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.
West 62, U-City 59
After leaving the slugfest that was the Gratz-Bartram affair, I decided to check out the battle of West Philly. Early on I asked myself why. West Philly came out extra sluggish and U-City wasn't much better. UC had a 27-21 halftime lead. However, at the start of the 3rd, the Jags picked it up and jumped on the Speedboys with a 20-4 run that at one point made the scored 47-27. The Speedboys had absolutely no juice and the undermanned Jags had much. They ran without 2 starters (So. F Anthony Morrison & Jr. PG Manny Ellis) and a key reserve (Sr. G-F Eli Thomas) all with various injuries too. This was beginning to look like a shocker as the Jags went into he 4th with a 48-30 lead. That's when it happened. West started its onslaught. It all started with Sr. G-F Andrew Myatt. Myatt, who has been in a major funk all season long, was asked to come off the bench in this one. He responded to the call in the 4th by scoring 8 of his 13 including two huge treys filled with much emotion. I was really happy for the kid. He also plucked 2 Steals and dished 2 Assists. You could see over the last few months that he's going through some problems within. The top Speedboy has become promising 6'2 Jr. WG Ricardo Lovelace. Lovelace also came up huge in the 4th to the tune of 13 of his 22. He also nailed 2 treys. They were back to backers. One tied the game at 58 with :49 left. The other gave the Speedboys the lead for the first & last time in the game with :30 left and made the score 61-59. I REALLY like this kid's chances as he continues to develop. "Slick Rick" is one of those Rising stars in the Junior Class that I failed to mention in a report earlier in the week and I think that we may have snubbed him as one of the city's top Juniors earlier this week in the DN. Lovelace also grabbed 4 Boards, dished 4 Assists & plucked 4 Steals. Sr. G-F Shalty Smith (12 Pts, 8 Rebs), who has become the team leader also made big plays in the 4th. Ditto for Jr. PG Chris Williams (all 3 dimes in the 4th), who struggled all game long. He was just happy to get the win afterwards. 6'6 Sr. C Domenique Wilson was a V.I.P as he grabbed 11 Boards and blocked 5 shots. I have given his name to some D-IIIs. He could be an all-league type there in his Soph. or Jr. year if someone is patient and is willing to work with him on the offensive end. He's already an enforcer on the boards and on the defensive end (which is what he is built like). The Jags dropped that 4th stanza 32-11 and shot themselves in the foot by missing 10 free throws, including 7 in a row at one point during that time. Sr. G-F Brandon Moton went for 16 & 12. he nailed both of his treys on his way to a 7-for-12 night. Late-blooming 6'5 (and growing) Sr. C Anthony Shelton seems to get better each time out. He scored 15 of his 19 (7-for-10, 5-for-10 at the line) in the 1st half. He also snatched 12 Boards and swatted 3 shots. "Shel" has grown 4 inches over the summer and is still feeling his way as a player. D-IIIs should be at his doorstep as he could become a serious player in time. I liked Soph. G Antoine Coaxum (10 Pts, 3 Assts, 3 Stls). He was very productive before fouling out. He also always played hard. There will be better days for Coach Ken Gritter and his Jags. One of these days he's going to have a super team with a bunch of runners. There are two very good Varsity caliber Freshman on his JV, who were left down to gain experience. They will be factors by next season for sure.
King 73, West 66
The Speedboys really threw a scare into the Top 10 Ranked Golden Cougars this afternoon as this one was dead-locked at 56 with 3:14 remaining in the 4th. However, things went downhill thereafter for the West-siders and King drained 15-of-20 free throws in the period. One huge sequence came when West Jr. PG Chris Williams picked up his 4th & 5th fouls in virtually a 10 second span. Though he did turn the ball over some, he played with poise and heart all game long and frankly right now, he's the only one heady/competent enough to handle the PG duties for his team. Nevertheless, the Speedboys showed well and should use this to build upon. King was basically led by the wing tandem of Srs WG Andre Hammond (on perimeter) and SF Stefon "DJ" Jackson (high post on in). Hammond was sweet with 24 Points on 8-for-16 shooting. He nailed 3-of-7 treys and made 5-of-6 from the line all in the 4th. He also plucked 3 Steals. He made an array of soft-as-butter jump shots, catch & shoots, pump fake one dribble and pull up, stop and pops, ect. When a guy can shoot it like this, the recruiters come out. I feel I may have underrated this kid a bit. He could really help a D-II program. Jackson was mostly nuts and bolts on his way to 23 Points (6-for-13, 11-for-15 at the line), 7 Boards, 2 Assists, & 2 Steals. He lives in traffic and therefore gets to the line at will. He is a Jr. in the classroom with Sr. eligibility so Prep or Juco will be the route taken for Coach Greg Moore's "Secret Weapon" next year. I know, I haven't mentioned Temple signee 6'10 250-lb Sr. Center Wayne Marshall. The big guy was doubled, sometimes tripled most of the times that he touched the ball, but he still managed 12 Points. He also grabbed 16 Boards, dished 3 Assists and swatted 5 shots. The big just may be one of the best passers in the city! No lie. Each time he is doubled, he finds the cutter or the open shooter and something good happens. If this guy progresses and from the looks of things he will, he'll be getting checks heavier than a zoo of elephants to play this great game. His cousin, Sr. PG Quincy Marshall (9 Points 3 Assists & 4 Steals, 1 TO) was solid as well. He made all 4 of his free throws in the 4th. He controlled this game on both ends if you ask me. He only coughed it up once, but he forced many on the other end. King as a team had only 8 TOs. West had 20. That's a telling stat. For West, Sr. G-F Shalty Smith went full blast all game long and ended up with 19 Points (6-for-11, 3-of-4 on treys, 4-for-4 at the line). 6'6 215-lb Sr. Center Domenique Wilson (10 Points, 15 Boards, 2 Blocks) did a great job on Marshall when he actually did have him to himself and played aggressive all game long. He could thrive at a D-III and possibly help a II. Jr. F Maurice Polen (9 Pts, 8 Rebs) gave a solid contribution. Every time I see 6'2 Jr. WG Ricardo Lovelace (11 Points), I like him more than I did the last. If he does the right things and listens to the right people, he'll star one day. This was a weird game stat wise as nobody besides Jackson or Hammond scored for the Cougars until 4:59 of the 2nd when Q. Marshall buried a trey. They scored King's first 26 Points. The Speedboys could really be dangerous should they get into the playoffs. They have come so close so many times this year to knocking some good teams off that one of these days they are going to come out on top. They are definitely driving towards the right direction, no pun intended.
MID SEASON REPORT
Its now getting close to February and I'd like to give you a Mid Season progress report of some unheralded Seniors and some of the emerging Jrs that don't get talked about as much. I've seen alot of ball thus far this season so this may be a bit over due. Enjoy and here goes:
Rashawn Dennis 6'1 G Parkway - this guy leads his team in almost every offensive category. He is handles the PG duties and is a top defender. He could make it academically, but may opt for Prep school. Juco is also an option. D-IIs & IIIs are involved at the moment.
Brandon Void 6'2 G Gratz - Void always brings heart and energy off of the Bulldog bench. He plays everywhere from Point to Wing forward and brings and anything for the team approach off of the bench. Void could thrive at a good Juco and surface later down the line.
Chris Feggans 6'1 G-F GAMP - Feggans is on pace to wind up as GAMPs all time leading scorer. At this level, he does most of his damage on the baseline, but his college position will be WG. He is thought of as a hot commodity in Division III and is academically qualified.
Kashif James 6'2 SF Kensington - In large part, this kid is responsible for the great success that the Tigers have experienced this season. He is Mr. Nuts and Bolts and a perfect complement to the team's star (Baltazar Feliciano). He always looks to be having fun out there and has the will to win. He'll need Juco.
Andre Hammond 6'2 WG King - Hammond has really come on for the Golden Cougars. The deadly jump shooter has found his stroke and it makes him a nice prospect as Division II or III. The Cabrinis & Neumanns of the world should watch closely as Hammond could step in and make a difference.
Tom Keenan 6'5 F Judge - Mr. Keenan has become my favorite player in the city. He plays this game exactly how its supposed to be played and that's hard and with an edge. At 6'4/6'5 and deceptively strong, he can do many things from bang down low to drop in the trey to handle the ball up top. Keenan is the perfect Holy Family type and could probably help a State school.
Domenique Wilson 6'6 F-C West - Wilson really deserves some looks from the D-IIIs and maybe even the IIs. He is 6'6 220 with a Tight end's build and room to grow. He is also a very good athlete who excels at blocking shots and rebounding. In other words, his better days are ahead.
Phil Burns 6'6 F-C Dobbins - Burns is almost the mirror image of Wilson. He, too could really help a D-III. A good Juco would also help as both of these big broad-shouldered middle men could be VIPs in due time.
Tyrone Smith 6'1 G Gratz - It may not show today, but Smith just may wind up being a star in time as right now there are just too many other guards in the program. He has the build of a RB with broad shoulders and strong legs and he defends like crazy. He's also a super athlete who will throw it down on the break. He also seems to be a hard worker. A certain retired legendary coach thinks that Smith could wind up being the best college prospect on the Gratz roster.
Kechan Myers 6'0 G & Tramaine Jackson 5'9 PG E&S - these guys are quietly one of the city's best backcourts. Myers comes from great bloodlines. Every ball player in this family is/was a killer on the court. He is no different. Jackson is a strong, savvy PG who is vastly underrated. Both will wreak havoc for the remainder and this year and all of next
Kyree Brown 6'2 G Dobbins Tech - another underrated guard in the Jr. Class. Brown is the Mustangs best player overall. He's the best guard to walk the 22nd & Lehigh halls in some time and looks to be set to prove it.
Maurice Millner 5'7 G & Kyle Copeland 5'5 PG Overbrook - these two midgets are also one of the city's best in the backcourt. Both are hawking defenders with huge hearts. Both also love to take and make the big shots and are as gritty as they come. Millner is of the mold of LaSalle U. star Michael Cleaves! The two guys together could start an inferno.
Tywain McKee 6'1 G Furness - McKee claims the spot as the city's 2nd leading scorer. He's a great shooter and has a knack for getting to the basket at will which makes him an almost unguardable offensive player. He is a major league sleeper!
Tracy Worley 6'4 WG Mansion - Worley just may be the 2nd most talented player in the Knight Program. He is sweet of the dribble, has great size and a deadly jump shot. He could be in for huge offseason.
Donte Robinson 6'2 WG Roxborough - The one thing I came away thinking after watching this kid lace 'em up was that somebody must have taught him how to play. He has an excellent feel and a great smoothness to his craft. He could be a star down he line especially if he acquires a killer's mentality.
Ivan Evans 6'4 SF Germantown - This kid really impressed me thus far this winter with his great athleticism and all-around hard play. He also just may be the best athlete in the entire Jr. Class, no lie! This kid flies to the moon. He is easily the G's best player with his all-around array of skills and he is one to watch for the future.
Joe Gill 6'5 G-F Germantown Academy - Gill was a pleasant surprise for the Pats. He is one of those Jack-of-all-trades types who makes plays on the floor and leads by his example. He is also a good athlete who's better days appear to be ahead of him.
Joe Mullin 6'5 SF Ryan - This lefty has a great array of skills from his sweet three point stroke to his athleticism around the hoop. I thought that he was the Raiders top talent last year when the they reached the title game. He appears to still be getting better too. There isn't a tougher kid that Mullin either.
Dougherty 64, Judge 53
The Crusaders really threw a major league scare into the Cards as they would have pulled off the upset had it not been for the 4th quarter heroics of Jr. PG Kyle Lowry, who once again went nuts when the game was on the line. Lowry scored 14 of his 29 Points (11-for-18, 1 trey, 6-for-8) in the 4th pushing the Cards to victory. Judge led at halftime by 2 and the game was tied at 42 after 3. Judge had CD playing their game and had them a bit rattled. Lowry also grabbed 7 Boards over the course of the game. In the 4th as a team, CD shot 7-for-9 from the field & 8-of-9 from the line. 6'7 Jr. F-C DeSean White played harder today than I've seen him play in a while. He battled first half foul trouble, but scored 17 Points (8-for-13, 1-of-2), grabbed 8 Boards & blocked 2. He played very aggressively. Jr. F Shane Clark had two super slams en route to 10 Points. He swatted 2 as well. Jr. G-F Bilal Benn battled a bad ankle that has been bothering him all season and didn't score, but he still was great on defense and snatched 5 Boards. For the 'Saders, three Srs were terrific in 6'5 F Tom Keenan, G-F Jim Gloweinka & PG Bill Geiger. Gloweinka, a lefty, nailed 3-for-5 from trey en route to 14 Points. He snatched 5 off the window. Geiger played with fire & brass and pretty much had his way off the dribble. He only scored 9 Points, dished 2 dimes & plucked 2 steals, but he was much more valuable than that. He did some Chris Kozole-like (Ryan 02') things. Keenan, who just may be my favorite player in the city, was just himself. He does everything from play the role of enforcer to stick a soft trey. He only scored 10, grabbed 4 Boards & dished 3 Assists, but he too was very valuable to the cause. This guy is a throwback. The 1970s CL player must have looked like this. Jr. G Joe Sanford was also VITAL. He drained all three of his treys. All at key times. This game should give the 'Saders a huge boost as they go into the second half of the year. I think that they'll admit that they've been a bit of a disappointment to date. I think that they'll be rolling now.
Dobbins 81, Edison 58
It finally happened! After his 4th attempt Dobbins coach Rich "Yank" Yankowitz, in his 32nd year, won his 457th game of his coaching career which makes him king of the Public League coaching fraternity as its All-Time winningest coach. That's an amazing feat considering some of the guys that have patrolled the sidelines through the years. That gives him more wins than the Joe Goldenbergs, Vince Millers, Ernie Becks, Max Levins, Mitch Schneiders, Ken Hamiltons, Bill Ellerbees, ect. Congrats Yank! In the game, his kids played inspired ball led by Sr. G-F Disheem "Da-Da" Butler. Butler wanted this one bad for his coach, who its easy to see that he's very close with. He was aggressive and emotional all game long on his way to 23 Points, 7 Rebounds & 6 Assists. Jr. F-C Ahkeime McClendon must have had his season's best game with 20 Points (10-for-16) & 7 Rebounds. He did a great job of finishing around the basket. Jr. G Kyree Brown was his efficient self going for 15 Points (6-for-9, 3-of-5 on treys). He is the top Mustang skillswise and could really have a breakout summer. He even caught and ally-oop slam Midway through the 3rd that kind of demoralized that Owls. Srs 6'6 C Phil Burns (6R, 3B), G Ben Robinson (6A, 3S) & F Darryl "Reverend" Moon (6R, 4A, 3S) all made solid contributions. Moon was the one who turned the bucket of ice water over on Yank. As if it wasn't cold enough out there (smile). Edison's demise primarily came in that they were killed by a 43-23 count on the boards. They also let poor (more like horrible) officiating early on (and often) get them taken out of their psyche. Nevertheless, it just wasn't their day as they also didn't seem to adjust well to playing at "the Hank." No reason for the Crosstowners to hang their heads though because many have come and failed at the Hank. Its a tough place to play for sure. Just ask the Bulldogs of Simon Gratz. Budding star Sr. WG Tim Young struggled to get his 20 Points. He almost never got the ball in comfortable position and basically had to make it happen on his own. He did have the play of the day as he almost always seems to when on the floor as in the 2nd, he made a 3/4 court steal and raced to the other end. Moon trailed him and both went up in unison, but Young came out on top as he slammed over the very athletic Moon and was fouled. This was the most vicious dunk I've seen all year long. Strangely, the Owls didn't really feed off of it and make this a war. They surely could have as Young had the crowd and even some of the 'Stangs in the palm of his hand. I really like Jr. G Jerome "Huss" Allen (17 Points on 7-for-9, 3-of-5 on treys, 5 Rebounds & 3 Steals). He really shoots it well and is actually a PG now playing on the wing because of super Freshman Raymond "Doodles" Sims (4A, 3S). "Huss" also always plays hard. He has decent possibilities. Sr. F David Eshun had a subpar game for him with only 9 Points, 9 Boards, 3 Steals & 2 Blocks. He had a hard time getting the ball through the Mustang zone. His better days will be on the gridiron which is where he informed me that he is being recruited by U.Mass, James Madison, George Mason, Georgetown & Purdue. He already has a qualifying SAT score and is an exceptional student. There will be better days for these Owls. Every game is now important for them as they take on Lincoln and Olney next. They need Ws in both of those games.
West 59, Olney 56
I always say that every time I end up somewhere that I wasn't supposed to be, that something strange happens. And well once again my theory proved true as this was indeed a wild one that pretty hard to explain. Let's start in the 4th Qtr with around :15 remaining and the game locked at 55. The Speedboys impressive 6'2 Jr. WG Ricardo Lovelace made a steal and drive to the hoop where he was fouled hard by Olney Jr. PG Andrew Jerry (11 Points, 3 Steals). A a questionable intentional foul was called and Coach John Rech went ballistic. He wasn't T'ed up thank God (smile). Lovelace calmly drained the 2 FTs and the Speedboys inbounded and were poised to draw a foul, ah but Sr. WG Ramik Roberts (11 Points, 3 Steals) had other ideas as he poked Sr. SF Shalty Smith near half court and went the other way. Smith prevented and easy hoop with a foul. Roberts made 1 of 2. Smith redeemed himself by tossing baseball pass to a streaking 6'4 Sr G-F Andrew Myatt (8 Pts, 6 Rebs, 2 Stls) for his 2nd high-flying slam of the day. The first he took off from 2 steps inside the foul line. The Speedboys cause was led by Lovelace (16 Points, 3 Steals) & Smith (14 Points, 11 Rebounds). Lovelace likes to do his damage on the wing, while Smith roams the baseline. The top Trojan was 6'7 Sr. C Maurice "Grease" Thomas with 14 Points (4-of-6), 13 Rebounds & 5 Swats. He missed 6-of-12 free throws though and that kid of lingers. Roberts missed 5-of-10 as well. 6'5 Jr. F Erik "Ugs" Adams (4-of-5 for 8 Points, 6 Rebs, 3 As) deserves more touches as he knows what to do with the rock. He had an impressive jump through the ceiling ally-oop slam. Back to my unlikely trip to Speedboyland. I was initially set to be at GW-Central and I was there, but when I got to Central I was told that there was a flood in the gym and that the game was moved to GW. Oh boy, here we go again, gotta think fast. Can't be sure if I'll make it all the way to G-Dub in 30 minutes. Go to Gratz, nah we'll see them on Sunday. Go to UC-NE, nah did an NE story last week. Go to Brook, nah can't make it there. Bingo, I'll go to West which is where I made it just as they tipped off. Only in the Pub. Now that I think about it, I should have probably went over to King, but its too late now. Go figure.
Dougherty 80, LaSalle 65
This was my first time checking out LaSalle and I was impressed with what I saw. They played hard and smart. I can't say they really through a scare into their powerful opponents, but they earned their respect and that just may be good enough. They hung with this juggernaut that has become Cardinal Dougherty and were even only down 8 (63-71) late in this one. However, the Cards proved to be too much and got the W going away. The Cards were led by 6'7 Jr. F-C DeSean White. He went for 26 Points (18 in 1st half, 12-for-17, 2-of-4 FTs) & grabbed 7 Boards. He also made many snappy passes and was perfect on his last 11 shots. White still gets lazy/lost on defense at times and still could rebound a little more for my liking, nevertheless he is shaping himself into a solid major Division 1 prospect. The Cards engine is Jr. G Kyle Lowry. Lowry scored 21 Points (buried 5-of-8 treys), snatched 6 Boards & plucked 3 Steals. He is normally thought of as a streaky shooter, who is better at going to the basket, but now he is consistently draining jump shots. This will make him even more dangerous. 6'6+ Jr. F Shane Clark scored a smooth 14 Points (2 Slams), grabbed 9 Rebounds, dished 2 As & stole 2. More on him later. Sr. WG Isaac Greer was solid with 6 Assists & 6 Steals. For LaSalle, I liked 6'7 230-lb Sr. Center Will Furey. He scored 18 Points & dished 3 Assists. He is slow-footed, but he knows how to play and he is crafty. He also uses his body well and plays a physical brand of ball. He can surely be a hot D-III commodity and in a controlled style could even help a D-II. Strong, Sr. G-F Brian Donahoe also has that physical style. He scored 12 Points and grabbed a game high 10 Boards in an athletic, physical game at 6'1. Small, Sr. PG Chris Reedman (10 Pts & 3 Assts) plays with spunk and heart. Jr. WG Kevin Moll played a nice game with 15 Points. He was aggressive all game long. The dialogue of the day goes to CD head man Mark Heimerdinger and Lowry. 'Dinger yelled to Lowry, "That was way too easy Kyle." Lowry returned with, "I let him go." Coach said, "WHY?" Kyle came back with, "DeSean is 6'7 & he is 6'0." Mark ended with "Well that's a foul today. Don't you see that?" This was amusing as everyone in attendance could hear every word clearly. Back to Clark. It'll be interesting to see if CD appeals to the CL brass to get him an extra year now that it has granted West FB superstar Curtis Brinkley a 5th year. Clark's situation mirrors Brinkley's and should be up for appeal. Clark is a Sophomore in the Class and a Junior eligibility-wise for the moment.
Roman 74, Bonner 53
There isn't much to tell about this contest. The Friars didn't take care of the ball and the Cahillites capitalized. End of story. The Cahillites were led by Jr. Forward Charron Fisher (19 Pts, 10 Rebs, 4 Blks, 2 Stls, 2 Slams). Fisher must be the best two-footed leaper in America. He always imposes his will on the game. This was a coming out party for Sr. G Kevin Hightower (finally - smile). He scored 17 Points on 5-of-7, 6-for-6 at the line. He also plucked 5 steals. His contributions will be needed as time goes on. He's the most brassy guard on the squad and he has alot to live up to, alot to prove. It'll be interesting to watch him over the course of the season. 6'4 Jr. G-F Khalil Ferguson, a lefty, scored 14 Points, grabbed 7 Boards & snatched 3. His form on the jumper looked a little better as well. He's a work in progress, but could blossom if he listens and works hard. For the Friars, no one can really claim to have put together a complete performance though 6'6 So. F Carlos Monroe (9 Pts) made some very impressive catches in traffic. Some he finished. Just wait until he gets adjusted to CL Hoops. Watch out! Jr. F Randy Reid battled foul trouble, but managed 10 Points, 3 Steals & 4 Blocks. He did a decent job on Fisher when on the floor as well. I feel that Sr. PG Ray Bailey (9P, 2A, 2S) deserves more run. He's the only PG on the team that looks comfortable calling the shots. He's very crafty, but often times tries to do too much. He still deserves the looks. Thin, 6'8 So. Center Derrick Graff (4P, 5R, 3B) had his moments when the game was in doubt. He is making progress. One day he may wake up and be 6'10 and mean. Maybe not though. It'll be interesting to see what happens.
Parkway 66, Lamberton 53
The Hoyahs continued to roll as they won their 5th straight and moved to 5-1 in Division D with an important, albeit uneasy win at Lamberton. The Hoyahs needed a 28-17 burst in the 4th Qtr. to keep the pesky Blue Devils at bay and get the W. The 4th Qtr. heroes were Sr. backcourt mates: 6'1 Rashawn Dennis & 5'11 Javon Alston. Alston scored 9 (4-for-4) of his 18 Points in the 4th, while Dennis scored 8 (3-for-3) of his 20 in that stanza. Dennis' work came at crucial times and his hard left baseline drive for a strong finish that made the score 55-40 slammed the door. Dennis also went for 4 Boards, 5 Steals & 3 Blocks. He is said to be in the team leader in scoring, assists, steals & blocks. He;s also 2nd in Rebounding. He does many things for this team. He's even playing the point these days. He moves around the floor like a spider, has very long arms & legs and is very strong with the ball. In other words, he's a nice prospect who's better days are ahead. I'd like to see him try Prep school for a year just to grow and fill out physically & mentally. Alston also dished 4 Assists & plucked 4 Steals. He played a nice game. He and Dennis were good complements of each other. I liked So. G Dwayne Johnson. He was a nice change of pace off the bench early on when the Hoyahs were struggling. he scored all 9 of his points in the 1st half. He plays very aggressive and tough. He will be one to watch. Jr. G-F Kevin Tullis & So. F Larz Jeter also both have nice skills that will show better in time. For Lamberton Sr. G Victor O'Conner went for a team high 17 Points. He always battled and played hard and there's never anything wrong with that. Big guys: 6'4 Sr. C-F Ira Dixon (9 Points on 4-of-5, 12 Boards, 2 Blocks) & 6'3 265-lb So. C Cameron Brickle (game high 13 Boards) both had their strongest games that I've seen. That could be a good sign for down the road purposes. I hope that when all of this PIAA stuff shakes out that Lamberton's gym situation is addressed. They need a new place to play in the worst way. Good ol' Memorial Hall is just not the place for a Public League tilt.
Gratz 58, Dobbins Tech 57
Coming into this one, I had to convince myself that this wasn't going to be a meaningless trip. I mean Dobbins was playing Gratz, the team that I tabbed as the area's best team. They didn't stand a chance. Right? As soon as I walked in Hank Gathers Memorial Gym, my whole attitude changed. The Hank is a special place and I had one of those special feelings. One of those something special is about to take place and indeed it did. Dobbins Coach Rich Yankowitz needs just one win to become the Pub's All-Time #1 winner and he was a hair of achieving that feat against Gratz. He did a masterful job today and if not for the 4th Qtr. heroics of the smallest (probably the biggest heart) Bulldog 5'6 135-lb Sr. PG Omar Johnson, it would have happened. Johnson scored 10 of his 20 Points (3 treys) and dished both of his assists in the 4th. He made play after play after play. Here's the sequence. The Mustangs controlled basically the entire 2nd half and upped their lead to as many as 11 (47-36) after Sr. F Darryl Moon's gliding lay-up + the foul with 7:00 left in the 4th. Ofcourse the Bulldogs clawed their way back and tied the game at 55-55 on a left wing jumper by Johnson on a pass from Sr. G Brandon Void (3A, 4S in the 4th) with :53 remaining. The 'Stangs then answered with a cross-over and special delivery by back-up Sr. PG Richard Willoughby to 6'4 Jr. F-C Ahkeime McClendon for his only basket of the game, a short jumper (57-55) with :25 remaining that sent the nearly capacity Mustang crowd into a frenzy. The Bulldogs then called for time and after the timeout put the ball in the hands of the little "Jet" Omar Johnson and went down the lane for a runner and was bumped by McClendon. Basket Good and And 1! He swished (Gratz 58, Dobbins 57) the free throw and the Bulldogs called their final TO. Dobbins then had trouble getting a shot and had to call their final TO with :03.6 remaining. After inbounding the ball, talented Jr. PG Kyree Brown hoisted up a desperation trey that never touched anything. 5'9 Sr. G Ben Robinson pulled the rebound in Mid air and made the lay-up, but time had expired and Gratz went into a wild celebration. What a game! Void (7P, 5A, 8S) & Sr. G Tyree Watson (7 of 9 points in the 4th, 2 Assists) were 4th Qtr. heroes in their own right. Both have developed comfortable roles as change of pace guards off the bench that normally finish games. 6'4 205-lb Jr. SF Mark Tyndale was steady with 15 Points, 10 Rebounds, 2 Assists & 2 Steals. He is getting better and better each time out and he's really beginning to develop that Gratz demeanor. Once he fully grasps it, he'll be a major league star. He already has a swagger and mean streak, but there's much to be said for the "True Bulldogs." For the Mustangs, Robinson had the game of his life. He went for 19 Points (7-of-10, 5-of-6 on FTs) & 3 Steals. He did everything imaginable to lead his team to victory. He made crafty moves to the basket and big time finishes in traffic. If this were a college coach's first time in the gym, they would have wondered who in the world? He was very impressive. The rest of the Mustangs seemed to really want to win this one for Coach Yankowitz. All played w/ energy from buzzer to buzzer. Moon (6R, 2A, 2S), Brown & Sr. G-F Disheem Butler (4-of-5) each scored 9 Points. 6'6 Sr. Center Phil Burns scored only 5 Points while battling foul trouble, but grabbed 8 Boards & blocked 3 shots. The Mustangs have nothing to hang their heads about. They could not have possibly played any better and were in position to beat quite possibly the area's best team down the stretch. Can't ask for anything more than that. On the Bulldogs, they just won't lose. You have to bury these guys to beat them and then they still just might raise from the dead. They'll be even tougher to beat by come say late February.
Kensington 74, Bok Tech 68
Is this Kensington Tiger team a great story or what? They move to 11-3 (4-1 in Div. C) and were outplayed for most of this one. That's a sign of a team that knows how to win folks. Looking at the numbers, the Tigers were outrebounded 54-30 and its star Sr. PG Baltazar Feliciano was harassed into a 5-for-25 (2-for-15 on treys) shooting performance. However, they led basically end to end as the Bok Tigers only led once and tied another time. Both in the 4th Qtr. Though Feliciano didn't shoot well, he made 19-for-22 from the foul line (9-of-9 in the 4th) and finished with 31 Points. He also dished 4 Assists & plucked 3 Steals. He was being chased around and physically covered by three FB/track stars in Gs Sr. Akeem "Feathers" Green & tiny Jr. twins Allen & Kenny Major. Both Green & A. Major fouled out. During the key stretch of the game when the game with tied at 63-63 midway through the 4th, the K made 11-of-12 FTs to end the game and send the other Tigers home. Feliciano was 6-of-6 in that stretch. I feel he's vastly underrated and is probably one of the top 3 or 4 PGs in the Pub. He's virtually unguardable and when his sweet shot, that he amazingly gets off in tight spaces at 5'6, is falling the oppositions head may as well be in the guillotine. This year he really trusts his teammates, only 3 (1 starter) of them that contribute are over 6'0. The other 4 or 5 are 5'10 and under, but all can stick the open jumper out to the 3 point line and handle the ball. Trust me, they aren't 11-3 for nothing. 6'2 Sr. F Kashif James was solid with 11 Points, 9 Rebounds, 3 Assists & 3 Steals. Stocky, 5'10 Sr. G-F Joey Gauthier also was nice with 12 Points (5-for-5) and he pulled 6 Boards. Thursday's game at FLC will be interesting for both teams. The Tigers are so tough to guard because if you go man, Feliciano can go wild. If you go zone, they can all beat you from beyond the arc. Bok was led by 6'6 Jr. F Chris Seaborn (24 Points, 14 Rebounds & 3 Assists). Coach Lloyd Jenkins wants him to be more consistent and more assertive in key situations. I agree. He did miss 4 straight free throws in the 4th that could have kept the Tigers alive. One was a terrible air ball. He has a much better touch than that. His nerves got involved. Nevertheless, the kid possesses much skill and could really develop into a nice player over the next year or so. He also has grown 2-3 inches since last season and his body appears make me think that another spurt is not out of the realm of possibility. The other inside players had success as well as two other FB aces 6'5 275-lb Sr. C John Brown (8 Pts, 8 Rebs) & 6'4 Jr. F-C Marcellaus Barnes, a budding star on the FB field, (12 Pts, 9 Rebs) both made solid efforts in spite of heavy foul trouble. The other two guys I liked were both similar. They were Jr. wings James Pope (7R, 3A, 4B, 2S) & Jamal West (5R & 8A), lefty. Both are in the 6'1/6'2 range, have long frames & good feels for the game. Pope is slightly more advanced at this point. Bok was whistled for a whopping 31 fouls (both teams combined for 53). This game wasn't that physical. Three Technical fouls were called in that mix. Two of them for virtually nothing. Ah well, I guess it was just another day in the Pub.
Bonner 66, West Catholic 62
It doesn't get any uglier than this. Don't believe me. West committed 15 Fouls in the 4th Qtr and shot 22-for-75 (29.33%) from the field. There's no way you deserve to win playing like that. They almost did because Bonner coughed it up 22 times in the game with 9 coming in the 4th Qtr. For the Friars, 6'4 Jr. PF Randy Reid was king as he scored 26 Points (11-of-17, 4-for-7), grabbed 10 Boards & blocked 8 shots. He was the one guy in the game that finished around the basket. Sr. WG Matt Thornton battled foul trouble, but was efficient while in the game with 17 Points (4-for-8, 2 treys, 7-of-10). Sr. PG Mike Shalon dished 9 dimes, but struggled mightily when the game became a scramble in the 4th. Jr. handyman Jim DiCave (3A, 3S) did little things. He also made 5-of-6 at the line in the 4th. 6'8 So. Center Derrick Graff (4P, 5R, 4B) contributed nicely off the bench. He's starting to come around. No Burr can claim to have played well. Jr. G-F Marshall Taylor led with 18 Points (6-for-17), 14 Boards, 3 Assists, 4 Steals & 3 Blocks. However, he has to be more aggressive for larger stretches of the game. He's this team's best player by far and has to understand that at times if he doesn't do it (take the big shot, get the key rebound, make the defensive stop), no one will. He also doesn't move around enough. There will be better days though for Taylor. Jr. G-F Rob Latimer (16 Points) always plays very hard, but he misses badly when he gets to the basket. Its looks like a lack of concentration. Sr. F Brandon Weston (14P, 9R, 5S) suffers from some of the same problems as Latimer. The Burrs scored 31 of their 62 Points in the 4th. They probably should have sped the game up from the onset. It really caused Bonner to have trouble. Maybe its me, but it seems like the rims are friendly for everyone except the Burrs at the Burrdome.
Gratz 86, Franklin 55
This wasn't much of a game at all. Gratz was very good and efficient. Franklin was neither. Nuff said. The Bulldogs placed 5 players in double figures. I was really impressed with Jr. PF Jason Hickenbottom (13 Pts (4-for-5, 5-of-6 FTs) 5 Rebs, 6 Stls & 2 Blks). The things I rally liked were the little things (took 2 charges) he did and how he seemed to always be enjoying himself. Jr. G-F Mark Tyndale also was nice with 12 Pts, 6 Rebs & 4 Stls. Gratz' bench was at its best as they came in and took over the game. Srs: G Tyree Watson (10P, 5A, 4S, a dunk!), WG Brandon Void (16P, 5A, 2S) & F Paul Graham (16P) led the onslaught. Void made 7-of-7 shots in the first. 2 were treys. 6th man Jr. G Tyrone Smith, who I really like, dished 5 As and plucked 3 Steals all his own. Nothing really went well for the Electrons. Sr. G Brian Smith did pump in 21 Points, dish 3 Assists & dish 4 Steals, but he can't claim to have played well. He may have turned the ball over 8-9 times. Franklin, as a team, coughed it up 10 times in the 1st Qtr and 29 times for the game. You just can't win that way. 6'4+ Jr. F Sedale Mason scored all 11 of his points in the 1st half. I really don't understand why 6'4 Sr. SF Jamel Wellman is seeing limited action these days. His only two points were on an effortless slam. He's easily the Electrons BEST athlete and defender. He's also a solid citizen? Gratz' domination was even more impressive considering their tiny leader Omar Johnson may have had his worst game of the season. He's been a rock to date. This Gratz team will be tough to beat down the stretch. They have 12, yes, 12 starters on their roster. 6'8 Jr. Center Matthew Walden has yet to be given clearance to play by the doctors. He makes them even deeper.
Friends Central 64, Abington Friends 59
I got to City Ave. Friday night and had a change of plans. A light bulb went on in my head saying, "Amar, you haven't seen enough of the Nation's #1 PG Prospect and he's right here in Philly right up the road tonight." Ah so to FC I went to see them take on League rival Abington Friends. Both squads have a few guys who started out on the City beat including the one I came to see Arizona-bound Sr. PG Mustafa Shakur (f/o Penn). I'll say that 'Staf didn't play his best game, but still managed 17 Points, 9 Rebounds, 8 Assists & 7 Steals. That's a sign of a great player; when he doesn't look his best, but the stats say otherwise. He could have easily dished 6-7 more assists and he missed some shots in close that could have put him around 25 for the night. An extremely talented Soph. PG at 'Zona recently transferred to Oklahoma St. Hmmm. I wonder why? 6'7+ Sr. F London Houston (f/o FLC) was solid with 16 Points, 5 Rebounds & 6 Blocks. He caught to high-rising ally-oop slams and made some nice plays overall. He's receiving widespread Low-1 interest. I like 6'6 Jr. PF Channon Easley (16 Points, 12 Boards), a lefty. He could develop into a nice player. For the Kangaroos, Sr sniper Rob Fusaro bombed 3 treys en route to 13 Points. He also toughed out 7 Boards. Sr. G John Owens (f/o FLC) is the team's best player. He played Shakur tough & physical and never backed down. He scored 11 Pts & plucked 4 Stls. He has a qualifying SAT score and has offers from D-2 State Schools: East Stroudsburg & Bloomsburg. He's also being sniffed by some Low 1s. He may be able to compete there. He's as tough and gritty as they come. He's also very athletic and can defend both guard positions. 6'4 Jr. G-F Dan LePone (11P, 7R, 7A) has a chance to be pretty good. He should be on the Patriot/Ivy radar. Sr. Big Men 6'7 250 C Hasani Franke (12 Rebounds) and 6'5 PF Will Gause (f/o Gratz & McDevitt) both played well. Gause went for a team high 14 Points & 8 Boards. All three Srs: Gause, Franke & Fusaro could be very serviceable players in Division III somewhere.
Franklin L.C 56, Southern 47
This was a high quality Public League contest between two evenly matched clubs. It was a playoff atmosphere to say the least with the Bobcats coming out on top behind a 17-6 (7-for-7 from the line) 4th Qtr. in which they got a huge spark from Jr. reserve G-F Meril Branch (11 Pts, 8 in the 4th & 5 Rebounds with 4 in the 4th). He also dropped two dimes. He was undoubtedly the difference in this game. Overall, the Bobcats were led by Sr. PG Michael Green with his 19 Points (3 Treys), 7 Boards, 3 Assists & 6 Steals. However, because of the way Green's counterpart 6'2 Jr. PG Antoine "Doo Dirty" Brown (19 Points, 4 Assists, 2 Steals) played him to a standstill, Branch's contributions were that much more important. I also liked the way steady Jr. PG Michael Scott (5 Assists) played. He almost always takes charge of little things & time plays duty. 6'5 Sr. G-F Tyreek Byard & 6'4 Jr. F Josh Grier had identical numbers of 7 Points & 8 Rebounds. Both battled foul woes. For the Rams, Brown was the man, but I would have liked to have seen him take more initiative down the stretch. Everything should have went through him. This is my only knock on him. If he ever just took over during the rough times, the sky would be the limit for him. He has the ability to do it. Its just a matter of him doing it and doing it every time out. He's still a terrific guard with a bright-as-the-June-sun future. So. G Amir Ryan (12 Points) seems to gaining his confidence again. His jump shot has improved greatly as he drained 2 treys. He also made many hustle plays. I love the way he and Brown feed off one another. If they only had another finisher besides 6'5 Jr. PF Shawn Sabb (6 Pts, 8 Rebs, 2 Blks), these guys would truly thrive. Sabb was pretty quiet offensively besides a huge slam in the 3rd Qtr. He only took 4 shots, but missed 5-of-7 free throws. He needs to come up bigger in big games. The Rams will be much better in time though as two key players did not dress for one reason or another causing Coach George Anderson to only rotate 6 players all game long. Its not out of the question that these two squads could meet later on down the line with the stakes a little higher.
Northeast 62, Germantown 61
I figured that this would be a pretty competitive contest and it was as these are two of the Pub's more evenly matched teams. The Bears have been a pleasant surprise and they showed that to the Vikes by jumping on them 22-10 after one Qtr. However, the Vikes would settle down and take over down the stretch to get a not very easy, yet quality road W. As always, they were led by 6'5 230-pound Sr. bull Troy Roundtree with 22 Points (10-for-16) & 18 Rebounds. He also plucked 3 Steals and imposed his physical will on the physical Bears. He is hearing from many of the Low & Mid Major programs in the East and is very close to achieving a qualifying SAT score. 6'5 Sr. SF Shawn Taylor (6P, 10R, 3A, 3B) didn't have a good game scoring wise, but did the little things and never lost his composure. Many times he was fouled hard and it was never called or his shots just went in and out. The athletic Taylor damn near brought the house down when he went baseline and tried to slam one over 3 Bears. That would have been highlight reel material. Like like slim 6'5 Jr. F-C Fred Maddox. He played a very efficient game by going for 9 Points (4-of-5), grabbing 4 Boards and blocking 6 shots. Sr. G Tom Jakeman dished 6 Assists & plucked 3 Steals. I liked strong 5'10 Sr. G Khalid Berry (6P, 5R). His contributions were VITAL. He is the team's best defender and brings that FB mentality to the hardwood. Every team needs a guy like him. G'Town's best overall player is 6'4 Jr. SF Ivan Evans. Today he scored 12 Points, grabbed 8 Boards, dished 4 Assists & made 5 Steals. He's also a high flyer in his own right. Srs: PG Tyrone Sheppard (12 Points, 6 Assists & 2 Steals) & 6'5 Sr. SF Keith Shanks (15 Points) also made solid contribution. I'd like to see more from Shanks. He only grabbed 2 Rebs and he's the tallest starter. He doesn't react very well out there at times and it causes him to get less out of what he has. He has to do more as he's the tallest starter, but seems to be caught up in playing on the wing and hoisting up treys. He needs to be smarter than that. I liked Jr. G-F Bryan Jones (6P, 6R). He may be the team's toughest player. He gets them through the tough times. I really like 6'5 So. F-C Devon Price (8P, 5R). I loved the way he goes from high to low and buries elbow jumpers. He has a bright future once he grows and fills out. The Bear demise came in that they were outrebounded by a 43-31 margin. Do you hear that Keith Shanks? This Bear team will get a W against a quality opponent sooner or later, mark my words. I just love the way they play together and how Coach Otis Hackney has them believing in themselves.
Dobbins 49, West 41
This comes a week late, but I still wanted to write in something as this was Dobbins Coach Rich Yankowitz' 455th career win putting him one win away from tying the record for All-Time winningest coach held by former Franklin sideline patroller Ken Hamilton (1972-99). The game was a great overall effort by the Mustangs. This just may be "Yank's" best work in a long time. He is doing much with less and at the moment his team is 8-2. The top Mustang is probably 6'2 Jr. PG-WG Kyree Brown (12 Points, 4 Steals), but on this day the glory went to 6'3 Sr. F Darryl "Reverend" Moon, the team's 6th man. Moon brought alot of energy to the floor and was a great change of pace. He was today's difference maker. His line: 9 Points, 6 Rebounds, 2 Steals & 2 Blocks. You can't get much better than that off of the bench. 6'2 Sr. G-F Disheem "Da-Da" Butler (10 Points) came to life in the second half. He's the team's vocal leader. Sr. G Ben Robinson contributed 4 Assists & 3 Steals. 6'6 Sr. Center Phil Burns (6P, 7R, 6B) was on his way to a nice game before he sat down midway through the 3rd and never returned until :30 were left in the 4th. Things were going so well that change was not needed. Burns has a very strong build and a is one of the city's strongest rebounders. He's a perfect fit for the D-3s. For West, there is much improvement, but still a ways to go. There just aren't enough ballhandlers on this very talented squad. I liked the contributions of 6'6 Sr. Center Domenique Wilson (12 Rebounds, 8 Blocks). He is very similar to Burns (maybe a hair more advanced) and should have the D-3s at his doorstep as well. Jr. PG-WG Chris Williams dished 7 Assists, but fired up some wild shots. Sr. G-F Shalty Smith (10 Points, 5 Boards & 3 Steals) played hard all game long. The two top Speedboys are 6'6 Srs. F Darrick "De-De" Hall (9P, 7R, 2B) & 6'4 G-F Andrew Myatt (8P, 2B). Both had uneven performances. Myatt made some nice jumpers, but seemed to be yanked in and out too much for my liking. Hall seemed to try to do too much at times. Its a pleasant surprise to see that former Speedboy star, D-2 All-American and NBA draftee (Dallas Mavs 96') Shawn Harvey is aiding Coach Ed Wright with the coaching this year. Harvey is doing a great job relating to the kids while taking a year off from playing overseas. Its always fun going to "The Hank." Will Yank' patrol the sideline forever. He still has more energy than a little bit in his 32nd year of coaching.