It’s been a long and winding road filled with a number of twists and turns, but the 2021 District 10 boys basketball playoffs are finally upon us.
With just the district champion advancing to the state playoffs, these playoffs, if possible, will be even more fiercely contested than usual.
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Here’s a look at how each classification stacks up, the favorites, the challengers, and potential sleepers who could make a run.
A one-stop-shop for playoff information, be sure to check out our playoff hub here.
The Favorite: No. 1 Hickory
The Challengers: No. 2 Harbor Creek, No. 3 Grove City, No. 4 Fairview
The Sleeper: No. 5 Warren
Rest of the Field: No. 6 Oil City, No. 7 Sharon, No. 8 Fort LeBoeuf
The Region 4 champion Hickory Hornets enter as the top seed, seeking their third-straight D10 title. They come into the playoffs at 18-3, winners of nine of their last 10 games, with their lone loss coming in their regular-season finale to Grand River Academy (Ohio). They featured one of the best scoring duos in D10, Peyton Mele (18.4 ppg.) and Connor Evans (16.2 ppg.), as well as Jackson Pryts and Matt Cannone among a very experienced group.
The Region 5 champion Harbor Creek Huskies led District 10 with 20 wins, They haven’t lost in a month (57-42 vs. Erie), entering with a wave of momentum. A senior-laden team, they are dominant on the defensive end and balanced on offense. Sam Howell leads the way at 14.2 ppg., along with Cody Smith (11.1 ppg), Casey Smith (8.4 ppg.), Jaden Rocco, Ryan Whitman and Gavin Ennis.
Grove City comes in at 9-7 and winners of four of their last five games. Michael Brooks is one of the top scorers in the district, checking in at 18.8 ppg. He is complemented by Luke Hostetler (10.4 ppg.) and Dylan Stull (7.1 ppg.).
Fairview (14-7) is as dangerous as it gets as a No. 4 seed. The Tigers have a pair of single-digit losses to Harbor Creek, as well as Meadville. They are led by the trio of James Sitter (12.7 ppg.), Logan Frazao (12.5 ppg.) and Tyler Shultz (9.8 ppg.).
Fairview’s first-round opponent, Warren (16-5), comes in winners of nine of its last 10 games. Ben Berdine checks in at 18.0 ppg for the Dragons and is complimented by sharp-shooting sophomore guard Parks Ordiway (13.7 ppg.), fellow senior Payton Barnes (9.2 ppg.), fully recovered from a shoulder injury, JT Blum and freshman point guard Tommy Nyquist.
No. 6 Oil City (10-10) – Leading Scorers: Holden Stahl (9.9 ppg.), Judias Johnson (9.9 ppg.), Cam VanWormer (8.4 ppg.)
No. 7 Sharon (9-12) – Leading Scorers: Brett Salsgiver (16.7 ppg.), Otis Driver (11.1 ppg.), Brayden Coxson (8.9 ppg.)
No. 8 Fort LeBoeuf (7-8) – Leading Scorers: Marquis Richmond (12.9 ppg.), Brandon Drayer (12.6 ppg.), Derek Black (8.0 ppg.)
The Favorite: No. 1 Franklin
The Challengers: No. 2 Sharpsville, No. 3 North East
The Sleeper: No. 4 Greenville
Rest of the Field: No. 5 Girard, No. 6 Mercyhurst Prep, No. 7 Erie First Christian, No. 8 Seneca
Franklin and its high-flying offense come in as the top seed after posting a 16-6 record playing in the ultra-competitive Region 4. Easton Fulmer is as good of a shooter as there is in District 10, and the junior comes in averaging 21 ppg. The Knights have plenty of other offensive weapons, including Hayden Adams (14.6 ppg.), Luke Guth (9.4 ppg.) and freshman Damon Curry (8.2 ppg.).
Sharpsville enters at 13-9, and while they did lose to Franklin twice, they do own impressive wins over Grove City and Fairview, among others. Jackson Doyle, who surpassed, 1,000 career points this season, checks in at 15.9 ppg,, while Ryan Ladjevich averages 12.6 ppg., James Thomas 10.7 and Mack Staunch 9.8.
The champions of Region 3, North East comes in with a record of 13-4, winning five of their final six games. Garrett Heim checks in at 15.8 ppg., followed by Seth Fuller (9.8 ppg.) and Ryan Mayes (8.6 ppg.).
Greenville comes in with a record of 10-11, but is certainly capable of beating anyone in the field. The Trojans own an impressive win over Meadville and lost to Franklin by just two in their last meeting. 1,000-point scorer Ben Cano leads the way at 18.0 ppg. Landon Bielata (10.7 ppg.), Jalen Ritzert (9.5 ppg.) and Evan Cianci, as well as Jonah Lentz give them plenty of scoring options.
No. 5 Girard (10-6) – Leading Scorers: Ethan Getz (13.9 ppg.), Austin Barrett (12.9 ppg.), Austin Shady (8.5 ppg.)
No. 6 Mercyhurst Prep (10-12) – Leading Scorers: Daunte Wilcott (17.9 ppg.), Trey Battle (8.7 ppg.), Peter Zimmerman (6.4 ppg.)
No. 7 Erie First Christian (7-15) – Leading Scorers: Aaron Collins (24.7 ppg.), Sam Gonzalez (7.4 ppg.), Evan Montefiori (6.4 ppg.)
No. 8 Seneca (9-9) – Leading Scorers: Logan Kibbe (12.9 ppg.), Bobby Yost (12.9 ppg.), Justin Walker (8.9 ppg.)
The Favorite: No. 1 Kennedy Catholic
The Challengers: No. 2 Cambridge Springs, No. 3 Cochranton
The Sleeper: No. 4 Lakeview
Rest of the Field: No. 4 Saegertown No. 6 Mercer, No. 7 West Middlesex, No. 8 Reynolds
Kennedy Catholic has had to endure a lot this season but nevertheless enters at the favorite and top seed at 19-2. They were also dealt a blow when No. 3 scorer Malik Lampkins-Rudolph was ruled ineligible per the PIAA transfer rule. The Golden Eagles have plenty of weapons, however, led by Sk’Ler Thomas (15.9 ppg.), Elijah Harden (13.6 ppg.), Dajaun Young (12.0 ppg.) and Gio Magestro (10.2 ppg.). The Region 1 champs come into the postseason riding an 8-game winning streak.
No. 2 seed Cambridge Springs has enjoyed another strong season, going 14-4 and capturing the Region 2 title. The Blue Devils were perfect against Class 2A competition in the regular season, with all four of their losses coming against bigger schools. Nathan Held checks in at 16.6 ppg., with Trent Wheeler (11.1 ppg.) and Jadyen Shinksy (10.4 ppg.) also averaging in double figures.
Cochranton’s only two losses in Region 2 came against Cambridge Springs. The Cardinals (11-7), featured a balanced scoring attack, led by Jon Gallo (10.5 ppg.) Jaiben Walker (10.5 ppg.) and Tyler George (11.7 ppg.).
It seems strange to call the defending Class 2A champion Lakeview Sailors a sleeper, as they certainly have the experience necessary to make a playoff run. At 11-7, the Sailors are led by Hunter Miller (11.9 ppg.), Isaac Lightcap (9.8 ppg.) and Lane Smith (7.6 ppg.).
Lakeview has an intriguing first-round matchup against a talented Saegertown squad. The Panthers come in at 13-8, finishing in third place in Region 2. The Panthers come into the playoffs winners of eight of their last 10 games. Brady Greco (13.5 ppg.), Max Fuller (12.2 ppg.) and Jaden WIlkins (12.1 ppg.) all come in averaging double figures scoring.
No. 6 Mercer (12-9) – Leading Scorers: Logan Turton (12.4 ppg.), Jake Mattocks (11.9 ppg), Woody Nickel (8.4 ppg.)
No. 7 West Middlesex (9-10)) – Leading Scorers – Richie Preston (11.1 ppg.), Hunter Smith (8.5 ppg.), Chris Smith (6.5 ppg.)
No. 8 Reynolds (6-9) – Leading Scorers – Aidan Mull (9.9 ppg.), Nick Loposky (7.0 ppg.), Riley Walker (6.7 ppg.)
Top-seed Erie (17-3) will host No. 2 seed McDowell (13-7) for the title on March 10 after the two teams shared the Region 6 championship during the regular season.
The two teams split during the regular season, with Erie earning a 58-51 win in the first meeting and McDowell earning a 52-48 win in the second contest.
The Royals have a balanced offensive attack, led by Jamie Smith’s 12.8 ppg. Maquell Darnell, who stands at 6-7, as well as Marcell Banks and John Woodward, give the Royals plenty of options.
Jonah Bock is the engine that drives McDowell. The Trojans’ all-time scoring leader checks in at 18.2 ppg., with Jackson Hower and Jaden Harper McDowell’s other main offensive options.
No. 1 seed Meadville (12-8) will host No. 2 seed Cathedral Prep (14-7) on March 10 in the championship game.
The two teams met twice during the regular season, both wins by Meadville, 53-35 and 63-51.
The Bulldogs have a number of different players who can beat you offensively, led by Charlie Waid (12.4 ppg.), Sam Burchard (12.2 ppg.), and Reese Pero (10.6 ppg.).
Prep, meanwhile, is led by the 1-2 punch of Liam Galla (15.3 ppg.) and Reese Pero (13.8 ppg.).
Top-seeded Farrell (12-7) will host No. 2 seed Jamestown (8-14) for the title on March 12.
Farrell, which bumped to Class 1A this season, won both meetings this season, 68-39 and 72-43.
The Steelers come in winners of nine-straight games. They are led by Denzel Driver Trian Holden (9.7 ppg.), Omar Stewart (8.8 ppg.), Lamont Samuels (8.5 ppg.), and Christian Hartley (8.5 ppg.).
Jamestown (8-14) won back-to-back games to close the regular season. The Muskies feature a talented 1-2 punch of junior Peyton McElhinny and sophomore Cameron Keyser, who both average 14.3 ppg.