The Plano West A team of (from left) Jas Singh, Thomas Gioia, Avi Ackermann and Abhinav Godavarthi made a surprise undefeated playoff run from the #9 seed to the title at NAQT’s High School National Championship Tournament this weekend in Atlanta. LASA finished third, and Katy Taylor was among three teams tied for fifth, completing Texas’ best showing since the unprecedented 1-2-3 finish in 2014.
The double-elimination tournament’s winners’ bracket culminated in a matchup of #6 Taylor, who ended #1 Wayzata’s (MN) 13-game win streak, and Plano West, who stormed past #4 seed Lehigh Valley (PA), #3 Montgomery Blair (MD) and two-time reigning national champion #2 Hunter.
Despite William Golden’s 120-point showing, Plano West pulled through 420-390 after a protest was decided in their favor. From that point, West could finish no worse than 2nd, while Taylor faced a Super-7 matchup with Thomas Jefferson A (VA), who they’d already had to beat once in the playoffs. Taylor was eliminated in a 15-point loss.
Meanwhile, LASA, which had been seeded #13 for the playoffs, was making a run through the losers’ bracket after becoming Wayzata’s 13th straight victim. Led by sophomore Chinmay Murthy, the Austin team beat Hoover (AL), #2 Canyon Crest A (CA), Downingtown STEM (PA) to reach a Super-7 test against #10 Beavercreek (OH), who themselves had just eliminated perennial powerhouse Detroit Catholic Central (MI).
Murthy and Graham Stockton each scored 35 points as LASA overcame six negs and second-ranked overall preliminary scorer Hari Parameswaran, 340-295. This put them in a rematch with Plano West, who decisively beat them the day before.
This time, Jas Singh scored 65 to keep an improved LASA team at arm’s length in a 430-325 victory that meant Plano West would play an advantaged final, needing to lose twice consecutively to lose the tournament.
In the opposite semifinal, Sam Brochin scored 60 points and Chloe Levine added 55 as Hunter put away Thomas Jefferson on the final tossup, 405-330, and earned another shot at Plano West.
Despite all they’d accomplished against the rest of the field, Hunter just seemed like a favorable matchup for Plano West, who raced to a 390-30 halftime lead in front of a stunned crowd. Abhinav Godavarthi had 3 powers in the final, more than in any other match in the tournament. Each Plano West player got at least 3 tossups in the 535-285 victory. ending the New York City school’s reign just short of a threepeat and bringing the HSNCT trophy to North Texas for a first time.
Plano West finished 16-2, LASA 15-4 and Taylor 12-4. Congratulations to this outstanding trio of Texas teams.
Texas Quiz Bowl must acknowledge the sterling career of graduating senior Gram Brinson, who for a third consecutive year finished in the top dozen individual preliminary scorers at HSNCT. After being 10th in 2016 and 11th in 2017, Brinson was 7th this year with 87.67 points per 20 tossups as DeBakey went 9-5 to finish tied for 32nd.
Joining DeBakey in that top-50 grouping were Carnegie Vanguard A (9-5), all-junior Colleyville Heritage (8-5), and all-underclassman Strake Jesuit B (9-5).
St. John’s (7-5) tied for 51st, while LASA B (7-5), Cistercian A (7-5), Seven Lakes A (7-5), Strake Jesuit A (6-5) and Parish Episcopal (6-5) tied for 77th.
The teams eliminated in the opening playoff round were Clark, Seven Lakes B and Carnegie B. Clark becomes the first Northside ISD playoff team at HSNCT, and the first such school from San Antonio besides Reagan.
Other top-50 preliminary scorers from Texas teams include Golden in 11th (83.93), Jayaker Kolli of Heritage in 21st (71.88), Shomik Ghose of St. John’s in 29th (69.08), Tyler McStravick of St. Thomas in 35th (65.87), Vishal Sivamani of Coppell in 39th (64.13) and Calvin Carroll of MacArthur in 45th (62.44).