So the snow played a little bit of havoc on this week’s schedule. But don’t mind that. There’s still basketball to be played (even if I missed previewing last night’s contests).
Last weekend we had some great contests. Mechanicsburg took down Carlisle in a great second-half comeback. Cumberland Valley opened 2-0 (surprise, surprise) and has a big week coming. A new coach (Jason Creek) got his first win with his new team (Big Spring).
And things are just getting started.
This week we’ve got even more big games, and somehow Harrisburg is involved in two of them. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be challenging. Many of these games will begin the shaping process of their respective divisions.
Hershey at Mechanicsburg
One of the games affected by the snow this week and one of the games surely to have an early impact on the Keystone.
Mechanicsburg is coming off two solid wins at the Carlisle Classic against Hatboro-Horsham and the Thundering Herd this weekend. The Wildcats have a dominant duo in senior forwards Zach Brunner and Drew Schankweiler, averaging 16 and 19 points per game, respectively. And that doesn’t even count their tenacity at the boards and their towering defense.
But they have a Hershey squad that gives them an immediate divisional test. Coach Bob Strickler said Saturday that his team expects to be in that second tier in a notoriously tough Keystone. Well, here’s their first chance to prove it.
Jack Gunkel already has five treys for the Trojans and Chase Watkins is averaging 16 points to start the season. Mechanicsburg struggled against a multi-talented Herd squad. They shut down Jordan Dockens, but let Timothy Atkinson drop 28 points. They’ll have to do better.
Carlisle at Harrisburg
If you’re the Herd, you can’t be too pleased to see the Cougars three days after losing in front of your home crowd to the Wildcats.
Harrisburg, as always, is a top contender in the Commonwealth. They haven’t played yet this season, so they’ll be fresher (not by much this early in the season, though) and want to come out strong.
Carlisle proved last weekend they have scorers, if there was ever a doubt. The question is, can they defend against bigger teams? Mechanicsburg’s Brunner and Schankweiler combined for 37 points against them, including 15 in the fourth quarter. Harrisburg has at least the same height advantage.
Better defense, keep the hot shooting and make more than 50 percent of your free throws. That’ll be key if Carlisle wants to pull the upset.
Harrisburg at Cumberland Valley
Now this is the battle of the big dogs everyone will want to see. Depending on how CV fares against Mifflin County Tuesday (a likely win) we could be seeing a 3-0 vs. 1-0 matchup.
This week will go a long way in setting the tone for the Commonwealth, with Harrisburg facing both the Herd and Eagles. We’ll get to see how senior forward Matt Tamanosky will handle the Cougars, and vice versa. Tamanosky currently leads the Mid-Penn in scoring average, having dropped 25 per over the weekend.
Their biggest chance will be if senior guard Gray Kline can step up more than he already has to take the pressure of his post-playing partner. Kline has 36 points on the young season and he’ll need that same production.
Whoever comes out on top has the early inside track, although that is never a certainty with the depth of competition throughout this division.
Big Spring at Boiling Springs
Rivalry games have to belong in a weekly preview. They just have to. There should be a law or something.
The Bubblers sit atop the Colonial for now at 2-0 along with Waynesboro. But Big Spring (1-1) couldn’t care less. New Bulldogs coach Jason Creek is a Big Spring lifer and knows this rivalry well. He’ll have this team as ready to play as they’ll be all season, even if they are very much an underdog in this game and most of the season.
Senior swingman Eric Contreras leads the Bubblers with 27 points and is obviously the focal point of any defense he faces. But Boiling Springs has a fairly balanced attack thus far, with five players averaging at least six points per game. So if the Bulldogs shut down Contreras, they still have to contend with Austin Pittenger (10 ppg) and company.
This week’s remaining schedule:
•Big Spring at Boiling Springs, 7:30
•Carlisle at Harrisburg, 7:30
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•Cedar Cliff at Palmyra, 7:30
•Cumberland Valley at Mifflin County, 7:30
•Milton Hershey at East Pennsboro, 7:30
•Red Land at Lower Dauphin, 7:30
•West Shore Christian at Annville-Cleona, 7:30
•Carson Long at Harrisburg Academy, 6:30
•Susquenita at Big Spring, 7:30
•Berks Catholic at Trinity, 7:30
•Camp Hill at Middletown, 7:30
•Northern at Steel-High, 7:30
•Gettysburg at Shippensburg, 7:30
•Hershey at Mechanicsburg, 7:30
•Chambersburg at Carlisle, 7:30
•Harrisburg Academy at Belleville Mennonite, 6:30
•Shippensburg at Big Spring, 7:30
•Boiling Springs at James Buchanan, 7:30
•West Perry at Camp Hill, 7:30
•Susquehanna Twp. at Cedar Cliff, 7:30
•Harrisburg at Cumberland Valley, 7:30
•East Pennsboro at Northern, 7:30
•Mechanicsburg at Red Land, 7:30
•Steel-High at Susquenita, 7:30
•Trinity at Hershey, 7:30
•Northern at Milton Hershey, 1:30
•Cumberland Valley at Central York, 7:30
•Dallastown at Red Land, 7:30
Email Jake Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520