On the Trail With Ted
Basketball 2011-12

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 Observations, notes, etc., on games I've seen during the 2011-12 season . . .

Photo by The Wife

If your name is misspelled on a TEAM PAGE, please speak up. Send an email to silaryt@phillynews.com or leave word on my voicemail at 215-854-5814.

  To all scorekeepers: PLEASE try to make sure that correct info on scoring is called into the Score Service (215-854-4570). Part of my daily routine, especially after full-scale Pub days, has turned into this: answering multiple emails from coaches/players reporting mistakes in boxscores. We are reaching the point of no return. For years I've asked the leagues to make a rule that would force scorekeepers to sit next to each other with the scoreboard operator to one side or the other. It would thus be much easier for the scorekeepers to coordinate fouls/timeouts, not to mention cross-check info on which players actually make the field goals/free throws. Supposedly, that IS now the rule in the Pub, but many refs aren't enforcing it. Please remember, we want the info to be correct and making that happen is only fair to those involved. When the game is over, the scorekeepers should confer and make sure that their point totals for all players match up. Sounds simple, right? (smile) One more thing: Generally, it's better for us when the winning team calls in the results. That way we get info to explain HOW the game was won because representatives of the winning team will usually be in a better mood (just human nature) to provide extra details such as rebounds, assists, etc., or the identity of someone who maybe hit a winning shot. Thank you.

Click here for December reports.
Click here for January reports.

(At Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center)
Imhotep 56, Beaver Falls 54 (OT)
  It's funny how the world of modern-day basketball works. Just a few weeks ago, Imhotep was considered only the fourth best AA team in District 12. Now it's the best in the state for the third time in four seasons (missed in 2010)! The Panthers barged through the front door in '09 and '11 as the overall Pub champion. Guess there's nothing wrong with using the side door, too (smile). A year ago coach Andre Noble used a nine-man rotation and seven of those guys were seniors. This year, Noble mixed and matched and dealt with late-season adversity (losing some guys to grades/behavior) and, presto, what do you know, it all worked out. Honestly, the Panthers had some very sloppy/unfocused moments in the fourth quarter -- after building a 44-35 lead with 5:15 remaining, no less -- and were lucky to get to OT. Sr. F Shakur NeSmith (Temple for football; his surname had been misspelled all this time) made that happen with a gigundo steal/layup off a double-team with 0:19 left. That made it 48-48 and BF's star, sr. G-F Sheldon Jeter, missed a late-moments trey. In the OT, 'Hotep forged ahead for good, at 52-50, as jr. CG Brandon Austin, who's already committed to Penn State, followed a steal a shade beyond midcourt with a breakaway thunder-dunk. After a turnover, the lead reached 54-50 as sr. G Khyree Wooten fed jr. F-C Nigel Grant for an easy layup. Alas, the Panthers continued their struggles at the line (10-for-23 for the game, 2-for-8 in OT) and the problems were capped at 4.2 when Austin flubbed the front and back ends of a double-bonus. BF's Drew Cook, a lefty, wound up with the ball on the left wing and his two-point shot was no good. (At least the official scoresheet credits Cook with an attempt. However, at least one of the refs, it appeared, was emphatically signaling the shot would not have counted even if it had connected, having been launched after the buzzer. If the shot HAD connected, oh baby, it could have gotten VERY interesting.) Wooten had 13 of his 15 points beyond halftime and, like always in close, almost always used his right hand even though he's a lefty for jumpers. He also posted six of his seven boards past intermission. Austin had 13 apiece of boards/rebounds while also notching four assists and three each of steals/blocks. He missed all but a few seconds of the second quarter after notching his second foul with 4:59 remaining. Imhotep was cruising at the time, 20-11, but then came unglued and added just one free throw before halftime. Austin was ordered to play Jeter, but NeSmith also spent large chunks of time trying to dog him and, overall, he performed in sensational fashion. Jeter did score 22 points, but needed to uncork an amazing number of shots (32) to get 'em. He was 0-for-10 on treys and 10-for-22 on regulars. NeSmith had eight points, five rebounds and two assists. Grant shot 4-for-4 en route to nine points while adding seven rebounds. Sr. CG Kamani Jordan had seven points. The Panthers' performance, of course, completed a second consecutive Triple Crown Weekend for District 12 and check this out: That's a first in PIAA history! No district had captured three titles in back-to-back seasons! Three titles became available in the 1950-51 season and a fourth classification was added for 1983-84. Not bad, eh? . . . Well, except for the doling out of postseason honors and all-star games, that wraps up my 41st season of covering high school hoops (37th with city leagues responsibility; 35th at Daily News). Gracias to all who helped and thanks to readers/website visitors for paying attention.

(At Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center)
Neumann-Goretti 48, Montour 45
  Ninety-one up, one down. Those are the final numbers for N-G’s magnificent, four-year run through league play (70-0), City Title contests (4-0) and state playoffs (17-1). The only setback was suffered vs. Carroll, at Ryan, in a state quarterfinal in the 2008-09 season, the Catholic League’s first as a PIAA member, and the Patriots stormed forward to capture the  title. The three since then? They belong to the Saints, of course, and they’re the first team to go the threepeat route since Kennedy Christian, in Class A, netted four in a row from 1998-2001. As the score indicates, this one wasn’t easy. Wasn’t really pretty, either, truth be told. As the final seconds ticked off, we still weren’t sure whether another four minutes would be necessary because Montour’s Kevin Scuilli, having nailed one from the right corner on the previous possession, was launching a trey from the left corner (after sr. F-C Derrick Stewart left open the door by missing both ends of a double-bonus at 6.8). Flying at Scuilli was sr. G La’Quan Coaxum. Oh, baby. And the shot wound up being . . . slightly short. Reason? Coaxum, who stands 6-2 and has pretty good hops, got the tip of one finger on the rock. The Saints stormed the court, the 31 cheerleaders quickly followed (another 30 were not on hand because of a dance – smile) and all kinds of fun was had. One of the signs of a great team is that it can win even in butt-ugly fashion, and that was definitely the case tonight. Consider this: At halftime, N-G had NO assists (and even for the entire 32 minutes wound up with just four, on 16 field goals). Montour played admirable defense and N-G experienced major flow problems. It wasn’t as if the Saints shot 33 percent or something even worse. They were 16-for-38. But sharp passes to open guys off penetration were mostly a rumor and you haven’t seen that too often with these guys. Meanwhile, Montour nailed six of its first seven shots and three of those were treys and it was obvious, these dudes meant business. With the score at 15-7, sr. WG Billy Shank provided a spark for N-G by nailing a trey and then digging in defensively to force a five-second call. Soon, jr. PG Hanif Sutton, who rarely makes an impact with his own buckets, was driving hard for a pair of layups to make it 15-15 and 17-17. The game retained back-and-forth status from there and the difference-maker, ultimately, was soph WG Ja’Quan Newton. He posted a key assist and seven of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and when he hit the back end of a double-bonus at 57.7, the lead seemed (somewhat) safe at 47-41. Not really. The Saints kept that from happening by hitting just one of their final six free throws (ouch) to finish 14-for-30 at the line (ouch squared). Even though the season is over, coach Carl Arrigale might hold foul shooting practice after school on Monday (smile). Anyway, an all-time disappointment was avoided and the four-year accomplishments of this program are truly incredible. Congratulations to everyone! Jr. F John Davis (11) and Shank (10, two treys) joined Newton with double-figure points while Stewart (11) and Davis (eight) were the only guys with more than three rebounds. N-G forced just 10 turnovers and no one had more than one steal. The assist leader? Newton with two. Three of the guys in the six-man rotation are underclassmen and at times this season the other young bucks off the bench have shown impressive flashes while waiting their turns. Will N-G be considered the favorite going into the 2012-13 season? Well, some other teams have quality underclassmen, but Davis (great frontcourter), Newton (great backcourter) and Sutton (top-notch defender) is a good place to start.

(At Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center)
Constitution 68, Lincoln Park Charter 49
  Go figure. A non-charter Pub member finally wins a state championship and it’s one that’s only in its third year of existence. Hail to the Generals! Not only did they triumph, they did so in relatively easy fashion. Even though LP had a 6-10 guy, Devontae Watson, who’s committed to Temple, they tried to run up and down with Con. Um, that didn’t work out too well. LP was guilty of 29 turnovers and took some very poor shots en route to a 19-for-54 performance. Admittedly, Watson is not exactly a hulk and is still quite raw, but I expected the Leopards to force-feed him while trying, if nothing else, to get sr. F-C Savon Goodman into foul trouble. On a blocking foul along the baseline, Goodman did incur his second personal 5:53 before halftime. Con led at the time, 24-15, and LP missed its golden opportunity for headway. Right before intermission, coach Rob Moore waved Goodman back onto the floor and he converted a feed from sr. F Fajion Jones, thus making it 33-22 heading into the break. The third quarter (17-11 for Con) largely belonged to sr. PG Tamir Bolger, who whirlwinded to two of his four assists and four of his seven steals and ended the session by draining a trey on an inbound pass from sr. CG Daiquan Walker. There was no fourth quarter titillation and the Generals led by as many as 21. Bolger received the DN ink and it was a pleasure to give him positive attention. He was the guy, you might remember, who touched off a very ugly situation in Con’s VERY first varsity game, in December of 2009, by slapping a World Comm opponent. The game was halted early and ruled a double forfeit. Can you imagine that? Your school’s very first game winds up being a double forfeit?! Bolger got past it, in fine fashion, and now can enjoy having been prominent in the school’s very best basketball moments (Pub title, state title). The young man deserves high praise. Though Goodman suffered blocked shots on as many as five of his dunk attempts/close flip shots, he finished with 27 points (five GOOD dunks), 10 rebounds and four blocks. Walker was also quite special with 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists and six steals. The other starter not yet mentioned was sr. F Craig "Poppy" Slade while sr. G Amonie "Moonie" Holloman and frosh G Akeem King served as rotation subs. In the very last moment, deep sub Kevin Dukes, a soph F, canned a layup on a feed from frosh G-F Barry Taylor for his first varsity points and the starters exploded off the bench in glee. It was cool to see the old heads support the young bucks with such passion. Since Con’s first six players were seniors, it’s unclear how the program will proceed. The ever-amped Moore is quite the go-getter, however, and he feels many of his younger players have potential, so we’re guessing the Generals will be heard from again. Camped out right behind the end of Con’s bench were two Philly guys – Penn State coach Pat Chambers (Episcopal) and sitting-out transfer Devonte’ Newbill (Strawberry Mansion '10). Of course, Newbill usually goes by “DJ” but I recently saw his Facebook page, via someone else’s, and he’s listed as "DJay" (with no hyphen, periods). So, I asked him, "Is THAT the version of your nickname you actually prefer?" It IS. Maybe I’ll go back and change his name in some of my records (smile). And maybe he’ll be known as DJay Newbill when his career resumes next season. Remember where you read it first, OK? Ha, ha, ha.

(At Bethlehem Liberty)
Imhotep 37, Holy Cross 35
  Talk about a strange set of circumstances. Imhotep earned a chance to collect a third state title in four years even though just one guy scored more than six points and only two grabbed more than two rebounds. Also, the Panthers went an unsightly 11-for-22 from the line. On the flip side of the Welcome to Wackyville coin, HC, of suburban Scranton, posted more field goals in the first quarter (six) than it did in the final three quarters combined (five). Since you’ve noticed that the margin of victory was only two points, you’re likely thinking the outcome was still in doubt until the final few seconds. Right you are. After Josh Kosin, HC’s star jr. F-C, missed a straight-on jumper from just inside the arc, jr. CG Brandon Austin (Penn State) grabbed the rebound and went to the line for a one-and-one at 15.5. He hit the first free throw, but missed the second and that created an interesting situation. Would the Crusaders go for a three and try to win it? Or just make sure to hit something/anything and at least take things to OT? ‘Hotep coach Andre Noble, suspecting the pursuit of a trey, told his players to stick with straight man-to-man and NOT to double the ball. So, what happened? But of course (smile). Soph F-C Deion Evans, the eighth man and out there only because sr. F Shakur Nesmith (Temple, for football) had fouled out with 2:43 left, stepped away from his man and recorded the biggest block of his life, getting a totally clean smack of a layup attempt by soph PG Connor Callejas. Evans can be forgiven for disobeying orders because he said he paid full attention to Callejas only after making sure he would NOT kick the ball out to someone else for a trey. Anyway, you can imagine the heartbreak felt by the Crusaders, who’d come so close to defeating a squad with much more athleticism. Well, the emotion – in the other direction, of course – was matched by the Panthers, who have recovered from the disappointment of losing at home to Comm Tech in a Public League round-of-16 playoff and missing out on the chance for a fourth consecutive crown. ‘Hotep wound up as the fourth AA seed. As it needed to do to have any chance, HC played careful ball and often took large chunks of time off the clock before launching shots. Early, Imhotep’s defenders were not as sticky as they should have been and crafty kickouts resulted in treys. The Crusaders hit three in the first quarter, in fact, and a regular field goal to start the second quarter made it 17-7. Uh, oh. But just as the thought crept into your mind that the Panthers could be in for one of THOSE nights, they stormed to nine consecutive points. The next-to-last two in that run were provided by Austin on a steal and thunder dunk, accomplished despite significant contact. Though he missed the free throw, that turned out to be a wonderful moment because Kosin incurred his third personal while battling for the rebound. (In the third quarter, Kosin made eyes pop out all around the gym with his own impressive dunk. He embarked on a short drive along the right baseline and, bang!, all of a sudden he was thumping the ball home, seemingly out of nowhere.) The game’s most interesting subplot involved Imhotep sr. WG Kyhree Wooten, who is being eyed by Lock Haven coach Mike Nestor, a former star at Bonner. Wooten fell hard to the floor with 2:15 left in the third quarter and soon was sitting on the bench with ice at the back of his head. As the fourth quarter started, he was no longer in the gym and one had to wonder if he’d developed serious complications. But then, with 6:33 left, he reentered the gym, accompanied by the trainer, and after passing the usual bevy of concussion tests was able to play the final 3:58. Almost immediately, he bagged an assist as sr. CG Kamani Jordan swished a right-wing trey to put the Panthers ahead for good, at 36-34. Jordan, normally a respectable threeballer, had hit just one of five attempts beforehand, but this one was perfect and, of course, quite clutch. Jordan was also the guy covering Callejas on the final play and he much appreciated the help he received from Evans. Earlier this season, I did a story on Sayre star Ikeem Dickerson and he mentioned being good buddies with Jordan and how Kamani had tried to get him to go to Imhotep. Kamani was new to ‘Hotep and had spent the 2010-11 school year at a place I’d never heard of – Delaware Valley (not to be confused with Del-Val Charter). It doesn’t even have a basketball team. I wondered how such a decent player had enrolled at a place without a team and tonight Kamani explained the situation. As a sophomore at Germantown, he’d gotten into some trouble and was SENT to DV, a school for students with discipline issues. Once he finished the year with no further troubles, he was eligible to return to the world of regular schools and opted for Imhotep. By all appearances, he's had a great for the Panthers from the senior-leader standpoint. Austin had 16 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and five steals. Frosh F Devin Liggeons (five) was the only other Panther with more than two rebounds. With his two treys for six points, Jordan finished second in scoring. Wooten had an early three-point play, but added just one other point. Liberty is the alma mater of football all-timer Chuck Bednarik, among others, and the place where La Salle's gridders played the first of their two memorable snow games en route to the 2009 state title. Aside from its cheerleaders, Imhotep was supported by no more than 20 spectators. (Maybe no more than 15, actually.) HC had a throng of, what, at least 500 on its side? I can only imagine how large a financial hit the PIAA has taken since allowing Philly schools to join the organization. Pub fans don’t travel and even Cath fans do not hit the road in anything approaching impressive numbers. Imhotep will be joined at Penn State by Constitution and Neumann-Goretti so D-12 again has a chance to win three state titles, as in 2011. Legendary.

(Doubleheader at Southern)
A: Constitution 62, MC&S 37
AAA: Neumann-Goretti 74, Boys’ Latin 43
  If you saw one game tonight in Southern’s sauna, you saw 'em both. And lost only five pounds due to sweat instead of 10. The calendar has March and May mixed up, so it was steamy/stinky hot inside. Unfortunately, the games didn’t come close to crackling. Major blowouts are not supposed to happen this deep into the state tournament, especially when ornery Philly teams are going at it. But if one team plays reasonably well and the other can’t shoot to save its life, well, team No. 2 is going to lose its life. On Monday, I traveled to MC&S’ practice to do a story on jr. F Jeffon Powell and sr. G Will Williams and at one point coach Danny Jackson was speaking to his players at high volume before putting them through drills. One specific comment I remember: “They don’t think we can shoot! We’re going to have open shots! We need to make them!” So, what happened? MC&S went 18-for-53 from the floor and never did hit even one measly three (0-for-16). Plus, the Mighty Elephants didn’t draw many shooting fouls and when they did . . . oh, baby; they went just 1-for-9 at the line. The game was tight through the first half, but also unsightly because Con was setting no world records for eye-catching hoops. But in the third quarter, the Generals shot 9-for-13 from the floor (3-for-3 on treys) and 4-for-4 at the line and all expectations of late-game drama went poof. Amauro and I were camped out just beyond the end of Con’s bench (north end of the gym) and 5:48 before halftime a security guard walked over with a box in his hand. He said he had Daiquan Walker’s sneakers, by way of Daiquan’s mother. We directed him to the coaches. The sr. G finished the first half 0-for-5 from the floor. With the new kicks, he scored nine of his 11 points in the huge third quarter outburst and dealt dealt four of his six assists. (In the first quarter alone, he’d committed four turnovers.) Co-star Savon Goodman, the sr. F-C, finished 7-for-11 and 4-for-6 for 18 points while adding eight rebounds. Sr. Fs Fajion Jones (10) and Craig “Poppy” Slade (eight) also helped out on the boards while sr. G Amonie “Moonie” Holloman, the sixth man, nailed three treys en route to 10 points. In the fourth quarter, sr. G Tamir Bolger dished three assists and  sub Akeem King had six points. Truthfully, only sr. F Quentin “Tree” Davis (12 points, seven rebounds, three steals, two blocks) turned in a respectable performance for the MEs. MC&S experienced a difficult season, overall, due to major chemistry/togetherness issues caused by the presence of TOO many guys with talent. Meanwhile, Cassidy Moore proved to be quite the good-luck charm (smile). Born Feb. 3, she’s the daughter of Con coach Rob Moore and the score was still close when she arrived with mom Genna and other family members. Wonder if she’ll make a Penn State appearance? Con finished 3-0 vs. MC&S with wins by 10 (in OT), 21 and 25 points. If that first game had gone differently, I wonder how each team’s season would have proceeded? . . . The N-G/BL game matched the first one from the not-truly-competitive standpoint, but it was slightly different in that N-G established control from the outset. Not the outrageous variety, but enough. Like MC&S, BL experienced major shooting miseries. The Warriors went 17-for-64 overall and canned just one three (in 12 attempts). Sr. Gs La’Quan Coaxum and Hanif Sutton were mostly responsible for keeping star sr. G Maurice “Doo-Wop” Watson from going berserk in what turned out to be his final game. Also, the outings of his two primary playmates, jr. G Yahmir Greenlee and sr. F Carlos Taylor, left much to be desired. They managed just five and two points, respectively, while combining to shoot 3-for-23. The respect for defense, and how it can make things so much easier, is one of the best aspects of coach Carl Arrigale’s program and it’s truly enjoyable to watch guys just dig the heck in and get after it. Soph G Ja’Quan Newton and jr. F John Davis halved 38 points for the Saints and sr. G Billy Shank hit three treys while totaling 3. Davis claimed 11 boards to lead the way in that category and he enjoyed some true manchild moments while shrugging off major contact. Sr. F-C Derrick Stewart (Rider) had eight points and as many boards and Newton was productive overall with seven boards and four assists. Coaxum had three apiece of rebounds/assists/steals. In the late going, soph F Tony Toplyn posted three boards and two blocks. It was almost surreal in the late going to watch Watson sit down and realize, “This really IS the end of his career.” It seemed like he’d been around forever and would find a way to still keep serving his dad, Maurice Sr., as a quality player/person. He departed with 3:30 left, having gone 8-for-19 (pretty much every shot was contested) and 2-for-2 for 18 points, and finalizing his career total at 2,356. That’s No. 2 in city history to 2003 Strawberry Mansion grad Maureece “The Scorelord” Rice (2,681). Watson also bagged eight rebounds (doubling the total of the next most productive Warrior), five assists and four steals. His career record was 74-32 and the win totals got progressively better – 13-10, 17-7, 19-8, 25-7. All kinds of rumors about college transfers involving Philly players are flying around (N-G product Tony Chennault is definitely leaving Wake Forest) and Watson is being mentioned in them, too. In the post-game interview, I wasn’t specific when addressing the subject – just that rumors are out there – and he said, immediately, that he’d been hearing a primary one: that he’d ditch his commitment to Boston University, attend prep school for a year and then wind up at Villanova. He debunked that and even mentioned the day he’ll begin taking summer classes at BU, July 2. BL’s second best player tonight was sr. G Rahshan Wooten-Miller (11 points). He hit the Warriors’ lone trey, made a few very aggressive drives to the basket, from distance, and went 4-for-4 at the line. All kinds of college coaches were in attendance and at least three Big 5ers were among them – Temple’s Fran Dunphy, Saint Joe’s Phil Martelli and La Salle’s John Giannini. Story of the night: without even saying hello first, the world-famous Thomas “Hockey Puck” McKenna approached Coach Dunph, a long-time buddy, and blurted out, “Yo, you mess up my bwacket!” And then proceeded to show it to him. Fran laughed it off while saying, “You’re killin’ me!” Like everyone who’s familiar with the Puckster, he knows the deal: Puck does what he wants when he wants and there’s just no containing his Puckleheadism.

(At Germantown)
Imhotep 65, McDevitt 54
  There are times when wonderful = horrible. Don't believe it? Then you must not have been a spectator in Germantown's sun-splashed gym. As the first half wound down, Imhotep was holding for a last shot. Pfft. That opportunity vanished as jr. G Tymere Wilder made a steal and headed downcourt with the clock quickly approaching 0:00. On the deep right wing, from a spot almost directly in front of Imhotep coach Andre Noble, Wilder launched a push shot and . . . swish! The crazy trey gave the Lancers a 28-18 advantage and they basically danced to their locker room. The Panthers, um, did not. One can only imagine how severely Noble dug into their worlds. Even if Imhotep had scored on that final possession, he would have been upset. They'd played lackluster defense and had settled for lazy shots on offense. Prime example: the two inside guys, sr. Shakur Nesmith (bound to Temple for football) and jr. Nigel Grant, combined to take NO shots. In the second quarter, Imhotep went about seven-plus minutes without a point. There was a very quick burst of eight points as treys by jr. CG Brandon Austin (Penn State) surrounded a fastbreak dunk by sr. WG Khyree Wooten. Other than that, 'Hotep was 0-for-7 in the session. Second half? It looked as if Noble subbed a college team for his guys and/or that the refs allowed six guys to play against five. The Panthers largely achieved buzz-saw status. They used a three-quarter-court press to force numerous turnovers and otherwise hampered the Lancers by sticking Austin and his 7-footer's wing spin on sr. F Brahieme Jackson. He took just one shot in the second half. (He did make it, finishing 5-for-5 for the game en route to 12 points; also swept nine rebounds.) The second half was when McDevitt most missed co-star Markeise Chandler, a sr. WG who'd suffered an ankle injury in the second-round win over Riverside. Chandler has good "swivelability" and would have been able to step through/around the assorted traps, then finish at the rim. Imhotep seized the lead, at 34-32, on a left-wing trey by sr. PG Kamani Jordan off an inbound play. Austin then hit another threeball from the top of the key and all could sense the Lancers were in trouble. Then, on the final play of the quarter, Grant hit the FOURTH shot of the possession to make it 42-36. Imhotep continued its surge into the fourth and McDevitt had no answers. In a performance highlighted by four treys, Austin contributed a season-high 24 points. He also snagged 11 rebounds and made six steals. Jordan, a lefty, posted 17 of his 19 points after halftime while notching four total assists. Wooten had 10 points, six boards and four assists. Grant added eight points (he took all seven shots in the third quarter) and nine boards. Soph F Tyrell Long paced the Lancers with 17 points (8-for-11 floor) and six points. Jr. F Carl Garner used two late treys to reach 10 points. Sr. F Mike Newns snagged six rebounds. Wilder had nine points and four assists. Jr. PG Kenyatta Long posted three dimes. Imhotep now owns 20 wins for the seventh consecutive season. Pretty impressive. The Panthers' semifinal opponent on Wednesday night will be Holy Cross (Scranton suburbs) and we're guessing that game will be played in Allentown. **Update: 7 p.m. at Liberty HS, in Bethlehem.** Though the loss finalized their record at 12-13, the Lancers have a lot to feel great about. As mentioned before in these reports, this is McDevitt's 49th season of Catholic League membership. Before this year's squad earned wins in the first and second round of the state playoffs, McDevitt owned ONE postseason triumphs in all those years. Congrats on making history, guys. It was also good to see a game with TWO cheerleading squads. Carroll (Tuesday in Coatesville) and Neumann-Goretti (last night in Norristown) didn't bother to send its gals. Finally, kudos to Germantown AD (and football coach) Mike Hawkins for making sure everything ran smoothly.

(At Norristown)
Neumann-Goretti 64, Holy Ghost Prep 37
  Earlier this week, someone who’d witnessed a few HGP games this season said he expected the Firebirds to give N-G a quality tussle. Maaaaybe even pull off an upset. Tonight, someone with similar expertise set the line at 33 points. Ding, ding, ding! Mystery Evaluator No. 2 was correct. Close enough, anyway. When the deep subs came strolling onto the court with 2:37 left, N-G owned a 29-point bulge, at 60-31. The only noteworthy moment thereafter was the chin-up performed by N-G soph guard Troy Harper with 10.2 seconds left. One problem: He did it on the basket where he’d just failed to complete a dunk. The unnecessary (yet funny) acrobatics earned him a tech. Though feisty and disciplined, HGP was out of this one early. N-G had too much size and athleticism (plus, HGP had no true long-distance snipers). After seeing Octorara Tuesday night and HGP tonight, I’m amazed at the chasm that exists between AAAA and AAA teams in District 1. The Saints led by 14-8 after one and by 27-16 at halftime and folks just knew there’d be no second-half tension. True dat. Before getting into some of the regular details, let me say this: HGP’s student rooters are TREMENDOUS. They showed up in serious force, roughly 300 strong, and maintained their enthusiasm throughout, even with a hint of hope long gone. The school’s primary color is red and at halftime some dude dressed like Moses appeared in front of the stands. On cue, the kids “parted” and Moses ran up the 20-odd rows to the top. Ha, ha, ha. A classic! Update: We're told the kid is a senior lacrosse player and his name is Kevin . . . MOSES. Gotta love it!! Late in the game, the kids chanted the names of assorted players and even sent a shoutout to coach Tony Chapman. After the Firebirds meandered through the handshake line, they doubled back and walked over to interact with the rooters and thank them for the season-long support. All very cool to see. That wasn’t all. Maybe 20 minutes later, as I began to write the philly.com story in one corner of the gym, maybe 100 HGP rooters started applauding. The players, now in street clothes, were returning to the gym to mingle with friends/family members before heading home. The cyber attention went to soph CG Ja’Quan Newton and it was very classy of him to say nice things about HGP’s fans. That was your best move of the night, ‘Quan. Newton finished with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. He had no points in the first quarter, but did total six other stats and his overall effectiveness was the focal point of the story. Newton had a vintage run as the Saints expanded the lead to 23-12. A flip shot off a drive. A steal and three-quarter-court drive for a three-point play. A step-back jumper along the right baseline. Another flip shot off left-to-right penetration through the lane. Late, Newton twice got hammered on inside attempts and the first was so blatant, it was labeled intentional. Luckily, he maintained his cool. Sr. F Derrick Stewart (Rider) added 17 points while going 3-for-4 on treys. Somehow, he didn’t grab his first rebound until the third quarter and finished with just three total. Jr. F John Davis managed 12 points and 10 boards. Jr. PG Hanif Sutton hit an early trey and sr. WG Billy Shank drained a late one; otherwise they had no points. Sixth man La’Quan Coaxum had four steals. The next round will bring about a repeat of the City Title game: N-G vs. Boys’ Latin. The Warriors won tonight in OT as Watson played a big role. Not Maurice, though. His frosh brother, Tymir! As reported by Joe Dunn, BL’s baseball coach, athletic director and hoops scorekeeper, Tymir drained a gigantic trey that was part of a FIVE-point play. How? As Tymir was making his shot, sr. F Carlos Taylor was being pushed away from the ball. A whistle blew and he sank both free throws. Meanwhile, Taylor exploded for a career-high 32 points, so his career total stands at 1,018. He becomes the third member of this year’s BL team to own 1,000 points (also Watson and jr. G Yahmir Greenlee). These guys have scored all of their points for BL. In the 2004 season, Penn Charter had three guys who tallied 1,000 points FOR the Quakers. Two had played varsity elsewhere, however. Two dignitaries were on hand tonight. One was Bobby Wine, a Phillies shortstop from the ‘60s. The other was Jim Siegler, former coach at McDevitt and M.L. King. Jim has always been a class act. Great to see him!

(Doubleheader at Norristown)
Coatesville 61, Bartram 51
Lower Merion 67, Roman 49
  Why'd they have to invent fourth quarters? If these games, like hockey, had been limited to three periods, Our Guys would have experienced respectable nights. Yes, they still would have lost, but the feelings of disappointment would not have been as severe. Bartram was outscored, 18-11, over the final eight minutes and the deficit for Roman was even worse, 24-11. The night began with concern. Thanks to the ever-popular bus miseries, the Braves didn't walk onto the court until the warmup clock showed 6:00. I'd made a cell-phone call to coach James Brown just a couple minutes beforehand and he said the squad was walking into the school as we spoke. He didn't indicate that the driver had been late, or had taken the wrong route, just that there'd been lots of traffic. (Not sure what happened to Bartram's bus for student fans. The kids didn't come scrambling into the gym until six minutes were left in the SECOND quarter. Ugh.) Anyway, Bartram shot 5-for-20 in the first half (with no assists) and made just two regular steals. Was the late arrival the reason for the messy performance? Couldn't have helped? After no doubt being lambasted by Brown and his assistants at halftime, the Braves played very impressively in the third quarter. They were more aggressive and paid better attention to details and they at least got a hint of concern to creep into the Raiders' eyes. Senior PG Gary Gordon, a lefty, was the primary catalyst, scoring 10 of his 21 points in the session. Sr. F Bo Murray was also prominent, grabbing four of his seven rebounds and swatting two shots. Alas, the good vibrations faded. And Coatesville got help from Lower Merion's fans. Say what?! Believe it. With 1:22 left in the third quarter, after Gordon's follow drew Bartram within 41-38, the LM kids, already in the house for their upcoming game, began cheering, "Let's go, Coatesville! Let's go, Coatesville!" Then, early in the fourth quarter, during a break, three Coatesville cheerleaders ran around to the other side of the court and directed a chant from right in front of the LM kids. Could you ever see, say, N-G and Roman kids combining for an act of goodwill? Didn't think so (smile). As the fourth quarter proceeded, Bartram went back to its early brickin' ways (1-for-9 to start) and a bunch of runouts followed. Jr. G Malik Noel, who enjoyed some special moments this season as a sixth-man spark, had 11 points and four steals. Sr. G Jared Bryant, beset by foul troubles, did grab five fourth quarter rebounds. Gordon added nine rebounds to his quality show. (But any time your point guard is the leading rebounder, that can't be good.) By the way, when the Braves arrived, they were given extra time to warm up. Due to space issues, the plan was to do just a short story on the Bartram game. Unless the Braves had won. Then we would have gone shorter with the Roman story. I waited for a good 10 minutes, if not more, outside Bartram's classroom/locker room upstairs, but JB and his assistants were bringin' it, big time, to the players about assorted issues and how to go forward for next season, so I decided to hustle back to the gym to see as much of Roman-LM as possible. As I zipped through the Bartram story, Amauro Austin handled full stats for the first quarter of Roman-LM. The Aces wound up with a 14-10 advantage and were already showing inside dominance thanks to Yohanny Dalembert (Sam's brother) and Raheem Hall. That wouldn't change. In all, 13 Roman shots were blocked and a whole bunch more from in tight were flat-out missed. Plus, the Cahillites got no help from the stripes. Through three quarters, they went to the line on just two occasions. This fourth quarter mirrored Coatesville-Bartram. As the Cahillites ran out of gas, LM frolicked. Often, the guards flew downcourt and had the choice of TWO open guys at the end of fastbreaks. Three of the resulting buckets were powerful slams. The top Ace in the fourth quarter was B.J. Johnson, a jr. lefty SG-SF. Thanks to help from a pair of three-point plays, he had 10 points in the quarter. Old heads/medium heads will remember his father, Bob, star sub for Southern's 1985 Pub finalist (21 points in one playoff; 18 in another) and then a quality player for La Salle (after a prep school year, if memory serves). DN ink went to Roman soph Rashann London, who describes himself as a point forward. He shot 9-for-14 en route to 19 points and did a good job of converting late flips from jr. F Shafeek Taylor (seven assists). London's pop, Nate, played football for Lincoln while another relative, Eric London, was a pretty good hoops guard for Franklin. Soph PG Shep Garner had a great second quarter, with nine points, but settled for just 13 overall. the Cahillites were thumped on the glass, 36-23. Assuming everyone stays (probably not a safe assumption, however, in these crazy times), Roman's 2012-13 squad will look just like this one; every rotation guy was an underclassman. Plus, rumors are already swirling about quality big guys who might wind up in the fold. One of these years, D-12 will have some success in AAAA. Right? Well, we can hope. Like always, it was great seeing Norristown athletic director Chuck Knowles, former football coach at Egan, and his sidekick, Bobby Davis. Thanks for your help, guys. One last thing about London. Last year, Roman's coaches tried to spoof Puck by telling him that Rashann's last name was actually London-Bridges. I think they wanted to see Rashann take a charge and then hear Puck babble, "Yo, Wondon-Bwidges fallin' down." Ha, ha, ha.

(At Coatesville)
Carroll 71, Octorara 50
  Let’s get to the important stuff first: Shoutouts to D.J. Irving, Jay Donovan and Franco “Luck o’ the Irish” Pellicciotta. All three recently played for Carroll and they made their way to the locker room after this one to interact with the coaches and current Patriots. I love seeing that kind of stuff because it means the kids enjoyed their experience while part of the program and/or built solid relationships with their former coaches. Good seein’ you, guys, and I won’t even put in here that Jay begged for the shoutout. (Oops, I just did – smile.) Important tidbit No. 2: A handful of writers/photographers survived a brush with Coatesville Water Torture. As we began to write stories or download photos in the area beyond the basket used by Octorara in the second half, you would have thought it was raining in the gym. Water kept drip, drip, dripping into trash cans – at a VERY loud, steady pace -- and we were all going, “What the heck is that?” It wasn’t even raining outside! Much later, a maintenance man said the problem could be traced to condensation and some kind of existing roof problem. Imagine if that had happened during the game. Honestly, the trash cans were not right against the baseline, or even right behind the basket. But guys going hard for layups at hard angles, or trying to block them, easily could have smacked into them. Tidbit No. 3: Carroll’s team bus, as provided by a private company, was pulled over for speeding en route to Coatesville! Ha, ha, ha. Gotta love it. I got wind of the incident even before the start of the girls’ prelim, in which Carroll thumped Downingtown West, and some comments from sr. WG Alec Stavetski provided entertainment in the DN story. OK, now for the game itself. Carroll coasted. Talk to ya later . . . Nah, we’ll go into some detail. With the score at 7-4, the Patriots rolled to 14 straight points and the Braves’ much bigger rooting section had little reason to stir thereafter. I mean, not even a HINT of a comeback was mounted. Stavetski, who has left his 0-for-11 struggles in the D-12 seeding game far behind, had 18 points and seven rebounds and at least two of his buckets, maybe three, came on follows. That was part of the plan because coach Paul Romanczuk had told his players that the Braves were not exactly masters at boxing out. Frosh F-C Derrick Jones was again impressive, pogo-sticking for 15 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. The lefty drained his only trey and twice showed very impressive footwork after receiving down-low entry passes. Buy stock in this kid now (smile). Jr. PG Yosef Yacob had a somehow-quiet 20 points with four assists. Sr. F Lou Dominique, like Yacob, squeezed six points (of 10) into the first quarter and finished with a half-dozen boards overall. Jr. WG Isaiah Warren had four dimes while sr. Fs Pat Finnegan and Francis Jackson and sr. G Tom Rymal thirded six boards. Making Pellicciotta proud, soph F Armand Sorrentino repped for the deep subs with a bucket and a rebound. This was another great night for D-12 squads as all five won – also N-G and Boys’ Latin in AAA; Constitution and MC&S in A. So far, the district’s record in 2012 tourney play is 16-4. We can live with that, right?

(At Ryan)
Central Bucks West 48, SJ Prep 44
  For today's shocking tidbit, we offer this: McDevitt's record in PIAA playoffs is better than St. Joseph's Prep's. Hard to believe, right? After watching the Lancers storm past Shenandoah Valley, the Hawks took to the court and . . . no other way to say it; they just didn't play well. How often have you seen this? In its first game without an injured star, a team rallies like crazy and plays so well that the guy is hardly missed. Then, the second time around, reality sets in and it's suddenly not as easy to make up for his absence. Jr. G-F Miles Overton (recent thumb surgery) was still unavailable and the Hawks could have used his juice. Only jr. CG Stephen Vasturia (Notre Dame) scored in double figures and the other guys combined to shoot 9-for-25 from the floor. Also, the Hawks claimed just FIVE rebounds in the first half and, in many ways, they were "outprepped" throughout the game. CBW did a great job of controlling the ends of quarters and making positive things happen. The Bucks also had major success with back-door plays and, in the first half, they freed themselves well enough to drill four treys while building a 28-16 lead. Early in the third quarter, they had multiple chances to double the lead on the Prep and when that didn't happen, it was impossible not to believe a gradual climb-back would be in the offing. Bingo. The lead was down to eight points after three quarters, then it dwindled to five at 35-30 and four at 38-34 and two at 38-36 with just under 3 minutes left on a basket by Vasturia on a pass from sr. WG Gene Williams. CBW posted a bucket, but then jr. PG P.J. Kelly drained a big-time trey on a pass from Vasturia at 1:55 and the lead was down to one at 40-39. Then came, from the Prep standpoint, what was likely the game's most damaging moment as the Bucks got a three-point play after a back-door feed along the left baseline. Next, Vasturia wound up with the ball toward the right corner and, oh, he slipped and fell. Somehow, he was able to maintain his dribble while scrambling back to his feet and soon, he was trying a flip shot along the right baseline. No good. CBW hit the second of two free throws and then Williams hit a turnaround jumper from roughly the foul line. CBW sank another free throw at 26.4 to restore the four-point lead, at 45-41, then another of the Prep's lesser lights, sr. G Tom Stewart, swished a left-wing triple on a feed from Kelly. Two big buckets from guys not famous for hitting them! Major moments! With 9.9 left, Derek Dyer hit both ends of a double-bonus and that upped the lead back to three points. On the Prep's crucial possession, Vasturia wound up with the ball a shade to the left of the top of the key. The defense was good and, off a spin dribble, he wound passing to his left to Williams. Gene was not in the exact corner; maybe 7-8 feet away from the baseline? The shot did not connect and the Bucks added one more free throw. As the day/night unfolded, AAAA wound up being the only classification where D-12's record was as unsightly as .500 (2-2). The teams in A, AA and AAA went a combined 9-2. Vasturia totaled 22 points, but could claim just three rebounds. That's not his primary responsibility, of course, but in many games this season he had posted double-digit numbers in carom-clutches, or close to that. Williams had seven points and team highs in boards (six) and assists (five). Stewart had eight points (two treys) and four boards. Considering that it had nothing remotely close to a true inside player, the Prep slapped together a wonderful season. Kudos to everyone and best wishes to the departing seniors.

(At Ryan)
McDevitt 68, Shenandoah Valley 44
  The sports world works in mysterious ways. Exhibit A: After winning just one time in 12 postseason outings over 49 years of Catholic League membership, McDevitt not only collected triumph No. 2 in an energized environment at Ryan, it did so in what turned out to be eeeeeeasy fashion. Amazing, right? Bear with me for a trip in the Way-Back Machine, but this result reminded me of something from the 1982 football season. After getting blanked for 27 (yes, 27) consecutive games dating back to '77, Edison finally broke the drought on a punt return vs. University City. Properly inspired, the Inventors forged onward and won the game, 20-18. In this one, it was almost as if the Lancers told themselves, "Hey, look like we're going to win this game. Might as well step on their throats and turn it into a rout." In a story that ran in Wednesday's paper, sr. G Markeise Chandler had predicted a double-digit win. I'd imagine his coaches probably gave him at least a playful hard time about being so bold. Shortly after game's end, Markeise hustled over to the spot where I'd been watching the action and said, pleasantly, "See, I told you we'd win by double digits." Doubtful he was thinking of a 24-point margin. Also doubtful he minds in the least (smile). SV had an excellent player in Josh Dombrosky, a 6-7 lefty who was light on his feet and effective all the way out to spots beyond the arc. The rest of the guys were mostly scrappers, at best, however, so McDevitt had a big advantage in athleticism and pure basketball skills. Early, there was a problem. With McDevitt ahead, 11-8, jr. PG Kenyatta Long picked up a reaching foul 40 feet from the basket, then bitched about the call enough to get a tech. Ugh! With Dombrosky contributing two treys, SV went on an 8-0 run and it was impossible not to think karma was in the house. So much for that. The Lancers bounced right back with 10 consecutive points in a relatively short span, making it 21-16, and that pad was expanded little by little to the domination stage. Chandler had 16 points, three assists and five steals in a soid overall outing. Sr. F Brahieme Jackson, forced to miss the City Title loss to Comm Tech for violating a team rule, had nine points and 13 rebounds. Soph F Tyrell Long, the sixth man, shot 9-for-12 and 7-for-9 for 25 points while also snagging nine boards. Also vital to the cause was jr. PG Tymere Wilder, who was terrific on defense when coach Jack Rutter decided to sit K. Long (no relation to Tyrell) for the rest of the half. Wilder had three of his four steals and three of his five rebounds in the second quarter and twice (pretty sure) he drew charges against SV's point guard, throwing off the squad's rhythm. T. Long, meanwhile, had 21 of his 25 points in the second half along with six of his nine boards. For whatever reason, McDevitt's cheerleaders were not on hand. SV, meanwhile, had cheerleaders (in one corner), a student section of maybe 75 kids (in another corner) and many adult fans behind its bench (in yet another corner). And almost all of the adults were referees! (smile) These folks were passionate and/or insane. If they saw a call they didn't like, they IMMEDIATELY stood and complained like crazy. In a rage, even. Truthfully, it was cool to see a team's fan base care to such a large extent. The juice exhibited by SV's fans actually brought out the emotion in McDevitt's and the byplay was entertaining, also. Wish I'd been sitting a little closer to hear the best of the choice comments. Congrats to coach Rutter, his assistants and all the players for this noteworthy victory. McDevitt's only previous postseason victory had come in a 1989 quarterfinal vs. Cardinal Dougherty. A lot of players before and after had experienced loads of frustration, so hopefully everyone connected with McDevitt's basketball history feels good about this breakthrough triumph.

  McDevitt's individual stats . . .

FG-ST F-FT R A S Pts 3's B
Brahieme Jackson 4-9 1-5 13 2 1 9 0-0 0
Markeise Chandler 5-10 5-8 5 3 5 16 1-2 0
Mike Newns 1-1 0-0 1 0 1 2 0-0 0
Kenyatta Long 1-4 0-0 1 1 0 2 0-0 0
Carl Garner 1-6 2-2 2 1 2 4 0-0 1
Tyrell Long 9-12 7-9 9 0 0 25 0-0 2
Tymere Wilder 1-4 2-2 5 1 4 4 0-1 0
Jordan Watson 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0-0 0
Diamir Williams 1-2 2-2 0 0 0 4 0-0 0
Miguel Genabat 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0 0-0 0
Tyreek Fairfax 1-1 0-0 1 1 0 2 0-0 0
Scott Stieritz 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0-0 0
Eric Jones 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0-0 0
24-49 19-28 37 10 13 68 1-3 3

(At Southern)
Boys’ Latin 70, Pope John Paul II 49
  As the teams prepared to start the second quarter, a female PJP fan yelled to that school’s players, “Guys, stop being afraid!!” Was she a player’s mom? A teacher? An administrator? Beyond that, was she being too harsh? Open for debate, folks. This isn’t: In the first eight minutes, the Golden Panthers, at a minimum, were nervous and/or flustered and their early struggles were reflected in a 14-2 deficit caused by 1-for-13 shooting. Did things get better? Slightly, but not by much. The Warriors frolicked through three quarters (54-28), then coasted in the fourth as the deep subs and deeper subs got plenty of playing time. Overall, the night belonged to jr. G Yahmir Greenlee, who entered the contest needing 10 points to reach 1,000. The frisky, yet sensible lefty hit that number on the head 2:20 before halftime thanks to a steal/drive combo that covered roughly five-eighths of the court. The game was stopped briefly so an announcement could be made and downstairs afterward Yahmir was presented the ball by coach Maurice Watson Sr., who’d inscribed it with the details (though he needed help to make sure he spelled the first and last name correctly – smile). His total now stands at 1,005 and he’s the second member of this year’s team with a four-digit total. Sr. G Maurice “Doo-Wop” Watson (Boston U.) boasts 2,310 career points, the No. 2 total in city history to the 2,681 rung up by Strawberry Mansion’s Maureece “The Scorelord” Rice in the ’00 to ’03 seasons. A third guy could join them. Sr. F Carlos Taylor (UMass-Lowell) tallied 20 points and HIS total stands at 969 with one, two, three or four games remaining, depending on how the Warriors fare. Three 1,000-point scorers on one team?! How cool would that be?! Greenlee, meanwhile, almost had a downer of a night. As detailed in the SportsWeek story, he arrived at Southern some 40 minutes after the supposed reporting time of 5 o’clock and Watson Sr. at first was not going to start him. He changed his mind, however, perhaps out of sympathy for the pursuit of 1,000 points. Watson Jr. was terrific, by the way. This was probably the best I’ve seen him play all season. He forced nothing, yet was always energetic while maintaining a commanding presence. He missed just two shots en route to 23 points, while adding six rebounds, eight assists and six steals, and I’m sure his future BU coach was drooling. Taylor (eight) and Greenlee (six) added respectable rebound totals to their points while jr. F Eric Lark, the football squad’s QB, had five boards. Late in the first half, frosh G Tymir Watson, Doo-Wop’s brother, made an appearance. D-W was resting at the end of the bench at this juncture, but he stood up as Tymir got the ball out front and appeared to be pondering what to do next. D-W yelled, “Go to work, Tymir!” Honestly, since they were at opposite ends of the court, it’s questionable whether Tymir even heard D-W. He did go to work, though, knifing right down the lane for a layup. There was an incident with 2:16 left in the third quarter that resulted in double-techs and the ejection of BL sub jr. F Eddie Powell. The problem began as Watson and a PJP player chased a loose ball toward the sideline in the northwest corner. Both guys sprawled and it was almost as if their bodies were attached, lengthwise. The BL people claimed the PJP kid uncorked a kick while trying to free himself from Watson and Watson appeared to try to push the PJP kid when both were standing again; not even sure he connected. Meanwhile, a guy wearing an Edison hoodie hopped out of the north stands and ran over in that direction as if he were going to get involved. He was a non-factor, but was bounced from the gym after things settled down. The fact that Powell ran off the bench toward the dustup was a major shock. He always appears to be the most mild-mannered kid on the team and his expression NEVER changes. Even tonight, I’m not sure it did (ha ha). Two of PJP’s starters, jrs. Jamel Stinson and Brent Mahoney, played at the ol’ Kennedy-Kenrick, in Norristown, which closed in June 2010. The Wolverines’ final coach, Jack Flanagan, guides PJP and it was good to see him and assistant Dan Rafferty. Also had a chance to speak briefly with Mike Santillo, who has matched Flanagan’s coaching feat in football (head man at K-K, then PJP). Likewise a good guy! Mike said PJP’s buses carrying the cheerleaders and student rooters left the school, in Royersford, at 4 o’clock. The first bus didn’t arrive until early in the second quarter and the second group of kids didn’t appear until about 3 ½ minutes prior to halftime. Only in the Burbs! (smile)

(At Lincoln)
SJ Prep 63, Bartram 56
  At halftime, scouting guru Allen Rubin walked over to confirm what he was pretty sure he knew: Prep star Stephen Vasturia, a jr. CG, had struggled mightily from the floor in the first 16 minutes. To what degree? Well, Stevie V had connected on just three of 12 shots while also going 1-for-7 on treys. Care to guess who finished with 35 points? Yes, 35! His initials are SV. As the Hawks stormed to victory in a VERY entertaining contest, in a gym that's quickly becoming my favorite, Vasturia, who's already committed to Notre Dame, exploded for 28 points beyond intermission. In a 21-12 fourth quarter, all he did was notch 17, shooting 4-for-6 (treys Nos. 4, 5 and 6) and 6-for-6. Early, Vasturia was blanketed nicely by sr. F Bo Murray. In time, however, Murray encountered foul trouble and the assorted fill-ins couldn't match his success (and neither could Murray, in the late going). Plus, Vasturia was FEELIN' it and once he got rolling, it was questionable whether anyone could have stopped him. In all, Vasturia shot 10-for-22 (6-for-14 on threes) and 9-for-9 and the 35 points enabled him to tie Wilt Chamberlain for the City Title record. Wilt had his 35 vs. West Catholic in 1955. At the line he's now 123-for-134 for the season and that computes to 91.8 percent. Most dudes couldn't do that well from 3 feet away, let alone 15. We'll get to some details later, but first some unusual tidbits. The Prep fired 34 treys (hitting 13) and just 11 regulars (hitting six). The five Hawks aside from Vasturia attempted just THREE non-treys. Coach Speedy Morris now holds this outrageous city record: Longest drought between City Title victories -- 38 years. His other one, by 38-35 over West Philadelphia, had come in 1974 during his wildly successful stint as Roman's coach. Guard Donald Kelly, the guy who hit the go-ahead field goal in that game, was among today's spectators. Speedball lost CT's in '78 (to West Philly), '79 and '80 (both to Overbrook), but we'll forgive him because those teams went 33-1, 34-1 and 34-0, respectively, and owned national profiles. (Oh, for a return to THAT glorious Pub.) One guy not in attendance today, not even as a spectator, was Prep jr. Miles Overton, a star WG-SF. Yesterday, Overton had surgery on a damaged right thumb (shooting hand) and won't return this season, no matter what kind of run the Hawks put together in the state tourney. Soph G-F Kyle Thompson, an aggressive lefty, advanced from sixth man to starter and contributed seven points along with a team-high six rebounds. Seventh man Tom Stewart, a sr. WG, also moved up a notch and was responsible for 13 points, seven of his own and six more on passes that led to threeballs. He also had three rebounds. Sr. WG Gene Williams totaled 14 points while nailing four treys. Jr. G P.J. Kelly and sr. G Kevin Oberlies had three and two dimes, respectively, and neither one cared about going scoreless (each took just one shot). For Bartram, which seemed to be ENTIRELY capable of pulling off the upset until early in the fourth quarter, jr. SF Terrieck Williams was terrific while shooting 8-for-9 en route to 17 points; he mixed drives and jumpers and always looked smooth. Sr. PG Gary Gordon added 10 points and six boards, but missed significant time due to foul trouble and, honestly, Bartram began to slip when he was out. Sr. WG Jared Bryant also had 10 points. Murray snagged nine boards. As the third quarter ended, frosh F Christopher McGill nailed a right-corner trey on a pass from jr. G Malik Noel and the Braves reclaimed the lead, at 44-43. However, the Prep roared to 14 of the next 18 points and Stewart capped that run by hitting a trey on a pass from Williams. I can't say enough about the appeal of Lincoln's gym. It's bright and the stands are close to the court (even though the sections behind the east basket weren't in use tonight) and there just seems to always be the feeling that something cool is gonna happen. Meanwhile, it was great to see the gusto displayed by the Prep players after the W had been secured. Losing by two, in OT, to Neumann-Goretti for the Catholic League crown was an all-time toughie, but these guys showed great resiliency, especially when you factor in Overton's absence. Congrats to the Hawks for this memory for a lifetime.

(At SJ Prep)
Comm Tech 55, McDevitt 53
  When it comes to post-season action, McDevitt is not exactly The Center of the Good-Luck Universe. The Lancers own just one win in 49 seasons of Catholic League membership (1989, quarterfinal over Dougherty) and had the misfortune of falling to North Catholic's JVs, filling in for the suspended varsity, in a 1968 quarterfinal that made national headlines. McDevitt is now 1-11 in post-season games, including CL preplayoffs, and five of the losses have come by no more than four points. This one came down to the very last instant. With 1.9 seconds remaining, McDevitt had to go the length of the court, east to west, at the Prep. The inbounder was jr. F Carl Garner. Sr. WG Markeise Chandler ran west to east, caught the inbound pass a shade before halfcourt, turned and fired a heave from belly level while leaping forward. For a brief moment, the ball looked . . . as if it had a chance!!! Clang. It hit a spot on the right side of the rim. Man, oh, man. The Lancers hadn't played since Feb. 12, when they'd bested West Catholic, 60-55, to claim the CL's spot in this contest. Alas, their 3-10 mark was not good enough to earn them a spot in the CL playoffs; thus the long wait. A lot can happen in three weeks and, unfortunately, one of the worst possible scenarios affected the Lancers: star sr. F Brahieme Jackson violated a team rule and was suspended for one game by coach Jack Rutter. Man, oh, man, Part II. McDevitt, of course, will still participate in the state playoffs as D-12's No. 2 seed, but going into same off a win would have felt mighty nice. Apologies to the CT folks for starting this report with McDevitt's ins and outs, but I felt such an approach was justified, given the school's frustrating hoops history and how close it came to staging an upset. At times, this wasn't the cleanest game ever, but it was spirited throughout as each team displayed the mindset, "We're better than you are." CT had balanced scoring, as four guys tallied from eight to 14 points. The leader was frosh CG Samir Doughty while the identical sr. Parker twins, Tony and Terrell, added 11 and eight. Jr. F Terrence Brown also had 11 points. Tony Parker snagged 12 rebounds while Terrell had the misfortune of hurting his right foot/ankle with 3:35 left in the third quarter. He did reappear for the final 3:39. Jr. CG Basil Malik had a few clutch plays thanks to four assists and three steals. Malik's layup off a steal gave CT a 51-50 lead. Chandler hit two free throws to put Mickey D back in front, but Malik came through with another theft and Doughty banked home a trey from right in front of CT's bench on a pass from Brown, making it 54-52. McDevitt sr. F-C Mike Newns was unable to hit two free throws at 0:40, then Chander made a steal off a double-team and jr. PG Kenyatta Long wound up going to the line at 23.2. He hit the first, then Tony Parker rebounded the missed second shot. Walking was called on the Phoenix in front of its bench at 17.7 and McDevitt's next possession yielded a missed 15-footer by sub jr. G Tymere Wilder along the right baseline. Tony Parker went to the line at 2.5 and made the front end. Garner snagged the rebound and quickly called time, setting up the already detailed, last-play scenario. Chandler (15) and soph F Tyrell Long (12) scored in double digits while K. Long had nine and Newns/Wilder halved 14. T. Long had eight rebounds, K. Long dished five assists and Chandler hustled for seven steals. Huck was today's stat sidekick and he noticed a late-game glitch that hurt McDevitt's chances for victory. After grabbing a rebound, K. Long was fouled and should have gone to the line for a one-and-one. Nope. Didn't happen. Huck had CT for EIGHT team fouls at that point, as did CT's book person (Huck walked all the way across the court to check). McDevitt's had CT for just six and the scoreboard showed seven. Oh, baby. CT's book person, an adult male, and McDevitt's, a female student, were sitting at least a dozen feet apart. Obviously, no coordination was taking place. Oh, and there'd be one more messy moment right after the game ended. The City Title and MVP plaques were nowhere to be found. Pub chairman Ben Dubin said later he'd given them to CL counterpart Joe Sette. Dubin said Sette told him he'd mistakenly left them at home. After working so hard to win the City Title, the Comm Tech crew was NOT happy.

(At Southern)
Neumann-Goretti 66, Boys’ Latin 57

  Imagine if the Saints, fresh off a win that yielded their fourth consecutive Catholic League championship, had dropped this tilt, which pretty much amounted to a home game considering Southern’s location. CTs are only for seeding, not to stave off the start of spring sports, but N-G surely did not want to head into the state tourney off a BIG disappointment. Did defeat even come close to happening? Ah, not really. But the Saints were pushed around a little in the first half and we definitely had ourselves a ballgame. Thanks mostly to guards Maurice “Doo-Wop” Watson (sr., Boston U) and Yahmir Greenlee (jr., burgeoning interest), who almost always find a way to blend in something approaching perfect harmony, BL owned a 28-21 lead with 2 ½ minutes remaining in the first half. Then, you’re talkin’ serious drought. A drought with a few inconsequential raindrops. N-G stormed to 20 of the next 23 points as BL went cold and N-G often looked like an old-school Pub team, showing an off-to-the-races mentality. Right before the half, N-G jr. F John Davis got fouled, but also picked up a tech for flapping his gums. While Davis made one of two shots, Watson somehow missed both halves of the tech-shooting session and the Warriors also failed to convert the tacked-on possession. Soon, with just 1.3 seconds showing, jr. PG Hanif Sutton inbounded from a spot under N-G’s basket and the very important sixth man, sr. G La’Quan Coaxum, knocked down a trey to pull the Saints within 31-29. N-G roared to the first 12 points of the third quarter while BL was going 0-for-8. Ballgame. The post-intermission outburst featured two runners by sr. WG Billy Shank, usually a threeball specialist, two free throws by soph WG Ja'Quan Newton, Davis’ follow and another transition bucket on Newton’s feed to sr. F-C Derrick Stewart (Rider). Cyber attention (and Inquirer ink; more on that development later) went to Davis, the ever-active lefty. After getting scorched by coach Carl Arrigale at halftime for his tech, Davis jammed 14 of his 21 points and 11 of his 15 rebounds into the second half. Davis is a South Philly guy and up to 40 friends/family members were on hand, so it thrilled him no end to be so productive (and take home the MVP trophy). Newton also had 21 points and the same number of dunks as Davis (two). Also, he shot 11-for-18 at the line while fighting for eight rebounds and four assists. Stewart had 11 boards while Sutton and Coaxum were statistical matches in three categories – three boards, two apiece of steals/assists. In the first half, with 11 points, five assists and five steals, Watson played as well as is humanly possible. He expended incredible energy and was seemingly everywhere while leaving far behind a subpar performance in the Pub final. Overall, he notched 22 points, four boards, five dishes and 10 thefts, though I’m sure he would have been happier if his shooting (9-for-23, 3-for-7) had been better. Greenlee, who struggled during the meaty part of the Pub final, buried three treys in the second quarter and finished with 16 points, leaving him 10 short of 1,000. Incredibly, he hustled for TEN rebounds. Sr. SF Carlos Taylor (UMass-Lowell) continued to struggle, shooting 3-for-13 for six points. He’s one of those long-stride guys as he shoots and his rhythm is just not good right now. He continually looks off-balance. Taylor was one of four Warriors with four rebounds. As he knows, he has to snatch more than that. OK, now for the Inky development. Our two papers have long had the same ownership, but have been fiercely competitive. The new group feels a blending of staffs will make us stronger overall (no comment – ha ha), so now the Inky is free to use Daily News stories and we can use theirs. I didn’t receive word that tonight’s story would appear in the Inquirer until earlier today and the deadline wasn’t relayed until late afternoon. It was 10:30. Problem No. 1. The first half of the girls’ game took roughly 50 minutes (yes, 50 minutes!) and that set the whole night back. Problem No. 2. There was no guarantee that I wouldn’t be chased out of the gym before 10:30. Game manager Scott Pitzner, Southern’s football coach, checked with several members of the cleaning crew and they said the same thing; they’d be hustling to wrap things up as quickly as possible. Zooooooom! After interviewing Davis, I headed back to the office, which was EMPTY because SportsWeek, the new Daily News weekend product that has roughly a 9:30 deadline, had already been put to bed. Very eerie to be in that big room alone. I rushed and rushed and finished maybe 10 inches by 10:30 and emailed it to the appropriate Inquirer editor. I told him what had happened and said I’d send the full version before the next deadline at 11:15. That occurred at 10:55 and the complete story was also sent to a philly.com editor, who posted it within minutes. Lord only knows what wound up in the Inquirer because that paper’s editor, upon receiving the final version, said he only had room for maybe two more paragraphs than what I’d sent earlier. Oh, baby. I was just getting warmed up (smile). Much earlier today, I had an email exchange with one of the Daily News honchos, expressing concern over this whole new twist, and he advised me to just hang in there and “bite the bullet.” I responded, “Only if it tastes like a quarter-pounder.” . . .

(For third/fourth; at Southern)
Roman 73, Fels 41
  If there's one thing a significant underdog can't do, it's allow the opponent to jump to a 9-4 lead thanks to a trio of treys and then - uh, oh -- add four more quick points. That happened tonight and any hope of a spirited match was quickly dashed. Jr. WG Britton Lee nailed the first two treyballs, then jr. G-F Shafeek Taylor tallied the third. (This all happened at the south end of Southern's gym and sitting behind the basket were Taylor's family members. Among them was Shafeek's brother, Marshall, a former star at West Catholic. Good to see you, Marsh! Since the Taylors are South Philly natives -- dad Marshall was the star point guard for Southern's 1986 Pub champs -- you know 'Feek wanted to play well in this gym and that definitely happened thanks to 17 points and eight rebounds.) After Taylor's bucket, soph PG Shep Garner made a steal at halfcourt and cruised in for a layup and 6-6 frosh TreVaughn Wilkerson followed with a semi-turnaround jumper from roughly the foul line. As the game proceeded, it looked as if Wilkerson was doing enough to warrant ink and, afterward, coach Chris McNesby was in full agreement. TW didn't sound completely positive, so I was kind of vague in the story, but he thought his previous start had come against Lower Merion. If so, that game was the season opener! Anyway, Wilkerson fnished with seven points, eight rebounds and four blocks and his interview comments would indicate he really understands what's possibly in front of him and what it'll take to realize his dreams. He showed a good shooting touch and range (late-game trey!) and appears to have nice hands, witness the early-game recovery he made after the ball was first slapped away from him. TW is still 15 years old and looks young facially, so we're guessing 6-6, 200, will not be his final dimensions. Taylor, meanwhile, notched his 17 points by shooting 5-for-9 (one trey) and 6-for-7. Lee added one more three en route to 13 points while Garner and jr. sub G-F Raquan Brown-Johnson added 12 apiece. All four of the deep-sub guys hit the scorebook. Junior Matt Simon and Angel Trinidad (not sure what grade he's in) nailed threebies while Jamil Taylor, the team's lone senior, converted a drive to draw a big response and Dan Maggiano (also not sure on grade; and Puck the Strapper is now spelling that last name differently than he did at earlier Roman games -- ugh!! ha ha) hit two free throws. The outmanned Panthers had trouble finding a flow and the fact that they didn't sniff the foul line until 7:18 remained did not help. As always, PG Danil Mateo was feisty. I heard him jawing with Lee on several occasions and Lee was givin' it right back. At one juncture, Mateo was standing close to where I was seated, right off the gym's southeast corner, and Lee barked at him, "You the point guard. How come you ain't up there runnin' the offense?" I couldn't hear Danil's response, but let's guess it wasn't, "You're a very perceptive young man. I'll go get the ball right now." The only true highlights were provided in the last five minutes by sr. sub G Nate McIntosh, who can't be much bigger than 5-5. He poured in nine points on three regulars and a trey and one of his layups was an all-timer. He pretty much pulled the ball out of his culo (check a website with Spanish-English translations -- ha ha) and flipped it into the basket. Very legendary!

FEB. 29
(For Third/Fourth; at Ryan)
Carroll 48, Phila. Electrical 37
  You know you’re walking down a hallway with a Penn grad when you hear him say, “This place is our new de facto home court.” (smile) The guy was Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk and Archbishop Ryan’s gym has become quite the good-luck charm for his squads. In 2009, lest we forget, the Patriots shocked CL kingpin Neumann-Goretti in a AAA quarterfinal at Ryan and went on to capture the league’s first state title in Year No. 1 of official membership. The Patriots also won a play-in game over Gratz at Ryan in 2010. (Maybe now you’re saying, “Wait, didn’t Carroll lose to Ryan THIS season?” Indeed. But that game took place AT Carroll.) Anyway, tonight’s game hardly qualified as a classic. In fact, it was rather hard on the eyes. Not only was the pace mostly slow – Paul said he did not want to run with the Chargers – both teams were wickedly poor from the floor. Jr. PG Yosef Yacob was able to post just one assist because his playmates shot just 6-for-28 and sr. WG Alec Stavetski, normally a capable wing sniper, somehow went 0-for-11. Yacob managed to go 3-for-5 and all of his makes were treyballs. Somehow, HE led the Patriots in rebounds with six. PET was 13-for-47 from the floor and hit just three of 14 threes. Like I said, it was ugly. Meanwhile, how often do you see a team score more than half of its points on free throws? Carroll did that, going 25-for-32, as Yacob and Stavetski led the way with matching 9-for-10 performances. PET went the distance without jr. PF-C Jai Williams, who has a tender left ankle. Coach James “Flame” Lewis said beforehand he might use Jai a little, depending, but that didn’t happen and that probably made sense since this game was only for seeding, not for win-or-start-baseball-season purposes. The Chargers continue to have major difficulties feeding the post. Sr. C David George, who’s drawing lower D-I interest and sports great academics, was pretty much a non-factor. He grabbed just five rebounds and shot 1-for-8 from the floor. Once, after not seeing the ball for a good while, he got it on the wing and made a wild trip to the hoop, as if he’d been thinking, “Who knows when I’ll see this thing again? Better have fun with it now.” In the second half, he did receive a couple of respectable entry passes, but then had footwork problems. (Maybe fouls should have been called? Couldn’t tell for sure. PET was shooting at the far end past intermission.) The best Charger was sr. F Davian Joseph, who’s usually a sub. He showed game-long energy while totaling eight points, 13 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Nice overall effort, kid. Jr. WG Hakeem Baxter had 11 points, two assists and four steals. One of the subs was frosh G Zakee Shakur, who’s brand new to the varsity. In the fourth quarter, along the right baseline, he made a quick, impressive move to lose a defender, then stuck maybe a 12-foot jumper. PET needs to regroup quickly. Otherwise, this squad will be remembered only as the answer to this trivia question: Which school, in the 2011-12 season, posted regular season victories over BOTH teams that advanced to the Pub final, but then really faded? (Admittedly, Constitution sat four starters the day it lost to PET. But still . . . )

FEB. 27
(At the Palestra)
Neumann-Goretti 59, SJ Prep 57 (OT)
  The Call will be discussed all day Tuesday in assorted outposts and, perhaps, forever and ever by those involved as players, coaches or spectators. Don Cummiskey made it and, by all appearances, it wasn’t WRONG. The debate will rage over whether it should have been made. Thank about it: Deep down, can any ref be faulted for making a call that’s correct? N-G loyalists are going to say, “No way,” while Prep people are going to contend, “At the very end of overtime in a tie game, unless murder and mayhem are committed, you swallow your whistle and let the teams decide it in OT No. 2.” Cummiskey decided to call what he saw and that sent jr. WG Ja’Quan Newton, who’d rebounded a missed layup by jr. PG Hanif Sutton, for two shots with 1.3 seconds remaining. Newton bounced in the first and swished the second and N-G had its fourth consecutive CL title, as well as its 70th consecutive triumph in league action (19 and 19 in the first two years; 16 and 16 in these last two). What a night! The Carroll-Wood girls’ game went OT and shortly before this one began, Jason Budd, the Archdiocese's tie to sports, said he’d been told 700 more tickets were being quickly printed because plenty of people were still outside, hoping to get in when Carroll-Wood fans departed. Once this game began, the place was packed and the atmosphere was electric throughout. In a way, it was surprising that the Hawks wound up taking N-G to the limit because, No. 1, they got off to a terrible start, falling into an 11-0 hole, and, No. 2, their franchise player, jr. CG Stephen Vasturia, finished the first half with zero points, as in none. Nevertheless, the Prep kept battling and the Saints had just enough chinks in their armor (despite its size disadvantage, the Prep was able to score on a decent amount of follows) to make things over-the-top interesting. Though the Hawks had fallen to N-G in their gym -- by 13 points, even – during the regular season, no doubt they were able to draw inspiration from the fact that Roman, a lesser light by comparison, had taken N-G to OT. Anyway, let’s go to the stretch and then we’ll backtrack. With 2:31 left in regulation, Vasturia tipped in his own miss to make it 45-45. Newton’s lefthanded layup, on a pass from sr. F-C Derrick Stewart, staked N-G to a 47-45 edge at 1:44. Jr. G-F Miles Overton tied it on a pair of free throws at 1:24 and Newton hit the second of two at 35.4. At 16.9, sr. WG Gene Williams was fouled down low after taking a pass from sr. G Kevin Oberlies and he hit the first of two throws, creating a deadlock at 48-48. Off an inbound pass from under N-G’s basket at 4.3, Newton was unable to hit about a 12-foot jumper along the right baseline. The ball hit twice on the rim before deciding not to drop. Vasturia (from Overton) and Newton (from Davis) traded buckets to start the extra session and the latter was more noteworthy because Overton fouled out on the play. N-G notched the next five points as Newton followed Stewart’s miss and, after Williams missed a trey, Davis took a feed from Sutton and toughed out a layup while getting thoroughly hammered. He also added the free throw, making it 55-50 with 1:57 left. Just when folks might have been thinking the Prep was fading, Vasturia hit a pair of free throws. Shortly thereafter came the game’s most amazing sequence. Sutton inbounded to the right of N-G’s basket, along the baseline, and could find no one open, so he whipped the ball high toward midcourt, on the side (north) where the benches are located. Newton soared to get the ball, but he guided it right to Williams, who steamed toward the bucket for what he undoubtedly figured would be an easy two points. His route was somewhat circuitous, however, and Newton, showing spectacular hustle, arrived at the very last instant to soar and block the layup. Sr. WG Billy Shank zipped to the other end for a basket and the lead was back to five with 1:07 left. Not for long, baby! Vasturia hit a WAY-out-there three and the score was now 57-55. Following a turnover, Vasturia converted a one-and-one at 33.9. N-G’s final possession featured nothing but out-front dribbling by Sutton, guarded by jr. G P.J. Kelly, out near halfcourt toward the scorers’ table. Finally, with roughly eight seconds left, Sutton set sail on a move to his left. Down the lane he went and his twisting layup was unsuccessful. Newton rebounded on the right side and, as mentioned earlier, was hit as he tried to convert the follow. The Free Throws Heard Around the Catholic League, and Beyond, then found their mark. All of the post-game emotion/celebration stuff is mentioned in the DN story. Suffice to say there was MUCH of it. We will mention here that Shank, then Stewart, standing together on the ladder at the Palestra’s west end, were the last two Saints to snip down the net. Only fitting since they’re the only two rotation seniors and really were part of all four titles; they were pretty much the second and third subs as freshmen. The Prep folks, no doubt, will long replay this one in their minds. The ins and outs of Overton’s night will be prominent. Late in the first half, he came down awkwardly after missing a left-corner trey (maybe he landed on the defender’s foot?) and injured his right ankle. At halftime, he appeared on the court before the rest of the Hawks and did some shooting before subjecting himself to some back-and-forth trots under the watchful eye of the trainer. He was given the go-ahead (you were expecting something different? – smile) and made a couple of nice early plays. Alas, he picked up his third foul at 5:45 and his fourth at 4:29, then was ordered to sit until 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. Big development, considering how well he’d been playing. Newton (21), Stewart (13) and Davis (12) scored in double figures for N-G while Davis (12) and Newton (11) reached double digits in rebounds. Sutton had five assists and took turns with sr. G sub La’Quan Coaxum to do an excellent job on Vasturia. Vasturia (19), Overton (16) and Williams (12) topped Prep in points and Stevie V swept 11 boards. Overton, Williams and Oberlies thirded nine assists. Each team used just six players and I can’t imagine that has happened too often in a CL final. Meanwhile, pic-wise, the frustration level is at an all-time high. The memory card is always a snap to remove. Just push on it a little to make it pop up slightly, then squeeze it with thumb and index finger and pull it out. This time . . . No go!! The card popped up fine, but then wouldn’t budge. The wife heard me snapping out (at maybe 1 a.m.; sainthood is not far behind) and offered to get her tweezers. She removed the card, but when I went to download the pics on the computer, they were nowhere to be found. I hope someone at a photo/computer store can salvage the memory card and figure things out. If not, I’m going to be one disheartened dude. Already am, in fact. So sorry for what I HOPE is just a delay. Lastly, thanks to both teams, and the fans, for a wonderful night of basketball. The atmosphere was as good as it gets. It's now 2:42 a.m. Time to go to sleep . . . maybe.

FEB. 25
(at Community College of Phila.)
Constitution 85, Boys' Latin 60
  Anyone feeling cheated right about now? Though the playoffs are supposed to give us the best games of the season, this year's offerings have mostly been duds. ConHigh frolicked to the title and BL saved face to the tune of minus-25 only because it won the last quarter, 23-15, When this one began, a good 95 percent of the seats were occupied. By game's end, the number was more like 20 percent and a decent number of BL's fans began heading for the exits with 5:29 remaining. Oh, baby. It's hard not to wonder if the BL guys would have fared better if they'd arrived shortly before gametime. Instead, like ConHigh's players, they watched the girls' final, in which Prep Charter demolished Central by 70-34. Like Central, BL was the underdog and its early performance mirrored what happened in the opener. The Warriors were guilty of poor shooting and lots of turnovers and I'd imagine at least some of them were thinking, "Man, what happened to Central is happening to us. This isn't lookin' too good." Coach Rob Moore had a great defensive plan. He stuck sr. CG Daiquan Walker on jr. WG Yahmir Greenlee, rotated little-guy sr. Gs Tamir Bolger and Amonie "Moonie" Holloman on franchise sr. PG Maurice "Doo-Wop" Watson (Boston U.), and assigned sr. F Craig "Poppy" Slade to shadow sr. F Carlos Taylor (UMass-Lowell). All three Warriors turned in subpar performances and don't let Greenlee's 20-point outing fool you. Sixteen of those points were posted about three weeks after the issue had been decided, and during a time frame when the game should have been taking place at a playground. Sr. F-C Savon Goodman made it 13-4 with a steal/dunk combo with 1:09 left in the first quarter; the turnover was BL's seventh of the quarter. The Generals wound up with leads of 22-8 and 30-14 en route to a halftime score of 39-19 and, really, we all could have left right then and there. Oddly, despite its dominance, Con (18-9 overall) is the losingest Pub champion since at least 1950 (Franklin, the '52 kingpin, had eight losses) and maybe holds the No. 1 spot all time. Granted, the Generals have played a difficult non-league schedule. Con had 16 steals while forcing BL into 20 turnovers and were explosive in transition, thanks mostly to Goodman. Savon powered home five dunks en route to 24 points and was active overall with 12 rebounds, three assists and six steals. Walker, selected as the game MVP, had 15 points and seven assists while toughing things out on a tender left foot. Slade added six points and 10 points to his lock-down defense on Taylor (0-for-4, zero points). Bolger and Holloman halved rebounds and the latter drilled three treys while bagging 15 points. Bolger led Moonie in steals, 3-2. Frosh SF Ahmad Gilbert, showing a feathery lefty shot, scored six points in the late going. His dad, also named Ahmad (nicknamed "Ahhkie"), starred for Overbrook's 1983 champs. Watson settled for 14 points while adding four assists and five steals. Greenlee, quite uncommonly, went 1-for-11 on treys. Sr. G Rahshan Wooten-Miller was aggressive while slapping together a 12-point outing and soph G Charles Pressley, proud owner of one point beforehand, posted seven (along with four boards) while showing late-game gusto. Overall, I like Community a lot as a playoff site, but this place must be having money problems, as well. At least 12 ceiling lights were dark. And is this correct? No food, as in none, was being sold? Not even a candy bar could be had? What's with that? Meanwhile, this was the second biggest victory margin in Pub finals history. In 2006, Gratz dusted Comm Tech, 62-36, for a 26-pointer.

FEB. 23
(To Determine Fourth)

Imhotep 65, Del-Val 46
 Don’t take this the wrong way, folks, but this game was brutal. Not even a hint of a flow and extremely tough to watch. Imhotep scored just ONE point over roughly a TEN-minute period and still won by NINETEEN! That about says it all, right? Oh, and so does this: D-V went 3-for-16 at the line and two of those bricks were front ends. Also, one kid missed three attempts on the same foul-line visit. Effort wasn’t lacking from the assorted players on both squads, but the game just was not a pretty sight. It happens. After getting upset in the round of 16 and waving bye-bye to its chance at winning a fourth consecutive Pub title, Imhotep now has its sights set on garnering another state crown. That quest, too, will prove challenging, but hardly impossible. DN ink went to sr. WG Khyree “Old Head” Wooten, who powered for a trio of three-point plays while scoring 20 points (17 beyond halftime). I call Khyree Old Head because it seems as if he’s been around forever. He has enjoyed factor status for four seasons now and his career point total is up to 1,115. The crafty lefty, who has drawn some preliminary D-I interest, looks a little thinner and appears to be in great shape. Jr. CG Brandon Austin, who stands at least 6-6 and possesses a wing span that goes on for days, totaled 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. He recently committed to Penn State and Nittany Lion assistant Brian Daly, former star and head coach at Bonner, was on hand to check him out. Jr. PF Nigel Grant had 10 points and seven boards and sr. PG Kamani Jordan, also a lefty, dealt six assists while hitting three treys en route to 11 points. Off the bench, jr. SF James Edwards led D-V with 14 points. He plays (and even looks, slightly) like Constitution’s Craig “Poppy” Slade and could be an interesting player in the 2012-13 season since he has hops for inside stuff and enough range to launch from behind the arc. Soph WG Clayton “CJ” Wolfe had 13 points and sr. PG Fateem Brockington managed 10. Jr. PF-C Antwan Scriven clutched seven rebounds. D-V still has a chance to earn a spot in the state tournament; it’ll have to beat a squad from District I. (Details TBA.) A crowd just short of full-house numbers was on hand, and it included both schools’ cheerleaders. Imhotep’s started out along the east baseline, where there's maybe six feet of space between the line and the wall. Well, the gals were lined up in two rows, so yes they were within a foot of the baseline. Once, a D-V kid was ready to inbound the ball when one of the gals did one of those spread out quick jumps and brushed against the player. Oh, baby. The gals moved to the other end for the second half, but were rather quickly told to go sit down. Pretty sure that’s the PIAA rule anyway: cheerleaders must sit in the stands while the game itself is taking place.       

FEB. 22
(At the Palestra)
Neumann-Goretti 73, Roman 56
SJ Prep 58, Carroll 49
  Maybe Pennsylvania's lawmakers snuck a new one past us: Semifinals can only be good, not tremendous. These babies pretty much mirrored the Pub's, as in there were strong performances by certain players and the eventual losers battled hard. However, never in either fourth quarter did the onlookers get to experience the arrival of the ever-treasured, heeerrre-we-go! feeling, and that was particularly disappointing tonight because these matchups had required overtime during the regular season and fans were hoping for terrific repeats. In effect, N-G/Roman was over before it truly got rolling as the Saints stormed to a 12-2 lead thanks to four treys. Sr. F-C Derrick Stewart (Rider) nailed the first one and the next three went to sr. WG Billy Shank. Meanwhile, all four assists were credited to jr. PG Hanif Sutton. In the teams' first meeting, held at Philadelphia University, Shank had gone scoreless while shooting 0-for-5 total and 0-for-4 on treys. So, after the first few minutes of this one, I'd imagine the thoughts bouncing around inside the heads of Roman's players were something along the lines of, "The main reason we got to OT the first time was that we kept that kid from burning us. Now look. He has three treys ALREADY. Could be a long night." And it mostly turned out to be. The Cahillites often looked tentative and/or awe struck and considering their youth and the fact that the game was being played at the coolest possible local (world?) venue, perhaps that should not have have surprised. Anyway, the score after one quarter was 21-7 and Roman does deserve credit for having won the next two quarters by three total points. With 1:46 left in the third quarter, a drive by soph PG Shep Garner pulled Roman within six, at 37-31. So much for the anticipated wild ride. Sr. G La'Quan Coaxum, the ever-important and productive sixth man, hit a right-corner trey, soph WG Ja'Quan Newton buried another threeball (right wing) and Coaxum scored on a follow. Six-point lead to 14-point lead. Just like that. The fourth quarter highlights belonged to jr. F John Davis, who had energy to burn after having to sit down due to foul trouble; the lefty wolfed down a pair of dunks. Newton (17), Coaxum (14), Shank (12) and Davis (11) scored in double figures and Stewart (eight) came close. Stewart led in rebounds with 10 while Davis (eight), Newton and Sutton (six apiece) helped out. Sutton dealt eight assists. Steals leader? EVERYBODY. Oops, make that NOBODY. Sidekick Ed "Huck" Palmer had the Saints finishing with no steals, which meant all nine of Roman's turnovers were unforced. Garner (20) and jr. F Shafeek Taylor (14) led Roman. Taylor and jr. WG Britton Lee halved 12 boards. Here's a telltale number: Only seven of the Cahillites' 22 field goals featured assists. The Roman guys were mostly driving and keeping. Or, when they did make passes, guys didn't hit the shots. In Game Two, coach William "Speedy" Morris claimed victory No. 622, making him the winningest coach in city history. One problem: the Palestra peeps weren't told. PA announcer Joe Donahue, who coaches the Prep's freshman team, didn't say word one, so it was left to assistant Keith Morris, Speedy's son, to remind the players in the locker room. They knew anyway because the tied-Dan-Dougherty feat had been mentioned by another PA announcer (Joe wasn't there that day) after the quarterfinal triumph over Wood. Speedy was playfully busting Joe's chops right at the entrance to the locker room and a good time was had by all. I was writing the N-G/RC story through most of the first half, so only occasional glances were made at the action. Huck mentioned later that Carroll owned a 10-9 lead late in the first quarter and that the Prep then embarked on a 10-0 run thanks to prominent contributions from jr. WG Miles Overton. In the second half (and to some degree beforehand), the Prep ran a layup clinic. The Patriots had plenty of problems preventing penetration and the Hawks made the ball talk with lots of snappy feeds. They shot 10-for-13 total in the third quarter and seven of those buckets were layups. Through three quarters they were 15-for-18 on twos (en route to 18-for-28 for the game). Jr. CG Stephen Vasturia (Notre Dame) finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. Overton had 20 points and was the only Hawk with true success (3-for-5) beyond the arc. Sr. WG Gene Williams joined Vasturia atop the rebound column while adding eight points. Sr. WG Kevin Oberlies led in assists with five and steals with three. Jr. PG P.J. Kelly managed two apiece. For Carroll, jr. PG Yosef Yacob, continuing his strong play over the second half of the season, had 17 points and five assists. Sr. bruiser Lou Dominique posted 11 rebounds (and 10 points) and frosh Derrick Jones had eight, along with three blocks. Sr. WG Alec Stavetski, paid strong attention all night in assorted defensive looks, owned just two points through three quarters. He got it rollin' down the stretch to finish with 12. All four schools had strong fan support, but the Prep's student turnout appeared to be the best. Thanks to Huck, Amauro, Frog and Keith for their great help. Somewhere in the bowels of the Palestra is a fax machine and Frog hustled back and forth to send the boxscores to the office so Kerith Gabriel could type them into the computer and get them into the paper. The night's best moment was seeing Tom Telford, who back in the day served as the Catholic League's chief umpire and whose son, Tommy, was a star athlete at Germantown Academy. Tom was living down south for 10 years or so, but now he's back. Great to see you, Tom!

FEB. 21
(Doubleheader at Southern)
Boys' Latin 70, Comm Tech 59
Constitution 76, Bartram 55
  If you're an old-school guy who's big on tradition, you're not a happy camper right about now because the championship game will match schools with just seven seasons of combined Pub experience. Look at it this way, though: At least three of the league's acknowledged top four players will be on display Saturday, 5:45, at the Community College of Philadelphia (following the 4 o'clock girls' final). ConHigh will have the edge in franchise players, 2-1, thanks to sr. F-C Savon Goodman and sr. PG Daiquan Walker. But if you expand the matchup to "very goods," the momentum swings in BL's favor, at 3-2, because sr. top-dog PG Maurice Watson has quality playmates in jr. WG Yahmir Greenlee and sr. F-C Carlos Taylor. We'll see how it goes, folks . . . As for this doubleheader, it never quite gripped the soul. BL led throughout and Con assumed command by the end of the first quarter. Actually, Pub semifinals with at least a hint of one-sidedness are not uncommon. Over the last 25 seasons, for example, just 12 of the 50 games have been decided by five points or fewer and just twice, in '04 and '98, were both games that competitive. Thirty of the 50 games have been decided by at least 11 points, tonight's smaller victory margin. (In '92, the numbers were 25 and 40. Whoa!) BL jumped to a 17-6 lead in the first eight minutes and, for once, the headliner wasn't Watson. In fact, he didn't rack up his first two points until he beat the buzzer with a jumper from roughly midway between the foul line and arc. The early forces were Taylor and Greenlee, who scored eight and seven points, respectively, while hitting two treys and one. Taylor wound up with 17 points and seven rebounds, as well as DN ink, and his story is interesting because he committed to a D-II program even before the season began. Most good players keep thinking, "I'll get that D-I offer . . . I'll get that D-I offer." Then, if it doesn't come, it's almost as if they're hissed that they have to go D-II. Taylor, instead, was happy to commit to UMass-Lowell because he thoroughly enjoyed his visit and Lowell is close to Boston, so he'll get to maintain his close friendship with Watson; the two played middle school together in Upper Darby. Taylor projects as a fluid small forward with effectiveness along the baseline and even the deep wings. He still looks young, so he could truly become a D-II force as he matures. Watson had 23 points and nine assists and went 11-for-15 at the line. Greenlee, a lefty, totaled 18 points and, like Taylor and Watson, also hit two treys. Sr. F-C Amir Tucker was the best of the rest, snagging six rebounds and grabbing a few of them in very authoritative fashion in traffic. For CT, frosh WG Samir Doughty smoothed his way to 18 points (love this kid's body control) and sr. WG Tony Parker shot 5-for-5 and 4-for-5 for 14. His twin, Terrell, mostly a PF, had five points and eight boards. Jr. F Terrence Brown managed nine points and five boards. Taylor was the centerpiece of the game's key sequence. After two free throws by Brown advanced CT within 56-53, Taylor took a pass from Watson and canned a layup while absorbing contact. Though Taylor missed the free throw, the ball went over the baseline in BL's favor and Taylor wound up being the inbounder. As noted in the DN story, the kid might have a future as a point guard (smile). He threaded a perfect pass to sr. PF Khadafi Robinson through the assorted bodies and that layup made it 60-53. I had to write the BL-CT story right after the game, so the first half of Con-Bart was only a rumor. Amauro Austin and Keith Hines combined to do stats, then Amauro and I handled the second half with Keith as the third set of eyes (when he wasn't checking out the babes -- ha ha). Amauro said Bartram came out strong and took an early lead, but Con was on top by the end of one, at 18-15, and that never changed. Goodman had 27 points (three dunks, all in the first half) and 11 rebounds while Walker had a terrific overall outing with 15 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. Sr. G Tamir Bolger added five dimes, but the ink went to the sixth man, sr. G Amonie "Moonie" Holloman, who sniped 5-for-9 beyond the arc for 15 points. His nickname (because his bald head looked like the moon) was given at birth by his dad, Fred Wharton, and how cool is it that he now shoots almost nothing but moonballs? Moonie can be streaky, but when he's feelin' it, he cannot be left alone. For Bartram, the top two scorers were lefties, sr. PG Gary Gordon (20) and jr. sixth man G Malik Noel (13). Sr. F Jared Bryant added 10 points while jr. G-F Terrieck Williams combined eight points with 10 rebounds. Gordon, Noel and Bryant thirded six treys. Holloman swished two of his treys in a 7-2 run that provided some breathing room after Bartram crawled within 40-38 on two buckets by Gordon. And then, in the fourth quarter, with Bartram still very much alive at 55-51, Holloman took a pass in the right corner from Bolger and, bang, lifted the lead to seven points. From there things turned into a circus. Even with the suspense long gone, the Braves kept fouling and fouling and Con kept hitting most of the free throws, and that sequence made the final score deceiving. The Generals had to go without sr. F Craig "Poppy" Slade, who lost a tooth in Saturday's quarterfinal while taking a charge. From the other end, I wasn't sure whether the tooth was dislodged by the initial contact or Poppy's fall to the floor. We spoke tonight before the first game and he said the IC was the culprit and that he spit out the tooth while falling. Phew. He said he would only have to miss one game. Good news! Meanwhile, the crowd was very good. If not a full house, right on the doorstep. But I have to ask . . . Why is there no organized cheering? (Except from cheerleaders, of course.) Back in the day, the Pub was famous for having organized sections of kids who would stand and bellow out stuff and entertain the rest of the spectators just as much as the players, if not more. Now, there's a big reaction only if someone dunks or breaks a defender's ankle. Is it uncool to show you care? Are you viewed as a strapper? Bartram is a much bigger school than Con and appeared to have a decent amount of supporters on hand, including alumni. If the Braves' faithful had truly assumed COMMAND of those south-end stands and been energetic as one, maybe they could have willed their squad to victory.

FEB. 18
Constitution 72, Math/Civics/Sciences 51
  Just before starting this report, I decided to check my Facebook page and someone sent this message: "Can you please write about how bad the refs were at the Pub games today? They ref one way all year and then call touch fouls 90 feet away from the basket." I assume this gentleman was talking about the second game (this one) much more than the first because the whistles were tweeting more than a celebrity's Twitter account. Here's one of the problems: Only two refs are used all season and then you have three guys for these important games. More eyes mean more chances to see "stuff" that might be going on. Also, there's an evaluator present at each game and any ref who wants to keep working important contests can't run the risk of letting stuff slide and then being nixed from future assignments because of that. For a while, though, it seemed like breathing on guys was a foul. Through the first half, I kept writing on the note pad about the second foul for this guy and third foul for that guy -- most indeed were ticky-tacks -- and the game had absolutely NO FLOW. ConHigh led by 15-6 after one and by 36-16 at halftime and, as things turned out, we all could have headed home then because MC&S pretty much went meekly and mildly. The game's most interesting moment occurred 1:58 before halftime when Con sr. F Craig "Poppy" Slade tried to draw a charge and wound up with one less tooth. Not sure if the loss occurred while Poppy was still standing or after he fell, but people at that north end of the gym reported that his left front tooth literally went bouncing across the floor. He also suffered a lacerated lip and the blood had to be mopped up, just not tapped with a towel or something. Poppy went to the hospital and we all hope he's OK! Sr. PF-C Savon Goodman led the Generals with 24 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks and even six assists, four steals. Oh, plus he wolfed down SIX dunks. It's tough to tell how well he'd fare with a steady diet of regular jumpers because so seldom is he forced to take one. He did do well at the line, however (8-for-9). Sr. PG Daiquan Walker had just eight points (2-for-12 floor), but dished six assists and made many more passes that led to two-shot fouls. Sr. F Fajion Jones did a great off-side job with 18 points and 10 boards, mostly just making sure to place himself in open areas. Almost everyone of importance for MC&S experienced severe foul problems. Only jr. F Jeremiah "Lump" Worthem and jr. CG Malik Starkes (might be able to gain an extra year of eligibility) scored in doubles for the Mighty Elephants, with 15 apiece. Truthfully, few of those points were meaningful and they combined to shoot just 8-for-25 from the floor. Jr. F Jeffon Powell, a sub, didn't score but snagged 10 rebounds. Not much more to say about this one. Con now owns a 2-0 record against its chief Class A rival. Do not be surprised if these guys meet one more time in the down-the-road state playoffs. Most ironic moment: In the fourth quarter, Goodman wound up with a defensive rebound and began to take the ball upcourt. He was still maybe 70 feet from the basket when one of MC&S' assistants yelled, "He ain't got no handle!!" Know what Goodman did? Went coast to coast for a layup.

FEB. 18
Bartram 57, Fels 49
  When this one started, it's doubtful more than 80 spectators were in Southern's gym. And some of those were players hanging out until the Constitution-MC&S daycap. Also, it appeared only about 15 of the spectators were Fels loyalists. Sad. Not sure whether that lack of support contributed to the Panthers' early struggles, but it couldn't have helped. Bartram roared to 13 of the first 17 points and the capper was a down-low bucket by jr. PF-C Gerald Evariste on a feed from jr. G-F Larry Manigo. Fels shot just 2-for-13 in the first quarter and the marksmanship never really improved 16-for-62. Sr. WG Casey Bell launched like someone who was confident, but hit just one of eight attempts from behind the arc. Sr. F Nijay Kelly went 6-for-20. He made numerous strong drives, often around/through two or three defenders, but finishing was an issue. He also got clobbered a few times, but went to the line just twice. Since he's also a football star, maybe the referees figured he could withstand the punishment (smile). Bartram's leader was sr. PG Gary Gordon, a transfer from U. City and a mid-season addition coming off knee surgery. The lefty shows a nice combination of grit and smoothness, and I liked that he was mostly dependable at the line, too (8-for-11). Jr. Terrieck Williams, officially a WG, claimed 12 rebounds while scoring 10 points. Jr. WG Malik Noel, another lefty, provided a big boost in the second quarter with 11 of his 12 points. Evariste added six boards and three blocks to seven points. Bartram has a lot of similar players: rather slim SFs with decent hops. Kelly (nine) and sr. WG TJ Scott (seven) led Fels in rebounds while jr. PG Danil Mateo, the definition of feisty (and maybe nutty -- smile), hit two treys while totaling 12 points. He also had three assists and four steals and his gumption was central to Fels' fourth quarter rally, as were the contributions of sr. WG Kyree Westbrooks, who scrambled for six steals. Mateo's brassy drive got Fels within 54-48 with 1:06 left and it was almost buckle-the-seatbelts time. The cause was helped when Bartram missed a pair of free throws, then Westbrooks hit one of two to slice the deficit to five. His miss of the second shot turned out OK because Bartram was last to touch the ball before it squirted over the baseline. On the followup possession, sr. G Devon Wilson missed a trey on one side and Bell could not hit a follow from the other. Again the Panthers lucked out because a held ball occurred and the arrow favored them. Bell wound up with a good look on a right-wing trey, but the shot went awry and Williams hit one of two at the other end to pretty much seal the deal. To make sure, sr. WG Jared Bryant made a steal and Gordon nailed two last free throws. Bartram all-timer Tyrone "Braidheart" Garland ('10) was among the spectators. Like always, the lighting in Southern's gym drove me nuts for photo purposes! For whatever reason, it makes the background look green. Ugh! Though the semifinals will also be played at Southern on Tuesday, the championship game will take place next Saturday at the Community College of Philadelphia, a much better and brighter venue. Nice!

FEB. 17
(At Phila. University)
Roman 53, Ryan 43

  Whether you’re young or old, think about how many games you’ve seen. Have you ever seen this? TWO official center jumps to start the game. That happened tonight. Occasionally, you’ll see a re-do because the ref tossed up the ball in crooked fashion and neither center was able to get a clean touch. But this time, Ryan sr. Christian Rivera and Roman jr. Secean Johnson got clean taps and the ball went a shade toward the scorers’ table. There was a scramble on the floor and, well, nobody was able to establish possession. A held ball was called and . . . hey, couldn’t exactly look at the possession arrow, right? So lead ref Kevin Clay summoned jr. G Rashann London and Ryan jr. G Tyler Reed back to the circle and up the ball went again. Roman got it. Later, there was another rarity as the ball got stuck at the top of the backboard at the end of the gym closest to Henry Avenue. Clay whipped another ball toward the game ball, trying to dislodge it. Didn’t work. Roman soph PG Shep Garner then took over and, pow, he connected and the game continued. How was the game itself? Like games always are when Ryan’s involved: different. The Raiders took their usual approach, making Roman chase and chase and chase and, oh yeah, chase. And the Cahillites did so, almost always in dedicated fashion. It was impressive to see and more than once you could just tell that Ryan’s players were thinking, “Wow, they’re not making things easy for us. We can’t get back-door layups, and not even enough room to launch treys.” Of course, Ryan did have breakthroughs or Roman would have pitched a shutout (smile). But overall, the Cahillites were impressive on D and that produced the W. Cyber attention went to jr. SF Shafeek Taylor, who was completely energized all game. In Roman’s gym this season, sometimes he appeared to be a shade laid back. But he got AFTER it tonight and I could see a mind-set resembling that of his father, Marshall, star point guard for the 1986 Southern High Pub champs that featured future NBAer Lionel Simmons. Marshall later was the floor leader for Texas Tech. Shafeek shot 7-for-12 (one trey) and 4-for-5 for 19 points while grabbing eight rebounds. London also scored in double figures while likewise snatching eight boards and dealing three assists. Garner had one of his few truly quiet games of the season with only six points, one apiece of rebounds/assists and two steals. Johnson had seven points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Jr. WG Britton Lee claimed three steals. Ryan placed only sr. F Nick Aughenbaugh in double figures (10), but jr. sub G Gage Galeone (nine, on three treys), Reed (eight) and Rivera (seven) were in the ballpark. Rivera was hurt by foul trouble. Incredibly, Rivera was the rebound leader with four. The coolest development concerned sr. PG Kyle Slawter, who never took a shot and only came close to doing so once, if I remember correctly. In the second half, he got the ball on the right wing and at least glanced toward the bucket. It was like, “Oh, man, is he going to launch a trey here?” Nope. Slawter finished with three boards, five assists and two steals. It would take a lot of research, but I wonder if a starter in a CL playoff game ever went shotless? (Except for maybe someone who suffered an early injury, of course.) Jr. WG Bryan Okolo settled for four points and just one field goal. He got to some good spots, but the ball just wouldn’t fall. It’s always frustrating when “one of those games” happens at exactly the wrong time. Taylor had two big plays to lift Roman’s lead from six to 10 (at 37-27) – a short jumper on the right baseline and a follow of a miss by jr. F Raquan Brown-Johnson. Later, Taylor hit two free throws off a steal and passed to Johnson for a dunk. Both schools had respectable, but hardly gigantic, student sections. Roman’s yelled again and again for an appearance by jr. G Matt Simon, and if he’d hit the late trey he took . . . Oh, baby. The ceiling might have cracked from the noise. Ryan’s kids began departing with about 40 seconds left. Roman’s hollered down to them, “Where you GOIN’?! Where you GOIN’?!” The Palestra semis will feature Roman vs. Neumann-Goretti and Carroll vs. SJ Prep. Should be a classic night!

FEB. 17
SJ Prep 76, Wood 49
  . . . As I was saying. Last Friday, Neumann-Goretti beat the Prep in its own gym mostly because it turned the tables on a team that loves to span quarters/halves with a strong run, or at least a mini-run, that provides momentum. Today, those tables were flipped back into their original position and coach William "Speedy" Morris wound up with yet another coaching milestone. Speedball posted two last season and this is his second of 2011-12. Last year, roughly a week apart, he claimed win No. 600 as a high school coach and then No. 561 in just the Catholic League portion of his stellar career, breaking the record of former Kenrick/O'Hara coach Buddy Gardler. On Feb. 3 of this campaign, Morris upped his lifetime win total to 900 counting guys/gals at the scholastic/college levels and today he notched triumph 621 at just the high school level, which tied him with Dan Dougherty (Malvern/Episcopal) for the city record. An announcement was made as the game wound down, but there was no wild celebration, no balloons, no plaques, no rollouts displayed by the grandchildren. Those things would have been very unusual for a tie, No. 1, and there's still much work to be done, No. 2, as the Prep will play Carroll (a winner tonight over La Salle) in a semifinal at the Palestra. Meanwhile, how amazing is this?! This was game No. 788 for Speedy and that's now his winning percentage!! He has averaged exactly 23 wins over his 27 high school seasons while Dan Doc averaged 17.3 over 36 and his winning percentage was "only" .685. Ah, but Doc owns the head-to-head competition, 4-2. Roman beat Episcopal in the legends' one meeting while Speedy was at Roman. Then, Episcopal went 2-0 against Speedy and Penn Charter in the '83 season and 1-1 in '84. That '84 win came in the season finale and kept PC from finishing 10-0. Their other meeting came in Dec. '03, when Speedy was in his third season at Prep. Episcopal won, 47-42, and two of the mainstays were future NBAers Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington. Prep went on to win the CL title and even crushed Dougherty and future NBAer Kyle Lowry, 84-61, in the final. Speedy could not remember this loss vs. Dan Doc. His son, Keith, his first assistant (and player for him at PC), did, however. Anyway, back to the positive run. It spanned halftime and featured a 15-2 advantage, making the score 45-24. The first five came before intermission as jr. PG P.J. Kelly hit a trey on a pass from jr. CG Stephen Vasturia (Notre Dame) and sr. WG Gene Williams canned a follow of Stevie V's missed three. Out of the halftime blocks, jr. WG Miles Overton nailed a pair of treys, then sr. G-F Kevin Oberlies scored two regulars on a jumper and drive. Ballgame. SportsWeek ink went to Overton, whose dad, Doug (Dobbins), was our Player of the Year in '87 and then had an outstanding career at La Salle (under Speedy, in fact) before advancing to the NBA. He's now an assistant with the New Jersey Nets. Miles had some foul trouble today and early it appeared his afternoon might be a total downer. However, he sniped 4-for-5 on treys in the second half and posted 18 total points while also dealing three assists. Vasturia had 13 points, 11 rebounds (amazing how he gets to double figures so often) and three assists while Oberlies shot 7-for-10 (3-for-5 on treys) en route to 20 points (and four assists, plus strong defense on impressive Wood soph WG-SF Pat Smith). Kevin's the youngest of four brothers to play for Speedy. The oldest, John, said of Kevin's outburst, "I think he scored more points than I did in my entire career." Ha, ha, but not quite. John had 65 in his senior season of 2002-03 alone. Williams had 12 points and was second in boards with six. Kelly had eight points and four assists and was guilty of just one turnover. This will sound somewhat stupid, but I'm stickin' with it anyway. A huge moment was Wood's first possession. Soph C Joe "Big Suburbs II" LoStracco did a great job of sealing off his defender and then gathered in an entry pass. Alas, his layup missed and that became an omen. If he hits that and gains the early confidence, who knows? I do know one thing: Wood will be a major playah over these upcoming seasons because PG Kyle Adkins (worked VERY hard all game, just trying to make things click) was the only sr. rotation member. Jr. F Shane Neher had 15 points and five boards while also busting his butt. A late-game highlight was watching sr. G Colin Davis dish three assists. His brother, Matt, was a quality guard for McDevitt and he wrote about Lancers football for this website during his high school days. He wound up starring in soccer at Albright and claiming numerous academic awards. Even graduated a semester early. Niiiiice. Meanwhile, the Legendary Spectator of the Day Award goes to Bonner sr. PG Dan McLoone. We won't tell anyone that he sat in the front row of the Prep's student section. Oops, we just did (smile). Overall, the atmosphere hardly seemed CL quarterfinalish. Wood had almost no student support and the Prep's kids never fully went wild. They did turn out in respectable numbers, however, especially considering the fact that school was closed.

FEB. 15
La Salle 59, Judge 41
  OK, so there’s this NAIA school named Taylor University, in Indiana, and it boasts quite the very cool tradition. They call it “Silent Night” because the student rooters, many of whom show up in outrageous costumes, are completely quiet and still until Taylor scores its 10th  point of the game. Then, they go absolutely nuts (that's a link to a YouTube video) and remain over-the-top energized throughout the game. Only when Taylor wins (assumedly?), the kids croon “Silent Night” to end the proceedings. Shortly before the game began, I figured 160 kids were prepared for SN. Then some more showed up and it was standing room only, so we’ll go with 200 as the number. The kids – some girls were included – went nuts with 3:52 left in the first quarter as jr. F Steve Smith hit his second trey. He launched from the top of the key and it was Trey No. 2 for him. And before that, play-alike classmate Matt Rodden had nailed a pair of threeballs. So, yes, La Salle got to 10 (and right past it to 12) by opening with four three-pointers! So much for coach Joe Dempsey’s concern that his squad might be too anxious to hit 10 in a hurry and, thus, experience early-game struggles. Struggles? Hey, the Explorers were just getting warmed up! They finished a 42-24 first half with nine treys (in just 12 attempts) as Smith and Rodden led the way with four and three, respectively. La Salle, in the person of Smith, hit just two threeballs in the second half, but it didn’t much matter because Judge never was able to mount a truly serious rally. DN ink went to sr. PG Darnell Artis, who had five of his six assists before he scored his first point (of eight). The very small Darnell (5-7, 135) has willed his way into the starting lineup after mostly serving as a conversation piece in 2010-11 and his advancement has been very cool to witness. As it turns out, Darnell lives one block over from where I lived as a kid in East Germantown -- up to age 12, anyway – so now I know why he’s so cool (smile!) Darnell is best buddies with jr. CG Amar Stukes and they played on the same team, as long as 10 years ago, that was coached by Amar’s father, Dhaamin, laughingly called by Darnell “the craziest coach ever.” Stukes finished with 14 points and four assists and did a bang-up defensive on Judge jr. G Steven Griffin (six points, just three shots after the first quarter). Smith sniped 6-for-9 on treys while scoring 20 points while six rebounds apiece went to Smith and jr. F-C Ryan “He’s Our Kicker!!” Winslow. Sr. WG Brian Hennessey was the only reliable Crusader. He shot 7-for-14 (three treys) en route to 19 points and one of his buckets came on a follow-up dunk. Quite impressive! Jr. G-F Malik Robinson got it going a little down the stretch to finish with seven points and as many rebounds. La Salle visits Carroll Friday night for a quarterfinal. It’ll be interesting to see if the students make that sojourn and try to take over Carroll’s gym, whether in costume or not. Through the years I’ve seen many great performances by student sections. Counting the non-stop emotion and costumes, plus the get-to-10 surprise, this might have to be No. 1. Way back in the day (mid-'70s, maybe?), some student fans of the old Bishop Kenrick drew media attention by dribbling from their school, in Norristown, all the way to the Palestra for a playoff game!! Wonder if anyone’s up for dribbling from Wyndmoor to Radnor?? (smile)

Steven Griffin 2-8 2-2 0-2 5 1 2 0 6
Brian Hennessey 7-14 2-2 3-7 4 0 0 0 19
Sean Hanna 1-2 2-2 1-2 1 1 0 0 5
Jeff Seigafuse 0-1 2-2 0-1 1 2 1 0 2
Joe Robinson 4-7 0-0 0-0 5 0 0 2 8
Malik Robinson 2-7 3-4 0-1 7 2 2 0 7
Connor Donohoe 1-2 2-2 0-1 2 1 1 0 4
Matt Walker 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 0 0
17-42 13-14 4-15 25 7 6 0 51
Amar Stukes 4-6 5-9 1-1 1 4 1 0 14
Matt Rodden 4-7 0-0 3-4 3 2 1 1 11
Steve Smith 7-12 0-0 6-9 6 1 1 2 20
Darnell Artis 3-6 2-3 0-2 1 6 2 0 8
Ryan Winslow 3-8 1-2 0-0 6 1 2 0 7
P.J. Acierno 0-1 1-2 0-1 0 0 0 0 1
Matt Murphy 1-2 1-2 0-1 2 1 0 2 3
Sean Dougherty 1-1 0-0 1-1 0 0 0 0 3
Colin Buckley 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 0
Malik Janifer 0-0 2-2 0-0 1 0 0 0 2
23-43 12-20 11-19 21 15 8 5 69
Father Judge 4 20 12 15 -- 51      
La Salle 17 25 10 17 -- 69      

FEB. 15
  I wanted to pass on something "nice to see" that I witnessed the other night.
  As you know Malvern Prep beat Germantown Academy on Saturday night at Malvern Prep.  It was a loud and exciting game.
  At the end of the game when Malvern was the winner, all the students stormed the court and flooded the players with their congratulations.
  One lone player came away from the basket and off the left side of the court. He did not head toward all the celebration but instead headed toward the stands.
  He was heading towards us . . .
  His dad met him a quarter of the way and they embraced.
  He then came and gave each one of us a hug and a thank you for our support.  There were three rows of us, family and friends.
  It was Brendan Kilpatrick and it just epitomized what a nice gentlemen he has turned out to become.
  Just wanted to pass along something "nice to see."
Barbara Lowe

FEB. 14
Boys’ Latin 62, Engineering and Science 59

  Maybe the score line should read Hare 62, Tortoise 59. Because that’s what these teams normally resemble. BL likes to get it and go. E&S likes to get it and stop. Due to the teams’ clashing styles of play, attending this one was a no-brainer. Beforehand I told a few folks that BL would be wise to pull a Loyola Marymount on E&S and just fly up and down the court for 32 minutes because the Engineers would be so unfamiliar with such an approach after getting their opponents to pretty much yield to them throughout the season. Obviously, the score didn’t wind up in the 100s or 90s, but low 60s/high 50s resembled a track meet, relatively speaking. With 4 ½ minutes remaining, it appeared BL would be able to semi-coast down the stretch, as its lead was 10 points at 55-45. Heck, the spread was even at nine points, at 58-49, with 1:40 showing. But down the stretch, BL had some trouble with turnovers and missed free throws and sr. G Sibley Robinson hit a pair of gigantic treys. The second swished at :56 and enabled E&S to storm within 58-57 and – oh, baby – everybody started reaching for seat belts. Sr. PG Maurice “Doo-Wop” Watson provided a hint of comfort for BL by nailing both parts of a double bonus, but again E&S was clutch as sr. CG Tahjere McCall (recent commitment to Holy Family; big-time steal!) recorded a bucket at :26 by following his own miss. Off a timeout, jr. CG Yahmir Greenlee took a pass from jr. F Eric Lark, the football QB, and went hard to the hoop for an easy layup (upon realizing he was being covered by a non-guard). On E&S final possession, Robinson did get possession on the left wing. The shooting conditions weren’t right, however, and Robinson worked the ball back up top to sr. F Dijon Eggleton, who in turn made a right-side pass to a sr. sub, Asante Prophet. With sr. F Carlos Taylor (UMass-Lowell) in a hands-up defensive stance, Prophet tried a trey. It wound up being an airball. This happened at the other end, but it appeared Prophet realized pretty early that Taylor was going to challenge his shot, and maybe even block it. Thus, it again appeared that Prophet jumped forward with the hope of creating contact that could get him to the line. Prophet was placed in a rough spot. He’s not a starter and had scored all 11 points all season. To expect him to hit that shot in that situation? Rather unreasonable. DN ink went to Greenlee, a feisty lefty with great grades (3.9) and preliminary interest from the likes of Saint Joseph’s, Drexel, Penn and Quinnipiac. This young man plays for serious keeps and it’s impossible not to admire his zest. Next year, of course, Watson will be at Boston U. so it’ll be interesting to see how Greenlee responds without being able to interact with his best hoops buddy. Greenlee had 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals and his points were posted in spread-out fashion. Watson hustled and bustled for 30 points (his career total is up to 2,187; Wilt is being threatened at No. 2 – 2,206) five boards, six assists and seven steals. For my money, though, Watson’s most impressive moment came as the Warriors returned to the gym at halftime. Doo-Wop went directly to the line to work on foul shots; he’d been 3-for-7 in the first half. Taylor managed nine points and five boards and Lark scored the remaining two points. McCall (18), Eggleton (16) and Robinson (10) led E&S in scoring, McCall claimed seven rebounds and Eggleton (six) and sr. F Brandon Brown (five) were tops in assists. The rangy, fluid McCall had a few great moments, but his headliner was a move that featured a behind-the-back dribble and a dump-off pass for a layup. HF assistant Donnie Carr, the former Roman/La Salle star who once gave Kobe Bryant WORK in a high school game at Drexel, was in the house to see it. His boss, former Roman PG R.C. Kehoe, had not yet arrived. E&S’ wonderful season is over at 21-2. BL (20-4) will play at least three more times and one of those, for certain, will be a state playoff. It was great to see former Franklin coach Kenny “Ham” Hamilton, who in recent years had done some assisting at E&S. Pat Shanahan and Kevin Clay did a great job in stripes. They let the kids play while making sure no liberties were taken.

FEB. 12
O’Hara 59, Judge 54

  OK, so a 5-8 record does not exactly indicate dominance. But in an era when the Catholic League is allowing 10 of its 14 teams to make the playoffs, why not try to take advantage, right? O’Hara had not made the playoffs since 2001 and its league record over the ’09, ’10 and ’11 seasons was an unsightly 3-38. But the Lions are now headed for a game in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday night and, guess what, they won’t even have to travel. Because they beat the two teams (Judge, C-E) that also were part of a three-way tie for eighth place, they earned a home tilt (the foe will be C-E). With former coach Buddy Gardler watching current boss (and former player) Tim Kelly pull the strings, the Lions pretty much had their way. They stormed to a 7-1 lead and kept Judge at that latter number through the first eight minutes. That’s right. Judge finished the first quarter with ONE point. Witness the final score, the Crusaders did leave Slumber Time behind and it was impossible not to think O’Hara might wind up taking a late-game dagger to the heart. However, that charge was rebuffed and the Lions prevailed. Afterward, I asked the players/coaches to gather in the locker room for a group shot. Admittedly, this wasn’t the brightest moment in O’Hara basketball history, but a crew that earns its school a playoff visit for the first time in 11 seasons deserves to be acknowledged at least to some degree, correct? Before we move on with game stuff, major congrats to Tim Kelly. Tim’s wife, Kathy, passed away earlier this season and we can only imagine how difficult everything has been. Tim said he has a large family right in the area, and that that has helped. Making the playoffs no doubt adds some brightness to Tim’s life. We wish you the best going forward, Tim! . . . DN ink went to sr. PF-C Ed Allen. As I suspected when seeing O’Hara earlier this season, Ed’s dad, also named Ed, played for North Catholic back in the day. Like That Ed, This Ed is a late bloomer. He carries only 175 pounds on a 6-6 frame, but as he pointed out with a laugh, “I was only one-SIXTY-five last year.” Ed has pretty good hops and fundamentals and could become a very interesting player over time. Thanks to great passes from teammates, a few post-up moves, follows and a jumper or two, he posted 20 points while shooting 9-for-12 from the floor. He also snagged 11 rebounds and registered three blocks while likely missing at least a quarter of playing time due to foul trouble. Like his dad, a Philadelphia policeman, Younger Ed wants to go into law enforcement. O’Hara’s ballhandlers were mostly jr. Mike Louden and sr. Pat Hagenbach and they were terrific. They fared well in transition and out of a set offense and combined for 11 assists, with Hagenbach (six) leading the way. Louden also nailed two treys while scoring 11 points. Jr. WG Sean Havink “a Good Time From Threeball Land” hit two deepies en route to 10 points. He also had three dimes. Sr. F Brandon Wassel hit all three of his field goal attempts for six points and jr. quickster Raymond Harris made three steals. Jr. G Chris Duffin had six points and one assist. Oddly, 14 of Judge’s first 18 shots were launched from beyond the arc and it wasn’t as if O’Hara had Wilt and/or Shaq lurking in the lane. Jr. G Steven Griffin, usually the essence of dependability, did not hit his first field goal until the very end of the third quarter and that shot was launched maybe 1 1/2 steps past halfcourt. He was his ol’ self thereafter and finished with 15 points, in addition to four boards, five assists and four steals. Sr. WG Brian Hennessey sniped 5-for-12 on treys while notching 21 points. He also had six boards, three thefts. Jr. swingman Malik Robinson used three fourth quarter field goals to reach 11 points. Except for the cheerleaders, who pretty much defined listless, was even one non-player O’Hara student in the house? I’d love to know why the boys’ basketball team rarely receives support unless the opponent is Bonner. (And with Bonner due to close, what the heck will happen next year?) Anyway, congrats to these Lions for making the playoffs. Let’s hope there’s at least a hint of support for Wednesday night’s game.

FEB. 11
Malvern 55, Gtn. Academy 52
  If high school games were 33 or 34 minutes long, rather than 32, we might have enjoyed a classic finish. The Patriots kept whittlin' the lead, but the three-point margin is a shade deceiving because the final points came on a follow maybe two-tenths of a second before the buzzer. And maybe two seconds after that, there was a crush of bodies at midcourt! Malvern's players were being swarmed by the student rooters from FriarNation and what a scene it was. Everybody make it out alive? (smile) This one featured a semi-strange element because Malvern had already clinched at least a piece of the title. However, any fears maintained by coach Jim Rullo and his assistants that the Friars might be somewhat satisfied were quickly allayed. Emphatically. Drawing great energy from the numerous Malvern fans in the overflow crowd, Rullo's club stormed to a 12-5 lead and two great baskets were part of the avalanche. One was a follow dunk by sr. WG Brendan Kilpatrick (serious ups!) and the other was a wacky layup by sr. PG Steve Perpiglia. It happened at the other end, so I'm not sure if the ball was tipped, or if maybe Steve slipped as he released it? Anyway, the ball hit glass (maybe even metal) at the very top of the backboard and . . . fell straight into the hoop! All Malvern rooters were free to take that as a good-luck moment. Overall, Malvern succeeded because it played an active 2-3 zone, which kept jr. Gs Nick Lindner and James Drury from doing TOO much damage out front and also bottled up the Patriots' two inside threats, jr. F Greg Dotson and classmate Julian Moore, a center. (Man, how good will GA be next year with four quality players returning?) Especially early, the Friars also posted some steals and were able to get out in transition for deflating buckets. Perpiglia, a k a "Perpiglia Motion" (just made that up, actually) had 17 points, four assists and (gulp) a team-high eight rebounds. Always a treat to watch him play. Kilpatrick (Vermont) had 16 points and three apiece of assists/steals. Sr. F Tom Pitt, hindered by foul trouble, added five points, six boards. Sr. WG Dennis Gabert totaled 12 points, six boards and five steals. Jr. sub Ryan Ammerman made his only two shots for four points. Lindner (14), Drury and Dotson (13 apiece) scored in double digits for GA and Moore came close with eight. Lindner added three apiece of assists/steals and Moore claimed nine of his 13 rebounds in the fourth quarter. GA hurt itself with 11 first half turnovers. Malvern, meanwhile, had just six in the first half and didn't commit its seventh until 5:00 remained in the game. This is the first time Malvern has won back-to-back titles (outright or otherwise) since the 1976-77 seasons when the coach was none other than -- MAJOR drum roll, please -- Fran Dunphy. Meanwhile, our thoughts continue to be with GA coach Jim Fenerty and all members of that school's hoops/overall families. A health issue forced Jim to step aside last weekend after he collected wins Nos. 500 (not present) and 501 (present) and long-time wingman Mike Hannigan is guiding the team in Jim's absence. Both teams will compete in next week's state Indy tourney (whatever the heck it's called; I always forget -- smile). Three of the other Inter-Ac schools also will do so. Oddly, SCH (nee Chestnut Hill) Academy has opted to end its season early. Congrats to Malvern's players for how hard they competed. Big props also to FriarNation, which brought it all night. With 0:47 showing, those guys chanted, "This is OUR league!! . . . This is OUR league!!" True for two. Years in a row, that is.

FEB. 10
C-E 60, Wood 47
  The thoughts bounced around inside the semi-elderly noggin all week. Where to go Friday night? C-E, West and Bonner would all be playing their final regularly scheduled home games and, natch, I wanted to split into thirds. So many great people at all three schools. C-E, West, Bonner . . . C-E, West, Bonner. It was driving me crazy. Plus, there was the possibility that none of those games would be seen due to the afternoon contest featuring N-G and SJ Prep. If the Prep had won, that would have been MAJOR news for SportsWeek because coach Speedy Morris would have tied the city record for all-time wins, at 621, and of course it would have been necessary to address the end of N-G’s lengthy CL winning streak (now at 66). I wrote the N-G/Prep story in the snack bar area at Prep, headed outside at 6:05 and zoomed to Egan. Something just spoke to me. Or maybe the ghost of someone (as in Mike “Tugger” Tos, the all-time Egan loyalist who passed  in December 2007). Anyway, the choice turned out to be tremendous. What a special night and everyone involved deserves MAJOR congrats! Approximately 50 former Egan/C-E players showed up (even from as far back as 1960, before Egan joined the Catholic League) and PA announcer Rich Papirio, the former, long-time baseball coach, introduced them all as they walked through lines of cheerleaders. (Later, the total swelled to 78!) The biggest response, predictably, went to ’90 grad Joe McEwing, the former major league outfielder who was also a second team DN All-City hoopster. Joe appeared to be truly moved by the love he was shown and it was very cool to see. After Senior Night presentations, the Eagles went back into their locker room for final instructions from coach Rick Sabol (’99). When they came back onto the floor, they trotted through two lines of ex-players AND cheerleaders, slapping five all the while, and that too was great. When the game began, the student support was non-stop and the emotion flowing throughout the gym was very tangible. Quite an experience. Cyber attention went to sr. C Bobby McTague, who endured a difficult football season (one win) and has become a mainstay for the basketball team. His main assignment was to contain soph C Joe LoStracco and, boy, did he ever do that. Big Suburbs got off just two shots all night while settling for four points. Honestly, Bobby was mugging him and Joe was returning the favor while trying to free himself and if the refs had been so inclined, they could have called, oh, 57 personals on each guy (smile). McTague complemented his defense with eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. Oh, and five points. Like always, the Eagles’ leader was sr. WG Jamal Nwaniemeka, who finished with 21 points, eight boards, two assists and three steals and had a WICKED dunk off a steal that, for now, goes down as the last field goal in the gym. JN also scored the last point on the second of two free throws with 20.3 seconds remaining. In the fourth quarter, he mostly played the point and wound up with nine points, four rebounds and two thefts. Jr. PG Ryan “Pepi” Pepito also had a strong performance with 18 points, including 3-for-5 marksmanship on treys. He had eight of those points in a 20-13 third quarter. Jr. WG Mike Kelly, meanwhile, was the early leader, posting eight of his 10 points in the first session (two treys included). Sr. F Dylan Pease was his important little-things self. For Wood, soph WG-SF Pat Smith scored 17 points while being guarded, mostly, by JN. Jr. F Shane Neher had 13 points, 10 boards and three assists in a solid overall outing. A few times toward the end of the game, the C-E kids bellowed, “Keep us open! Keep us open!” And then, with 1:00 left, they changed the “I Believe” chant from “I believe that we can win!” to “I believe that we HAVE WON.” The Eagles were up by 10. As I noted in the philly.com story, they grow ‘em smart in Levittown (smile). A post-game reception for former players and their families was held in the cafeteria. Wish I’d been a fly on those walls. Once again, congrats to everyone associated with this special “Last Game.” The Eagles did it up right. Perfectly, in fact. (And if someone wants to send me a list of the former players in attendance, I’ll gladly post it here. Would love to recognize them.) . . . The list appears right below. Thanks to coach Rick Sabol for sending it.

Bishop/Conwell-Egan Alumni 2/10/12 (78 total)  
1960 Johnny Coles 1996 Keith Genco
1969 John McGrath 1997 Kevin Hammill
1969 Joseph McGrath- 2nd Team All-Catholic 1999 Rick Sabol
1969 Don Macphee 1999 Mike Stavish
1969 Leonard VonVital 1999 Barrett Young
1970 James Dacey 2000 Kevin Tirpak
1972 Michael Dacey 2000 Vaughn Burns
1973 Ed Finnigan 2001 Mark Pawlowski
1973 Bill Burns 2002 Andrew Holland - 2nd Team All-Catholic
1973 Steve Dacey 2003 Rob Biernat
1973 Bob Moonan 2003 Matt Brazil
1973 John Nagle 2003 Mike Kane
1973 Ron Strack 2003 Timmy Milburn
1974 Brian Townsend-1st Team All-Catholic 2004 Dan Gibney
1976 Ray O’Hara 2004 Ryan O’Hara
1977 John Dacey 2004 Marty O’Hara
1977 John Mack 2005 Danny Stavish
1977 Dennis Sullivan 2006 Joe Byrne
1977 Dennis Quinn 2006 Joe Hogan
1978 Bob Hanf- 3rd Team All-Catholic 2006 Wilson Acevedo - 3rd Team All-Catholic
1983 Mark Golin- 2nd Team All-Catholic 2006 Finn Skovdal
1985 William Beck 2006 Adam VanZelst - 2nd Team All-Catholic
1986 Matt Houseman 2006 Ryan VanZelst
1986 Paul Lucas 2007 David Marcinkowski
1987 Joe Fusco 2007 Ray O’Hara
1988 Sean McCarthy 2007 Kevin Schafer
1988 Eddie Minogue 2007 Jamie Fierra
1989 Billy Everett 2009 Shayne Bonner
1990 Lenny Lehman 2009 Dave Delattre
1990 “Super” Joe McEwing - 1st Team All-Catholic 2009 Ryan Golin
1993 Bryan Treude 2009 Billy Petraitis
1994 Kevin Clark 2009 Jonas Skovdal
1994 Colin Kuechler 2010 Mike Payne
1994 Rick Jenkins 2010 Ike Robinson - 1st Team All-Catholic
1994 Eric Galm - 3rd Team All-Catholic 2010 Joe Robinson
1994 Shaun Profy - 2nd Team All-Catholic 2010 Andrew Schaefer
1995 Jason Campbel l- 3rd Team All-Catholic 2011 Kyle Bonner
1995 Timmy Walker 2011 Richard Brown
1995 Greg Treude  

FEB. 10
N-G 66, SJ Prep 53
  Not often does a Prep team get outSpeedied, but that definitely happened today. Throughout his stint at 17th & Girard, coach Speedy Morris has won lots of close games by making sure his players close out one quarter with a big play and start the next with something similar. Often, those big plays feature threeballs. This time, N-G spanned the third/fourth quarters with a pair of treys and I guess we shouldn't be surprised that coach Carl Arrigale's squad went the copycat route because Carl played for Speedy at Penn Charter in the mid-1980s. Let's set the scene: As the third quarter wound down, Prep jr. WG Miles Overton succeeded on a hard drive and that bucket moved the Hawks within 41-38. One problem. He made his move a little too early and there was still a decent amount of time on the clock. The Saints zipped upcourt, jr. F John Davis passed to sr. WG Billy Shank in the left corner and, bang!, Shank's trey made it 44-38. Just 12 seconds later, the sound was splash! and sr. F Derrick Stewart provided it, also from behind the arc (though straight on). Just like that, instead of feeling threatened the Saints were at least partially exhaling and drama was pretty much disappearing. The weird thing about Stewart's shot: It was his FIRST of the game! Yes, the Rider signee had gone attemptless through the first three quarters while concentrating on defense, rebounding, setting picks, etc. A few times he'd set up strongly but had not received the ball. No sweat. He didn't bitch or stop hustling. He kept making other contributions and I loved how Derrick phrased his team-comes-first comments for the SportsWeek story. Oh, by the way, he wasn't finished scoring after hitting the trey. In fact, he wound up with 11 points by shooting 3-for-3 and 4-for-4. He also had 10 rebounds as the Saints extended their CL win streak to 66 games, counting the regular season and playoffs. Elsewhere, soph WG Ja'Quan Newton had 15 points and five assists (though he couldn't have been too happy) about going 1-for-6 at the line). Davis had 13 points and seven boards. Shank shot 3-for-7 on treys for nine points and even snagged six rebounds. Sr. PG Hanif Sutton "exploded" for 11 points and that verb is used because he'd rung up no more than five in previous league games. His thing is defense and he played it well, sharing the responsibility with sixth man sr. G La'Quan Coaxum on Prep jr. CG Stephen Vasturia. When we tell you Vasturia had 27 points, you'll be saying, "Wait, the kid had 27 points and somehow good defense was played against him?" Hard to believe, I know, but Sutton and Coaxum really worked and nothing came easily for Stevie V (10-for-18, 4-for-6 on treys, 3-for-3 at line). Overton had 14 points and five assists. Sr. WG Gene Williams hit his first trey, and since he tends to ride hot streaks for all they're worth the Saints likely were worried. However, he did not connect from distance thereafter and settled for six points. Sr. sub Tom Stewart pleased the gigantic student section by hitting two long treys in the waning moments. N-G won the rebound battle, 31-18, and made the Hawks' rotation guys shoot 7-for-21 on threeballs. With a win, Speedy would have tied Dan Dougherty for the all-time city record at 621. His next chance will come Sunday at Carroll. Today's Most Legendary Spectator Award goes to good-guy DN colleague Ed Barkowitz. The Barkster is a Prep grad and lives in South Philly, so he had both sides covered (smile).

FEB. 9
Robeson 77, Sankofa 72

  The hope, always, is to see a good game, but in the first eight minutes, the negative thoughts were numerous. Why’d I pick this one? Would it look bad to leave and rush to a game someplace else? And so on . . . Sankofa is a new school and won’t graduate its first seniors until June 2013, but the Warriors had looked respectable in an earlier visit and had also given Frankford a decent run. Plus, Robeson would be missing its only true big man, PF-C Richard Lemon (knee injury). Yes, Robeson’s gym is quite tiny/loud, but I thought Sankofa would be able to hang. Eventually, coach Isaiah Thomas’ crew made a game of it and even came reasonably close to stealing the win. But there were major nerves early and the Warriors missed all KINDS of layups throughout, and those two factors made the difference. Robeson’s gym is so goofy, the home team sits on chairs in the northeast corner and the visitors sit on chairs in the southwest corner. The scorers’ table, meanwhile, is in the southeast corner. When the visiting team wants to insert a sub, the kid stands  along the west baseline and goes into the game right from there, assuming the referee sees him in time. Anyway, Big Steve and I were sitting toward Sankofa’s bench and at one point I mentioned to an assistant coach that the Warriors had missed many, many layups. That observation did not exactly work as a reverse-jinx kind of thing. On its next three possessions, Sankofa missed SEVEN more layups. Unbelievable. (Not uncontested layups, of course. But all were launched from right inside and most didn’t come close.) DN ink went to sr. WG Marquise Richards, who can get from here to there in a hurry and also displays major amounts of brass. His shot was a little off and occasionally his judgment wasn’t the best, but there’s much to like about how he plays and he could be a true franchise player in D-III. Plus, he wears sneakers that are mostly pink with a hint of red (smile). Richards had 27 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals. Sr. PG Acquil Craft-Brown was likewise impressive, thanks to 17 points, nine assists and five steals. The Sankofa guys complained non-stop about C-B’s dribble and, truth be told, he does palm the ball. But it’s his natural dribble and it’s not TOO outrageous and there’s no way refs are going to call it over and over and over. Sr. F Nate Hargust contributed 12 points and Richards made sure to mention him about 75 times during the interview (ha ha). Jr. F Raymond Jefferson, a lefty, maneuvered his way to eight quick points. Sr. F Ahmed Doumbia hit two late free throws to help lock down the win and didn’t seem to mind when Richards (fake) beat on his chest right before a pair of late free throws. Sankofa’s far and away leaders were jr. PG Dache Talbert and jr. WG Tydeus Ellison, a sub. Talbert hit three treys while scoring 21 points. Ellison, the only Warrior to truly play with calm and body control, shot 9-for-18 and 4-for-4 for 22 points. Talbert had five steals while Ellison mixed six boards with five assists. Soph F Anthony Downing had 14 rebounds and Jefferson added five. Always good to see Robeson coach Rob Powlen, who’s now known as Robeson Rob. Back in the day, when was an assistant at Bartram, we called him Bartram Bob. A few Pub legends were also on hand: Anthony “Hubba Bubba” King (Penn), George Yuille (Bartram), Adrian “Pinky” Burke (Frankford) and some guy who played for Washington. Couldn’t remember his name, but I did recognize him as a former player and he said, “You wrote a story on me when I dropped 24 on Kensington. I still have that.” Niiiice. Also on hand was one of the Pub's best-ever managers, '08 Robeson grad Christina Sherman. Great to see you, Christina!

FEB. 7
Dobbins 67, Bok 53

  This was going to be a special day. For just the third time all season (pretty sure), I was going to see a game involving only old-school participants. No charters. No former middle schools. Just some true Pubbers that would truly go at it before a lively crowd in South Philly. Then the game began and . . . oh, baby. The kids were trying, but it was very sloppy. Put it this way: The teams combined for 36 steals, so you can imagine how many turnovers there were. Dobbins’ PG, Daquan “Day-Day” Brown, was unavailable due to a school issue, and a few guys took turns trying to run the offense. Eventually, they did OK. Bok appeared to have no true PG and the offense was quite the mish-mash, and things looked even worse because so many chippies were missed. Bok did not reach double figures in points until 4:45 remained in the second quarter and missed 18 of its first 21 shots. The halftime score was 32-13 and that’s a BIG deficit to overcome. Impossible this time, as it turned out. DN ink went to jr. SF Dequan “Powder” Jackson, who boasts just 145 pounds on his 6-4 frame. He shot 8-for-18 from the floor and 5-for-7 at the line and the timing on his production was important because he scored six points in an 18-6 first quarter and 11 more in the fourth as the Mustangs withstood several mini-rallies. Bok has some height and sr. football star Jihad Ward is VERY physical, so Jackson is to be commended for how he battled again and again. Coach William Johnson's eight-man rotation, which he called "a little flash of the future," featured just two seniors, Fs Lamar Harrison (10 rebounds) and Kiwuan Trawick (seven boards). Jackson, F Wanya Barren (eight boards) and G Marquell Tate (four steals) were the juniors while G-F Robert Edwards (12 points, 5-for-5 floor, eight rebounds), PG Andre Cannedy (10 points) and PG Devonte Laws (five steals) held things down for the sophs. Edwards, a lefty, looks to have interesting possibilities. He wasn’t too quick, but used a crafty, back-and-forth dribble to get around people and he was poised/patient once he got to the right spots. Sr. swingmen I-Meir Martin (16) and Sean McLean (14) joined Ward (11) in double figures for Bok. Ward, also a lefty, had 17 rebounds. McLean made six steals and jr. F Deonte West, who's just as skinny as Jackson, sacrificial-lambed himself in impressive fashion while taking three charges. He got absolutely clobbered on more than one occasion. Many legends in the house: ex-Dobbins FB coach/AD Lou Zambino, former Bok FB coach Tom DeFelice (the gym is named in his honor), current Bok FB coach/AD Frank “Roscoe” Natale, E&S coach Charlie Brown, PET coach James “Flame” Lewis . . . I guess that’s it. Brown was scouting, but the effort went for naught. There was some confusion among Pub coaches on the seeding process and E&S will NOT play Dobbins in the next round. The Mustangs are the lowest remaining seed and they’ll head to PET. E&S will host West Philly. Flame said he had someone at that tilt. Not sure if Charlie did.

FEB. 6
SJ Prep 46, O'Hara 36
By Anonymous Fan
  Sandwiched between a home game last Friday against Roman for Speedy's 900th career coaching victory and what should be a battle between 11-0 teams for the #1 playoff seed when N-G visits this Friday, this Monday night affair in a half-empty and very quiet (except for the rattling HVAC system) O'Hara gym was a classic trap game.  With the exception of the Lions, everyone in the gym seemed to regard the outcome as a foregone conclusion, the only suspense being whether Prep junior Stephen Vasturia would score his 1,000th career point.  It didn't seem likely early, as Vasturia and his team came out flat.  The score was just 7-5 Prep after a very quick first quarter that featured no fouls and just three whistles.  It was 18-11 at halftime and 31-23 after 3.  The star of the game for the Prep to that point was senior sniper Gene Williams, who led the way with at least four threes while Vasturia chipped in with 11 points, including his first from long distance late in the third after misfiring on his first few attempts of the night.  The Prep never pulled away in the fourth, but O'Hara couldn't get a basket when it needed one to make it a one-possession game and really make an upset seem plausible.  The Prep fans cheered when Vasturia was fouled while collecting a defensive rebound with just under 14 seconds to go -- not because (or at least not only because) the game was finally in hand but because the deadeye from the line would have the chance to hit the anticipated milestone by knocking down the front end of the 1+1.  Naturally, he made both to score the Prep's final points of the night and the 1,000th and 1,001st of his career.  He came out of the game after making the second to applause from the crowd and hugs from Speedy and his teammates.  Williams finished with at least five threes.  Former O'Hara coach Bud Gardler and current O'Hara girls coach Linus McGinty were in the stands.

FEB. 6
Wood 66, La Salle 54

  Moments after the final buzzer, DN lensman Steve Falk walked over and asked, “Who do you need?” As in, which pictures should be submitted to go with the story? I told him, “Could be anybody. It was that kind of performance.” Wood really did receive decent contributions from all five starters while leading from start to finish. DN ink went to soph C Joe “Big Suburbs” LoStracco (I used that nickname a few years ago for another player; enough time has passed that it can go back into circulation – ha ha), who totaled 16 points and 12 rebounds and shot 7-for-11 from the floor. He really has learned how to use his wide body to shield defenders from the ball, and even clear pre-rebound space, and it’s always nice to see a kid improve from one year to the next, especially when that improvement features the addition of savvy. He’ll still need to work on his body for college purposes, especially if he hopes to go D-I, but there’s time for that and the realization is half the battle. LoStracco scored the game’s first four points on passes from jr. F Mike “In Your Hair” Neher and that chemistry set a trend. The Vikings clicked with each other all night and it’s doubtful even one measly shot was truly forced. Coach Jack Walsh used a six-man rotation. Sr. PG Kyle Adkins, of football fame, mixed six assists with nine points and, like always, lent a high amount of brass to the proceedings. Soph WG Pat Smith hit a trey to make it 10-3 and wound up netting 20 points in addition to eight rebounds. Though somehow he missed two free throws in a row, he finished 9-for-11. Soph WG Tommy Rush, a lefty, was Mr. Economical. He scored 13 points while launching just eight shots – 3-for-4 on treys, 4-for-4 at line. Neher had six stats before he even attempted a shot, and three dimes were among them. Frosh G Cody Fitzpatrick took a threeball from almost inside La Salle coach Joe Dempsey’s personal space and, bang, that baby swished straight through. (Also came close to scraping the ceiling – smile). Here’s all you need to know about La Salle’s evening: Late in the third quarter, sr. waterbug Darnell Artis (four) had more rebounds than two of the Explorers’ big guys put together (three). A shade before that, one of the La Salle guys was unsuccessfully fighting for a rebound amidst two Vikings. Seeing how that scenario was not exactly working out, a La Salle student bellowed, “Somebody give him some help!!” Jr. PG Amar Stukes had 13 points and three points. I wouldn’t say he played poorly, but his energy level seemed a shade below normal. Jr. F Matt Rodden hit five threeballs while bagging 18 points. Jr. F Ryan Winslow wound up with six points and as many boards. Artis had four assists and sub P.J. Acierno had three apiece of dishes/thefts. La Salle baseball assistant Bob Peffle used his watchful eyes and listenful ears to keep La Salle’s students in line. He had to tough-guy them a couple times, but all was mostly tame. A halftime treat was reconnecting with Jim Fitzpatrick, Cody’s uncle and my teammate 49 years ago (ouch!) on the world famous East Germantown Rams. We were sixth-graders and placed second in the city in the 12-and-under division. The following summer, our family moved to Oreland/Glenside while Jim’s remained until he was midway through the eighth grade. That year, he said he was playing for two CYO teams – Immaculate Conception in Germantown, and Nativity right next to Wood -- and was hoping to play for both in La Salle’s famous grade-school tourney. The La Salle folks weren’t havin’ it. They told him he had to pick one. “I didn’t really get to pick,” he said, laughing. “My father was Nativity’s coach.” Jim’s senior season at Wood was 1969. I just rummaged through my scoring stats from that season – see, I really do get paid to do a hobby – and Jim scored 169 points in 16 CL games for a 10.6 average. That was second among the Vikings to Bob Hartman’s 14.2. Don’t believe me? Check right below for the evidence . . .
Great to see you, Jim! And I’m looking forward to more of Cody’s moon shots.

FEB. 5
Conwell-Egan 68, McDevitt 57

  The best news of the day was delivered before the game by C-E coach Rick Sabol: sr. WG Jamal Nwaniemeka is now receiving well deserved college attention at the D-II/lower D-I levels. This young man is held in high regard by his coaches and teammates and I’m thinking he would win any dunk contest for guys 6-2 and under. Plus, he has both varieties of ups – explosive and bi-level. I’ll try to explain that last one. At times, JN is already in the air and appears to be at the zenith when somehow he rises even a shade higher. It’s quite a sight. Also impressive is that he’s not hesitant to mix and match. If his semi-long jumper is off, he’ll make sure to go to the hole with the hope he’ll regain his rhythm. In the DN story, two sequences were mentioned and I’ll repeat them here. “Though sr. WG Markeise Chandler blocked his left-baseline jumper, Nwaniemeka had the presence of mind to track the ball's flight post-snuff and guide it to a teammate. Another time, he misconnected on a short shot and a Lancer grabbed the rebound. Zip! Within two seconds, maybe, Nwaniemeka was snatching the ball out of that player's hands and posting an easy score.” After a very entertaining first quarter (20-19 for C-E), the Eagles seized control in the second with a 19-9 advantage. The bench had good moments as jr. G Brian Carr hit a trey and sr. F Derek Jonas posted a pair of field goals. C-E remained in control until the third-fourth span and the only reason a slipup occurred was that JN needed a short rest. The Lancers got a drive from jr. PG Kenyatta Long and a bucket by soph F Tyrell Long (no relation) off a pass from Kenyatta and there they were, within 54-49. C-E jr. CG Mike Kelly followed with an impressive, but unchallenged, reverse layup and jr. PG Ryan Pepito then bolted close to the basket for a silky teardrop. JN then went nuts down the stretch to finish with 27 points. He also had 10 rebounds, two steals and three apiece of steals/blocks. Pepito added 14 points and four assists while Kelly, who plays the point when Pepito is off the floor, also had 14 points, Each hit two treys. Football lineman Bobby McTague tough-guyed his way to seven boards and sr. F Dylan Pease, though he didn’t score, mixed four rebounds with two assists and three steals. There was a downer right out of the gate for McDevitt as star sr. F Brahieme Jackson was not among the starters. He was being disciplined for one thing or another and didn’t play until minute No. 9. The Lancers did pretty well without him and T. Long was the major reason. This kid has recently come out of nowhere to earn extended minutes and, whoa, was he productive: 20 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks. Chandler, the Lancers’ usual co-star, settled for 11 points while expending major energy trying to muffle JN. K. Long dished five assists and jr. G Tymere Wilder managed four. Among today’s spectators was former Dougherty assistant Doug Sauder, who came out to see some former Cardinals (including JN). Also, two trail days in a row (Gtn. Academy yesterday) with a Vince Shervin sighting. Always cool to see him. He played at Dougherty and his son, Matt, played for Mickey D in 2008. Man, it has been four years already? Phew! One last note: C-E will host Wood Friday night at 7:30 for its final home game and coach Sabol said ex-major league outfielder Joe McEwing is expected to be in the house. VERY cool! Joe was also one fine hoopster. He earned first team All-Catholic honors and was also a second team Daily News All-City selection. That's the highest honor for an Egan/C-E guy since All-City teams first were picked in 1972. This coming baseball season, he'll serve as the third base coach for the White Sox. Likewise VERY cool.    

FEB. 4
Germantown Academy 58, Peddie (NJ) 42
Well, one thing's for sure. GA's Jim Fenerty is the first coach in city (state? national? world?) history to collect his 500th win on consecutive days. Not because there was a mid-game postponement due to a leaky roof, or something. Because there was an "issue." Tuesday morning, Fenerty experienced a health problem while teaching a class and wound up spending three days in the hospital. That afternoon's game at Malvern was postponed and win No. 500 wound up being bagged, at GA, last night vs. Haverford School. Jim was at home, being bombarded by text-message updates, and the Patriots were being guided by Mike Hannigan, his long-time righthand man. Today, Jim insisted on being present because the seniors were being honored and he mostly let Mike again run the show. We say "mostly" because HE directed the timeouts and, well, he couldn't help but finally stand up a few times in the third and fourth quarters. Monday's DN story will get into more depth, but major congrats go out to Jim on this wonderful accomplishment!! As for the game, GA established control with a 22-12 third quarter and jr. PG Nick Lindner was front and center. At least when I'm around, this is the kid who decides GA's fate. And he was extra snappy beyond intermission. He showed a great mixture of skill and poise and that, in turn, got everyone rolling. The Patriots won the last quarter, 12-6, so there was nothing close to late-game drama. Lindner totaled 20 points and five assists. Springy jr. F Greg Dotson and jr. WG James Drury hit two treys apiece and jr. PF-C Julian Moore "moore" than held his own in his duel with Peddie's 7-footer, Blasé Mbargorba, who's here from Cameroon. Moore had 15 points and also was impressive in the second half. (Before I forget, let it be mentioned that Lindner scored a couple of his field goals on layups that kissed high off the glass; he knew layups shot at normal angles would have been swatted. It's called savvy.) Sr. Gs Connor Crump and Cameron Retif halved six steals. One of Peddie's players is post-grad F Xavier Harris. Yes, THAT Xavier Harris, the one who formerly played for North Catholic (RIP) and Constitution. Peddie coach Joe Rulewich, previously an assistant at Ursinus, said X still intends to stick with his original commitment to attend Penn. Niiice. In this one he had eight points, five rebounds and four assists. A few times, he worked well in high-low setups with Mbargorba. Amazingly, he took just four shots from the floor and two of his three makes were dunks. He went 2-for-6 at the line. Meanwhile, the prelim was a freshman game featuring GA and St. Joseph's Prep. And the guy who coaches the Prep's frosh, Joe Donahue, was also -- drum roll, please -- the man who yesterday handled PA duties as Speedy Morris claimed his 900th overall win. (And the guy coaching GA, as reported by Marty Weiss, Fenerty's righthand man, was Matt Dolan, a former freshman player for Donahue.) The personable Joe is not the only Donahue who's comfortable in front of a microphone. Click here to see a bio about his brother (name withheld to build the suspense -- ha ha).

FEB. 3
Bonner 63, McDevitt 61
By Dan Phelan
  Bonner went into the game with an 0-9 league record. They had just one win overall and were determined to get another. Although the Bonner student section was not filled to capacity, the energy was still there from the students. The game did not start the way Coach Tom Meakim wanted it to as McDevitt got off to a 9-0 start thanks to seniors Markeise Chandler and Brahieme Jackson, who finished with 17 and 18 points respectively. Bonner called a timeout, and after that played with a new energy. Junior Pat Vanderslice played light out last night dropping in 21 points, 15 from three pointers. In his first game back from injury, Senior Michael Proska played a fantastic game. Although he didn’t score he had 6 assists and controlled the game, making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to do. He was a true point guard last night. Dan “Mugsy” McLoone had 2 huge baskets for Bonner and played a good defensive game. The story of the game, though, was Mr. Kevin Sheridan and his 15 points. Sheridan came into the game 0-14 from the foul line. He was 3-5 last night including one a huge one with 5.3 seconds left. Sheridan played by far the best game of his High School career. But for everyone that was there, the play of the game happened with 29.3 seconds left. With the score 61-60 McDevitt led the game. Bonner had the ball underneath the basket. Pat Vanderslice threw the ball in to Christian Summers. Summers got the ball to Proska at the top of the key and Jack Carden came around to set a pick. He rolled off the pick, Proska got him the ball and he put it in the basket to provide a 62-61 lead. While all this was happening the big clock was staying still at 29.3 seconds. The kids played, but McDevitt's coach was going crazy, running onto the court and everything. The refs met at the scorers' table and put 20 seconds on the clock and counted the basket. This was the right call since the clock did start; it just didn’t show. Jack Carden played a fantastic game and finished with 10 points, including the biggest of his career on that layup. McDevitt had a chance with 7 seconds left to take the lead from the free throw line on a one-and-one, but the first shot was missed.  Sheridan then hit one more free throw, the clock struck 0:00 and the student section stormed the court as Bonner got their first Catholic League victory by beating McDevitt, 63-61.

FEB. 3
SJ Prep 73, Roman 67
  Imagine if Roman’s late comeback had been just a little bit better. The sound of disappointment in the Prep’s extra-crowded gym would have been deafening. People came from ALL over because they knew coach William “Speedy” Morris needed one win to reach 900 in his 44-year career as a head coach of guys/gals at the high school/college levels. (He started at Roman in the 1967-68 season and has gone straight through except for the 1981-82 season, when he was a behind-the-scenes assistant to Ed Stefanski at Bonner after getting fired at Roman. Don’t ask. In all these years, no one has ever pinpointed an exact reason for what happened there. Needless to say, the person who swung that ax deserves a special place in Knuckleheadville. And, yes, I do remember that he was a man of the cloth. Sorry for going off on a tangent). Throughout today’s game, I got the sense that pretty much everyone just knew Prep would win. As in, everyone affiliated with the Prep and Speedy’s family is SO excited about this, how could it possibly not happen? Meanwhile, as a neutral observer, I wanted to see late-game drama so if Speedy did collect No. 900, it would be FULLY earned and thus make for a better story (smile). The Prep gained early control, however, and maintained it and maintained it and maintained it some more. The Hawks never ran away and hid, but they always slightly extended the lead each time Roman drew semi-close. It was uncanny. The lone exception was close to the very end when jr. F Shafeek Taylor canned a layup off a drive to move the Cahillites within 65-60 at 1:07. But just three seconds later, jr. CG Stephen Vasturia converted a one-and-one to restore the comfort level and there’d be no need to furiously scribble end-of-game details. Vasturia, who is becoming quite the off-the-backboard snatcher, scored 27 points while adding 13 rebounds. His average in that latter category is now close to 10. Sr. WG Gene Williams was close behind with 22 points and the major reason was his terrific sniping (6-for-10) from beyond the arc. Jr. WG Miles Overton went just 1-for-10 from the floor, but dished five assists. The other starters were sr. WG Kevin Oberlies (nine points, four assists, two steals) and jr. PG PJ Kelly while jr. G Kyle Thompson made a few big plays off the bench. I figured Oberlies was the perfect Hawk for ink purposes because he’s the fifth guy in his family to be part of Speedy’s program (four players, one videographer) and he indeed gave some wonderful insight. Thanks, Kevin. The oldest, John, was the sixth man on the 2003 CL title squad. Matt '04 preferred rugby, but James ’06 and Joseph ’10 were also players and Mike ’08 was the video coordinator. Very cool! For Roman, jr. G Britton Lee hit four treys en route to 20 points while jr. PG Shep Garner (13) and jr. Rashaan London (12) also scored in double figures. Puck kept track of the extra stuff, but I neglected to track him down in the post-game excitement. In the second half, a Channel 3 cameraman plopped down right in front of me beyond the east baseline and my first words were, “Don’t let me get in your way.” What a jerk! Thereafter, I took a couple pics with the flash set at its highest level and the camera inches from the back of his head, just to mess with him. Prep teacher Frank Raffa, who long has snapped great pics at school events, was sitting maybe three feet away and his view was momentarily blocked, as well. Frank just shook his head. Meanwhile, Speedy’s intimidating power was on grand display in the early portion of the game. Upset that a foul wasn’t called when Lee made a halfcourt steal and zoomed in for a layup, Speedy came at least eight feet (maybe 10) onto the court and bellowed several times, “Blow the whistle! . . . Blow the whistle!” toward the ref who was now stationed all the way over in the northeast corner of the court. If any other coach had pulled that trick, that ref and the ref no more than 15 feet away (near the scorers’ table) WOULD have blown their whistles while adding, “There you go! Tech on you!” Of course, nothing happened – hey, he’s Speedy (smile) -- and that almost sent Roman coach Chris McNesby off the deep end. Imagine if he'd gotten a tech. Next in Speedball’s sights is the city record for career coaching wins (high school level, only). He now owns 619 and Dan Dougherty had 621 at Malvern/Episcopal. The Prep’s three remaining games in the regular season are Monday night at O’Hara, home Friday afternoon vs. Neumann-Goretti and away two days later at Carroll. Very interesting . . .

FEB. 2
Constitution 76, MC&S 66 (OT)
  Right after the buzzer sounded, MC&S assistant Will “Chilly” Williams, famous forever as one of six lefties on Southern’s 1982 team, took a brisk walk down to see us and asked right away, “What did we shoot? I know it was horrible.” The totals had not yet been figured out, but now we can tell Will and the world: 22-for-67, which is a smidgeon under 33 percent. At the line, the Mighty Elephants were much better at 19-for-28, but it’s likely almost two-thirds of those makes were bricks that bounced on various parts of the rim, sometimes more than once, before falling in. It was crazy. Constitution was 27-for-62 (decent) and 21-for-39 (ouch), so no directors of shooting clinics will ever want to show this tape to their youngsters. Directors of dunking clinics? OH, yeah!! This game, which decided the top Class A seed for the upcoming Pub playoffs, included eight throw-downs and ConHigh sr. F-C Savon Goodman had five of them. One was high on any list of dunks you could possibly expect to see by a high school player as Goodman came in from the left wing (east end of Franklin’s gym) at roughly a 45-degree angle and left his feet from a spot OUTSIDE the lane (at least that’s what everyone was saying – smile). That one was later, but you could make a strong argument that the two dunks he had in the third quarter, within a few seconds of each other, were way more important. On the first, he ran in from the right baseline and hammered it home after taking a no-look pass from driving-hard sr. PG Daiquan Walker. Next, he made a steal as MC&S tried to advance upcourt and raced in for another powerful slam. Those two changed the deficit from 35-26 to 35-30 and got the Generals right back on the beam. The momentum was sustained, too, because Con ended the period with a 41-40 lead after coming out of a halftime facing a 32-19 deficit. Goodman, who formerly played at ANC and committed to Villanova (he’s back on the market), finished with 30 points, 15 rebounds, six steals, three blocks and two assists. Amauro asked me at one point when was the last time the Pub had a big man who was this athletic and, well, that’s going to take some extended thought. A few times, off steals or rebounds, Goodman dribbled three-quarters or four-quarters court and looked point guardish doing so. Quite a sight. And if the state needs a new high jump, long jump or triple champ champion, or all three, here’s your man. Goodman’s arrival at Con created an interesting dynamic because a top-shelf player, Walker, was already in the fold, and he’s to be commended for how he has handled this. Some guys would pump away to try to maintain top-dog status. And remember, big guys usually don’t get the ball unless the guards give it to them. But Walker has stayed within himself and, truthfully, has even stepped back a little. He made some of his best plays right near the basket, drawing two/three defenders so he could then drop off the ball to Goodman. Walker finished with 14 points, eight assists, three steals and seven rebounds. As the game started, sr. PF Craig “Poppy” Slade was sitting all the way at the end of Con’s bench and I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Was he in trouble? Would we not see him all night? Soon, however, he was checking in and maybe the early-sub role agrees with him because he contributed 12 points and five boards. Sr. G Tamir Bolger had six points and three assists. Sr. G Amonie Holloman, whose main purpose in life is to knock down treys, fired blanks in that area (0-for-7), but he did wind up with eight points and four were important free throws in a key fourth quarter stretch. Jr. PG Malik Starkes, who oozes The Look, had 25 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals. A few shots were ill-advised, but he was hardly alone for the MEs. He has a wide wing span and decent strength and all kinds of great things could happen for him. Jr. F-C Jeremiah “Lump” Worthem, another goody with "greaty" possibilities, had 14 points and nine rebounds. Jr. WG Abraham Massaley wound up with eight points and four apiece of assists/steals, but was just 3 of 17 from the floor. He’s still finding his way in this star-studded cast. Sr. F Quentin “Tree” Davis had seven points and eight boards. Soph F Basil Thompson had eight and three. The Generals led, 60-55, with 36.6 seconds remaining in regulation. MC&S prolonged the action with a trey from Starkes and a buzzer-beating follow by Worthem, which followed same-possession misses by Massaley (flip on the left side of the lane) and Starkes (fall-away trey, left wing). ConHigh scored four quick points to begin OT -- Goodman from Walker; two free throws by Slade -- and the MEs faded badly. Barring upsets, these squads will meet again in the Pub quarterfinals, then probably in the state playoffs, as well.
The JV game was played before the varsity tilt and, like the last time, Con coach Rob Moore guided both squads. Pretty amazing. How tired was this guy by the end of the night after teaching all day, then coaching two emotion-packed games?

FEB. 2
Hope 73, Bodine 48
Anyone have some extra ankles? Shakoor Woodson could use 'em. Woodson is a jr. WG for Hope Charter's hoops squad and mostly was tremendous as the Hawks slapped around WAY undersized Bodine at East Germantown's Lonnie Young Rec Center. But in the fourth quarter, as Woodson and sr. PG Shaheed Holmes were double-teaming Bodine star Nadir Matthews, a sr. G, in front of Bodine's bench, Matthews dribbled back and forth a few times, quickly, and oooooops, there went Woodson, backward, right onto his butt. A decent crowd was on hand and everybody went NUTS. One guy even went running onto the court, right through the players, and a few more rushed up against the sideline. At first, Woodson went the stone-faced route, trying to pretend nothing special had happened. But the moment was too big. Soon, he was smiling and laughing, too, and after the game he acknowledged Friday could be a rough day in school due to lots of cube-busting. Thanks for being a good sport, Shakoor, and beyond that, congrats on a strong performance. Woodson had 25 points, nine rebounds, three assists and six steals and, through most of the game, played excellent defense on Matthews, who is quite the scoring machine. As the game began, jr. CG Zahir Firby mostly covered Matthews and he did a good job. But Woodson is taller and longer and he was mostly responsible for seeing to it that Matthews hit just one of his first 10 attempts from the floor. In fact, Matthews did not post his second field goal until midway through the third quarter. So, you ask, how did he finish with 31 points? By scoring 18 during a fourth quarter that was nothing but garbage time. Though it faced a HUGE deficit, the Ambassadors kept fouling on purpose and the final eight minutes took forever. I suspect coach Lynn Greer Sr. chose this strategy so Bodine would keep getting the ball back and have a chance to get Matthews his points. Also, I know Lynn was upset about the fact that Nadir was sometimes semi-mugged away from the ball late in the first half. Anyway, Matthews got it rollin' down the stretch with a mixture of drives and jumpers (and a BUNCH of free throws) and Friday he'll have a chance to win the Pub scoring title in a makeup game with Lamberton. (Greer's son, Lynn, a 1997 E&S grad, accomplished that feat before starring at Temple and advancing to the NBA. He now plays in Russia.) For Hope, sr. PF-C Tramayne Brooks powered his way to 10 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks and he's getting some D-II/III interest. Sr. PF Jalil Shafi, a lefty, added 14 points, 12 boards and three steals. Holmes totaled 13 points, five assists and three steals and Firby added four thefts. It was amazing to see how small the Ambassadors were. Soph F Joseph Lockley did have seven points and eight rebounds and jr. G Dominick Daniel hustled for four steals before fouling out. Frosh Troy Richardson also had eight boards. One of the refs was website legend Mark "Frog" Carfagno (and he was working under the basket, not out front, when the manhandling of Matthews was taking place -- smile). Great job, Frogster! Before the game, I mentioned to Bodine's two female managers that Kaiem Frink, the brother of Michael Vick's fiance, formerly played basketball for Bodine. Then, I accessed the website on my phone and showed them a team picture from 2002 that included Kaiem. (Man, I had a crappy camera back then -- ha ha). Not sure if Kaiem's sister went to Bodine. That's for the gals to find out, right?

FEB. 1
Northeast 74, World Comm 56
  For today’s Only in the Pub tidbit, we give you this: World Comm is located five blocks south of City Hall, yet this WC home game was played at Belfield RC, right by La Salle University’s campus and about 7.5 miles from WC’s location. Say what? Game time was 3:15 and neither team had arrived by 35 minutes beforehand. Both refs were there, however, so I was confident (kinda) a game would indeed take place. “Game” wound up being a loose term, however. Northeast stormed to a 13-2 lead and never looked back. Jr. PG Deryl “Not Darryl” Bagwell, who played only JV at Imhotep, was a game-long bright light and came close to a triple double with 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. This was my second look at him and there’s much to like. He’s a tough cover due to respectable shooting skills and the ability to not only find the open men, but to make sure he first creates space for them. Early, the two main beneficiaries of Bagwell’s approach were sr. SF Walt “White Boah” Archer, a lefty, and jr. WG Daquan Bohannan, one of the Vikings’ numerous QBs. Each had eight first quarter points en route to 15 and 16, respectively. Bohannan also led in treys, 5-2; they did most of their shooting from the corners and near wings. Sr. F Yusef Savage had 13 boards and was steady with that production throughout. He reached 16 points by posting 12 in the up-and-down, defense-was-a-rumor fourth quarter. Sr. PF-C Daquan White, also a football guy, added seven boards. When I saw WC last week, coach Mike Carpenter used just five guys. Guess what? He almost did so again! The first sub, sr. G George Baxter, didn’t enter the game until 4:29 remained. Soph WG Quamier Johnson and jr. PG Fa’Teem Glenn, a lefty, halved 34 points. Glenn also had four assists and six steals. Soph WG-SF Darius Moore mostly camped out behind the arc and bombed away. He went 3-for-11 on treys while managing 13 points. He also snagged eight rebounds. While waiting to interview Bagwell, I heard coach Dennis Engelman solidify plans for a 6:15 practice – yes, a.m. – tomorrow for the Vikings. Deryl says he gets up at 4 o’clock on practice mornings and loads up on Toaster Strudles. I’ll have to try some of those bad boys. The English muffin routine is getting’ a little old (smile).

FEB. 1
  Here are the overall seedings for the upcoming Public League playoffs . . . and the matchups for Tuesday's play-in games.
  All games at higher seed.
No play-ins: 1, Fels. 2, Bartram, 3, King.
Kensington (13) at Frankford (4)
Lincoln (12) at Washington (5)
Gratz (11) at Olney (6)
Southern (10) at Northeast (7)
Overbrook (9) at Central (8).
No play-ins: 1, Phila. Elec. 2, E&S. 3, Boys' Latin. 4, Univ. City. 5, Franklin. 6, Franklin LC.
Dobbins (10) at Bok (7)
West Phila. (9) at Roxborough (8)
No play-ins: 1, Imhotep. 2, Vaux. 3, Del-Val.
Phila. Acad. (13) at Comm Tech (4)
Mastery North (12) at Esperanza (5)
Hope (11) at Prep Charter (6)
Sayre (10) at Freire (7)
Masterman (9) at Straw. Mansion (8).
No play-ins: 1, MC&S/Constitution. 2, MC&S/Constitution. 3, Robeson. 4, Palmer. 5, Lamberton. 6, Sankofa. 7, New Media.
Parkway West (9) at World Comm (8).
Note: MC&S and Constitution meet 2/2, 7 o'clock, at Franklin.