In the first of two all-District 12 boys' basketball finals this weekend, bitter Catholic League rivals Archbishop Carroll and Neumann-Goretti will clash for top PIAA Class AAA honors at 8 p.m. Friday at Hershey's Giant Center.
Carroll (23-6) is seeking its first state championship since 2009. Neumann-Goretti (28-2) is trying for its fifth in the last six seasons.
Constitution (23-8) will go for its third crown when it faces District 10 runner-up Farrell (24-4) in the Class A final at 2 p.m. Friday. Rob Moore's Generals won in Class AA last season and in 2012.
Here is a closer look at Friday's finals. We'll break down Saturday's games in Class AAAA (Martin Luther King vs. Roman Catholic, 8 p.m.) and AA (Conwell-Egan vs. Aliquippa, 2 p.m.) on Friday.
Either Roman or King will become District 12's first Class AAAA state titlist. Conwell-Egan, which has won its four state playoff games by an average margin of 23.8 points, also hopes to make history.
It's hard to believe, considering the thrilling battles the teams have had in recent years, but Neumann-Goretti has beaten Carroll 12 consecutive times and has won 30 of the last 31 meetings.
The Patriots last topped the Saints in a 2009 state quarterfinal at Archbishop Ryan. They went on to beat District 3's York Suburban and District 7's Greensburg Salem to earn statewide glory.
This marks the third meeting in states between Carroll and N-G. En route to its first title in 2010, Neumann-Goretti ousted Carroll in a quarterfinal at Widener.
Paul Romanczuk's squad could be primed to turn the tables on Carl Arrigale's team. From the bottom half of the state bracket, Derrick Jones and company have won four games by an average margin of 29.8 points.
Jones, a 6-foot-7 senior and UNLV recruit, averages 18.9 points. He has averaged 23.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 4.8 blocked shots in the state playoffs.
The Patriots get support from point guard Josh Sharkey and wings David Beatty, Samir Taylor, Ryan Daly, and John Rigsby. Daly is a three-point specialist.
Neumann-Goretti thrives with a guard rotation that features Quade Green (18 ppg.), Zane Martin (16.2), St. Joseph's recruit Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble (15.1), and Vaughn Covington (7.3). Green (71) and Kimble (41) have combined for 112 threes.
The Saints need a solid effort from 6-8 center Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, especially when it comes to keeping Jones from owning the glass. The sophomore averages 9.3 boards, 9.1 points, and 4.1 blocks.
When the teams squared off Jan. 23 in Radnor, Neumann-Goretti escaped, 71-69, on Green's right-wing three-pointer with 1.2 seconds to go.
Pick. We chose N-G before the tournament, but the feeling now is that Jones and the white-hot Patriots find a way to end their drought against the Saints. Carroll, 67-63.
Sparked by George Mason recruit Ahmad Gilbert (17.3 ppg.) and Kimar Williams (16.1), Constitution has won in states by an average margin of 37.8 points. That spells trouble for Farrell, which is about 70 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
The Steelers are led by 6-3 junior swingman and 1,000-point career scorer Malik Miller, who averages 20 points and has drilled 77 threes. Thomas Ripley, a 6-4 senior forward, averages 13.5 points.
Roland Shannonhouse, Farrell's head coach, is a Pennsylvania state trooper. The Steelers are bidding for their first state title since 1972 and eighth overall.
Pick. It's been a strong run for Farrell, but the Generals have too many weapons. Constitution, 75-59.