Nothing beats the excitement of a championship final.
Except perhaps a pair of semifinals.
The Philadelphia Public League and Philadelphia Catholic League playoffs have reached the semifinal stage, with four games at two sites scheduled for midweek to set the pairings for championship showdowns.
Tuesday night’s Public League semifinal doubleheader at South Philadelphia High will feature Imhotep Charter vs. Math, Civics and Sciences in the first game and Gratz vs. Lincoln in the nightcap. The winners will advance to Saturday night’s title game at the Liacouras Center at Temple.
Wednesday’s night’s Catholic League semifinal doubleheader at the Palestra will match Archbishop Wood vs. Roman Catholic in the opener and Neumann Goretti vs. Archbishop Ryan in the second game. The winners will advance to Monday night’s title game, back at the Palestra.
Here’s The Inquirer’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10, with last week’s rankings in parentheses:
1. Archbishop Wood (1) 19-4: Rahsool Diggins scored 11 of his 25 in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Vikings survived a challenge from Archbishop Carroll for a 72-68 victory in the PCL quarterfinals. Wood has won 17 of 18, with the lone loss at then-No. 1 Neumann-Goretti. The Vikings’ semifinal clash with Roman Catholic is a rematch of perhaps the best game of the regular season, a 94-93 double-overtime win for the Vikings on Jan. 19.
2. Neumann Goretti (4) 19-4: Junior Chris Evans buried four three-pointers on his way to 17 points and junior Hysier Miller controlled play in the fourth quarter on his way to 18 points in a dominant, 71-46 victory over Cardinal O’Hara in the quarterfinals. Neumann Goretti’s semifinal vs. Archbishop Ryan is a rematch of a 75-58 road victory for the Saints on Jan. 27.
3. Westtown School (3) 22-7: The Moose’s remarkable balance was on full display as they beat rival Academy of the New Church for the third time this season, scoring a 79-57 victory in the Pennsylvania independent schools tournament quarterfinals. Eight players scored between 15 and seven points with senior guard T.J. Berger, a Penn recruit, and junior center Franck Kepnang leading the way with 15 and 14, respectively. Westtown will meet Perkiomen School in the semifinals on Friday night at Montgomery County Community College, with the title game set for the next night at the same site.
4. Roman Catholic (8) 15-8: Jalen Duren’s third-try put-back beat the buzzer and lifted the Cahillites to a 61-59 win over Bonner-Prendergast in the PCL quarterfinals. Justice Williams scored 20 and Lynn Greer III added 15 for Roman Catholic, which has won seven of eight since suffering a pair of double-overtime losses in a three-day span in mid-January. The Sunday setback that weekend was that 94-93 instant classic at Archbishop Wood. The rematch is set to tip at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Palestra.
5. Methacton (5) 22-2: Senior center Jeff Woodward, a Colgate recruit, went for 15 points with 14 rebounds as the Warriors won their third straight Pioneer Athletic Conference title with a 74-49 victory over Pope John Paul II. Senior guard Erik Timko added 18, and sophomore guard Brett Byrne made six three-pointers. Methacton, the top seed, will open District 1 Class 6A play Tuesday vs. Council Rock South.
6. Malvern Prep (6) 25-4: The Friars, who have won 18 in a row, beat rival Episcopal Academy, 70-66, and Kiski, 78-66, in Philadelphia independent schools tournament play to advance to the semifinals. Spencer Cochran with 28 and Deuce Turner with 20 in the win over Episcopal. Malvern Prep will meet Phelps in the second game of a doubleheader Friday night at Montgomery County Community College and could see No. 3 Westtown in the title game on Saturday night at the same site.
7. Bishop McDevitt (2) 16-7: The Lancers’ 10-game winning streak, all in PCL play, ended with a 58-56 loss to Archbishop Ryan in the league quarterfinals. Bishop McDevitt will be a team to watch in District 12 Class 3A play.
8. Bonner-Prendergast (7) 17-5: The Friars rallied from a 15-point deficit late in the third quarter and held the lead deep in the fourth before dropping that 61-59 decision to Roman Catholic. Connor Eagan led a balanced attack with 14 points, and Tyreese Watson, Donovan Rodriguez, Malik Edwards and Oscar Uduma each added 11. Bonner-Prendergast will advance to District 12 Class 4A competition.
9. Imhotep Charter (9) 17-4: Elijah Taylor, a Notre Dame recruit, scored 21 as the Panthers won their 13th in a row by beating Olney, 59-46, in the Public League quarterfinals. Imhotep Charter’s Public League semifinal vs. Math, Civics and Sciences is a rematch of a regular-season game won, 64-63, by the Panthers on Jan. 8.
10. West Chester East (10) 22-2: Delaware recruit Andrew Carr scored 21 with five assists and Tym Richardson added 18 points as the Vikings won their 12th in a row and captured the first Ches-Mont League title in program history with a 60-52 victory over Unionville. West Chester East, the top seed, will play 2019 nemesis Sun Valley on Tuesday in District 1 Class 5A play.