"It's March Madness!" Pennsbury girls' basketball coach Donna Nicholson exclaimed, talking excitedly about the challenges that lie ahead for her Falcons.

The best teams in Southeastern Pennsylvania will start competing Friday against the best from around the state across four classes in hopes of making it to Hershey for the state championships.

Pennsbury is one of 10 District 1 Class AAAA schools vying for an opportunity to play for the state title. The Falcons qualified for the state tournament for the first time in seven years.

"We are playing in March," Nicholson said. "How could you not be excited to be playing right now?"

Nicholson acknowledged that her team has had an up-and-down season, but pointed to the district tournament as a time when the Falcons thrived in their underdog role.

The 20th seed, Pennsbury upset No. 13 Council Rock South and No. 4 Neshaminy before losing in the quarterfinals.

The Falcons (14-13) finished eighth in the district tournament and will open the state tournament against District 11 champion Nazareth (23-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Catasauqua.

Favorites to make a run include District 1 champion Spring-Ford (27-2) and District 12 champ Cardinal O'Hara (21-5).

The Rams, ranked first in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, were ousted in the semifinals of the tournament last year. The Lions, ranked second, lost in a first-round upset a season ago.

In Class AAAA, you also can't count out Mount St. Joseph (26-3), Archbishop Carroll (17-7), or Upper Dublin (24-2).

Class AAA. Archbishop Wood will go for its fourth straight state title in Class AAA. The Vikings (17-9), ranked fifth in Southeastern Pennsylvania, are looking to rebound from their last two games, tough losses in the Catholic League and District 12 finals.

In their way will be Prep Charter (18-2), which defeated the Vikings for the district title.

Other District 12 teams in the tournament are Freire Charter (14-11) and Bonner-Prendergast (16-8). District 1 champion Villa Maria (19-4), ranked ninth, and district runner-up Merion Mercy (16-10) also have qualified.

First up for the Vikings is Pope John Paul II (18-5), the third-place team from District 1.

Wood will rely on its patented tough defense, as well as leadership from seniors Jackie Pierson, Haley Scullion, Madison Tamburini, and Colleen Young to try to keep the streak going.

It doesn't hurt that a few Vikings already have been to Hershey once this school year as members of the Wood soccer team that reached the state final in November.

Classes AA and A. District 12 champion Neumann-Goretti highlights the area teams in the Class AA tournament.

The Saints (13-11) are familiar with tough competition, facing it often in the Catholic League, and will try to use their size and athleticism to their advantage.

Parkway Center City (9-4) and Imhotep Charter (15-5) also earned berths from District 12. St. Basil (17-7), which captured the District 1 title at Villanova last weekend, will face High School of the Future (7-1) in the first round.

In Class A, Girard College (20-4), which reached the second round last year; Motivation (9-5); Jenkintown (20-5); and Paul Robeson (9-3) will represent Districts 1 and 12.

The Class AA and AAAA tournaments are set to begin Friday, and Class A and AAA teams will open Saturday.

Girls' Basketball Leaders

These are some of the top scorers and three-point shooters in Southeastern Pennsylvania girls' basketball.

Scoring

Name   School   Gms.   Pts.   Avg.   

Gia DeAngelo   Sun Valley   23   498   21.7

Nina Mazzarelli   W.C. East   22   434   19.7

M. Conyers-Jordan   Friends' Central   12   235   19.6

Megan McGurk   Notre Dame   26   495   19.0

Megan Quinn   Episcopal Acad.   26   477   18.3

Alyssa Monaghan   Bonner-Prend.    22   400   18.1

Lauren Gold   Abington Friends   27   469   17.4

Emma Dorshimer   Jenkintown   27   469   17.4

Kathleen Fitzpatrick   Notre Dame   26   452   17.4

Sajanna Bethea   Pennsbury   27   465   17.2

Lucy Raymond   Ac. New Church   15   251   16.7

Kelsey Watson   Methacton   30   496   16.5

Sarah Curran   Archbishop Carroll   24   388   16.2

Alex Louin   Mount St. Joseph   29   464   16.0

Kayla Feairheller   Downingtown W.   28   444   15.9

Kaitlyn Eisenhard   Boyertown   28   442   15.8

Jessica Gerber   C.R. North   23   356   15.5

Lauren Crisler   North Penn   26   394   15.2

Kiernan McCloskey   Germantown Ac.   29   439   15.1

Coley Ricci   Garnet Valley   27   407   15.1

Rylee Power   Marple Newtown   21   317   15.1

Mikki Guiton   Perkiomen Valley   19   285   15.1

Three-pointers

Name   School   Gms.   No.   

Hannah Fox   Penn Charter   25   79

Colleen Walsh   Shipley   27   74

Kalene Coffey   Archbishop Ryan   24   72

Kathleen Fitzpatrick   Notre Dame   26   72

Jessica Gerber   Council Rock North   23   60

Rylee Power   Marple Newtown   21   52

Marisa Kinneer   Pottsgrove   21   51

Maria Farrell   MaST Charter   22   49

Kaitlin Kelly   Pennsbury   27   49

Sarah Sherman   Methacton   30   49

Lauren Gold   Abington Friends   27   48

Alyssa Monaghan   Bonner-Prendergast   22   47

Maddie Dew   Downingtown West   28   47

Jess Carney   Archbishop Carroll   24   46

Ali Grundy   Conestoga   25   45

Denise Sacco   Morrisville   24   44

Vicky Tumasz   North Penn   27   44

Gianna Pownall   Springside CHA   28   39

Coley Ricci   Garnet Valley   27   38

Emma Dorshimer   Jenkintown   27   38

Sam Foy   Ridley   23   36

Katie Siebert   Phil-Mont Christian   25   36

- Rick O'Brien

For additions or corrections, e-mail robrien@phillynews.com.
Contact Kate Harman

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