Coatesville, D-Town East advance in academic championships

Unionville varsity upset in semis; JV advances to county finals


The Downingtown East High School Academic team — along with Coatesville and West Chester Henderson — has advanced to the Chester County final of the Chester County Academic Competition.

Three high school academic teams will be competing for the Chester County Academic Competition championship after winning their recent semifinal matches. The championship will take place at the Technical College High School Brandywine Campus in Downingtown on March 13 starting at 7 p.m., and will determine who will represent Chester County at the state competition.

The Coatesville, West Chester Henderson and Downingtown East academic teams have all secured a spot in the varsity academic competition championship. Three junior varsity teams will also advance to the championship: Unionville, Conestoga and West Chester East.

In order to compete in the semifinals, teams had to first accumulate the highest number of points during the regular season. Starting in October 2013, 24 Chester County high schools began competing against one another in a “college-bowl” format where students answered a wide variety of challenging questions. The subject areas include literature, math, science, American and world history, geography, and contemporary events.

The Chester County Academic competition, now in its 30th year, is coordinated by the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) and sponsored by Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union.

The semifinals kicked off with two junior varsity matches featuring the six top-scoring teams during the regular season.

The first junior varsity match consisted of West Chester East, Unionville and Downingtown West, during which Unionville emerged victorious and, thus, secured a spot in the JV finals. Conestoga won the second JV match against Downingtown East and Devon Prep.

Junior varsity rules state that the two semifinal winners and the next highest scoring team advance to the junior varsity finals, meaning that Unionville, Conestoga and West Chester East will all compete in the final JV match.

Following a lunch intermission, the top nine varsity teams geared up for their matches.

Coatesville and Phoenixville ended the season in a tie, which required a tiebreaker match prior to the start of the varsity semifinals to determine with whom the teams would face off. Coatesville won the tiebreaker and opted to compete in match one of the varsity semifinals.

Match one proved to be a hard-fought match between reigning county and state champion and third-ranked Conestoga, fourth-ranked Unionville and seventh-ranked Coatesville. After three strong rounds, Coatesville was able to pull off an upset to secure a spot in the finals. Final score: Conestoga – 110; Unionville – 130; Coatesville – 155.

Coatesville’s score was not only enough to earn a spot in the finals, but also ended up being the highest team score for the afternoon.

Coatesville team captain Chasan Hall said the team is really proud of all the work they put in to get to this point.

“It seems like what we’re doing is working, so we’re just going to keep on practicing and working hard,” said Hall, who added that this is the first time the team has made it to the finals in over a decade.

Match two of the varsity semifinals saw second-ranked West Chester East take on cross-town rival and fifth-ranked West Chester Henderson and eighth-ranked Avon Grove. Final score: West Chester East – 120; West Chester Henderson – 120; Avon Grove – 110. West Chester Henderson defeated West Chester East in the tiebreaker following regulation play.

This year’s outcome was far more favorable for West Chester Henderson than the previous year considering the team found itself on the other end of a tiebreaker situation.

“Last year, we lost in a tiebreaker so it was nice to finally win by one,” said West Chester Henderson team captain Griffin Cahill, who has been a member of the team for all four years of his high school career. “The sense of community that being a part of this team brings is definitely one of the highlights of competing.”

The third and final match varsity match would be the only match of the afternoon that a top-seeded team would win. First-ranked Downingtown East defeated sixth-ranked Phoenixville and ninth-ranked West Chester Rustin. Final score of regulation play: Downingtown East – 145; Phoenixville – 55; West Chester Rustin – 100.

Downingtown East team captain Neil Vinjamuri said that a lot of practice and commitment helped earn the team a spot in the semifinals, and ultimately the finals.

“It feels great to make it to this point and we’re grateful for our coach who provides the driving force behind our efforts,” said Vinjamuri, who added that the team would continue practicing just as hard as they have been through the year to prepare for March 13.

The winner of the March showdown between Coatesville, West Chester Henderson and Downingtown East will yield one champion who will represent Chester County in the Pennsylvania Academic Competition that will take place in Harrisburg on May 2. Conestoga will also compete as the state’s reigning champion.

The championship matches can be seen live on CCIU’s Internet television network on March 13 beginning at 7:00 p.m. by visiting

In case of inclement weather, the finals will be held on March 17 at the same time and location.

To view all teams scores for the season or to view historical information on the competition, visit

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