The St. Joseph’s Prep-Reading clash in the first round of the PIAA Class 6A state basketball tournament Saturday at Kutztown University will mark the end of Speedy Morris’ coaching career.
Or it will mark another stirring victory in a 52-year string of them for Morris, a legend in Philadelphia basketball circles.
That game, plus the Roman Catholic-Coatesville battle in another Class 6A contest, are among the highlights of the first week of state tournament action for Philadelphia-area boys’ basketball teams.
Here’s a closer look:
St. Joseph’s Prep (13-11), which earned District 12’s No. 4 seed with a play-in victory over Olney Charter on Feb. 26, will be playing just its second game since a first-round Philadelphia Catholic League playoff loss to Archbishop Carroll on Feb. 12.
St. Joseph’s Prep is led by senior guard Trevor Wall and senior swingman Chris Arizin. Wall scored 30 points in the loss to Archbishop Carroll and made four three-pointers in the first half and finished with 15 points in the win over Olney Charter.
Reading (19-9) is the No. 2 seed from District 3, having lost the title game to state power Wilson-West Lawn, 58-56.
District 1 champion Methacton (26-2) will play District 3 No. 6 seed Harrisburg (15-10) at Norristown, with the winner to meet the survivor of the clash between District 1 No. 4 seed Bensalem (19-7) and District 12 No. 3 seed Lincoln (13-10).
Methacton is led by 6-foot-10 senior center Jeff Woodward, a Colgate recruit, and senior guard Erik Timko, who made his first seven shots en route to 27 points in the district title game victory over Cheltenham on Saturday at Temple.
Down the line for Methacton could be a quarterfinal matchup with the winner of Saturday’s intriguing first-round game between District 12 runner-up Roman Catholic (16-10) and District 1 No. 5 seed Coatesville (20-6).
Roman Catholic is led by senior guard Lynn Greer III, sophomore center Jalen Duren and sophomore guard Justice Williams. Coatesville is sparked by senior guard Jhamir Brickus, the program’s all-time leading scorer, as well as Villanova football recruit Dapree Bryant.
District 12 champion Gratz (22-5), which beat Roman Catholic on Saturday in the city title game, plays District 1 No. 9 seed Garnet Valley (23-3).
The winner of that game will face the winner of District 1 No. 3 seed Chester (21-4) and District 11 No. 3 seed William Allen (23-5) in what projects as one of the top first-round clashes in the tournament.
District 3 champion Wilson-West Lawn (27-1) looms over the bottom half of the bracket.
District 1 runner-up Cheltenham (23-3) plays District 11 No. 4 seed Easton (17-9) while District 1 No. 6 seed Lower Merion (19-7) meets District 11 No. 2 seed Northampton (16-9).
District 1 champion West Chester East (26-2) meets a dangerous No. 8 seed in District 3’s Gettysburg (23-4), which opened the season 22-0 before losing four of its last five. Gettysburg features one of the state’s top juniors in 6-4 Quadir Copeland.
West Chester East is led by 6-10 senior Andrew Carr, a Delaware recruit, as well as senior swingman Tym Richardson. Carr went for 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks in the district title game.
District 12 champion Archbishop Wood (21-5) meets District 1 No. 6 seed Strath Haven (17-9) and would advance to face the winner of the clash between District 1 No. 3 Penncrest (20-6) and District 2 No. 3 Pittston Area (17-9).
Archbishop Wood is led by junior guard Rahsool Diggins, a smooth ballhandler, distributor and scorer. Junior swingman Daeshon Shepherd and junior guard Jaylen Stinson are key players for the Vikings as well.
District 12 runner-up Martin Luther King (18-7) meets District 1 No. 5 seed Unionville (18-7), with the winner to face the survivor of the game between District 1 No. 4 seed West Chester Rustin (17-8) and District 2 champion Wallenpaupack (23-2).
Also in the top half of the bracket, District 12 No. 3 seed Frankford (7-17) meets District 2 runner-up Dallas (19-7).
District 1 runner-up Penn Wood (16-9) is in the bottom half of the bracket and will open against District 12 No. 4 seed Archbishop Ryan (17-8).
Penn Wood is led by senior guard Shamir Baynes, who scored 15 points in the loss to West Chester East in the district final. Archbishop Ryan, which beat Mastery North in a District 12 play-in game, features senior swingman Gediminas Mokseckas.
District 12 champion Bonner-Prendergast (18-5) opens with District 3 No. 5 seed Eastern York (16-9).
The Friars, who fell to Imhotep Charter in last year’s state final, are led by senior guards Tyreese Watson and Donovan Rodriguez as well as senior swingman Oscar Uduma and junior guard Malik Edwards.
District 12 No. 3 seed Archbishop Carroll (18-9) plays District 11 runner-up Bethlehem Catholic (15-11), while District 12 No. 5 seed South Philadelphia (16-6) plays District 11 champion Allentown Central Catholic (23-4).
Carroll looms a dark horse in this group. The Patriots, who feature senior center Tairi Ketner and junior swingman Anquan Hill and John Camden, are battle-tested from the Catholic League.
District 1 champion Pope John Paul II (18-5) also is in the top half of the bracket and meets District 12 No. 4 seed Bartram (10-14).
Three-time reigning state champion Imhotep Charter (19-8), the District 12 runner-up, could be the team to beat in the bottom half of the bracket. The Panthers, who are led by Notre Dame recruit Elijah Taylor, open with District 3 No. 3 seed Eastern Lebanon County (20-6).
District 12 (and Catholic League) champion Neumann Goretti (22-4) begins pursuit of the state title against District 3 No. 4 seed Brandywine Heights (17-9).
The Saints, who beat Roman Catholic in the Catholic League title game, are led by senior guard Hakim Byrd and senior swingmen Jordan Hall and Cameron Young.
District 12 No. 4 seed SLA Beeber (18-8) will have to knock off District 2 champion Holy Redeemer (18-6) to advance to the second round and a likely clash with Neumann Goretti.
District 12 No. 3 seed Bishop McDevitt (17-7) is another Catholic League team that could make some noise in the state tournament. The Lancers, who have won 11 of 12 behind seniors Jamil Manigo and Robert Smith, open with District 3 No. 2 seed Camp Hill (17-7) and could see Neumann Goretti in next weekend’s quarterfinals with a pair of victories.
District 12 runner-up High School of the Future (15-11) plays District 3 No. 3 seed Columbia (18-8) while District 12 No. 5 seed Dobbins (11-13) meets District 11 champion Panther Valley (13-11).
District 1 champion, Public League champion and reigning state champion Math, Civics and Sciences (22-5) opens with District 11 No. 2 seed Schuylkill Haven (20-5).
The Mighty Elephants, who haven’t played since beating Gratz in the Public League title game Feb. 22 at Temple, are led by junior guard Nisine Poplar and senior swingman Tvon Jones.
District 1 champion Dock Mennonite (20-4) meets District 12 No. 3 seed Strawberry Mansion (8-14) in a first-round clash of local teams.
District 1 No. 2 seed Church Farm School (10-14) meets District 11 champion Executive Education (16-6), while District 12 No. 2 seed Constitution (10-12) plays District 3 champion York Catholic (12-12).
Reigning state champion and District 12 champion Sankofa Freedom (8-14) opens with District 3 No. 6 seed Linville Hill Christian (12-8).