Allentown Central Catholic has a much longer history than Pocono Mountain West, but one thing the schools have in common is a rich history of men’s basketball.
Viking has played basketball since the 1929-30 school year. They have won 7 PCIAA Titles, 3 PIAA Crowns, 20 Division 11 Championships, and 7 League Titles, all in the original East Penn League/East Penn Conference.
However, they have not won what is considered the new Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, which has 18 schools participating after the merger of the Lehigh Valley and Mountain Valley Conferences. It started in 2014-15.
Pocono Mountain West opened in 2002 and the Panthers have never failed to qualify for a regional tournament. They have won his seven Mountain Valley Conferences, and in 2012 and 2017 won District 11’s top-tier gold medal.
But the Panthers haven’t won a championship in the new, larger version of the EPC either.
So when ACCHS and Pocono Mountain West battle for the EPC Championship on Thursday at 8pm at the PPL Center, something has to be done.
Both have impressive wins in the semifinals on Tuesday night and hope to make history in downtown Allentown.
Considering where they both started, a league championship would be an amazing achievement.
Pocono Mountain West was expected to make the transition following the graduation of Wake-up Player of the Year, All-Star, and VCU recruit Christian Fermin. Similarly, some thought the Vikings would have a rebuilding year after the graduation of all-state players Tyson Thomas and Liam Joyce, who were key to the team’s state title win in 2021.
The 0-4 start only strengthened the idea that ACCHS may not have a regular ACCHS season.
However, the Vikings not only suffered two straight losses at the end of the regular season, but also bounced back from a bad start to reach the league finals for the first time since losing to the Bethlehem Catholics in the 2018 title game.
Pocono Mountain West experienced its own set of disappointments during the regular season. The Panthers lost to Whitehall before Christmas and then went on a losing streak at Dielaf and Scranton Prep on January 20-21.
But West is on an eight-game winning streak and is keen to make a statement.
An interesting addition to the championship matchup is that unlike the two semifinal games, the Vikings and Panthers did not meet during the regular season.
In fact, they haven’t seen each other since ACCHS won 60-57 at Pocono Mountain West on January 10, 2020.
“The Pocono Mountain West has a great basketball team and they’ve shown it. [Tuesday night] Against Parkland,” Vikings coach Dennis Senchitz said. “We’re going to have our hands full. We need team effort on both ends of the floor. We need to defend and rebound basketball to stay competitive.”
Here are the matchup details:
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Boys Championship
Matchup: No. 2 seed Pocono Mountain West (20-4) vs. No. 4 seed Allentown Central Catholic (16-8)
When/Where: Thursday at 8pm, PPL Center in Allentown.
Pocono Mountain West
coach: Rich Williams (6th season, 91-48)
How they got here: They defeated EPC North 10-0, beat No. 7 East Stroudsburg South 71-63 and No. 3 Parkland 61-52.
Major Players: Julian “Juju” Pagan (6-3, Sr., G) 20.8 ppg, 46 3s; Kyung Coles (6-2, Fr. G) 13.6 points, 54 3s; Devin Artis (5-10, Jr. G) 5.0 ppg, 10 3s; Ethan Sakwa (6-0, Senior G) 4.4 scored, 14 3s. Devon Smith (6-4, Sr. G) 4.3 points, 9 3s; Jonathan Mateo (5-10, So. G) 2.9 ppg, 17 3s; Adrian Brito (6-5, middle women) 12.6 points, 4 3s seconds.
About the Panthers: 66.5 ppg average, 52.4 ppg allowed … made 159 3s and allowed 115 3s … shot 72.4 ‰ from the foul line … Pagan won 22 over East Stroudsburg South in the quarter-final round as Coles added 14. , the other three scored 9. After the win over Parkland, Pagan only had one field goal, but went 12-for-12 on the foul line. Brito joined Pagan on 14, Coles added 12 and Devin Artis scored 10. … in his last four years in the league from 2011 to 2014 won his four consecutive MVC titles. …he has his EPC tournament record of 5-4, including his 60-52 victory over ACCHS in the 2016 quarterfinals.
Allentown Central Catholic
coach: Dennis Senshitz (218-77)
How they got here: Beats No. 5 Freedom 56-44 and No. 1 Emmaus 64-52.
Major Players: David Fridia (6-8, Jr. F) 2.0 ppg, 2 3s; Nico Prielli (6-3, senior G) 10.5 points, 22 3s; NaSean Davis (5-9, Jr. G) 1.5 ppg, 7 3s; Anthony Jones (6-2, Sr. G) 9.1 points, 32 seconds. Griffin Patridge (6-2, Senior F) 3.9 points, 13 seconds. Jahrel Vigo (6-1, So. G) 11.9 ppg, 11 3s; Lucas Mashlash (6-0, So. G) 11.3 ppg, 62 3s; Ja’Keir Ensley (6-0, Jr. F) 1.5 Scored, 3 seconds; Alistair Stewart-Smith (6-2, Senior F) 2.4 Scored, 6 3 seconds.
About Viking: Averaged 54.5 ppg, allowed 44.1 ppg … made 3s for 161, allowed 3s for 113 … shot 65.8 ‰ from the foul line … Vigo scored 14 points against Freedom and 21 in the win over Emmaus. Against Freedom, Jones added 18 for him and 13 for Prieri, and against Emmaus, Mashlash added 12 for him and Patridge added 9. …ACCHS he won his league title in 1965 under John Compard and in 1972 under Mike Corey with his East Penn. They claimed the EPC Championship in 1986 and 89 with Bob Schlosser as their coach and won the crown with Rich Baksa in 1995. Ron Hassler led the 2000 team to the EPC title while Csensits Won LVC Gold in 2014 in his new EPC tournament format. Lost to Bekahi 47-44 at Liberty in the 2018 tournament final.
predict: A deep duo with many weapons. The Vikings have scored 13 of their last 16 games, scoring just 43.6, while he is the No. 1 defenseman in his EPC in the regular season. Lost to Allen. The Pocono Mountain West plays in a style similar to the Canaries, but with more depth and consistency. Pocono Mountain West 61-54.
https://www.mcall.com/2023/02/15/epc-boys-basketball-championship-preview0216/ First time for one of the teams – wake up call