MARCH MADNESS:
PENNSYLVANIA STYLE
THE STATE TOURNAMENT
by Bill Gaffey

The first high school basketball champion in Pennsylvania was crowned over a 100 years ago in Philadelphia, when Central High School won the 1901 City Championship. It was not until 1920 that the first statewide tournament was held, and that event did not include Philadelphia teams. In fact, the PIAA state tournaments have never included Philadelphia city teams until just recently when the Philadelphia Public Schools joined. The Philadelphia Catholic Schools join the PIAA next year.  They have lobbied hard against a strong transfer rule for schools.  Most Pennsylvania public schools would like to see the transfer rule.  Some people contend it would be better to forget about transfer restrictions since they spark court cases.

The first PIAA State Championship Tournament in Pennsylvania took place in 1920 and was held in the Armory Building at the Pennsylvania State University on Friday April 9 and Saturday April 10. Harrisburg Tech defeated Bellevue to become the first Pennsylvania Interscholastic State Basketball Champion. At that time, there was only one tournament, it was for boy's teams only, and it included all schools regardless of their size, a concept which inspired the making of Hoosiers, the movie about high school basketball in the state of Indiana. That championship game pitted heavily-favored Muncie Central against Milan, a quiet rural town in the southeastern part of Indiana in 1954.  Indiana only had one classification then and Milan was a high school of 161 total students, 75 being boys.  751 teams of all sizes were entered in that year's tournament and Milan won 32-30.

In Pennsylvania schools were later separated into classifications based upon the number of students who attended and their teams were designated as A, B, or C. At the same time, a separate PCIAA tournament was being conducted for Catholic School teams. In the 1970 's radical changes started to take place: the PCIAA disappeared, the Catholic School teams were accepted into the PIAA, and the first girl's state tournament was organized. Classifications were later changed to Class AAA, Class AA, and Class A. In 1984, Class AAAA was added and schools were divided into four classifications. Thus at the present time, we crown eight state champions each year, four boy's teams and four girl's teams. A far cry from one state champion in 1920, Harrisburg Tech.

In the tournament back in 1920, Harrisburg Tech defeated Bellevue 38-34 to reign as the very first State Champion. The tournament format brought all the competitors to State College for the games. 

To reach the finals that year, Bellevue defeated Farrell 25-23, Williamsport 26-20, and Sharon 17-16. Harrisburg Tech defeated Oakmont 35-18, Lansford 38-12, and Pittsburgh Fifth-Avenue 23-18.


THE BOX SCORE
BASKETBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 1920

 HARRISBURG TECH 38

 BELLEVUE 34


Player

 Position

Field
Goals

 Foul
Shots

 Total
Points

Player

 Position

Field
Goals

 Foul
Shots

 Total
Points

 Lingle F 2 8/19 12 Fleming  F5  10
Smith G 4  8Eaton  F 12/17 20
Beck G 2  4Braun  C  4
Frank C 5  10Seaman  G 0 0 0
Emanuel F 2  4Schuster  G 0 0 0
   15 8/19 38   11 12/17 34



In 1945, McAdoo from District 11 defeated Conneautville from District 10,52-28
for the first Class B (now AA) State Championship.
In 1951, Fredonia from District 10 defeated Mt. Joy from District 3, 49-43
for the first Class C (now A) State Championship.
In 1973, Allentown Central Catholic from District 11 defeated Sharpsville
from District 10 in the first Girl's State Championship Game, 65-38.

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