Duck Tales
Basketball 2013-14

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  Jon "Duck" Gray is one of our most ardent website supporters. His main sport is basketball, but he has become a legend on the football trail, too. How cool is it that his nickname is a good fit with Tom "Puck" McKenna and Ed "Huck" Palmer?   You may contact Duck at

Feb. 23
Public League Championship
Martin Luther King High 46, Constitution High 44
  These two Public League Division A teams made for a close match-up in the title game. Martin Luther King and Constitution met twice in the regular season with Constitution taking a 65-49 win at home and Martin Luther King taking a 64-40 home victory. This game held at Temple’s Liacouras Center did not feature much in regards to shooting prowess.  MLK shot 13-35 from the field and 17-33 from the free throw line while Constitution shot 12-53 from the field and 17-26 from the foul line. The game’s first major play was a rarity. With five minutes and three seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter, King sophomore guard Jabri McCall made a three-pointer while being fouled, McCall made the free throw for the four point play. The four point play gave MLK a 25-20 lead and a small working point margin which was crucial during the game. McCall followed the four-pointer, with another three-pointer and a smooth jumper off of the glass for nine quick points, raising the lead to 30-21. MLK led by six entering the final stanza with a score of 34-28. In the fourth quarter, there was a whole lot of hustle plays and free throw shooting.  King got a huge follow/tip in basket from senior center Jahmir Taylor (6 points, 14 rebounds) to lead by five at 43-38 with one minute and twenty-eight seconds remaining.  Constitution, behind solid play from guards Kimar Williams (12 points, 8-for-8 at line) Akeem King and Lincoln Kpokuyou, was able to get within two with 10.2 seconds remaining. McCall went to the line for King and missed both; Williams pushed the ball upcourt and appeared to have a chance to drive the lane. However, Constitution elected to call timeout with 5.8 seconds remaining.  They inbounded the ball to junior Ahmad “J.R.” Gilbert. Gilbert crossed over his defender and took a three-pointer that fell just short.  The ball was recovered by McCall as the buzzer sounded and, in year No. 38 of Pub membership, MLK had won its first Public League title.
  Table Talk – Much of the hype heading into this game highlighted two of the Public League’s top players in MLK junior Sammy Foreman and Constitution junior Ahmad Gilbert. Foreman was able to generate 12 points on 3 for 11 shooting from the field (5-6 from the charity stripe) while Gilbert managed 6 points while suffering from a 3-16 from the field performance (0-2 from the line). Gilbert did compete hard and manage 11 rebounds while Foreman was a terrific competitor as well … The City Title games will be played in a tripleheader Friday night at Saint Joseph's University -- Constitution vs. West Catholic in AA at 5:30; Phila. Electrical vs. Neumann-Goretti in AAA at 7; King vs. Roman in AAAA at 8:30 . . . I had a great time hanging out with DN sports staffer Ace Carter and sidekicks Amauro Austin, Mark “Froggy” Carfagno, Keith Hines and Steve Reid.

February 11
Public League Round of 16/Class AAAA Semifinal
Central 68, Washington 55
  This one had the feel that all games should have. Central’s gym was packed full of animated fans who were involved in the action with spirited support for both the home Lancers and the visiting Eagles. Also, Central had their pep squad and their band on hand. From the opening tip both teams played very hard. Central received some inspired play early from senior forward Rafiq Johnson. Johnson had six points and four rebounds in the 1st quarter and the Lancers and the Eagles were tied at 10 when the quarter concluded. Second quarter and Central’s star 6-7 center Christopher Bing began to score inside. Bing had seven points and four rebounds in the quarter as Central took a small lead at 28-24 with a minute to go in the half. Then Central junior forward Kahlil Williams got the crowd loud with a nasty two-handed dunk over a George Washington player. (Trust me it was highlight film material!) The Lancers led at the half by the score of 30-26. Second half and Central never relinquished their lead (they were tied for a short stretch.) The Lancers received more inspired play from Williams and Bing; also junior guards Gregory Holdsman and Tyler Jefferson. Washington got within one with five minutes and ten seconds left after Khyree Hunt-Hawkins buried a three-pointer off of an Asante “Redz” Ali (9 points, 7 assists) pass. Central answered promptly with a Holdsman trey. George Washington was able to get another three-pointer, this time from 6’4 senior guard James Cottrell (13 points). Central answered them again with a trey from Jefferson. Both Johnson and Jefferson finished with ten points. A Bing follow-basket with two minutes and forty-one seconds remaining made the score 56-53, Central on top. Bing would finish with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Central made a key steal on the next G-Dub possession and Williams was able to register another dunk to give them a five point lead. From there on the Lancers held off the Eagles at the free-throw line. Williams went six-eight from the line in the 4th quarter and finished with 21 points. As Central was making their free throws at the game’s conclusion a loud chant was heard from their student section – We Want King!!
Table Talk – Lots of people in attendance: Pub Hoops Chairman Ben Dubin, former Washington Coach Calvin Jones, Allen Rubin from Hoopscooponline, Lonnie Lowry from Team Philly AAU, Assistant coaches from Arcadia University and Rosemont College. .. George Washington was without arguably their top player because of an academic issue…Washington forward Jerome Blume had 13 points and 9 rebounds.

January 30

Public League C
Strawberry Mansion High 49, Mastery Charter North 41
  This one was not a work of art.  Both teams struggled to put points on the board as they shot a combined 33 for 100 from the field and a combined 18-45 from the free-throw line.  The Knights of Strawberry Mansion were slightly more composed down the stretch and that led to their victory. Leading the way for Mansion was senior guard Raekwon Dial. Dial totaled 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists. In the 4th quarter Dial made several key plays. With two minutes and ten seconds remaining Raekwon drove the lane for a lay-up to make the score 42-35, Mansion. With 32.6 seconds remaining, Dial made two clutch free-throws to provide a 47-38 score.  And with 18.8 seconds remaining, Dial made two more freebies to provide the final score. Dial is not a giant -- he is listed at 5-9 on Mansion’s roster -- but he plays big as he even got in the air for a tremendous block near the end of the second quarter. Also, Dial is a tough floor general. He received aid from senior forward Derrick Gant, who had 16 points and 8 rebounds.  Gant could have had a bigger scoring day but was 5-14 from the charity stripe.  Mastery Charter North was led by senior guard Shawn Ruffin, who totaled 16 points. Also aiding the Pumas’ cause were senior frontcourt players Isaiah Jones and Raheen Francis. Jones snatched 8 rebounds and Francis did him one better with 9 caroms.
  Table Talk- This game was strange because there was hardly any noise from the crowd, I’m not sure they whispered to each other . . . Both teams are coached by former Public League players -- Mansion by alum Matthew ”Moo” Johnson and Mastery Charter North by Terrence “Nip” Cook (Dobbins).

Jan. 23

Public League A
Martin Luther King 64, Constitution 40
  These two Division A teams met before on January 7th and the Generals outlasted the Cougars by the score of 65-49. This meeting was a hotly contested game from the opening tip. Martin Luther King received a big effort from 6’3 senior swingman Greg Bennett, who mixed jumpers and hard, yet-controlled drives to the basket to score 14 points in the first half.  Bennett’s production was integral to the King cause because the Cougars were able to lead at the half by the score of 27-24. The Cougars were able to maintain their halftime lead with a combination of hustle and unselfishness.  The Generals were still in the game early in the fourth quarter. A Raheem Liggins putback basket with six minutes and four seconds remaining made the score 40-38 MLK on top. After that play, MLK went on an impressive 24-2 run to end the game. The game-ending run was highlighted by several plays. Sammy Foreman had two impressive scoring moves on successive possessions.  Tyheem Harmon had a nice basket plus the foul to make the score 51-40. Brandon McNair had an energizing slam dunk to make the score 58-40. And Xzavier Malone had a game-ending jam to provide the final score. Bennett led the Cougars with 19 points and 5 rebounds. Foreman added 11 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.  McNair did a superb defensive job on ConHigh star Ahmad “J.R.” Gilbert. McNair limited the talented junior to only 10 points on 4-12 shooting. Constitution had a rough going from the foul line shooting 8 for 19. Also, on key possessions, they took quick shots.
  Table Talk- It was nice to get out and see some basketball with all the bad weather we are having . . . King 6’8 senior center Jahmir Taylor posted 11 points and 10 rebounds. The big fella even hit a three-pointer . . . As I left King, I was approached by a Constitution fan who asked “Can you put on TedSilary [.com], that the Constitution fans were very upset.”  Wish granted.

JAN. 16
Delaware Valley Charter 71 South Philadelphia 48
This was an interesting game between two teams in the Public League’s B Division. Delaware Valley Charter exploded with a 25-13 advantage in the 3rd quarter to turn their six point halftime lead into an eighteen point advantage and they coasted home from there. Delaware Valley Charter is a team that does not feature a main scorer as they used balance scoring throughout their roster to provide their points. The top scorer for the Warriors today came off the bench in the person of Karl Lewis, who contributed 17 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. Lewis went high into the atmosphere three times for skyscraping jams. Two of Lewis’s dunks were alley-oops in the third quarter when the Warriors were making their game deciding run. Lewis, a junior, does not appear to possess ball skills but at 6’4 he is an active and energetic athlete who can finish at the rim. In addition to Lewis, another scorer came off of the Delaware Valley bench in junior wing sniper Bariq London, who made four three-pointers and finished the game with 16 points. The Warriors received solid play from 6’1 guard Shahid Adams, who had 10 points and 3 assists. Southern did not really get into a “flow” on offense. Their top performer was 5’9 point guard Kahsiaan Kay, a promising sophomore who had 18 points. Kay seemed to display some poise at the point amid pressure defense applied by Del Val. Kay’s backcourt mate junior Latrelle Wilson was able to add 13 points.
  Table Talk- Not a large crowd on hand but among the spectators were two former Public League coaches in George Anderson (Southern) and Terrell Burnett (Roxborough). Also on hand was Sonny Hill League coach Joe McCann.

JAN. 14
Central 42, Olney Charter 36

  OK, this one was a little hard on the eyes.  Both teams did not shoot well and the action did not really appear to be exciting, as it was a very slow pace.  Central won this one with some solid play coming from 6’3 junior Kahlil Williams and 6’7 senior center Christopher Bing.  Williams was able to post 16 points and 8 rebounds while Bing mustered 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Williams is a hard-working forward, who is efficient with the ball. With six minutes and fifty-one seconds remaining, Williams made a tough lay-up while being fouled. After the free throw, the Lancers held a 27-25 lead. A lead they would not relinquish.  Central had to work hard at maintaining its advantage because the Trojans of Olney were competitive throughout.  Olney has a dynamic duo in 6’1 senior guard Shakeem Stevens and 6’6 senior swingman Tyheim Monroe.  Both Stevens and Monroe were able to score 13 points. Stevens, a point guard, had a huge basket with thirty-nine seconds remaining to put the Trojans within four.  Central would then answer with a Bing dunk off of a Gregory Holdsman (4 assists) pass with just eight seconds remaining. The dunk provided the game’s final score of 42-36. Bing is an intriguing prospect; he is 6’7 with long arms and moves well. He also showed the ability to knock down 12-15 foot jumpers.  Monroe is quite interesting as well. He did not shoot well (could have been an off day?), but he appears to have some skill and at 6’6 has excellent size for further development.
  Table Talk- I watched this one with local basketball trainer Ellis “Chuck” Gindraw . . . I must admit that I used to be MUCH more vigorous when it came to grassroots basketball.  I saw both Bing (Wagner) and Monroe (Morrison) play middle-school basketball (the School District does not have it anymore.) Monroe was roughly 5’7 when I saw him play.

JAN. 11
Constitution 63, Imhotep Charter 53
This was an intense matchup between two of the Public League’s top programs. Early on, the Generals were able to establish a small lead with some solid play coming from junior small forward Ahmad “J.R.” Gilbert and junior point guard Kimar Williams. Constitution led by four after the 1st period with the score 14-10. In the second quarter, the Panthers responded with some inspired play coming from energetic junior forward Devin Liggeons. Liggeons crammed eight points into the second period, mostly by working hard on the baseline. The second stanza was also a good period for Gilbert. Gilbert, who is a silky smooth outside shooter with ultra nice step-back moves, scored ten points in the period. The Panthers, who are an active, hustling squad, were knotted with the Generals at 30. Second half and more solid basketball coming from both teams, and the Generals were able to get some inside scoring from 6’5 inside bulwark Raheem Liggins. The Generals had a five point lead before Imhotep senior Jakwan Jones buried a trey right before the third quarter horn. Imhotep would get within one after a Deion Evans steal and lay-up with exactly six minutes remaining. The Generals then received a boost from reserve senior point guard Lincoln Kpokuyou, who provided good defense on the Panthers’ guards and scored six points in the 4th quarter. Constitution took firm control of this one when Liggins scored off of a post move with two minutes and fifteen seconds remaining, thus giving them a 58-49 lead. Gilbert led ConHigh with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Williams added 15 and Liggins registered 10. Liggeons led Imhotep with 12 points. The Panthers were without senior forward Basil Thompson (St. Francis) who sat out with an injured finger. Also, Sean Lloyd was mired in foul trouble; he finished with only 7 points and 5 rebounds. These two squads meet in ten days at Imhotep for a rematch.
  Table Talk – Nice crowd and basketball atmosphere on a rainy day in Philly… Imhotep has two VERY promising guards in sophomore Jaekwon Carlyle and freshman Daron Russell….ConHigh is currently 3-0 in the Public League's much vaunted Division A….Lots of faces in the crowd. Among them: Greg Harris of Whistletopps Network and Jaime Boyer from 8 EYE Media.

DEC. 19

Franklin Learning Center 75, Samuel Fels 72
  This was an exciting contest with a thrilling conclusion. Both Fels and FLC have a LONG way to go to be competitive in Division B but they were surely competitive against each other.  Early on, Fels received some nice outside shooting from 6-4 junior forward James Bishop (12 points, 7 rebounds) and 5-10 senior guard Jordan Grant.  Franklin Learning Center countered with some heady guard play from senior Che Perry (15 points) and junior Chase Davis (10 points). At the half the Bobcats held a slim, 35-33 lead.  Second half and more solid guard play took center stage as FLC senior Karon Snead scored thirteen points in third quarter despite Snead’s outburst the Panthers held a one-point lead heading into the final quarter because Grant was able to muster ten points of his own in the third period. The fourth quarter was packed with back and forth play typical of the ever-exciting Philadelphia Public League.  With twenty-one seconds left Grant headed to the free throw line as his squad held a 70-69 lead. Grant coolly drained both free throws to give Fels a three-point advantage. Snead came down court with the ball and used a screen to make his fifth trey of the game to tie the score with ten seconds remaining.  Then, Snead promptly stole the ball in the frontcourt and dribbled just over halfcourt and launched a game-winning trey before the final horn. Snead concluded the game with 23 points, 3 assists and 3 steals. Grant led all scorers with 28 points, including six treys of his own.  
  Table Talk – Not a large crowd but included among the spectators were former William Penn High star and North Philly playground legend Tyrone “Chrome” Garris and former Vaux High and St. John’s University guard Rysheed Jordan . . . Assisting coach Mark Heimerdinger at Fels is former Lamberton Coach Mitchell Kurtz.