, that game won’t have much bearing on the championship game.
“I think in terms of knowing personnel and being familiar with some of the players, I think it’s a comfort thing,” Sibel said. “I think it’s good for our girls to kind of know who they are. In terms of running stuff, in the SOL tournament we both kind of kept it vanilla. So I think that we have an idea of how we might play each other, but I think it’s going to be a little bit different of a game than the SOL Challenge.”
Pennsbury, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, and No. 2-seed West are similar teams. Offensively, both teams like to play uptempo but can pull it out and control the tempo. Both teams are also very physical man-to-man defensive teams. They combined for 35 fouls when they met in the SOL Challenge. Another key factor will be controlling the boards, which either team is capable of doing.
The Falcons, who shared the Suburban One National Conference title with Neshaminy, reached the district title game for just the second time in school history by beating top-seed Plymouth Whitemarsh on Wednesday, 50-41. Ava Sciolla, a 5-foot-11 sophomore guard and the coach’s daughter, led the way with 24 points. Bella Arcuri, Mary Miller, Mia Spinelli and Nicole Pompili round out the starting five.
The Bucks, who won the Suburban One Continental Conference crown, reached the championship game for the fifth time in school history by beating Spring-Ford, 49-45. Senior guard Olivia Irons scored 15 points, and sophomore guard Emily Spratt added 12 points against the Rams. Joss Broskey, Maddie Burke and Paige Gilbert are the other West starters.
The game will be special for all involved, and that includes the coaches.