With the inclement weather over and the PIAA moving the state championship games from March 22-24 to March 26-28 the action finally got underway on Monday at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA with titles being contested in the 1A and 4A classifications. The following are some of the standout players from day 1 in Chocolate Town, USA.

Maceo Austin 6'4' '19 Kennedy Catholic HS – This young man had never lost a game in three years of PIAA state tourney competition and that was not going to change as the Golden Eagles rolled to their 3rd straight and program 9th overall state championship with a 78-36 romp over Lourdes Regional HS and Maceo was a huge factor in the victory. He's a quick run jump athlete who thrives in transition which I assume is the reason West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins was in attendance. He runs the floor effortlessly and has a knack for finding seems in the defense and he definitely takes advantage of every opportunity he's given with plenty of gusto and flair. He has a sweet looking jumper with good rotation and knocks them down at a good clip from the midrange to the arc and with a solid passing game and a high basketball IQ he is simply dangerous whenever he touches the ball. On the night he had 29pts 2 treys and 7asts but you can't just assume he's an offensive player only as he played pretty good D using his lank frame to keep his opponent off balance as well as using his long reach to deflect errant passes or force careless turnovers. There is no question a D-1 player in that body and with another year of HS ball to go I'm sure his recruitment will get interesting.

Oscar Tshiebwe 6'10' '19 Kennedy Catholic HS – Every time I see Tshiebwe he has added a new wrinkle into his expanding game and this time was no different. His stat line was what I expected based on his competition with 24pts 19reb 3asts 3blks but the surprise came in the steals department as he had 6 of those and every one was a direct result of his paying attention to the ballhandler and reading the ensuing play to pick off an expected pass. The real revelation though was he didn't stop and pass off but immediately put the ball on the deck and took off down court several times slamming the rock thru the hoop with brute force. Looking back to last season a few of those steals may have resulted in him turning it right back over. Down on the block and in the painted area he showed vastly improved footwork in setting up his defender with step thru power moves or spin moves to the rack. He finished well hitting 11-16 from the field without being called for any traveling violations which was an issue for him last year. I'm guessing coach Huggins would like to score the daily double with both Oscar and Austin as both have shown they can score the ball as well as defend it too. It should also be noted that KC is a small school that is going to play up in the 6A classification next season and with most everybody back I would not be surprised if they showed up in Hershey again next season.

Dahmir Bishop 6'5' '19 Imhotep Charter – The thing about Imhotep that I love is that these guys play for each other and when people talk about the Tep Family it's not idle talk it means something. The last 2 times I saw Imhotep in the post season Bishop had a rough outing and a so so one yet at the games completion you didn't find him sulking or lamenting chances lost no he was celebrating advancing to the next round of the tourney. Like the Philly Eagles winning the Super Bowl it's next man up and in the ultimate game with the 4A state title hanging in the balance it was Bishop who led the way banging in 20pts 3 treys 5reb 3stls 2asts ad 2blks in a workmanlike performance that propelled the Panthers to their 2nd straight title and the programs 6th overall with a 71-35 rout of Sharon HS. Bishop has a smooth stroke with excellent range and he's not afraid to pull the trigger if he's open. His handle is very good and his passing game is also improving as he is less prone to force the ball in tight spaces. He has quick hands and good speed in the open floor and he engages defensively in his quest to become a HM recruit and he's well on his way with at least 8 offers to date.

Bernard Lightsey 6'0' '18 Imhotep Charter – Sometimes you just need a senior to show you the way and in Lightsey's case you could say he's endured Coach Noble and his staff the longest which gives him some sense of accomplishment when it comes to the hard work it took to get here. While Bishop set the early tone I thought Lightsey kept his teammates focused on the goal at hand as well as contributing 13pts 3 treys and 4reb in the Panthers win. While not blessed with the super athletic attributes of his more esteemed compadres he brings a certain toughness to the floor that endears himself to teammates as he plays unselfishly looking to pass the ball to open shooters knowing he'll get it back in return when he works into an opening for a catch and shoot jumper. He doggedly defends opponents no matter whether he's giving up an inch or 5 in terms of size. Often times these guys get overlooked in the recruiting process but this young man can play college ball and while it may not be at the D-1 level some smaller school in the D-II or D-III range will be very pleased with his hustle and heart cause he will earn it every second he's on campus.

Elite Williams 6'0' '19 Sharon HS – You have to love a kid named Elite cause that is a lot to live up to if you know what I mean. While Elite may not be at that rarified level yet he did some things to catch my attention for sure. The first thing that jumped out at me was his tenacious pursuit of rebounds on both ends despite his 6'0' frame splitting them evenly with 4 def. and 4 off. on the night. His shot looked a little funky as he seemed to shoot his perimeter shots flat footed but he did make 2 treys albeit on 7 attempts. He finished the evening with 15pts 8reb and 2asts but his endless hustle in a game that quickly got away from the Tigers says a lot about this youngsters character. Defensively he stayed engaged to the bitter end and I will keep him on my list of players to monitor this spring and summer.

That wraps up our day 1 coverage from Hershey, PA.