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The weekend’s A-Town Throwdown basketball tournament promises quantity and quality

It took a little while for Randy Atiyeh to add them all up.
After a few seconds to check the brackets one last time, Atiyeh, the Allen High athletic director who also serves as a co-tournament director of the A-Town Throwdown, went through the numbers.
“We have 65 boys varsity teams, we have 24 boys JV teams, six boys freshmen teams, 22 girls varsity and eight girls JV and then on the last day there will be a mini-youth tournament on the parking lot courts,” Atiyeh said. “So, you’re easily over 120 teams.”
The event, which begins at 3 p.m. Thursday and stretches to the 6:30 p.m. boys varsity title game Sunday, had to expand beyond its home base at Cedar Beach and will use Allen’s Sewards Gym and Muhlenberg College on the first three days.
“There’s not a single open court and not a single open time slot,” Atiyeh said.
It figures to be the biggest high school tournament since the Stellar Construction “Catch A Rising Star” Showcase was at its peak about a decade ago. Because that was a double-elimination tournament while the Throwdown features pool play with each participant guaranteed three games, there will be more games this weekend than perhaps in any tournament before.
There are 60 games Thursday alone.
Saturday is slated to be the busiest day with games starting at 8:30 a.m. and the last games scheduled for 8:30 p.m., followed by the 3-point shooting and slam-dunk contests, which this year will feature former Allen and UConn star and current NBA player Tyrese Martin as a judge.
But beyond the number, it’s the quality of teams coming to Allentown that has Atiyeh and his volunteer staff most excited.
“We’ve got some really good teams like Lower Merion and St. Joe’s Prep coming here and Glens Falls from New York, which had a really good season last year and a lot of New Jersey teams,” Atiyeh said. “Newark Arts is a smaller school, but a very good program. Lancaster Mennonite is a state title team and so is Reading. And then on the local side you’ve got Parkland, which has a first-team all-state player in Nick Coval.
“Yes, we’ve got quantity of teams and we’ve never had so many and it’s impressive, but I think the caliber of the teams is what will make this tournament special,” Atiyeh said. “We’ve increased the number of Philadelphia Public League schools involved. A team like Overbrook has had a really good offseason and Odessa out of Delaware, which is a good program. Malvern Prep, which gave Reading a great game in last year’s final, is back. So there’s a ton of schools here with a lot of talent.”
Atiyeh is also happy to have a robust girls tournament, which will be run by Allen coach Britt Kholi along with Dieruff coach Cathy Piston.
“They’ve done a great job bringing in some great teams,” Atiyeh said.
The girls varsity title game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sunday, to be followed by the boys varsity championship at 6:30.
The one concern, as usual, is the weather. Thursday and Friday are expected to be two of the hottest days of the summer and there’s a chance of thunderstorms Saturday.
But everyone knows the drill as the staff is equipped to move operations inside. The Throwdown championship games in 2021 were played at Muhlenberg College and the Cedar Beach Showcase finals on July 16 were played inside at Whitehall.
As for the heat, Atiyeh said the pool play schedule allows teams to spread out their games. Sunday’s final rounds, which begin the Sweet 16 contests, also have plenty of time between games, he said.
“The heat is always a concern, but the games are spaced out and some of the local teams might be playing only one game a day for the first three days,” Atiyeh said. “But it’s summer basketball and it’s hot out there. St. Luke’s is our health provider and they’ll be on site and will be helping us out with any cramps and hydration issues. We also have sponsors who help us like the Elias Farmers Market donates a lot of fruit and we’ll get a ton of bananas and oranges that we give out to our athletes in addition to free water and drinks. We’ll also have hydration stations set up. It’s going to be hot, but we have things in place to take care of it.”
Joseph Scheller/The Morning CallTournament director Randy Atiyeh, right, presents Reading’s Ruben Rodriguez with a trophy after his team’s championship game win against Malvern Prep at the A-Town Throwdown boys basketball tournament Sunday, July 31, 2022, at Cedar Beach in Allentown. (Joseph Scheller / The Morning Call)
Thursday’s schedule
At Cedar Beach
3 p.m. games: Dieruff vs. Emmaus (girls); Palisades vs. Bethlehem Christian (girls); Allen vs. ACCHS (boys risers); Bethlehem Christian vs. Parkland (boys risers); Dieruff vs. Emmaus (JV girls).
4 p.m. games: Reading vs. Nazareth (boys); Tamaqua vs. Salisbury (girls); Bethlehem Christian vs. Faith Christian (boys); Roberto Clemente vs. Lehigh Christian (boys); Nazareth vs. Emmaus (boys risers); Dieruff vs. Executive (boys risers); Whitehall vs. Bethlehem Catholic (JV girls)
5 p.m. games: Nazareth vs. Emmaus (boys risers); Dieruff vs. Executive (boys risers); Whitehall vs. Bethlehem Catholic (girls); Liberty vs. Strath Haven (boys); Salisbury vs. Jim Thorpe (boys); Lancaster Catholic vs. Fels from Philadelphia (boys); Bethlehem Christian vs. Kutztown (girls); Allen vs. Bethlehem Christian (boys risers); ACCHS vs. Parkland (boys risers); Emmaus vs. Reading (JV girls).
6 p.m. games: Bethlehem Catholic vs. East Stroudsburg North (boys); Malvern Prep vs. Palmerton (boys); Lower Merion vs. Phillipsburg (boys); Executive vs. Dunmore (girls); Dieruff vs. Nazareth (boys risers); Emmaus vs. Executive (boys risers); Freedom vs. Bethlehem Catholic (JV girls).
7 p.m. games: Muhlenberg Twp. vs. Southern Lehigh (boys); Easton vs. Notre Dame-Green Pond; Reading vs. Bethlehem Catholic (girls); Salisbury vs. Octorara (JV boys); Allen vs. West Scranton (JV boys); Reading vs. Dieruff (JV girls).
8 p.m. games; Liberty vs. Lancaster Catholic (boys; Bethlehem Catholic vs. Lower Merion (boys); Emmaus vs. Dunmore (girls); Lehigh Christian vs. West Scranton (boys).
9 p.m. games: Allen vs. Stroudsburg; ACCHS vs. Bethlehem Catholic (girls); Lincoln Leadership vs, Kutztown (girls); Pocono Mountain West vs. Southern Lehigh (boys).
At Allen High School
4 p.m. game: Allen vs. Freedom (girls); Pocono Mt. West vs. Reading (girls).
5 p.m. game: Pocono Mountain West vs. Muhlenberg Twp (boys).
6 p.m. games: ACCHS vs. Pocono Mt. West (girls); Roberto Clemente vs. West Scranton (boys).
7 p.m. games: Northampton vs. Abington (boys); Bensalem vs. Reading (boys).
8 p.m. games: Malvern Prep vs. Dieruff (boys); Strath Haven vs. Fels of Philadelphia (boys).
At Muhlenberg College
4 p.m. game: Morris Hills, N.J. vs. Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg (boys).
5 p.m. game: Parkland vs. Bishop McDevitt (girls).
6 p.m. games: Lincoln Leadership vs. Salisbury (girls); Tamaqua vs. Palisades (girls).
7 p.m. games: Morris Hills vs. Lincoln Leadership (boys); Faith Christian vs. Lehighton (boys).
8 p.m. East Stroudsburg North vs. Phillipsburg (boys); Jim Thorpe vs. North Hunterdon (boys).
Past boys championship games
2008: Octorara def. Wilson West Lawn 58-55
2009: Hempfield def. Exeter 54-48
2010: Allen def. Constitution 45-33
2011: Freedom def. Allen 65-40
2012: Parkland def. Delaware Valley Charter 61-58
2013: Parkland def. Constitution 58-48
2014: Parkland def. Allen 70-53
2015: Nazareth def. CCHS 54-49
2016: Liberty def. Whitehall 54-48
2018: Chambersburg def. Parkland 48-31
2018: Sankofa def. Emmaus 62-59
2019: Reading def. Executive Education 40-37
2021: Reading def. Lincoln 49-40
2022: Reading def. Malvern Prep 59-51
Past girls championship games
2000: Dieruff def. University City 59-25
2001: University City def. Parkland 59-23
2002: Parkland def. Nazareth 31-29
2003: Parkland def. University City 48-35
2004: Parkland def. Nazareth 29-20
2005: Parkland def. Northampton 47-36
2006: Parkland def. Nazareth 39-36
2007: Allen def. Dunmore 35-32
2008: Allen def. Nazareth 33-26
2009: Bethlehem Catholic def. Daniel Boone 48-35
2010: Daniel Boone def. Nazareth 46-28
2011: Bangor def. Harrisburg 39-35
2012: Northwestern def. Nazareth 44-34
2013: Dunmore def. Scranton Prep 37-24
2014: Nazareth def. Dunmore 31-27
2015: Parkland def. Liberty 31-27
2016: Nazareth def. Northampton 57-48
2017: Becahi def. Northampton 48-28
2018: Northampton def. Becahi 38-29
2019: Freedom def. Newark, NJ, 46-41
2021: Dunmore def. Executive 55-16
2022: Lancaster Catholic def. Becahi 46-38
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Source: Morningcall

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