As the calendar turns to 2020, all eyes will be turning back to basketball, as the DVGOBL playoffs kick off this Saturday evening in St. Thomas Cherry Hill. In the varsity divisions, three quarterfinal games will decide which two boys’ and one girls’ teams will advance to the GOYA Final Four this year. In contrast, a fourth game will determine the first-ever Junior Varsity Boys’ Championship. Let’s take a look at the previews:
Boy’s Quarterfinal #1 – #4 St. Luke’s Broomall vs. #5 Holy Trinity Wilmington
In the opening game of the day, two familiar rivals will face off in a rematch of a very tightly contested matchup back in October, where the #5 seeded Holy Trinity knocked off the boys from St. Luke by a score of 27-20. The key matchup in this opener will be the size of St. Luke versus the speed of Holy Trinity, as both teams look to earn a trip to Upper Darby for the Final Four. For St. Luke, advancing to the semis has been a foregone conclusion over the past few years, as they will look to make their fifth Final Four in the past six years. For Holy Trinity, Coach George Rassias will be looking to lead his team to their first semifinal appearance since returning to the league roughly ten years ago. If St. Luke’s can slow down the attacking style of Holy Trinity, they have a solid chance, but if covering this league has taught me anything, it’s never to bet against the #5 seed in the first round. Mr. GOYA thinks this is the year that Holy Trinity takes the next step and punches their ticket to the Final Four Prediction – Holy Trinity 34, St. Luke’s 31.
JV Championship – #1 Annunciation Elkins Park vs. #2 Holy Trinity Egg Harbor
The more things change, the more they stay the same, as it looks like the new decade will start just like the old one, with Elkins Park and Egg Harbor squaring off in a championship game. Mr. GOYA will admit he has not paid much attention to the JV league as a whole. Hence, he had to do a little recon work here, but from what he has been told the youngsters from the Northeast are long and fast (just like a younger version of the Elkins Park dynasty that took the league by storm in the early teens) and can push the tempo with the best of them. On the other side, Holy Trinity’s youngsters have relied on their tried and true scrappy defensive style on their way to a 3-2 record a spot in this first-ever event. Unfortunately, these two teams did not get a chance to play in the regular season. Still, last year Holy Trinity’s JV team finished their unbeaten regular season with a very tough victory against Annunciation, so if these two teams are in any way the same, this should be another great chapter in this great rivalry. That being said, I’ve got to go with history here, and predict that Annunciation claims the first-ever JV title against their familiar rivals from the Shore Prediction – Annunciation 42, Holy Trinity 38.
Girl’s Quarterfinal – #4 Holy Trinity Egg Harbor vs. #5 St Demetrios Upper Darby
In the only quarterfinal of the day on the girl’s side, the battle of the blues will decide who gets to take on the defending champions next weekend in Upper Darby, as Holy Trinity and St. Demetrios face off in the third game of the day. It’s been a long time since these two faced each other, but in the opening game of the year, it was the young girls from Holy Trinity earning a road victory over the girls from St. D’s, 16-3. Both teams are very young and have shown a lot of growth over the season, and both will look to prove that they have what it takes to knock off the defending champions the following weekend. In their first matchup, Holy Trinity played a great defensive game and converted on a number of second and third chance opportunities in the second half, and I look for them to do the same this weekend. I like the girls from the Shore to shoot their way into the second round Prediction – Holy Trinity 18, St. Demetrios 10.
Boy’s Quarterfinal #2 – #3 Holy Trinity Egg Harbor vs. #6 St. Thomas Cherry Hill
In the final game of the day, it will be an All-Jersey battle for the final spot in the semis, with the #3 seeded boys from Holy Trinity traveling to take on the #6 seeded St. Thomas. Two things define both of these teams, and that is youth and defense. For St. Thomas, not counting a tough end to their season last week at the hands of St. George, the scrappy boys from Cherry Hill have been the best defensive team all year. Their close second? Their cross-state rivals from Holy Trinity, who have once again rebuilt their scrappy defensive style on their way to leading the league in fewest points against this season. It’s no surprise that when these two teams met back in October, it was one of the lowest-scoring games of the year, with Holy Trinity gritting out a 19-15 victory over St. Thomas. Despite the gap in their records, I see this being a very close game throughout, especially if you factor in that most of the boys on Holy Trinity’s varsity team would have also just played in the JV final a few hours prior. Whether they will be warmed up or winded will go a long way to determining the outcome of this game. That being said, Holy Trinity was bitten by the upset bug last year, and I don’t see it happening to them twice in a row. I like the boys from Holy Trinity to pull out the victory and book their trip to Upper Darby next weekend. Prediction – Holy Trinity 27, St. Thomas 21.
As always, stay tuned to Cosmos Philly for all the playoff action. Best of luck to all of the teams and players, and Happy New Year!