District 6 Class 2A girls playoff field filled with talent

Tonight marks the start of the final week in which teams can accumulate points toward the playoffs.

There are some interesting scenarios and plenty of the brackets should provide some dramatic finishes, but the tournament a lot of people will be focusing on across the state will be the District 6 Class 2A girls field.

A year ago, three of the final four teams in the state were from District 6 in 2A — Blairsville, Penns Manor and eventual PIAA champion Bellwood-Antis. None of those teams was actually the district champion, that honor went to Bishop McCort last year.

The 2019 tournament will be filled with plenty of teams that can repeat that success in the state tournament.

Penns Manor and Blairsville are the top two seeds going into this week and will likely play in the Heritage Conference championship game Friday. Juniata Valley, which has made the Class 1A state final the past two seasons, is No. 3, and Bellwood-Antis is No. 4.

Nine teams will qualify for the District 6 bracket, but just four will make the state playoffs.

“Six of the top 12 teams in the state are from District 6,” Juniata Valley coach Rachelle Hopsicker said. “So two teams are not going to make it to states, so seeding is important, because you want to play at home that first game. Homecourt advantage is so big, because if you get that win, you’re going to the state playoffs.”

If the playoffs began today, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic would play a first-round game against Homer-Center to decide who would play top-seeded Penns Manor. Though the Lady Comets lost by two in overtime in the PIAA Class 2A semifinals last year, they nearly did not even make the state playoffs. The Lady Marauders, in former coach Mark Moschella’s last game, led a District 6 quarterfinal game with Penns Manor in the fourth quarter before losing 40-34.

Penns Manor has a ton of talent back, but the Lady Marauders have improved from last year’s team.

Blairsville would play No. 7 seed Moshannon Valley. Before Saturday, the Damsels hadn’t lost to anyone except Juniata Valley and Bellwood-Antis.

The Lady Hornets would play last year’s defending district champion, sixth-seeded Bishop McCort, and Bellwood-Antis would host fifth-seeded Claysburg-Kimmel, which led the Lady Blue Devils by 12 in the fourth quarter earlier this year before losing by two.

“When you look at the top five or six teams, any of those teams could win a district,” Bellwood-Antis coach Jim Swaney said. “Guilfoyle is going to be sitting back at around the No. 7 or 8 seed, and I don’t know anybody that’s going to be standing in line to play them either. It’s a good field. When you look at 2A in District 6, it’s been the best district in the state the last three years.

“Certainly with the likes of us, Juniata Valley, Blairsville, Penns Manor, McCort and Guilfoyle, that’s not going to change.”

Make sure you get to the gymnasiums early. It should be fun to watch.

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamirror.com or 946-7521