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Duck Tales
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  Jon "Duck" Gray is one of our most ardent web site supporters. His main sport is basketball, but he's becoming a legend on the football trail, too. How cool is it that his nickname is a good fit with Tom "Puck" McKenna and Ed "Huck" Palmer?
 You may contact Duck at jdtrilogy@aol.com

FEB. 26
Bartram 75, Parkway 45
   This one got blown over in the second half. Before that it was very interesting. The Parkway guards, (Kenan Muhammad, Rashawn Dennis and Javon Alston) couldn't hit an outside jumper, but were having some success driving to the basket. At the half, the score was 26-23, Bartram. Then after a Dennis steal and basket the score was 26-25, in the early moments of the second half. Coach Lou Biester calls timeout talks to his team and they went ballistic. Playing excellent basketball as they decide to blow the Hoyas out and end this one rather quickly. 6'9 Center Jason Cain had 13 points and 17 rebounds. He also dished 5 assists. Khalil Abdus-Salaam had 15 rebounds. Also, Charles Jones, an impressive lead guard, had 17 points. The Hoyas played hard but the rims at the legendary Gustine Lake Recreation Center were unkind. The only "trey" to fall from a regular was from Bartram's Bryant Leach. As the boys from Southwest Philly win what in all likelihood is the last high school game in the history of Gustine Lake, which probably will be razed in early September for a new Arthur Ashe Tennis Center.
   Table Talk- Lots of notables in the crowd. This was a going away party for the "Lake." A few more coaches in attendance today and I was very pleased to see that… Guards Antwan Garfield of Bartram and Jason Greene of Parkway took turns pleasing the late game crowd with dribble moves.

FEB. 24
Parkway 71, Dobbins 67
   This game was excellent. I mean good, solid basketball with emotion, poise and strategy at Gustine Lake Recreation. Parkway did not start two regulars and they still started hot from outside the arc. The Hoyas jumped out to a 9-0 lead and got the small but involved crowd going. Leading the way was senior guard Kenan Muhammad with 27 points (5-7 from three). This game was mostly guards against guards. Countering the Hoyas who feature three dandy guards; Rashawn Dennis and Javon Alston (12 points) join Muhammad, the Mustangs had three guards of their own. in junior Kyree Brown ( 13 points, 4 assists)seniors Benjamin Robinson (13 points) and Richard Willoughby. Inside senior 6'6 210, Phil Burns was a bear he tallied 25 points and 19 rebounds -- more on this later and back to the battle of all these guards. The Mustangs fight back behind the play of Burns, and guards Robinson and Brown. Brown is very impressive, he can nail the deep three, take his man off the dribble and is a very good defender. He is projecting Division I in my book. Robinson is just a small guard (5'6) who wrecks havoc. At the half, the Hoyas lead by four. Then they turn it up, Dennis who played a lot of point and looked good doing so, dished four assists in this quarter alone. Senior swingman Louis Burkett had an excellent quarter squeezing 12 of his 14 points in the quarter including two key threes. At one point the Hoyas lead burgeons to 11. Then here comes Dobbins finding the big guy, Burns for key points. Also, Brown nails a deep triple from the top of the key. The Hoyas respond early fourth quarter when Muhammad hits a deep three. Muhammad also made four big free throws in a key stretch beginning with 1:37 seconds remaining. Parkway seems to be pulling away, but those pesky Mustangs get within four after Willoughby races down court for a quick two. Then Dobbins is called for an intentional foul and that leaves a sour taste in Mustang land. Alston hits two key free throws and this one is history. In addition to the other 'Stangs senior Disheem "DaDa" Butler had a hard-earned double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Dennis had an impressive stat line with 15 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals.
   Table Talk - Yank and Hockey had this strange exchange. Hockey: Yank who are your starters. Yank: Huh my sounders?. Hockey : Your starters. Yank : My speakers? ……Not that many college coaches in the house they missed seeing some good players….The clock at Gustine is the ugliest thing I've ever seen.

FEB. 21
Dougherty 70, Judge 42
   Wanna lose five pounds water weight without even doing anything? Go to
Father Judge and Cardinal Dougherty. The packed house and the hot
Dougherty gym was like a sauna. I was expecting a good game, but early
on this game was over with. From the onset, the Cardinals blitzed the
Crusaders. Leading the way was lead guard Kyle Lowry (13 points, 6
assists). Lowry, who suffered a slight cut to his nose in the first
quarter, responded with some breathtaking moves. On one sequence he hit
junior forward DeSean White (24 points) with a no look pass which he
slammed home. Also he just gave the Cardinals a brassy look at the
point. White working a high-low with junior Shane Clark gives the
"Darius Miles" lookalike a nice pass and Clark slams it reverse over a
Judge player and the crowd goes bananas. The assistant from Texas A&M is
drooling. That one would have made SportsCenter. Clark is the deal!
Also for Dougherty they received good defense from "lockdown" specialist
Bilal Benn. Judge received a more than game effort from 6'5 junior
forward Steve Wolf (18 points). This kid is a player, he made
authoritative moves and keeps competing. He has the look of a D-I player
by next year. Judge's other top guns Senior forward Tom Keenan and
senior guard Billy Geiger couldn't get on track. They both are much
better than they shopwed, and somebody soon will realize that. Despite
the loss, I wouldn't want to play Judge in the playoffs they look very
capable of upsetting someone. Tonight, Dougherty was on all cylinders.
   Table Talk- Tons of people, overflow crowd. Body heat index in the
thousands. All the snow outside should have melted from the heat inside
the gym... A couple funny moments from the Looney Bin, Judge senior
guard Ryan Carrelli saw extended minutes. Carrelli, who has game by the
way, is only about 5'0. So the Bin ribbed him and called him Rudy... Bin
favorite junior Timmy Smith got to show off his "handle" a couple of
times and the crowd went delirious.

FEB. 11
King 65, Central 41
   This game was played at Mallery Rec. center, which of course is a legendary gym. But the Central athletic staff seems woefully sad, at Central their gym is flooded and their vaunted homecourt advantage has been stripped. I know that is hard for Lancer lan, but please try and smile at games. This game was very entertaining. King won the first quarter, 22-9, behind the superb play of 6'4 senior forward Stefon "DJ" Jackson.  (27 points, 13 rebounds).This kid does not miss 10-12 footers, you can pretty much count it the moment he catches it. After a year of Prep, he should be D-I. Point guard Quincy Marshall looked extremely poised and in control all game. He made very sound decisions and found the open man all of the time. He had six first quarter assists. And 6'11 center Wayne Marshall (Temple Signee), who had 7 seven blocks throughout the game. Although outgunned, Central showed moments and they will be much better next year. Senior Darnell Johnson buried 3 treys and was strong with the ball and as usual displayed a wide range of point guard skills (ie. controlling tempo, looking opposite and on the ball defense). 6'4 freshman guard, Kenny St. George showed flashes of brilliance. (Even on one play getting a kind word from Hoopscoop's Allen Rubin, the most detail oriented guru on  the East Coast, "He can play, he will be good down the line." ) Sophomore point guard Lamar Williams is a gem ready to be found, he made plenty of positive decisions and will continue to progress. King just had too much firepower: W. Marshall, Jackson, Q. Marshall and senior two guard, Andre Hammond. Wayne mixed 14 points and 7 blocks. Hammond bombed two treys on the way to 12 points. Q. Marshall had 10 assists and 3 steals, but no King player received the amount of crowd support that 6'7 widebody sophomore center, Qwinton Marshall, Wayne's brother, received the two times he entered the game. He even dropped in a deuce. Good job big fella.
   Table Talk- Central coach Haviland "Biff" Harper joked before the game that he wanted Ashley Morris and Lakia Stewart members of the Central girls team to suit up. Was he joking? King has Gratz next and you can already see the adrenalin flowing from everybody.

FEB. 8
Penn Charter 64, Lake Clifton (Md.) 57
   I arrived barely in time for this tilt. Penn Charter, which is one of our area's top teams, went at it with one of Maryland's top teams in Lake Clifton. Early on the story was the Quakers' 6'8 wing forward, Rob Kurz. Kurz had the best game I've seen him play this year as he totaled 20 points. He looked fluid, confident and made shots in traffic and from the wing. He had to play well because he went head to head with one of Maryland's best forwards in 6'6 senior Travon Nelson. Kurz played him very well. Even though, superstar junior point guard Sean Singletary had an off day, he made many key passes to Kurz and football quarterback Matt Ryan. Speaking of Ryan, who has committed to Boston College for football, if the pigskin doesn't work out he could compete in three-point contests for a living. I mean he always is giving some team the "dagger." Also helping the cause was senior forward Mike Boles, who just loves the dirty work. Boles bangs people around and sets lots of screens, I would hate to play against this kid. Because he does whatever it takes. (Wink, wink.) This game had a very interesting fourth quarter; with the score 47-43, PC and Lake Clifton seems to have the momentum to come back on the Philly boys, Singletary burries back to back treys. Then after a Lake Clifton score from jr. guard Paris Carter, Penn Charter falters and after another Carter score it is 53-52. Singletary finds Ryan for a trey, and then Kurz scores on a pass from Boles. And after a parade of clutch free throws from Boles and Singletary and this game is on ice.
   Table Talk- A lot of people were buzzing about St. John Neumann's performance against Oak Hill Academy who defeated the Pirates by only five…. LeBron James is AMAZING. I just saw him score 52 points and he had all of these UNBELIEVEABLE treys. Man. He is good!!!!!!!…I ran into former Gratz assistant Nate Smigel he had a ton of inside stories about his years with Gratz.

JAN. 30
Roxborough 49, Bok 46
   This game had more than a few nice moments and although the crowd was not large it was sure loud. The Tech took a lead behind the play of junior, improving by the millisecond, forward Chris Seaborn (14 points, 11 rebounds). Seaborn, who stands 6'6 and is slim, has lots of potential. He makes authoritative moves around the basket and posts up strong. Also playing well was slithery 6'2 forward Jamal West (13 points). The Wildcats held a 15-6 lead in the early going of the second quarter. Roxborough would get going.   5'11 senior combination guard Tyrone Crawley (20 points) took the game over for the "'Boro." Crawley tallied nine in the second quarter alone, including a deep three and an impressive in the lane hoop plus the foul. At the half the score was knotted at 21. Early fourth quarter, Roxborough begins to ignite, Crawley finds junior guard Shaheed Rucker for trey. Then junior forward Donte Robinson packs 7 points into the final stanza including a corner trey from a Rucker pass. After taking a 42-37 lead with only 1:04 remaining, Roxborough would have to hold on. The problem: they can't complete an inbounds pass. Five of them in a row go array. (Two deflections, three steals.) And with timely foul shooting from Akeem "Feathers" Green and 6'1 junior James Pope this baby is tied at 42 and again at 44. The hero down the stretch was 6'3 forward Jared Nichols, a sophomore who tallied all 8 of his points in the final stanza. And went 6-8 from the line to seal the deal, he also came up with a key steal to help provide the margin of victory, Bok would have a chance at the buzzer but sixth man Allen Major's trey would fall woefully short. Crawley has the look of a good small college player and I hope some D-2 and D-3's at least give him a look. I would have liked to see more of Bok's John Brown and Rox's Jon Elliott, but both incurred foul trouble early.
   Table Talk- This section of kids  in the bleachers were thoroughly entertaining. They kept chattering non-stop. They said many memorable things like: "Basketball isn't your first sport." Of course a few times the Bok players heard their names called and where heckled. Plus before the game, I enjoyed the warm-up music.

JAN. 24
Neumann 77, West Catholic 61
   This storied rivalry was renewed again, and once again an entertaining game was played. The Pirates of St. John Neumann would be without their top gun in 5'9 junior combination guard, Richard "Tabby" Cunningham. They wouldn't miss a beat, as their seniors played very well. The Pirates were led figuratively and literally by senior point man Antwain Wynn, who tallied 14 points and 7 assists. Two other seniors played well also, 6'5 Shippensburg recruit, Todd Johnson (16 points) and 6'0 wing guard, Kenny Fulton (16 points.) Also playing well in limited action was sophomore seventh man, David Burton. Late second quarter, after a steal, Burton raced downcourt and threw down a wicked jam over a Burr. The Burrs trailed by 10 at the half. The Burr banner was carried by 6'3 junior swing-man Robert Latimer who scored 21 points, most coming in transition. Also, playing well was 6'1 senior Brandon Wicker, who scored 15 points and showed the ability to break his defender down and hit jumpers. Junior star, Marshall Taylor only scored 7 points before fouling out. He will have many better games than this. As will sophomore combination forward, Derrell Hand, (5 points) younger brother of FLC legend Faron "Meatball" Hand. Just like big brother, Hand moves extremely well for a big man. The Burr really didn't receive any solid point guard play. So this game was for large periods of time, a Wynn showcase. He just wrecked havoc on defense, and occassionally went in amongst the trees for rebounds and found teammates open for jumpers. West Catholic is a young team and in the next two years they should reemerge.
  Table Talk- I love these old antique gyms, this gym is really fun to watch a game in. In the Public League, there is a gym at 22nd and Lehigh which is just as special.

JAN. 19
Gratz 84, Edison 60
Even ugly games can be classics. This one was both. Simon Gratz can, will and often plays much better basketball than this. The Bulldogs struggled at times. But as always they get it done. In the first half, the game really didn't get into a flow. For Gratz, only Mark Tyndale and Brandon Void where really playing well, which was problematic because Thomas Edison freshman point guard Raymond "Doodles" Sims is the real deal. Sims controlled the tempo and Gratz changed the defense on him adroitly to stymie his efforts. "Doodles" was "cutting up" every Bulldog who played defense on him. Then he was finding teammates for good scoring opportunities. His primary playmates, seniors David Eshun and Timothy Young, had memorable performances. Eshun, routinely used his body very well, rebounded and scored key baskets on pick and rolls. Young was Young. He gets to the foul line at will and during a memorable second quarter poured 9 points in as the Owls rallied from a 26-12 Gratz lead after a Watson, trey at 4:11 in the second quarter. Young made 7-8 foul shots and he had a nice big step, get to the rim layin in traffic. Sims, displaying x-ray court vision, finds promising junior guard Jerome "Huss" Allen for a reverse layup and the crowd lets loose some oohs and aahs. Amazingly, the score was 30-26, Gratz at the half. And even though, I was impressed by the Owls first half, I thought the second half was going to be all Gratz.  Hmmm. What would happen? At 5:34 of the third quarter, Young took off from the right baseline and jumped over a Gratz forward and threw down a vicious, legendary dunk. I have been going to Gratz games for over 12 years and never heard the Gratz kids so amazed and so respectful of one play from an opposing player. Young jumped over the forward, just like Vince Carter jumped over the Frenchman at the 2000 Olympics! No exaggeration! But more importantly the score was 31-30 Bulldogs, and Sims, Young and Eshun aren't going nowhere.  After feisty junior guard Tyrone Smith made a rebound basket. With the crowd still amazed after the Young dunk, Sims goes up to receive an inbounds pass and is hit hard. He would have to miss a few minutes. The coach was correct in being cautious. And it was time for Tyndale to go to work, he went ballistic in the second half, totaling 15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals in the second half alone. Tyndale flirted with a triple double: 26 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. He makes it look easy. Leader and supreme competitor, Omar Johnson had 20 points and 5 steals, Smith tallied 12 points and 8 rebounds. Void scored 11 points and had a pair of picks. After a year of prep, Void will be a D-I prospect. For the Owls, Young was magnificent with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals. This kid is a steal waiting to happen. Eshun rumbled, rolled and flipped in 16 points and 11 rebounds. Sims dished 7 assists and he added a long trey after returning to action mid-fourth quarter.
   Table Talk- I was supposed to be at another game ….This is out of character but necessary. I always speak nicely about the teachers, the staff and people at Philadelphia Public schools, because through my past experiences as a high school student, I realized how hard and sincere they are and how little support they receive from the community, parents and the kids themselves. And throughout my experiences on my day job that allows me to see first hand their care and compassion against odds that you can hardly imagine. But I have a severe problem with the game admission policy of Strawberry Mansion High School and Mr. Charles Sumter, the athletic director and also the PL basketball chairman. The fact that I couldn't get into the game perplexes me and the fact that college coaches and other more important members of the community and media can't get in shows a total disregard for the welfare of the kids. Players like Delton Morgan-Hines and Tracey Worley are in dire need of some ink. They deserve it. Yet, they can't get in because of his policy. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the countless defense I have made for the kids at Mansion following what I consider harsh and excessive ridicule for their performance against LeBron James and his St. Vincent/St. Mary's squad, seems a wash. But lets think. How can play in front of 10,000, when you don't play before 10 people at home? Let people in!!!! Last year  two Big Five assistants were turned away in PL quarterfinals. You can search people, you can be nasty, but let people in. You can charge them and you can pay your equipment managers with the money, but let the people in. I don’t want to address this issue again. I was in a terrible mood before being turned away because of what happened on Monday at several private/Catholic schools. This is a controversial issue, but I don’t like practicing and playing games on MLK Day. I mean come on, you could at least acknowledge the day before you play the national anthem. NOTHING.   In a day that is both educational and a day of service throughout the nation - NOTHING. SHOW SOME RESPECT. A lot of people don't have the brass to say this to you, but show me you care. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one that sees things this way, but EDUCATION is more than the classroom and that was a teachable moment. Having practice and games and not the simple decency to address the day is deplorable in my book. And this was the second day in the row. You may disagree with me on one or both of these issues, but to paraphrase Clark Gable, "Frankly, I don't give a damn."

JAN. 15
Central 52, Penn 49 (OT)
   This one was interesting. At times this game was sloppy and for large periods of time neither time could make a shot. William Penn led from early behind the play of four lefthanders, the most prominent and best of the southpaws were 6'2 F/C/G sophomore Curtis Shaw and 5-8 freshman point guard Janardo Lucas (12 points). Shaw has loads of POTENTIAL. He is talented and plays with heart but still needs to improve his court sense, but man does Curtis compete. In this one, he played every position on the floor, often grabbing rebounds and pushing the ball up and then letting Lucas control things in the half-court. His other duties included doing all of the inbounding, helping to break the press with his dribble and setting some screens as well. Shaw has a very bright future if he does the right things and gets the proper support. The other two lefties who played well at times were juniors 6'0 swingman Samuel Ballard and 6'2 small forward Jason Hall. The Lions led 20-11 early second quarter and then the Lancers began to show life. Junior Noam Fliegelman (21 points) was at times the lone Lancer playing with any sense or conviction. Fliegelman scored eight points in the third including a deep trey on a pass from senior guard Darnell Johnson (8 points, 5 steals and 4 assists). The Lancers pulled within one on a layup from reserve forward Steve Avinger, impressively the young Lions still maintain a lead with the more experienced Lancers on their heels. Heading into the fourth the Lancers started to take the ball to the hole, and get the Lions in foul trouble. 6'4 Freshman guard Kenny St. George (6 points, 5 rebounds) and Johnson both scored layups and drew the foul, and the Lancers again moved within one after a Fliegelman jumper at the 5:00 mark. So you probably expected the Lions to fold like young teams do? They didn't -- at least not yet. Lucas shakes a Central defender to the floor and finds Ballard, who has a semi-decent look at a shot, but instead passes back to Lucas who nails a trey. The crowd got into it after that jumper. Eventually, a Reggie Strickland rebound basket gives the Lancers' their first share of the lead. Then a pair of Fliegelman free throws at 2:41, gave them a one point lead. Then Shaw while triple teamed in the high post finds Hall for a layup. Shaw then hits one of two from the line. Then Hall makes an off-balance shot, with Coach Phillips yelling "Dumb shot." The Lancers find a way and sophomore Scott Rodgers (11 points and 8 rebounds) ties the game with 28.1 seconds with two free throws. Then the Lions youth shows as they turned the ball over twice. (And they missed 6 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter! OUCH!) Johnson drives the length of the court but Lucas sticks to him like crazy glue and he misses a short flip at the buzzer. Overtime, Rodgers finds Fliegelman for a wing jumper and Scott adds a free throw with only 6 seconds remaining, missing the second of the bonus, Shaw (12 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.) snares the board and despite being under duress, he dribbles to the three point arch and gets a look but misses as time expired. Whew, that was a gem.
   Table Talk- Coach Phillips had three memorable moments: Once he said to Lucas, "Too much dribbling, you ain't going nowhere." He then made a dribbling motion that looked like a pendulum going side to side. Then to a young player, "Come on young boy don't play dumb, you're already young" Of course, Coach Harper outdid him once after a terrible Lancer decision, he nearly ran down the steps back to the locker room. The "Pub" -- I wouldn't trade it for a million dollars.

JAN. 14
Southern 68, Benjamin Franklin 55
   A disturbing thing occurred in this game. The crowd was very small, and I'm beginning to wonder if Ben Franklin is becoming a "football school." I mean, there's nothing wrong with football, but the Electrons are not what they used to be on the hardwood. The Southern Rams on the other hand looked damn good at times in this one. 6'5 junior forward, Shawn Sabb was very good in this one. Sabb shot 9-11 from the floor and 1-2 from the line for 19 points and added 9 boards and 6 rejections. Sabb, despite playing inside, may be his team's best perimeter shooter. He hit several jumpers from 16-18 feet. He also had a serious jam off a backboard pass from Amir Ryan. Junior point guard Antoine "Doo Dirty" Brown had 18 points and 5 assists. On a couple of possessions, Brown was able to break down more than one defender and score on inside drives. Also, you have to love the way that Brown and Ryan go inside on offense and defense to grab rebounds. Throughout the first three periods, the Rams seemed to have the Electrons at bay. Leading scorer and much improved combination guard, Brian Smith, had a rough time with his normally dead-eye jumpshot. Smith only tallied 4 points on 2-19 shooting including 0-7 from trey. Brian is much better than that, the Rams' 1-3-1 zone  did a good job of disrupting him; plus he had a swollen finger on his shooting hand. He did little things though with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Senior point man, Tyree Wilson (18 points) hit a couple of nice jumpers and played good defense as well. One thing, Wilson could work on is limiting his dribbling and finding the inside players - 6'7 sophomore center Abdullah Moon and 6'5 junior Sedale Mason more often. Mason had a monster fourth quarter were he almost brought the Electrons back solo. He tallied 14 points and 4 rebounds in the final stanza as the Electrons rallied within 8 and very briefly 6 after being down 20 in third quarter. Mason and Sabb have "old school" games, they don't waste time or movements with the ball, they just get it done. Mason provides "heart" for the Broad and Green gang. Sedale finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block.
  Table Talk- The crowd turnout was beyond poor, hopefully that will change, Ben Franklin used to always be packed for games, especially the "Battle of North/South Broad Street."

JAN. 7
Gratz 83, Olney 57
   This one was more than fun to watch. Simon Gratz is fully loaded and ready to make a run at the Public League Championship. Today they battled with a talented, athletic and full of potential Olney Trojans. Early on, Olney playing up tempo and confident basketball, won the first quarter 16-12. Leading the way was 6'7 senior center, Maurice "Grease" Thomas, who had a good game in this one. Also, playing well was junior point guard Andrew Jerry, who played good ball on both ends of the floor. Then it came time for the Bulldogs to exert their skills. When Gratz plays make sure you can spell d-e-p-t-h. I mean it is what they have. They unleashed eleven players today, that played hungrier than a starving pack of pit bulls. Leading the pack was 6'4 junior Mark Tyndale, who had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Tyndale is really smooth, he makes the difficult play look easy. Also making a strong contribution were 6'4  reserve senior forward Paul Graham, who put 16 points up off the bench. Graham runs the floor, defends and crashes the boards. Junior center, Donald "Biggie" Curtis also patrols the frontline. Add Jason Higginbottom (nee McGirt) who is a low post animal and you have a deep frontcourt. Then we move to the backcourt which is very deep led by point man, Omar "Jet" Johnson (14 points, tons of savvy), shooting guard Tariq Wharton (14 points, two deep threes.), combination guard Brandon Void (4 assists), and versatile combination guards junior Tyrone Smith and senior Tyree Watson. You have enough guards for a Presidential visit. From the early second quarter, the Bulldogs took control. In the second stanza, the Trojans were shut down only scoring 3 points, one on a free throw by promising sophomore forward, Kevin Riley, and a putback  from 6'5 junior forward, Erik "Ugs" Adams. The Dogs stormed into the half with a 33-19 lead. Olney rallied within ten in the opening moments of the third quarter, then Gratz proceeded to blow this one out of the water. Trojan star wing guard, Ramik Roberts had a rough game, especially threw the first  three quarters.  Roberts did have a decent final period. Roberts shot 5-18 from the field (one for two on threes) and 2-9 from the charity stripe. He will have better games soon. The Trojans, although they needed some shots to fall, showed a lot of positives. Thomas had 17 points, 11 rebounds and a block. Thomas should be given a look by many schools on many different levels, he has a soft touch and rebounds with some passion. Adams had 10 points and 3 blocks. Jerry kept Johnson under wraps for some period, of time before the "Jet" had a very good final quarter. If Olney can keep improving and finds a player or two: Gratz and Olney should be a hotter ticket next year.
  Table Talk- Hey it is a shame that I have to write that Mr. Tony Johnson, who has been involved with Overbrook basketball program for years, died tragically after the 'Brook game on Tuesday. It is a great loss for city basketball and for Overbrook High. Rest in Peace.

DEC. 22
SJ Prep 61, Camden Catholic 50
  For many this one had subplots. According to some publications, the Hawks of St. Joseph's Prep are the top team in Southeastern PA and the Irish of Camden Catholic are considered the top team in South Jersey. From the opening tip, it was clear that the better state was the Keystone state. Mark Zoller, a 6'6 forward, was a dominant factor in this one. He grabs "grown man" rebounds and finishes on offense. He doesn't blaze or leap over tall buildings but for St. Joe's he's Clark Kent. He tallied 23 points and 13 rebounds. This team's engine is junior ballhandler Chris Clark. He looked damn good in this one. He rained down some jumpers and controlled the tempo from the point guard spot; he had 18 points. The Prep executes. That is a very simple way to explain things, and just maybe that is the issue. They have two tough, confident jumpshooters in John Griffin and T.J Valerio. Griffin, a junior, is tough as nail, he runs through traffic and will run you ragged off screens. It's early but he is projecting as a Patriot-Ivy type player. Valerio is a stone cold assasin from trey. Add senior forward John Oberlies and you have the most effective starting five that I've seen thus far. As for depth, that is another thing. But coach Speedy Morris seems to have everything under control. Speedy went head to head with one of South Jersey's top coaches, Jim Crawford, in this one. Neither one got demonstrative. (BORING!!!!!!)  The Hawk fans of course did, unfortunately not enough Camden Catholic people in attendance, it would have been great to see an exchange between the Hawks and the Irish. SJP draws a decent amount of kids to 17th and Girard from South Jersey. In fairness, CC was playing its opener while Prep is already in midseason form.
  Table Talk- I was on press row some other journalists had to go to the press box, that is a shame. HA HA HA HA HA.

DEC. 17
Simon Gratz 48, Archbishop Carroll 45
   This one could have been  a real good football game. Those Patriots of Archbishop Carroll are a very physical team. Their star Jordan Ingram, a 6'7 Fairleigh Dickinson signee, had a monster game. He was rebounding and blocking shots from the onset. Ingram posted big numbers : 22 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks. The Bulldogs would win this one behind the play of 5-6 senior lead guard Omar Johnson, who played extremely well. Johnson, junior guard Tyrone Smith ( 4 steals, 4 rebounds and 4 assists) and 5'10 senior shooting guard Tariq Wharton (10 points) had a solid outing. Johnson registered 18 points, 4 assists and 4 steals. Many of those points came at important junctures in the game and those assists were all pretty. The inside players, Mark Tyndale and Jason McGirt, both had a hard time converting inside in the second half. Gratz had a long dry spell on the offensive end. And the Patriots capitalized, helping Ingram out was feisty junior swingman Mike Springman ( 11 points before fouling out.) Springman played some point in this one. He did a very good job when Gratz went man but when Gratz pressed or trapped it was a hard day at the office for any of the Patriot ball-handlers. That being said, even though Gratz led from early on this game wasn't decided until the final horn. (It was a nail biter.) Gratz held a two point lead after a Johnson jumper. After Ingram made two free throws with 53 seconds remaining, Gratz' Wharton made two with 26 seconds left. After a missed Carroll opportunity after good defense from Gratz, Carroll fouled reserve guard Brandon Void. Void played good defense all game and made the first of the one and one. After missing the second, Ingram gets a look from three blocked by 6-6 Gratz junior forward Donald Curtis.(4 blocks and 4 rebounds)  Ingram grabs the rebound and throws up a brick.  Curtis rebounds and time expires. Whew!!!!!!!! They sweated that out. I must commend Carroll's coach Paul Romanczuk, whose team played valiantly. Gratz looks good but they're many things that need to be worked/ironed out. The team doesn't seem to have a "style of play" or distinct personality.
  Table Talk- Gratz  had signs all around the school celebrating reserve guard Tyree Watson and coach Leonard Poole being named Public League Player of the Year and Coach of the Year by the Daily News.  McGirt has an alternate last name the announcer at Gratz kept saying Jason Higginbotham. The roster said "McGirt" so I stayed with that.

DEC. 13
Engineering & Science 52, Central 37
   Could you think of a better way to spend, Friday the 13th than at a Central High school varsity basketball doubleheader? Of course not. Last year, Central spanked E&S without much resistance. I had a feeling the very young Engineers had a very good memory. From the onset, C.M. Brown's gang started out the aggressor. E&S featured three junior guards on the outside although none of the three are taller than 5-11, they sure play bigger. The best of the three is hard-playing 5-11 combination guard, Kechan Myers. He is probably the top player for Coach Brown, but with the way these guys share the ball and make good decisions it doesn't appear obvious. Then you have 5-9 lead guard Tramaine Jackson, who like Myers' has a high quality "handle." And finally heady, quick, 5-7 combination guard Mike Gainer. Those three are supplemented by two senior inside workers, 6'6 Andrew Martin and 6'4 Marvin Satchell. Satchell was very important in the early going because he snagged many key rebounds. Satchell had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. The Lancers, who are painfully young, struggled at times to score points. Early on after one quarter the score was 12-3, E&S. Central's offense would falter.  Prompting a timeout and a tirade from coach Haviland Harper, with the score 20-8 E&S in the late stages of the first half. Then  the Lancers awoke in front of a capacity crowd. Leading the way was 6'1 sophomore swingman Scott Rodgers and 6'4 freshman guard Kenneth St. George. St. George and Rodgers are going to be two of the Public League's brightest stars in the near future. They both "go after it" on defense and play good sound ball. St. George darted in the lane easily and found open teammates for scores. He only had 5 assists to go with 5 points but could have easily had more assists if his teammates converted shots.  The Lancers close the gap at the end of the second half to within 7, 25-18. Then it was time for the E&S guards to take turns controlling the tempo of this one. Myers wowed the overflow crowd with an acrobatic series of dribble moves including a behind the back crossover that got the E&S portion of the crowd going. Then Jackson who made plenty of effective mid -range drives puts on a ball handling clinic, constantly breaking down his man, while the clock keeps ticking and finds reserve guard Kenny Burt for 3 as the third quarter horn sounds. Gainer makes some key free throws and this one is heading the way of E&S. For Central nobody scored in double figures, but senior guard Armen Henderson had 8 points, 3 steals and 4 rebounds. The top Lancer, senior guard Darnell Johnson, struggled in this one but will have better days. Football/track star Jordan Anderson snagged 8 boards. For E&S Jackson led all scorers with 14 points and 3 assists. Myers added 12 points, 4 steals and 3 assists and Gainer had 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.
  Table Talk- Man, there were fine women all over the place. I mean besides King-G-Town on Thanksgiving and the Penn Relays, this venue draws the most dimes, and occasionally some silver dollars and fifty cent pieces as well…. Central cheerleaders are good, I mean real good. You young ladies need to go to Nationals or something……. Beforehand Central's fantastic girls basketball team lost a heartbreaker to Coolidge of D.C. That was an awesome game in terms of excitement and drama…….. Plenty of "Pub" coaches scouting Yankowitz, Kratchman, Gritter etc. Also former Franklin coach, Kenny Hamilton was in the house.

DEC. 7
Penn Charter 77, Germantown 54
  This one could have been summed up in two words:Sean Singletary. The junior guard dominated early and his fellow Quakers following his lead took care of the Germantown Bears' seven man unit easily. Singletary's line on the night 24 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds, but much more than stats, he made the game very difficult for the G-Town gang. At one point the game was tied at  4-4, then after a couple of Singeltary's trademark "special delivery" layups and lightning fast steals : it swelled to a 23-7 PC edge. A few more breathtaking moves by Singletary and the score was 31-9. Singletary was named Tourney MVP. His main playmate today was 6-8 junior forward, Rob Kurz. Kurz, who normally excells as a wing player, played mostly inside on offense and used his 3 inch height advantage to procure 12 rebounds and have 4 blocks. He also showed toughness in scoring 20 points mostly from in close. The Quakers' hero against MLK on Friday was underrated sophomore combo guard, Zack Zeglinski, he only had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in this one. But believe me, he played intense defense when the Quakers went into a 3/4 court trap. And when they went into a swarming match-up zone look, Zeglinski, Kurz and Singletary cut down driving and passing lanes and took the fun out of this one. Zack was named to the All-Tournament team and that was very deserved.Senior Mike Boles, played good "non-stat sheet" ball, he sets solid screens, hustled around the basket and played unselfishly.   For Germantown, 6'6 senior forward Keith Shanks had an in and out performance, finishing with 24 points but 15 of those points came in the final quarter with the game in had for the Quakers. At times, though, he shows a soft touch and confidence to launch it. He just needs to avoid charging fouls (because of putting his head down) on 15 feet rumbles that lead to short jumpers. Shanks was the G-Town representative on teh All-Tournament team. 6'4 junior swingman, Ivan Evans again looked promising. He made a couple of nice cuts to the hole early and took feeds from guards Steve "Ali" Custus and Tyrone "Shep" Sheppard and finished near the rack. He occasionally made short jumpers but needs to improve his shot, anyway his 16 points and 9 rebounds where well-earned. St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli and a Penn State assistant where among the coaches in attendance.
  Table Talk- Earlier, I saw parts of the King-GFS game. King won 61-52, but rested Wayne Marshall for large periods of time. 6'4 junior Stephon "DJ" Jackson looked very good at times as wing finisher and Quincy Marshall did an excellent job of handling the ball, and controlling tempo. Wayne was named to the All-Tournament team.

DEC. 6
Germantown 91 Germantown Friends School 83 (Double Overtime)

Germantown Community Tournament
   As people piled out after an entertaining Penn Charter-Martin Luther King game, the buzz around the gym was : why is Germantown only suiting up six players. Well, Coach Otis Hackney has booted several players from his squad because of grades and insubordination. (Good for you, coach.) So his six players went to battle an after an excellent first half, they had a 36-30 lead. For large periods of time the Bears would be without their top player and catalyst: 5'7 senior guard Tyrone "Shep" Sheppard. In his place they receieved a huge performance from 6'6 senior forward, Keith "I'm a Sleeper" Shanks. Shanks made many key plays off the dribble and shooting from deep that helped enabled the Bears to maintain leads throughout the first three quarters. G-Town, like most teams in our area has a very talented junior- Ivan Evans. Evans had a big day 21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 assists. He scored in various ways, and is extremely athletic. With Sheppard out most of the second half with 4 fouls, GFS made a comeback. Their co-franchises : 6-3 senior combo guard Jason Tucker (42 points and 8 rebounds) and 6-3 sophomore wing guard Noel Wilmore (34 points) would put the Tigers on top, 61-60 late fourth quarter. But the Bears had plenty of scrap and went into overtime. In the first extra session, Sheppard fouls out on a ticky-tack foul. He had 14 points and 5 assists. With him out the G-Town gang lost a calming influence, excellent breakdown scorer, and the option of having an eligible player on the bench. Shanks and Tucker exchange threes and the crowd goes wild. The Tigers move forward, with a one point lead, Wilmore goes coast to coast and makes a tear drop jumper for a 3 point lead with seconds remaining. Shanks gets a look from 24 feet and drills it as time expires. The G-Town supporters are estactic, like the days of old. We'll play another overtime session. And guess what the Bears begin to take over, 5-7 senior point guard Steve "Ali" Custus (10 assists and huge play on both ends of the floor) finds Evans for three. Bingo!!!!!!! The Bears are on their way. Custus finds a streaking Shanks for a game ending lay-up which concluded Germantown High's version of the movie - Hoosiers. Playing huge in a supporting role for G-Town was 6'6 junior forward Brian Carroll (four big second overtime free throws) and 6'5 sophomore forward Devon Price (tons of key rebounds and defense).  A statement win for coach Hackney. Taking six players, against a team with talents like Jason Tucker and Wilmore, in their gym and fighting off horrific officiating. Especially, after you had the brass to kick slackers off of the team. This game sent mini shockwaves throughout the Germantown neighborhood, maybe the sleeping giant (G-Town basketball) is going to make some noise.  That question will be answered against vaunted Penn Charter in the championship game.
  Table Talk- Dorian Brewer, G-Town's star football lineman and b-ball manager wanted to suit up but doubted that coach Hackney had  a uniform his size.

DEC. 3
Franklin LC 72, University City 48
  For an early season game this one surely was packed with high amounts of emotion. Emotion from the crowd, players and coaches. Early on FLC would build small leads behind the play of its quality senior backcourt of 6'1 point guard, Michael Green and 6'5 shooting guard, Tyreek Byard. Green was able to dictate the game's tempo, set up teammates and score as well. University City would hang close behind the play of 6'3 small forward Brandon Moton and hustling sophomore guard Anthony Morrison. They're painfully young and inexperienced. However, they compete like crazy. At the half they hung within four. Then it was lights out, FLC began to use its experience, size and desire to take command. Green hit a couple of standstill "treys", found sophomore inside player, Jahkal Curry for a couple of baskets and dictated the flow of the game in favor of FLC. But the Bobcats didn't seal the deal until one electrifying sequence in the third quarter's late stages. After junior forward, Joshua Grier made a high rising block on a Jaguar, shot the ball carromed to the sideline, where Green corralled the ball, crossed over a defender while tight rope walking the end line, and threw a alley-oop pass to Byard, who went up to the stratosphere, to slam it home. Even some of the University City faithful smiled and laughed at that one. Green had 23 points and 7 assists. Most importantly, he is fully qualified and a Division I prospect. Byard shot 5-8 from the field one three for a pretty 11 points, and grabbed 10 boards. Byard only played 2 and 1/2 quarters. Also, he is garnering Division I interest. Grier had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards, also had 5 blocks. Curry put up 11 points. He is starting to get more aggressive inside and occassionally, will "bang" with the big guys upfront. The Bobcats are looking to improve on their playoff performance last year, and a solid summer in which they made the finals of PUREGAME Greater Philadelphia League. University City has the look of a spoiler team, you know the team that comes in and steals a game or two from a playoff contender. Moton, showed improved confidence and tricky baseline game in route to 12 points. Morrison, just seemed to will himself a team high 14 points. He just plays hard. Both teams have challenging preseason schedules.
  Table Talk - There is a new scoreboard in Cunningham. WOW. I never thought I would live to see it. It's nice too, even though it acted up at the end of the first half. Coach Ken Gritter of University City is normally quiet, today he was yelling and instructing. It was strange because he has a "coach's voice."