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Amauro's Corner, 2002-03
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Amauro "Amar" Austin is another of our trusty observers. He is not to be confused with Ruben Amaro, the Phillies' assistant general manager. Like "Huck" Palmer, Amauro is a West Catholic graduate. He will make reports on the MANY games he sees. You may e-mail him at Thurlbough@hotmail.com.
  

DEC. 27
OLNEY CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP
Bartram 68, Frankford 56
       This win was a typical Brave win as they danced through the gym and just turned it off and on as they pleased. For some odd reason, they seem to like for games to get kind of close so that they can then put team away. Go figure? The chief Brave on this day was 6'9 Sr. F-C Jason Cain with 17 Points on 7-for-8 from the field, 8 Rebounds, 5 Assists & 2 Blocks. The big guy was highly impressive as he has been all December. One Scouting Publication has Mr. Cain rated as the #1 unsigned Big Man in the country. His great low post passing may have been the best part of his game today. Sr Guards Charles Jones & Bryant Leach both were non-factors early on after picking up their 2nd fouls early in the 1st Qtr. However, both made amends in the 2nd half as Jones had all 9 of his points, 3 As & 2 Steals in the 2nd stanza. Leach (10 Points, 5 Boards, 5 Assists & 3 Steals) did most of his damage at that time as well. It was good to see him into things a bit more today. I always felt that he had a better feel for the game than any Brave and that says alot. He was pretty sharp today. Sr. F Todd "Kojak" McCoy was again impressive with 12 Points, 8 Boards, 3 Assists & 2 Plucks. As I said before, he is always in the right place at the right time and he always seems to finish on the break. Again good bench contribution came from Soph. Forward Daziah Miller (4P, 4R, 2A) & Sr. PG Antwan Garfield (4A). This Bartram team is arguably the best passing team in the city. They dished 25 Assists on 29 Baskets. 6 Guys had 3 or more Assists. That's great ball movement folks. For the Pioneers, 6'6 Sr. PF Darryl White was solid with 14 Points, 10 Rebounds & 4 Blocks. He had to work for everything and it paid off. Soph. WG Maurice Miller, a lefty, played tough and hard all day long. He finished with 15 Points. 6'5 Sr. F Darrell "DJ" Turner was tough yesterday, but couldn't get in the books today. He shot 0-for-7, but did clutch 8 caroms.  Sr. G-F Cerone Brown (10 Points, 2 Steals) made some nice finishes around the basket in traffic. He is said to be a great player in transition, but sometimes gets lost in Coach Bernie Handler's more controlled system. Looking inside the numbers, you kind of wonder how the Pioneers hung around for so long. They only shot 32.7% from the floor while Bartram shot well over 50%. They also only dished a total of 5 Assists on 8 Baskets. I guess you can look at the fact that the Braves missed 12-of 21 (42.8%) Free Throws. Maybe that explains it. Both teams will meet again under more hostile circumstances at Bartram in early January.

DEC. 26
OLNEY CHRISTMAS TOURNEY
Bartram 71, Strawberry Mansion 67
       This was the rematch of last season's semifinal in which the Knights handed that Braves their first and only loss of the season. The Braves got a taste of revenge at least for the moment as they outlasted the pesky Knights. The Marooners were led by Sr. PG Charles Jones who put in 11 of his 19 Points (9-for-18 shooting) in the 4th Qtr. He also dished 4 Assists & plucked 3 Steals. Sr. F Khalil Abdus-Salaam also had a big fourth with all 9 of his points in that stanza. He also grabbed 8 Boards, 3 Assists & 4 Steals and had the tip-in that gave Bartram a 5 point lead late in the game. 6'9 Sr. F-C Jason Cain battled through game long foul trouble to mix 12 Points, 6 Boards, 5 Assists & 2 Blocks. Mr. Cain is coming off an out of this world performance over the weekend at the prestigious City of Palms Tournament in Florida where he made the All-Tournament team. Today, he made some nice driving moves off the dribble and held his post position well. Sr. Forward Todd "Kojak" McCoy was VITAL. McCoy went for 15 Points (7-for-8), 5 Rebounds & 4 Assists. He is what the Braves lacked last season, a garbage man. He also had the tough task of defending Mr. Rice for most of the game. The Braves bench also made nice contributions as Srs: PG Antwan Garfield (5 As) & SF Marques Campfield (5 key pts) and 6'5 Soph. SF Daziah Miller (6 Pts & 8 Rebs) all were keys. Miller was huge on the Boards and help Bartram to a 44-27 advantage there. It seems that every college coach that sees him puts him on their list before they leave the gym. For the Knights, Sr. Superguard Maureece Rice went for 25 Points (10-for-17), 4 Assists & 3 Steals. He was much more aggressive and looked to get it in prime Rice fashion. He's now 42 Points away from breaking Wilt's record. 6'4 Jr. WG Tracey Worley came up with 24 Points of his own. This kid is improving by the second. 6'6 Sr. PF Delton Morgan-Hines (10 Points) was steady. The Knights will need much more from Sr. F Tyrell Mathis. The lefty Forward just may be the key to the Knights season, but as of now still hasn't adjusted to his new role with the Knights. He is also said to be nursing a bum ankle. These two teams have started a great rivalry over the last few years. In both of the last two seasons the playoff run for one of these teams was ended by the other in two emotion-filled classics. Two former Braves that were great parts of both of those contests were in the house for this one.  Both have become stars on the Juco circuit. Soph. PG Bobby Leach (Neosho County - KS) & Freshman WG Richard Francis (Trinity Valley - TX) are both having great seasons in Juco. One school in the athletic Conference USA is already camping out on Francis' doorstep. While Leach is one of the best PGs in the country in Jucoland. He has really tore the circuit up this fall and now has recruitment that extends to the biggies.

Frankford 64, Olney 60
       This was a wild/wacky outing to say the least. The Trojans controlled this one throughout and led by as  much as 49-33 midway through the 3rd Qtr before shutting down and letting the Pioneers back in for the victory. This was partially due to their big men being in foul trouble all game and partially 8 4th Qtr. Turnovers, but the main reason lies in that Olney missed 10-of-15 foul shots in the 4th Qtr. That is unacceptable! The Pioneers were led by 6'5 Sr. Forward Darrell "DJ" Turner with 21 Points (9-for-12, 1 trey), 8 Rebounds & 3 Assists. The one trey was huge as it put the Pioneers up once and for all at 60-58 with just over 2 minutes remaining. He seems to have his Basketball legs back after a long grueling FB season. Turner likes to make swooping moves around the hoop an drives off the dribble in which he uses his strong build to finish. He'll also stick the open jumper. 6'6 Sr. PF Darryl White battled foul trouble to gain 9 Points, 11 Rebounds & 7 Blocks. This wasn't bad, but I felt he could have played even better as his shot just wasn't falling. Steady, 6'4 Sr. F Paul Jeannot (9 Boards) & Sophs: PG Ryan Smith (5 Assists) & WG Maurice Miller (3A) all made solid contributions to the cause. For the Trojans, Sr. WG Ramik Roberts went for 23 Points, 6 Rebounds & 2 Steals. He is very talented especially off the dribble (strong & quick), but is sometimes a bit one dimensional when he just puts his head down and goes to the basket. 6'5 Jr. F Erik "Ugs" Adams was the best Trojan overall. He went for 13 Points, 11 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 4 Steals & 4 Blocks all while in foul trouble. He's still not 100% either as he's still really recovering from a broken foot suffered this summer. I feel 6'7 Sr. Center Maurice "Grease" Thomas (9 Points & 3 Steals) is their top player overall, but he must learn to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble. This long-winged condor is a great shot-blocker, but always seems to get tagged for ticky-tack fouls. He is needed on the floor as the back line of defense. Much of the blame goes to this being the big fella's first season being eligible for action. Coach John Rech even calls him a Rookie. 6'5 Soph. F-C Kevin Riley, brother of 6'8 Brahin Riley (Northeast & Drexel) has a very bright future. The super-athletic forward just has that look about him. He's still raw, but he glides around the floor like a natural and is as long & bouncy as they come. He is one of the area's top youngster and may be this team's top prospect for college purposes.

DEC. 22
SCHOLASTIC PLAY-BY-PLAY CLASSIC
Dougherty 80, Chester 65
       Maybe this was a battle of what's to come as there is still talk of the CL joining the PIAA. The Chester Clippers are year in and year out one of the state's best and this year's group is no different as they are possibly the state's most athletic squad. That said, they ran into the buzzsaw that we know as Cardinal Dougherty. The Cardinals dominated from buzzer to buzzer. Everyone played well for the Cards. They were led by star Jr. PG Kyle Lowry. This kid really knows how to fill up a scorebook. He went off for 21 Points (8-of-11, 2 treys, 7 Rebounds, 7 Assists, 4 Steals & 3 Blocks). "Geez" is hard play personified. Somebody find me someone quicker with the ball or someone his size that rebounds the way he does. His main playmates were star 6'7 Jr. F DeSean White (15 Pts, 11 Rebs, 6 Blks) & Sr. WG Isaac Greer (18 Pts, 9-for-11, 7 Rebs & 3 Assts). White played a quality brand of ball. I feel he's played that way all season long. He's being more aggressive on defense and taking better shots on offense. Most importantly, he is being more of a force on the boards. Greer seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. He made many transition baskets. Jrs: G-F Bilal Benn (6R & 4A) & F Shane Clark (5R, 3A, two high-flying slams) were both merely average. That's the scary part of things. Two of their top players were just average and they handle one of the state's best by 15! For Chester, I really liked 6'6 Sr. SF Kevin Thomas (23 Points & 10 Boards). He's a super-athlete and has good range on his shot. He is said to need a year of Prep and will turn heads if he does such. Carroll transfer 6'9 Soph. Center Ken Tribbett never got going and fouled out after limited action. He'll have better days in the future. I still like him as a prospect.

DEC. 19
PUBLIC LEAGUE
Ben Franklin 72, Robert Lamberton 53
       This was my first look at Lamberton and I left impressed with how Coach Mitchell Kurtz has them prepared and how they fight, but they just don't have enough to run with the Pub's best. The Electrons were led by their backcourt of Srs. Tyree Wilson & Brian Smith. They combined for 43 Points and made big shots in the second half. I can't overstate how well these guys work together. Wilson's line was 23 Points (5 treys), 7 Assists & 3 Steals. The little lefty is said to be in the top 20 percentile in his academic class as well. He'll be a pretty good small college guard. Smith went 8-for-16 for 20 Points, grabbed 7 Boards, dished 3 Assists & plucked 3 Steals. B. Smith is probably the Electrons' best overall player and should stir some interest over the course of the year. Muscular, Sr. F-C Bryant Jennings (6'3 235) snatched 11 Boards & blocked 2 shots. Reserve Jr. G Morris Savage was nice going 3-of-3, with a trey for 7 Points & dishing 4 Assists, all coming in key stretches of the game. I liked two other Electrons and feel they deserve more touches. They are: 6'7 So. Center Abdullah Moon (8 Pts, 11 Rebs, 2 Blks, 2 Powerful slams) & 6'4 Sr. G-F Jemel Wellman (8 Pts on 3-of-5, 5 Rebs, 4 Assts & 2 Stls). Moon is one of the city's best Sophs. He's also money around the hoop. Wellman can score as well. He, too is a great athlete (probably the team's best) and he's turning into a nice prospect. The Blue Devils went into this one without their top returnee, Sr. PG Nafis "Webb" Shamsud-din, who has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. He would really help. Sr. G Victor O'Connor, West Catholic transfer, has been a pleasant surprise for Coach Kurtz. O'Connor didn't shoot well early on, but scored 20 of his 24 after halftime and he never gave up and always played hard. His other numbers (5 Boards, 4 Assists, 5 Steals & 2 Blocks) were good enough to be either team highs or ties of team highs. The kid just played with much heart. He also recently received a qualifying SAT score. He can play somewhere. Short and stocky Sr PG Emory Copeland (8P, 4A, 2S) is this team's leader. He also played hard all game long. 6'3 260-lb So. Center Cameron Brickle (4 Rebs) looked pretty good. Coach Kurtz says that the big fella lost 20-lbs this summer. He's in tip top shape. Big 'Cam sets a mean pick and has huge mitts. I wouldn't mind seeing him in a FB uniform. That may be where his future lies. The Electrons are so big this year that Coach Larry Gainey to cut a 6'7 kid. He relegated him to JV duty. There are 7 guys on the team that are 6'4 or better. The moment of the game came when 6'9 Sr. Center Maurice Simmons, a deep sub, was inserted. Simmons blew a wide open breakaway slam and made the surprisingly quiet crowd go nuts. He does some spectacular slams in warm-ups.

DEC. 18
PUBLIC LEAGUE
Engineering & Science 71, Horace Furness 31
       I went to this one at the last minute thinking it could be pretty competitive, but wait I forgot it's the Pub and Furness' top two players (Jr. G Tywain McKee & 6'3 So. SF Malik Perry) were on school suspension so they missed the action and the Tigers sorely missed them. They were no match for the Engineers, who didn't arrive until 3:40 because the bus driver had been lost, still had an easy time of it. I like this team, though, from what I saw. They share the ball and are fluid. Their three Junior Guards will compete with the best of them as well. They are PG Mike Ganier, PG Tramaine Jackson & star G Kechan Myers. Ganier was today's leader with 22 Points (7-of-12, 3 treys), 6 Rebounds, 3 Assists & 6 Steals. He has made great improvement over the summer and now looks to be the leader of this team. Jackson (11P, 4A) is a tough defender who has also made great improvement. He makes the Engineers go and brings the intensity every time out. Myers (14P, 7R, 4A, 2S) is the team's top talent. He is the next in the long line of South Philly Myers. He's built just like all the rest and even worse for his foes, he plays just like them too, HARD! All three are more than capable of handling the PG duties or going to the wing, but Jackson normally plays the one while Ganier and Myers fill the wings. Reserve Jr. F Tariq Evans also played a great game with 10 Rebounds & 2 Blocks. Sr. Forwards 6'6 Andrew "Deeno" Martin (2 Blocks) & 6'4 Marvin Satchell were mostly non-factors today, but both will be good in time. Both are strong rebounders and aggressive players in defense. Martin could really blossom down the line. With McKee & Perry out, the Tigers only had 1/3 of its big three. He is 6'0 Jr. WG-PG Raheem Hargust (9P, 5R, 5A, 3S). Hargust is very talented, but he struggled this afternoon without his main running mates. I still like him alot though. He just constantly moves around the court on both ends and there's much to be said for that. Most youngsters don't get how important it is to move without the ball on offensive and to be in the right positions on defense. This kid understands! He also has a young looking face which always says that he could grow a few inches and develop even more. He's one to watch as his skills are very similar to those of last year's star Guard David Watson. No one else for Furness was able to do much, but I did like something about tiny Sr. PG Ronald Jones (3A, 2S). He's listed at 5'6, but looks closer to 5'4 so I'll give him 5'5. Whatever the height, he's vocal and he gets in his teammates faces. He could be alot better with his whole team. Hopefully, I'll get to see them again at full strength. It's always good to see E&S Head Coach C.M Brown. He's a gentleman to say the least, a first rate individual.

DEC. 17
NON LEAGUE
Southern 49, Central 45
       This was a sloppy afternoon in the Pub as both of these clubs are very young. Both are very talented, but awful young. They both will rain on somebody's parade in time. What compounded matters was that Southern's top frontcourter Jr. F Shawn Sabb was suspended for the game for violating team rules. Southern was led by the one and only Antoine "Doo Dirty" Brown, their star Jr. PG. Brown was easily the best player on the floor. He went for 22 Points (7-12, 1 trey, 7-8 FTs) & 3 Steals. He surprisingly had no assists, but that wasn't all his fault. Many he should have had were blown by his teammates. I liked the way that he looked for his shot more and when he got to the basket he concentrated and finished. I also liked the way he  knifed through the Lancer zone, that I thought was pretty damn good. He could do a clinic on how to attack a zone. St. Joe's head man Phil Martelli was in the house watching "Doo" and I'm sure he left impressed. His backcourt mate 6'2 Jr. Keith Grimes dished 6 Assists in spite of limited action due to foul trouble. His uncle Donnie Carr was in attendance home from overseas. They got help from Srs: F-C Brian Wilson (6P, 6R, a huge block) & F Ray Alexander (11P, 6R). Talented So. G Amir Ryan is still in a funk offensively, but he was more aggressive today and plucked 3 Steals. Once he comes around, he'll be a valuable piece to the puzzle. For Central, nobody can claim to have been on their A-Game. Jr. F Jordan Anderson scored 9 points (4-for-5) and snatched 10 Boards. The Football star has a great build and serious athleticism. Sr. G Darnell Johnson (10 Points, 4 Steals) struggled, but led the late rally. Sr. WG Armen Henderson struggled offensively as well, but he did dish 3 assists and pluck 3 steals. He's also the top Lancer defender. Athletic Sr. G-F Steve Avinger came in in the 4th and a made two big baskets. He could be a factor in time. The Lancers potential lies in their youth as they have 4 key contributors that are either Freshman or Sophs. They are Sophs: strong 6'2 G-F Scott Rodgers, 6'4 F Malcolm Ingram (brother of Carroll's Jordan Ingram) & PG Lamar Williams. The Freshman is a good one in 6'4 G-F Kenneth St. George. Once the youth comes around, these Lancers will make for a tough out especially with their spirited crowds and tough home court. They have 2 cheerleading teams with more than 30 cheerleaders split between the two. There is no school like Central. I always say to myself that when my children grow up that they'll probably go to Central or West Catholic of course. The funny comment of the day goes to animated Southern head George Anderson. He yelled, "Hey Ryan (Williams), Don't get exotic. You get exotic you gonna be in the club dancin'. You ain't gonna be playin'." Williams responded by nailing a trey.

DEC. 17
NON-LEAGUE

Roman Catholic 63, Father Judge 43
       I figured that this one would be a much more competitive contest, but the Crusaders just didn't make shots after the early going and the Cahillites basically frolicked. At the top of the empire tonight was 6'4 Jr. F Brett Johnson, a Shawnee transfer. Johnson scored 16 Points (6-of-9, 1 trey) and grabbed 11 Boards. He's a very sound player who has been taught very well. He was just what the doctor ordered for the Cahillites. Jr. WG Andre Sloan-El played a good all-around game with 10 Points, 6 Boards & 4 Assists. Jr. F Charron Fisher was a mere mortal today. Both Sloan-El and Johnson are great defenders. He only scored 9 Points and grabbed 4 Boards. He did dish 3 Assists and throw down 2 monster slams. 6'4 Jr. G-F Khalil Ferguson, a lefty, made some eye-popping moves in route to 8 Points, 5 Boards & 2 Steals. Once the U-City transfer settles down and learns the Catholic League, he'll be a force. This Cahillite team has a certain something about it. They aren't big or deep, but they are very athletic and tough. I just can't put my finger on it yet. There is one thing that I can put my finger on that's the fact that the Cahillites have 3 Lefties (Sloan-El, Ferguson & Sr. G Calvin Jones) in their top 7. That always makes a team tough to guard and even tougher to prepare for. Judge's tough night was compounded by being outrebounded 39-27 and by shooting 5-25 (20%) from treyland. Judge's top three players are Sr. PG Bill Geiger, 6'4 Sr. F Tom Keenan (3B, 2S) & 6'5 Jr. F Steve Wolf. All had rough nights, but I like all of their potential down the line. Keenan is one of my favorites in the city. Nobody plays a tougher brand of basketball. He did foul out. He is said to get into a scruff every night out and low and behold on his fifth foul, he got into it with Johnson. You gotta love this kid. Wolf (6P, 6R, 3A, 1 dunk) could be really good down the line. He's very aggressive and skilled. He does alot of ball-handling for the 'Saders. The moment of the game came when 5'3 Sr. PG Ryan Carelli was inserted. The little guy buried a trey, plucked 2 steals and even grabbed two boards. He could help in time as a gnat on defense. It's always good to see the underdog get some run.

DEC. 16
NON-LEAGUE
Frankford 57, Parkway 49
       This was an ugly contest to say the least. Both teams combined for 42 Fouls and execution was at a minimum. Many of the Pioneers wins will be like this this season. Its the makeup of their team. They were led by 6'6 Sr. PF Darryl White. White went for 17 Points (7-of-11 shooting), 13 Boards and 3 Blocks. White was an amazing 6-6 in the final 3 Qtrs. He just drains 15 footers and finishes strong around the basket. The big guy is getting feelers from the state schools and rightfully so. His better days are ahead. I feel Frankford's best prospect long range may be 5'7 Soph. PG Ryan Smith (9P, 4A, 3S). Smith is one tough hombre'. He's strong and smart as well. He rarely takes a bad shot or makes a bad decision. Just wait until he adds game experience and a consistent jumper to his already impressive arsenal. He really controlled this game at both ends. 6'4 Sr. F Paul Jeannot (11 Points & 7 Boards) was solid. He has been the most consistent Pioneer according to the coaches.  He gives a solid contribution night in and night out. He moved to the city from Brooklyn, NY, during last school year. I also liked 5'10 Soph. G Maurice Miller, a transfer from Upper Merion. The strong lefty made some big baskets and did a pretty good job defensively on Parkway's star Guard Rashawn Dennis. Dennis has had better days. In this one, he went for 12 Points, 7 Boards, 3 Assists and  3 Steals. He shot 0-for-7 from treyland though. The new Hoya Offense just doesn't seem to suit his style of play. He's a great player in transition, but in this set he's the set-up man in getting his teammates good shots. He does get his teammates shots, but it hurts his offense as he's more slasher than shooter. Maybe it'll help him in the long run. His Sr. backcourt mate Javon Alston scored a team-high 14 Points. He also nailed 3-of-4 from distance. Sr. G-F Louis Burkett was also solid. He shot 4-of-6 for 14 Points, dished 3 Assists and plucked 6 Steals. He made both of  his trey attempts. The big difference in this game was that Parkway was outrebounded 40-26 in this one. You can't win many like that. I'll see both of these teams again as the season goes on. Hopefully, they'll be under better circumstances.

DEC. 15
NON-LEAGUE
Archbishop Ryan 61, West Catholic 58 (OT)
       The story of this one came 3 minutes into the game when West's star Jr. G-F Marshall Taylor went down as he rolled his ankle after putting in a tip in to make the score 13-6. He looks like he'll be OK as he was walking better later, but he never returned to action. The problem was that good shots were hard to come by with Taylor out. He just draws so much attention as he can get his own shot off the dribble, get into the lane or set teammates up as a point forward. West went 1-17 on treys. That's 5.9% folks. They also missed 10-of-21 free throws. The Raiders play a solid brand of Basketball. They don't really have a true PG, but they have 4-5 guys that handle the ball pretty well. They went into this one without their Sr. leader G Michael Devine (stitches in his knee). He should be back for their next game. However, their top player is 6'5 Jr. wing Joe Mullin, a lefty. Mullin was a tough guard for the Burrs as he shot 6-for-7 from the field for 17 Points, snatched 7 Boards, dished 3 Assists and blocked 2 shots. He was a matchup problem for the Burrs all day long as he handles the ball very well and he's a southpaw. He's definitely a prospect to watch in the Junior Class. I really liked the possibilities of 6'7 Freshman Center Kevin Hudgeons (9 Points, 4-5 FG, 8 Boards & 2 Blks). The big guy has great hands and he finishes around the hoop. He also seems to have a quiet confidence about him. Its like he's supposed to be doing this as a Freshman. His dad is said to be of king size and reports are that Kev grew from 6'3 to 6'7 over the summer. Another Freshman G Joe Zeglinski also was a key. Joey scored 15 Points (6-of-9, 3-of-4 on treys) & dished 4 assists. This kid is already an accomplished jump shooter as he proved last year as an 8th grader at Penn Charter. Junior G Tom Dolan scored 10 Points with 5 in the OT period. The Raiders also got strong play on both ends from Jr. G Joe Clancy in the 4th Qtr. & OT periods. The Raiders as a team shot a whopping 22-35 (62.9%) from the field. They almost never take a bad shot. For the Burrs, the workload mostly fell on bookend Sr. Forwards Brandon Wicker and Brandon Weston. Wicker shot 9-for-16 for 21 Points & grabbed 14 Boards (9 Off.). Weston scored 17 Points (6-of-11), and plucked 4 Steals. Sr. PG Curtis Bryant was also solid with 7 Boards and 5 Assists. This was the Burrs' first loss of the season. They'll be much more effective over the course of the season as they go 8-9 deep and always play hard.

DEC. 14
COACHES VS CANCER CLASSIC
St. Benedict's (NJ) 59, Simon Gratz 57
       Many thought early on that the Bulldogs would roll over and die after going down by a 12-0 count to start the game, but they were wrong as they only got stronger as the game went on. In my opinion, the title of this game should be, "Introducing Leonard Poole." The buzz around the city is that the Bulldogs will fall and won't be the same without Coach Bill Ellerbee, but I always tell people to just wait and see that many things will stay the same and Coach Poole is set to prove that. The Bulldogs never led until early in the 4th and had chances to pull out a W, but a few timely turnovers, missed free throws, 2 questionable calls and a tip in with 1 tick remaining was what laid them down. This team just would never die. It's even more remarkable because they were without three key performers (Sr. G Tyree Watson, Sr. F Paul Graham & 6'8 Jr. C Matthew Walden) for various reasons. All three dressed and will be in action probably for the next game on Tuesday. The Dogs were led by 5'7 Sr. PG Omar Johnson (19 Points, 6 Boards & 3 Assists). Johnson pretty much wreaked havoc all afternoon and in my opinion got the best of his PG battle with tough-as-nails 6'0 Drexel signee Bashir Mason (13 Points, 3 Assists & 3 Steals) of the Gray Bees. Every school in the PSAC should be at Gratz this season looking at this kid because you just can't get any better than him in that league. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the Low 1's came around. The little guy really knows how to impose his will on a game. It'll be interesting to see what kind of interest the little guy gets over the course of the season. He's a pretty damn good Guard. His main help came from 6'4 Jr. G-F Mark Tyndale, a Frankford transfer. Tyndale went for 17 Points, 12 Boards, 3 Assists & 3 Steals mostly on hard play and toughness. He also has much skill and a weird basketball build that makes him a tough guy to guard. He's actually built like a Football TE (huge hands, broad shoulders, etc.), but he's a Guard. I liked two other Gratz Juniors. They are 6'1 G Tyrone "Tamir" Smith & 6'4 PF Jason Hickenbottom. Smith is a true bulldog as he's a strong guard that defends you before you even walk in the gym and Hickenbottom, formerly known as McGirt, is a rebounder and tough inside force. He's also a great student who achieved a qualifying SAT score last year as a Soph! St. Benedict's is coached by Danny Hurley, the son of the legendary Bob Hurley Sr. (St. Anthony's) and a former player at Seton Hall. They are loaded with Major D-1 Talent. Possibly 6 or 7 of their kids will play D-1 Basketball one day. The two best are Top 40 National Juniors 6'8 F Stanley Branch (14 Points, 13 Boards & 4 Blocks) and 6'6 G-F J.R Smith (15 Points, 4 Boards, 4 Assists). Both are reclassified Juniors. Branch is a big lefty who is originally from Atlantic City. He had the game winning tip in. Smith is a transfer from Lakewood (NJ). He was rated last year as one of the country's Top 10 Jr. WRs in Football. He gave it up to come to St. B's. He already has an offer on the table from North Carolina. Both of these guys walk on the moon. They also have Sr. WG Art Bowers, a U. Mass signee. It'll be interesting to watch Gratz the rest of the season as even in loss this is a confidence booster. It shows that they can play with the best and probably beat them if they play their game.
St. John Neumann 65, Strawberry Mansion 54

       The Pirates look to be finally starting to come around. This game really lacked life or a flow and it just didn't seem like Mansion or its Megastar Sr. G Maureece Rice were into it. Neumann won this one behind the play of Sr. PG Antwain Wynn. His line: 6 Points, 11 Assists & 4 Steals. As someone pointed out to me, the lefty always seems to set up on the right side which shows that he doesn't have a weak side. He really controlled this game from the point and made some special deliveries. MEAC, NEC, America East, etc. Those are the Conferences that Wynn can compete in. He's just so strong and poised. This was the best I've seen Sr. WG Kenny Fulton play in a while. He went for 14 Points, 6 Boards & 3 Steals. He also had the tough task of guarding Rice when the Pirates went man to man. Once again Soph. G-F David Burton (13 Points) impressed. He'll be SCARY once he gets the game experience and basketball savvy. As of now, he running on 90% ability. Srs F-C Kevin Lauer & Wing sniper Jack Hatty were huge down the stretch and deserve credit as well. Lauer scored 7 of his 11 in the 4th. While Hatty scored all 8 of his points in the 4th including 2 daggerlike treys. There was only one negative and that's that Jr. PG Richard "Tabby" Cunningham missed the whole 4th Qtr. with a achy back. Its been bothering him all month and he took a hard spill on it in the 3rd. I hope he can go against Bartram on Monday night. The Knights were dealt their first loss of the year. Rice has to do much of the ballhandling and playmaking because there is no proven PG. It just goes to show how valuable last year's leader Maurice Stennis really was. Rice only scored 14 Points (7-of-12). He did dish 4 Assists. Sr. F Delton Morgan-Hines went for 14 Points and 6 Boards of his own. Jr. G-F Tracy Worley went for 13 Points (3 treys) and 9 Boards. He has assumed the exact same role of Aaron Brown from last year's squad. Both Stennis and Brown were onlookers. Sr. PG Devon Meade starts at point. He did make all three of his attempts including 2 treys for 9 Points, but couldn't control Wynn or get his team in a flow. Sr. F Tyrell Mathis dished a team high 5 Assists as he battled through foul trouble. The lefty was Dobbins' best player for the past two years and is a welcome addition to Ridge Ave.

DEC. 13
OLNEY TOURNAMENT
Ben Franklin 64, Kennedy Kenrick 45
     The Electrons cruised to victory in this one behind its Sr. Guards: PG Tyree Wilson and WG-PG Brian Smith. Wilson, a lefty, went for 18 Points and plucked 3 steals. Smith had an off shooting night, but managed 12 Points, 10 Boards, 4 Assists & 5 Steals. They work very well together and like getting their teammates involved. I also like the improvement of 6'4 Sr. SF Jemel Wellman. He went for 11 Points, 5 Boards, 2 Steals and an effortless two-handed slam off the vertical. He looks much more confident and has decent size for a small college 3-man with very long limbs and great athleticism. His better days look to be ahead as well. He's definitely worth a look. Coach Larry Gainey has a cadre of Big Men to look to for different things. This has to be the biggest Franklin team in years. The starters are 6'5 Jr. F Sedale Mason & 6'7 So. F-C Abdullah Moon. Both made nice moves around the basket in this one. Both are good athletes and very assertive around the hoop. Mason has wing possibilities. Sr. F-Cs Tyrone Holt & Bryant Jennings, a D-1 Football prospect at DE, lend strength and physicality. Then there are 2 others who don't even play much in 6'9 Sr. C Maurice Simmons and 6'6 Jr. F Bryson Mills. Simmons is a spectacular dunker, but lacks skill and basketball savvy. Mills has arms for days, but still lacks coordination. Maybe a Juco somewhere will take a chance on Simmons. He's very athletic. For K-K, it was a tough task trying to compete against such a big, skilled team. I'll say this though, "The BEST player on the floor belonged to K-K." He is Jr. G Amarildo Matos (22 Points, 14 Boards, 3 Assists & 3 Steals). This kid has an endless skill level and b-ball IQ, great vision, above average athleticism and unmatched energy and endurance. 'Rildo always seems to be havin' fun out there, but you can see that he's also no joker. He's on an even keel to say the least. I'd pay to see him on a good team as he'd thrive as like a Star role player. He's also said to be a standout soccer player. I don't think its too hard to see that he's a Division 1 Basketball Prospect. His main help came from Soph. F Tom Amenta (14 Points). He was the only other K-K player that had somewhat of a rhythm.

Cardinal Dougherty 82, Olney 72
       Don't let this score fool you, this game was hardly this close. The Cards led by a 80-47 score before Coach Mark Heimerdinger put his hand down. They were running on all cylinders tonight as all 4 Aces were in the deck. The scary part of it all was that they could have played better. They missed 11 free throws and Jr. sniper Timmy Smith never got rollin'. Nevertheless, this was the best I've seen Jr. F DeSean White look in some time. He was more effective than ever tonight. His line: 27 Points (12-of-18, 1-1 on 3s, 2-6 FTs), 12 Rebounds, 2 Assists & 2 Blocks. This team won't lose many if he plays like this every night. It was just another night at the office for Jr. PG Kyle Lowry. Oh, only 18 Points on 7-9 shooting and 5-9 on FTs, 7 Boards, 6 Assists & 5 Steals. Sr. WG Isaac Greer had a strong outing with 10 Points, 8 Rebounds and 4 Assists. He should garner some state school interest over the course of the year. Jrs: G-F Bilal Benn & F Shane Clark were sharp in returning from nagging injuries. Benn scored 12 Points and just played solid all-around. Clark battled through foul trouble for 10 Points (3-3 FG, 4-4 FT). The Cards outrebounded their neighborhood rivals by a 53-29 margin. Assistant Coach Dave Distel informed me that this team has 7 starters -- meaning the coaches have pre-assigned starters for all 26 games so the starting lineup will change every game. This was a convincing win for CD against the team that just may be the best in the Pub's Division A! That's saying something. For Olney, Sr. G Ramik Roberts (18 Points & 4 Steals) played with heart and energy throughout. He was probably the only Trojan to do such. He has extended his range out to the 3 points line which is a great improvement. He's always been an unmatched one-on-one player with great foot quickness and body control. A jump shot makes him even more of a threat. I do like all three of the their big men in 6-7 Sr. C Maurice "Grease" Thomas (9P, 5R, 3S), 6'5 Jr. F Erik "Ugs" Adams (8P, 4R) & 6'5 So. F Kevin Riley (8P, 6R, 4B), who is the younger brother of former Northeast and Drexel star Brahin Riley. He may be as athletic. Thomas is very good as well. He has long arms and is a terror on defense. He has been playing very well thus far this year. Adams is the most skilled of the three. All of them battled foul trouble in this one. There will be better days for these Trojans; it just doesn't get much better than this Dougherty team and these guys will grow and get better as the season goes on.

DEC. 12
NON-LEAGUE
St. John Neumann 51, Southern 45
       The Battle of South Philly was indeed that. This was an ugly war to say the least. No one shot well or executed well. However, the Pirates found a way to eke out a tough win and that's a major step in the right direction. It also served as the coming out party for 6'5 Soph. G-F David Burton. Burton is a chief garbage man and skilled one on one player. He's also strong with very good body control. He went for 16 Points (5-8, 6-10) & 8 Rebounds. He's one of the more talented kids in the Neumann program and promises to have a bright future. 6'5 Jr. F Adon El went for 11 Points, 12 Boards, 3 Assists & 2 Blocks. He was back to his normal hard-playing self in this one. He'll be fine as the season goes on. 6'5 Sr. F Todd Johnson went for 7 & 7 with a monster slam that pretty much put the Rams away. Whildwind bookend Guards Jr. Richard "Tabby" Cunningham & Sr. Antwain Wynn were solid. Tabby didn't shoot well, but he didn't turn it over either. He dished 3 Assists. Wynn was much better with 7 Assists and two big baskets in the 3rd to give Neumann control for good. The Pirates still didn't really play well as they missed 17!, yes 17 Free Throws (15-of-32) with 10 in the 4th Qtr. The young Rams just never capitalized. Jr. PG Antoine "Doo Dirty" Brown had a mixed showing as he was probably the best guard on the floor for the game, but he could have played better overall. His line: 15 Points, 9 rebounds and 4 Assists. He gets into the lane at will, but seems not to concentrate when at the basket, therefore he doesn't always finish. I've come up with the theory that he wants to make a pass and has to shoot at the last minute. I hope he starts making the most of those opportunities. He'd be that much more effective. Jr. F Shawn Sabb was solid with 10 Points, 12 Boards & 4 Blocks. Jr. WG Keith Grimes, in his second game back, also had an uneven performance. He had two effortless slams on the break though. I would have liked to have seen 6'6 F-Cs Jr. Steven Rudd and Sr. Brian "Arbuckle" Wilson play more extended minutes, especially Wilson. When the Rams went smaller, they had a hard time on the Boards. These guys evenly split 10 Boards in limited action. Wilson  made some nice finishes around the basket. I like to think how this game would have went if normally pretty good wing shooter 6'3 Jr. G-F Ryan Williams would have made shots. He was a chilly 0-for-7 from three. Some went in and out. The Rams as a whole were 2-for-17 from trey. The Southern team is very deep and most are underclassman. Two of the City's best Sophs: PG Amir Ryan   & Kashief Carr were not even prominent in the rotation today. Ryan, a Furness transfer who had a stellar Freshman campaign, played spot minutes while Carr never got off the bench. Both could weigh pretty heavily on this team's success as the season goes on.

DEC. 11
NON-LEAGUE
Kensington 57, Mastbaum Tech 54
       I loved my trip to Kensington so much last week that I made my return this week and once again I enjoyed myself. The Tigers squeaked by their neighborhood rival Panthers behind some tough gritty play. Here was the winning sequence: With Mastbaum up 54-50 with 2:27 remaining, star Kensington Sr. guard Baltazar Feliciano (20 Points, 4 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 4 Steals & a Block) buried a deep trey to bring his team within 1. This was his only FG of the 2nd half as he struggled with his shot. It was a big one as the crowd went bananas when it happened. Boy does it get loud in this gym. The fans went even crazier when at 1:43 6'2 Sr. F Kashiff James nailed a 12 foot jumper to take a 1 point lead at 55-54. The Tigers never looked back. Though they had a chance down 57-54 to take the last shot and send it to OT, but Sr. WG George Johnson (5 Assists, 4 Steals) missed a trey at the buzzer. What a game. I love the anything-for-the-team approach that James (16 Points, 16 Boards, 2 Assists & 2 Steals) and stocky Sr. G-F Joey Gauthier (7P, 8R, 2A) brings to the table. James, a Fels transfer, loves to set up in the high post and hit 12 to 15 foot jumpers. He also gets garbage around the basket. He's a tough kid and an ultimate teammate who is always encouraging and clapping. Gauthier likes to slash to the basket or shoot the trey. He too is a tough kid who will lay it all on the line. I would have liked to watch these two on last year's squad. It would have been a playoff team no doubt. Feliciano, of course, was his whirlwind self. You can see that he's buying into Coach Joe Egenolf's trust your teammates theory as he's always trying to get them involved early on. As of today, his team is 5-1 and has won two early season Tourneys. Good job little guy! Mastbaum was led by 6'3 Sr. G-F James Robbins with 19 Points and 10 Boards. He's a super athlete and a tough kid. He also has become a leader. He'll make some small college very happy. Goldey-Beacon College, a D-2 school in Delaware was there eyeing him. Strong 6'4 Sr. F-C James Norcome was a bear on the boards with 14 of 'em. He also scored 10 and blocked 3 shots. Jr. PG Lamar Rigney scored 11 Points and dished 3 Assists. He has an excellent feel for the game. I really like 6'1 Jr. PG-WG Buddy "Don't call me Marion" Rose (3 Assists). He has very decent skills though Coach Jim Taylor didn't seem too happy with him being so passive. I think he has the best overall feel for the game on the team, but that he was playing overly passive when he should have just let it all hang out. In Mastbaum's defense, they were missing two of their big men with 6'5 F-Cs Sr. Chris Macey (forgot uniform) and Soph. Tariq Belcher (sprained ankle) being out. Coach Taylor says that Belcher is his best big man and just may be his best player. I saw him this fall and may concur. He's pretty aggressive for a youngster and just may be closer to 6'6 than 6'5. The great moment of the game came when the ending buzzer sounded when the crowd rejoiced and Tiger Jr. G Omar Stanley ( who is very aggressive) did a 3 perfect back  flips down the floor. That's a great talent.

DEC. 10
NON-LEAGUE
Samuel Fels 94, Thomas Edison 89 (OT)
       This was a fast and furious game that I'm kind of glad I attended because I enjoyed the ride. The Neumann-PC was a late scratch on my schedule because I needed to see Edison 6'3 Sr. WG Tim Young before the preseason was over. He hardly disappointed. Fels jumped ahead in the 3rd and led by as many as 20 and 14 at the end of the quarter before the Owls made a furious  run led by Young in which he put up 21 4th Qtr. points to tie the game at 77 and he even had a chance to win it with a trey at the buzzer that went half way down and came out. In OT, Young eventually fouled out which spelled his Crosstowners demise. More on Young in a few. Fels was led as always by Sr. Manchild Tariq Chandler with 23 Points, 11 Boards and 4 Assists before fouling out. I lost count on the vicious rim-bending slams. There were a handful. In his neighborhood (Strawberry Mansion area), he is nicknamed, "The Goat." Go watch him play and see why. Chandler is the one guy that I've seen control, to an extent, Roman Jr. star Charron Fisher (a manchild in his own right). There's much to be said for that. In this one, he had his two main playmates at his side in Juniors: 6'3 SF Dionte Christmas (27 Pts, 10 Rebs, 3 Assts, 2 Stls & 6 Blks). He had a very complete game showing that he could be a force over the course of the year. The other is 6'1 WG Dawud Lyons (17 Points, 7 Rebounds, 3 Assists & 4 Steals), the nephew of Jason Lawson (Olney/Villanova/NBA). Lyons is an aggressive Guard who likes to get to the basket or drain a 15 footer. They got a major lift from Sr. PG Freddie Williams to the tune of 14 Points, 9 Boards, 5 Assists & 4 Steals. He always seemed to be in the middle of the action. I also liked 6'4 Freshman SF Mike Ringgold (5P, 6R). His minutes were quality. All of them. He grabbed key rebounds and made key baskets like it was nothing. Now back to Mr. Young. Not only did he pump in 21 in the 4th stanza and send the game to OT, but he tied his school record with 42 Points (14-of-25, 13-22 FTs). He also snatched 10 Boards and plucked 5 steals. This kid is the Pub's hidden gem. He can not be stopped from getting any shot he wants at any time he wants without being fouled. He's long, slinky and athletic. He had about 5 dunks in this one. Many of the two-handed variety. Some over defenders. Young is also a solid student, who recently took the SAT for the 2nd time. He already has Lower Level D-1 schools like Canisius, Rider, Monmouth and Quinnipiac (CT) in steady contact. I feel that higher interest could be warranted as I feel he could compete in the Colonial Athletic Asso. (Drexel, Delaware, ect.) and that he is one of the Top 5 players in the Pub! His main help this year has come from Sr. C-F David Eshun (6'3 270). Today the Big fella, getting 1-AA recruitment as a Center in FB, held down the fort inside with 27 Points, 14 Boards and 5 Steals. The big guy simply owns the baseline and has seemed to have mastered positioning and body control. He is much improved from last year. I heard good things coming in about a Freshman PG at Edison and I wasn't disappointed as I saw strong 5'8 taskmaster Raymond "Doodles" Sims (8 Assists & 4 Steals), a lefty. I already LOVE the kid. He barks out orders like a 10 year vet, gets in teammates' faces (even Young & Eshun)and has serious flash and brass. He must learn to just settle down at times and be smarter, but it will all come. This kid is only a Freshman is all I could think. He'll get better in every game. Soph. WG Andrew Monroe buried two huge treys during the Edison run to get back in the game. The Inventors will be decent later on down the line as they'll have two other key Junior Guards from last year's squad back soon. Both had to sit this one out for different reasons. One thing I noticed in Fels' gym is that the West end rim in slightly bent. This must have come from Chandler's rim-abusing slams. That's just a gut feeling. One of these days, the whole support is going to fall. This kid is strong personified!

DEC. 9
NON-LEAGUE
John Bartram 69, Parkway 37
       This was my first trip to Braveland and it looks like it could be another wild ride. As is their trademark, the Braves again started slow and let the game Hoyas hang for a half of Basketball before putting them away in the 2nd. This happened probably because team leader and co-captain Sr. G Charles Jones picked up his second foul early in the 1st Qtr and didn't return until the 3rd as is Coach Lou Biester's custom. Jones really makes this team go at both ends of the floor and will be needed on the floor early especially in bigger games. He and Sr. WG Bryant Leach (5R, 4A, 4S) are one of the Pub's top backcourts. They were probably well below average today. Jones finished with a team high 5 Assists. They'll make many shots over the course of the season. Sr. co-captain 6'5 F Khalil Abdus-Salaam was steady with 12 Points and 9 Rebounds. 6'9 Sr. Forward Jason Cain, who says that he'll chase a triple double every time out this season, went for 9 Points (2 Vicious dunks), 8 Boards, 3 Assists & 8 Blocks. Almost big fella. (Smile) The best two Braves in my estimation were two underclassman: 6'0 Jr. PG Maurice Wood and 6'5 Soph. SF Daziah Miller. Wood was extra impressive as he's made great improvement. He's also grown 3-4 inches. He starts at the point. He scored 14 Points on 7-of-11 from the field. Most were feathery Mid range jumpers that barely even touched the net. He just has an uncanny feel for the game with great instincts & savvy. He's also said to be an honor roll student and a great kid. Its always great to hear that. Miller, who claims to be the Pub's best Sophomore (He just may be), went for 11 Points and 8 Boards. In that mix were two vicious two-handed slams and another that dwarfed those two that was not counted because of a foul call beforehand in which he caught one in Mid air off a miss and hammered it home causing a Hoya defender to fall into the wall and the Bartram fans to go nuts. Many left very impressed with Mr. Miller, who is also an honor roll student. He just looks hungry to be the man and he will be in time. Parkway had the right idea by trying to slow the game down as you don't want to get into a running game in this gym with the Braves. That said, they didn't make shots and that's the name of the game folks, making shots. The Hoyas shot a chilly 21% (14-66) from the field. OUCH! I did like the way 6'2 Sr. PG-WG Rashawn Dennis carried himself from the point. He didn't shoot well, but he led his team in every offensive category just as I predicted he could all season in my preview. I'm sure it was tough for him playing against his Brave buddies. His line was an impressive 12 Points, 8 Boards, 4 Assists, 2 Steals & a Block, a team highs. There's much to be said for that. Dennis' better days are ahead as he plays an aggressive style that college coaches love. Prep School could be an option for "Shawnie" as he is young for his grade. He deserves some interest from the State Schools right now. His two backcourt mates: Srs Keenan Muhammad and Javon Alston were way off the mark. Those two along with Dennis combined to shoot 10-of-33. That just will not cut it to beat anybody from your best three players. Virginia assistant and Philly native Walt Fuller was in attendance eyeing Cain. Cain will be one of the hottest names in the East since he didn't sign in the Fall. Penn St. has already offered and I have a feeling that it won't stop there. Both he and Jones are already qualified. The fun moment of the game came in the 4th when key sub Sr. G Antwan Garfield (5 Assists) was reinserted. He started unleashing some of his And 1 moves on Hoya defenders. Its always fun to see a good kid have some fun. This kid is a Brave through and through.    

DEC. 8
NON-LEAGUE
Cardinal Dougherty 75, Monsignor Bonner 39
       Before the game I was kidded by Shawn Smith, Dougherty aide/father of Jr. Guard Timmy Smith, that the Cards would only be running with 2 Aces today as both Jr. Forward Shane Clark (knee) & Jr. G-F Bilal Benn (ankle) were out until next week with injuries. In this one, they were not needed as Dougherty cruised to victory over a young bunch of Friars. They were led by Jr. G Kyle Lowry who made his statement to the Catholic League by only sniffing a quadruple double going for 16 Points, 11 Rebounds, 10 Assists & 7 Steals. The Northeast transfer was everywhere in this one. The CD Coaches tell me that they've named the kid captain because of his A+ behavior, dominant personality and the fact that all the other kids have such a great respect for him. "Geez" is indeed the man around 2nd & Godfrey and he's ready to take assault on everybody that steps in his way. Stay tuned... 6'7 Jr. F DeSean White had a quiet afternoon of 18 Points (9-of-12 shooting) and 11 Boards. he went 0-5 from the line for lack on concentration. He'll need those later on down the line. Smith, who has grown from 5'6 to 5'10 in the last year, bombed 4-for-5 from deep for 12 Points. He also dished 4 Assists. Strong Sr. WG Isaac Greer has 12 Points of his own and swished both of his trey attempts. This team will indeed be tough to beat as the year goes on. When running on all cylinders, they are boarding on unbeatable. Here's a minor shot: How in the world did the Main stream paper in the city have these guys Preseason #7. I have them #1. They should be no lower than 4th. Somebody's not doing their offseason homework. For Bonner, no one except 6'4 220-lb Jr. Forward Randy Reid (8 Pts & 8 Rebs) can claim to have come to play. 6'2 Sr. sniper Matt Thornton did score 14 Points, but for some reason I felt he should have played better. They'll need much better play from Sr. PG Mike Shalon. The big guys rarely touched the ball because of Turnovers and though they are young, they are probably the Friars' strength.  The Big guys are Sophs: 6'7 PF Carlos Monroe & 6'8 C Derrick Graff. They only combined to get 5 Points and 3 Boards on 7 shots. They'll both be much better in due time. There's another big Soph. to watch in 6'7 260-lb Center Jason Love. The big fella saw mop-up action, but he sports size 18 shoes and knows how to use his body. He'll be a pretty good player once he grows into his body that may naturally grow another 3-4 inches and gain 30-40-lbs down the line.

DEC. 6
GERMANTOWN COMMUNITY TOURNAMENT @ Germantown Friends School
Penn Charter 56, Martin L. King 49
       This was a spirited contest between two of the area's top 10 teams. In all this was a very good win for PC, who broke the game open in the 2nd Quarter, then had to hold on as King made a huge run. The Quakers led by a 35-17 Halftime score by going on a 12-0 run going into the half led mostly by the play of its backcourt: Jr. PG Sean Singletary and Soph. WG-PG Zack Zeglinski both 5'11. Singletary was playing with much purpose in the 1st half. He looked like he was on his way to a triple double. He just did everything. Zeglinski just made tough jumper after tough jumper after tough jumper. To the Cougars' credit, they could have packed it in and called it a night, but they came out in the 2nd half with an 11-0 run of their own while holding PC scoreless in the first 3:59 of the 3rd to get right back in this one. They even cut the lead to 4 in the 4th. As good as S.S was in the 1st was as erratic as he was in the 2nd. He just tried to force things when he didn't have to. Partially, this was him pressing to prove something to his new fans, partially King's great adjustment on D. He did finish with 12 Points, 8 Rebounds, 4 Assists & 4 Steals. He'll have more complete performances over the course of the season no doubt. This kid is the best on ball defender in the city in my opinion with his long arms, super quickness and superior footwork and he's one of the city's most fierce competitors. I see why he's already got early feelers from the Big Time D-1s. This tells the story, S.S is probably my favorite guard in the loaded PG class of 2004 and I'm in love with about 6 others. He's an even better young man though as he's already qualified with over 1000 on the SATs and just seems to raise his teammates level of play with his presence. Zeglinski put daggers in the Golden Cougars as each time it looked as if they were going to get over the hump, he slammed the door on them with a tough jump shot. He finished with 21 Points (8-of-13 (2 treys), 3 Assists & 5 Steals). This was probably the best game of young "Ziggy's" career. Star 6'8 Jr. SF Rob Kurz (7P, 8R & 3B) wasn't much of factor in this one. He struggled on Offense, but I did like the fact that he didn't force things. 6'6 Sr. SF Matt Ryan was VITAL in this one with 13 Points (3-of-4 from 3). He, too made some big shots. For King, 6'10 Sr. Center Wayne Marshall (Temple) finished with 11 Points, 10 Boards, 5 Blocks & 2 Assists. He also played great defense on Kurz and really bothered him on short jumpers blocking at least 3 of his shots. The big guy looked very aggressive and seemed to get fouled much more than it was called. He's going to have to expect that though because he's the biggest, strongest kid in our area. I loved the fact that he tried to dunk everything near the basket as a big guy is supposed to. No one impressed me more than Sr. PG Quincy Marshall (12 Points, 3 Assists & 3 Steals). He had the tough assignment of guarding Singletary and I feel that he played him almost even up in the dual of PGs. Jr. SF Stefon "D.J" Jackson was the most consistent Cougar. He went for 16 Points, 7 Boards and 5 Steals. He also guarded Kurz at times. Coach Greg Moore tells me that his back has been bothering him and that he's probably not playing anywhere near full strength. I felt bad for Sr. WG Andre Hammond (1-for-10, 0-of-5 on treys). He just couldn't make shots that he normally makes. Nothing would fall for him. He just has to slow down and concentrate. His shot will come in time. This was one of the early season's big games and the atmosphere suggested such as various Coaches (Villanova, Temple, ect.) were in attendance and the gym was packed to capacity.
Germantown 91, Germantown Friends 83 2OT
       The first game in this Tourney may have been the big game, but this game was so far the game of the year! Boy am I happy for G-Town head man Otis Hackney. 'Hack went into this contest with only 6 players in uniform as he lost kids for various reasons: Ineligibility, quitters, lack of interest, violators of team rules, violators of mom's rules, etc. After the game, he was ordered by Germantown's principal Mrs. Gloria Pelzer & their AD Mike Hawkins (both in attendance) to add some players. I really feel that Hack is doing a great job over there as he isn't taking any foolishness. He has vowed to bring back the tradition to a program that was once pretty good and doesn't care how long it may take. I am confident he will because he's doing things the right way. At the end of regulation, the score was tied at 63 and as OT went on it looked as if GFS had the game in the bag, but not so as the Tigers got SHANKED. That's right 6'5 Sr. SF Keith Shanks (31 Points) wasn't having it. Shanks brashly buried a trey from the right elbow with :01 left to tie the game at 75 and send it to double OT. From there, the Bears cruised and did it without their top returnee Sr. PG Tyrone Sheppard (12 Points & 5 Assists) who had fouled out in the 4th. I would have never thought they could have done it without him. He is one of the ore vocal generals in the city and a tough competitor though only 5'7. He could make a great small college guard. On Shanks, I must say that I was very impressed. Mr. Shanks always used to tell me how good he was, but never prove it. Now he's showing and proving. Sure he needed 30 shots to get 31 Points and still makes a goofy play here and there, but the game has seemed to slow down for him. He looks much more comfortable and confident. He, too could be a very effective player at a small college. For my money, High-flying 6'4 Jr. Swingman Ivan Evans (23 Points & 9 Boards) is the Bears Top prospect. I saw him in the summer and liked him a lot. Now I love him.  He made some big shots as well. This kid is a high-flying slam waiting to happen with his long arms and athleticism. He is a prospect to watch as I feel he could be a good one with game experience and maturity. He is indeed one of the Pub's sleepers and a major sleeper of the loaded Junior Class. The other 5'7 Sr. PG Steve "Ali" Custus (13 Points, 4 Boards & 9 Assists) is a whirlwind in his own right. I loved the way that he just gets guys shots. The lefty is one of the quickest players with the ball that I've seen. He just made hustle play after hustle play after hustle play. The two other Bears, Jr. Brian Carrol & Soph. Devon Price were similar. Both C-Fs around 6'5/6'6. Both good rebounders and shot blockers with similar bodies. They evenly split 12 Points, while Carrol led the Bears with 10 Boards. For GFS, the monsters were two-fold as 6'4 Sr. G Jason Tucker and 6'3 Soph. G Noel Wilmore were tough to stop. Tucker went for 42 Points (13-22, 2 treys & 14-17), 8 Boards, 4 Assists & 4 Blocks in the marathon. He did most of his damage around the basket. Wilmore is one of the city's best Sophs. He went for 34 Points, 7 Boards and 6 Assists. The Bears cut it close though as all 5 players that ended game had 4 fouls. This was amazing. PAGING Akil Stokes! I've heard so many stories about what the kid can do on the court, but he seems not to have any interest on doing it. He is said to have close to a 40" vertical leap. Coach Hackney and Coach Hawkins have seemed to plead with him to come out, but to no avail thus far. I hope he comes around. 'Hack said that he had him for 2 years on JV and that he dunked the ball with 2 hands as a 5'8 Freshman! Many have told me that Mr. TD doesn't even like playing Football, he loves Baseball. Go figure? I think that he could play Division 1-A FB. He's just a serious talent and one of the city's best athletes. I hope to see him soon on the hardwood. I had fun watching this one as I sat next to manager/massive two-way tackle Dorian Brewer. Dorian tried to convince me that he was only 360. I say plus 20 or 30. Every time a Bear picked up their 2nd foul, he yelled over to Coach Hackney, "That's a two-piece 'Hack!" He was thinking of KFC or Crowd Chicken no doubt. He then kept telling me that he could play. I dared to ask why he didn't suit up. He simple told me, "They don't have a uniform big enough for me." Another of the big guy's talents is said to be as a chef. Now that figures. He also told me that he's leaning towards D-2 Virginia St. for college. I can't wait to see this squad again as they love one another and love playing with each other. That's a team folks. This one was summed up by Coach Hackney at the start of the 2nd OT as he cracked, "I love this game."

DEC. 4
NON-LEAGUE
Roxborough 68, Kensington 62
       I went into this one thinking, Oh man, I'll have to walk up those 5 million steps to get to Kensington's gym and I did only to find out that Kensington just built a new Annex around the corner from the main building with a new gym inside and I was impressed. It's a nice new facility dipped in tiger gold and black. Boy does it get loud in here. The Tigers are led by neighborhood hero and in my opinion one of the Pub's 5 better guards whirlwind, 5'6 145-lb Sr. Baltazar Feliciano. Feliciano looked very passive early on trying to get his teammates involved. He didn't even score in the first 15:59. He canned a deep trey at the 2nd Qtr. buzzer as his team surprising was down by 20 at the half to an unheralded bunch of Indians. When the 3rd Qtr. bell rang, Feliciano heard it loud and clear as he absolutely went nuts to the tune of 14 straight points and 19 overall in the quarter. This was an amazing performance as everything he threw up there dropped. He even banked one in from NBA range. He swished two others from NBA. Roxborough Coach Terrell Burnett called two TOs in that sequence. Feliciano's heroics had cut the lead all the way to two points, but the Tigers never got closer and it seemed as if the little guy ran out of gas. He did finish with 28 Points (6 treys), 5 Assists & 4 Steals. He is indeed the one guy that could challenge Mr. Rice for the scoring title as he's a threat to get 40, even 50 at any time. I didn't think the Indians would be very good this year coming in considering what they lost, but they impressed. Albeit, this was against a bunch of midgets, but very aggressive ones. The 'Boro was led by Sr. Guard Tyrone Crawley (20 Points (3 treys) & 5 Steals). He did a good job in the passing lanes and was nice from deep. He'll be a pretty good small college guard. The best Indian skillswise in my opinion was 6'2 Jr. WG Donte Robinson (17 Points (3 Treys), 12 Boards & 6 Assists). I'd seen this kid in the summer and was impressed thinking I don't know how he was not on Varsity last year. He played JV. He's moves around the court very well, spidery...fluidly. He makes smooth, authoritative moves. He could be really good by the end of this season as more confidence will be added to his repertoire and more game experience. I also liked 3 Sophs. The starter of the 3 is long-armed 6'3 250-lb Center Ameer Ali (11 Boards & 4 Blocks). He is banger, who likes to play a physical game and crashes the boards like a madman. He's also a pretty good shot-blocked. He once even went out and swatted one of Feliciano's trey attempts. The two kids that come off the bench both have great bloodlines. One will help greatly now and the other will be more of a factor later. The first is 6'3 SF Jared Nichols (14 Points & 8 Boards). He is the brother of 6'8 Jamal Nichols (Franklin, St. Joe's, now Riverside JC in CA) & 6'9 Hakim "Skinny" Warrick (University City/Friends Central, now Syracuse). Dad is 6'7. So I think that Jared could be at least that. He's built more like Hakim at the same stage, very long arms and legs. Hakim was a late grower as this kid could be. He's very aggressive too, maybe a bit overzealous, but only a Soph. He is one to watch. The other saw spot action, but is regarded highly by many. He is PG Amear McCleary, brother of last year's Bonner star Badir McCleary. The Tigers need more help from others besides their star. It could come from 6'2 Sr. Forward Kashiff James, a Fels transfer. He went for 9 and 6 in this one. He's a tough kid who plays hard. I did like 6th man Jr. Guard Omar Stanley (12 Points & 7 Boards). He's brassy and tough as well. he made for the play of the day with his around the world lay-up in which he drove the lane went behind his back and finished and acrobatic lay-up, great play!. I really like going to Kensington. The crowd was loud throughout and never stopped cheering even when their team was down 20. You can imagine how they were while Feliciano was putting on his show. I can't wait to go back.

DEC. 3
NON-LEAGUE
Masterman 73, Samuel Fels 49
       I know, I know, you are saying Mar, why weren't you at King/Southern or Franklin/Bartram or anywhere, but this game. Well both of these teams are believe it or not expected to challenge for one of the final playoff spots in Division C and both have some decent college prospects. However, on this day the new Fels Coach John Bissett did not have the services of three starters and 2 key subs for various reasons mainly not having physicals so he had to go to war with limited ammunition. The Blue Dragons pretty much took advantage and cruised to victory. I must say that I was impressed with Sr. CG Brendan Stoner (20 Points, 3-3 from 3 & 3 Assists). He has grown to 6'1 over the summer and has made much improvement. He'll be a very effective player at a small college in the future. Ofcourse, he's already qualified and looks more confident these days. Their star is 6'5 Sr. Forward Brian "Wop" Holsey and once again the big lefty put up some great numbers: 19 Points (8-of-12, 3-for-4), 15 Boards, 5 Assists & 7 Blocks. This could be the status quo for Mr. Holsey. These are serious numbers. He, too has made great improvement in terms of his footwork and floor game. He made some impressive passes early on when he was being overplayed and gradually let the game come to him. He's nowhere near a finished product either. Right now he's hearing from many of the State Schools and getting some nibbles from Lehigh. He already has an 1150 on the SAT, another very impressive number. U. of Sciences, head man Dave Pauley was in the house checking him out. I'm sure he liked what he saw. Dave's one of the best evaluating a prospective recruit. It could be a good fit. I liked Sr. PG Dorian Dumas as well. He dished 8 Assists & plucked 3 Steals. For Fels, no one played well besides their star, Sr. strongman/manchild Tariq Chandler (6'2 220). Chandler went for 22 Points, 19 Boards and 3 Steals. Oh yeah and one vicious I could have put my whole arm in the basket rim rattling slam. That's a long phrase, but that just about describes it. If you like dunks, GO SEE MR. CHANDLER! He and Holsey fought each other tooth and nail all day long. On his other scores, he bullied his way around the floor and hit short jumpers. I told 'Riq that we may try to see if we could put him on some athletes list for Football. He'd be a great LB or DE. He has well over a 40" vertical and has the body of an Adonis. I told the same to Masterman's Corey Tolbert. He's one of the City's top 100 (11 secs flat!) Runners and is also built like a brick at 5'10 205 (no body fat). He could be a great RB or DB and says that he would want to play Football. He also jumped 6'0 in the high jump and more importantly scored a 1200 on the SAT. The future looks bright for the Dragons as they have 2 pretty good Freshman that weigh pretty heavy on their rotation: 6'5 F-C Zahir Carrington & 5'8 CG Mike Mack. Both will be pretty good in time. 5'4 Soph. PG Pierre Milburn is a major crowd favorite and pretty good player at well. He dished 4 Assists and plucked 5 Steals himself.

DEC. 3
BASKETBALL REPORT #1
       Finally its time for the 2002-03 Hoops season to begin and ofcourse I'm more excited than anybody. As most of you know, my Philadelphia Prep Hoops Report is set to be sent out to subscribers early next week. Its not too late to subscribe as I'll be taking orders up until the end of December. After that, it may be best to wait until the Post Season Report comes out in March before placing an order. Thanks for everyone's support. It's greatly appreciated. I want to one day make this the best Report of its kind and feel that it could be done one day. Support from the people is always a plus.
       Also if most of you haven't already seen it, my preseason Preview is up on site as its more in depth than ever. Remember that many things in that report are subject to change, but please enjoy it. You'll find nothing else like it anywhere else.
       I'd like to congratulate all three of the city's early Division 1 commits. Here they are as follows: Mustafa Shakur 6'3 PG Friends Central (Arizona), Wayne Marshall 6'10 King Center (Temple) & Jordan Ingram 6'7 PF Carroll (FDU). In the Spring, I'd look for the likes of Maureece Rice, Jason Cain, Michael Green, Tim Young, Charles Jones, Troy Roundtree, London Houston, etc., to all make signings. Green recently achieved a qualifying SAT score which should cause his interest to peak appreciably. Cain is qualified, has offers and much genuine interest (Penn St., ect.), but would like to generate much more . He could indeed become one of the East's hottest names in the Spring. Young is the city's sleeper. He could take things by storm. Jones is the city's most improved. All and all this should be a special season.
       Lastly, I'd like to once again give you my once again extensive December schedule. It is once again tentative, but for the most part accurate. There will be some additions once I see the rest of the schedules. Here goes:
12/3   -   University City @ FLC, Edison @ North Catholic or Samuel Fels @ Masterman

12/4   -  Roxborough @ Kensington
12/5   -  E&S @ Overbrook
12/6   -  West Phila. @ Bok Tech & Roman Catholic vs Friends Central @ LaSalle U.
12/7   -  Girard College Tip Off Tourney
12/8   -  Cardinal Dougherty @ Monsignor Bonner
12/9   -  Parkway @ John Bartram & Simon Gratz vs Roman Catholic @ Temple U.
12/10 -  Penn Charter @ St. John Neumann
12/11 -  Germantown Academy @ St. Joseph's Prep
12/12 -  St. John Neumann @ Southern & North Catholic Tourney: West Catholic vs Masterman & North Catholic vs Friends Select
12/13 -  Olney Tourney: Kennedy Kenrick vs Ben Franklin & Olney vs Cardinal Dougherty
12/14 -  Coaches vs Cancer Classic @ St. Joe's U.: Gratz vs St Benedict's (NJ), Penn Charter vs St. Joseph's Prep & Strawberry Mansion vs St. John Neumann
12/15 -
12/16 -  Parkway @ Frankford
12/17 -  Southern @ Central & Roman Catholic vs Father Judge @ Philly U.
12/18 - 
12/19 -  Public League Game & Penn Charter @ Cardinal Dougherty
12/20 -  Make-a-Wish @ Germantown Academy: Washington vs Germantown Academy & E&S vs Abington Friends
12/21 -  Life Center (NJ) @ Friends Central
12/22 -  Scholastic Play by Play Classic: St. Joseph's Prep vs Camden Catholic (NJ), Penn Charter vs Gratz, Cardinal Dougherty vs Chester & Strawberry Mansion vs St. Vincent-St. Mary (OH)
12/23 -  McDevitt @ O'Hara
12/26 -  Girard College Tourney: Washington vs West Phila. & Lincoln vs Franklin
12/27 -  Olney Tourney: Bartram vs Mansion & Olney vs Frankford
12/28 -  Ardmore Rotary Tourney Championship
12/30 -  FLC vs International Studies (CA) @ Girard College
12/31 -  North Catholic @ Episcopal Academy

NOV. 29
NORTHEAST TIP OFF TOURNAMENT

Cheltenham 58, Germantown Academy 48
       The once mighty Patriots are in a rebuilding stage and though they are still  talented they should be the spokespeople for pampers. Coach Jim Fenerty cracked before the game when I asked what he thought about this season, "We're all right, but we don't have anyone with a driver's license yet." In their 8-man rotation there are 5 Jrs and 3 Sophs. Only two of these guys had genuine experience from last season. Therefore, it will be tough for Coach Fenerty's group early on, but eventually they'll come around. One thing's for sure and that's that this is a big team. Only one starter is under 6'5 and that's lone holdover Jr. Larry Sharp. The two starting Sophs. are stars in the making Forwards Brian Grimes (6'6) & Ryan Ayers (6'5). Grimes was the high scorer and rebounder for the game with 18 Points and 11 Boards. It was a mixed performance tough he only shot 5-for-15 from the floor and just too many jump shots for my liking. He's just so effective at this point in time in the paint. He was a perfect 8-8 from the line. His better days are ahead so we'll see in time. Ayers gets taller and better every time out. I did like 6'6 listed (probably 6'5) Jr. WG-SF Joe Gill. He's very smooth and fluid. Most of this game he was in foul trouble, but he did lead GA with 4 assists. He could serve as kind of point forward. With hard work, this kid could turn into a very good player. Sharp has to handle much of the PG duties and that may hurt him when it comes to what he does best, spotting up and shooting the deep ball. I'm sure Coach Fenerty will figure it all out. I'm looking for more from 6'7 Jr. C Kyle Washabaugh. They are going to need him this year to compete with the better teams. Cheltenham is out of the coverage area, but I did like what I saw of them. They will be right there with the Hatboro Horshams, Abingtons & Norristowns in their   division. They have size and very good guard play. Their best prospect is 6'2 Soph. WG Harris Mansell (12 Points). He plays very hard and brings a fire to the court. They also have two strong 6'6 bookends in Vaughn Tinsley (11 Pts, 10 Rebs & 3 Assts) & Gary Vaincoeur (Spent the whole night in foul trouble). Vaincoeur is already signed with D-2 Shippensburg. He may have generated more interest had he waited. Tinsley is a state school prospect as well. I couldn't see GA without mentioning how quick last year's star and city player of the year Matt Walsh has adjusted to the college game. As they always say, true players never adapt, they just adjust and Matt is a true player.
Friends Central 70, Northeast 58
       Oh how I wonder what kind of game this would have been with Kyle Lowry, who was in attendance, still wearing Northeast Black.  It may still be going on right now as NE just didn't have anyone that could challenge megastar 6'3 Sr. Guard Mustafa Shakur, who is signed with Arizona and thought by many, including myself, as the best Guard in the nation.  It would have been an interesting game for sure. Shakur was nothing short of sensational. He cruised to 31 Points (9-of-18, 2 treys & 11-of-15 FTs), 7 Boards,  6 Assists & 6 Steals against a pretty good team. He could have easily has 40 Points and 10 Assists. That is how easy this one was for him. Of his highlights a sick elbows over the rim ally-oop dunk and many no-look passes. Get this: There were close to 1000 people in attendance, I'd bet that half were there to see Shakur. He didn't disappoint. I'll be trailing his show all season. His main help came from 6'8 Sr. Forward London Houston (10 Pts, 8 Rebs & 8 Blks). Houston just may be the area's best shot blocker. He has a smooth mid range jump shot and has looked much hungrier after a spotty summer. He'll definitely earn a D-1 scholarship. Unheralded Sr. PG Brandon "BJ" Jackson went for 19 Points & 4 Assists. 6'7 Jr. Forward Channon Easley, a lefty, will be good in time. He has some of Houston's qualities. For the Vikes, 6'5 230-lb Sr. Forward Troy Roundtree was his bull self. he went for 23 Points, 13 Boards & 3 Assists. He went 11-of-12 from the line. Defenders just bounced off of him all night long. I wouldn't have minded seeing him line up at DE for the Vikings this fall. His sidekick athletic 6'5 Sr. SF Shawn Taylor went for 15 Points & 7 Boards. However, Roundtree and Taylor combined to shoot a mere 11-of-34 from the floor. NE as a team shot 30% (19-of-63). You won't beat a good team like that, though this one was close throughout. Sr. CG Tom Jakeman brings toughness athleticism and deep shooting to the lineup. Its good to see him back after last year having a battle with Hodgkin's disease that sidelined him for the season as he rehabbed. He looks better than ever now as he led the Vikes with 4 Assists and even pulled 10 Boards.  Slim 6'5 Jr. Forward Fred Maddox is a welcome addition for the Vikes. He was steady all night long and ended with 10 Points, 7 Rebounds & 3 Assists. He'll get better as the year goes on. Two FB players will help over the course of the year in 5'10 190-lb Sr. defensive hawk Khalid Berry (5 fouls all on Shakur) & 6'3 190-lb Freshman Forward Rockeed McCarter. He'll be a very productive Basketball player as well. He'll be a star in Football at WR. He caught two TD passes this season. Of course he is of the great Philadelphia McCarter Sports family. It'll be interesting to watch him over the next 4 years. NE will need one of them or someone else to step up and be the 5th starter. As of now, it'll be by committee, but Coach Elsa Cohen will need consistency from someone. They will challenge for the title in Division A.