CATHOLIC LEAGUE FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF
McDevitt, 58, Conwell-Egan 57
Heading into this season it was hard to predict what kind of team the Mighty Lancers would put on the court. They returned their leading scorer, Tyrell Long, who finished this year leading the PCL in scoring at 23 points per contest. But aside from his contributions, there was very little to expect from a team that lost four starters.
The luxury behind great programs is that when players depart, other unproven reserves fill in and relish the opportunity to improve the team. This was the case for jr. starter Jayson Clark and sr. starter Amin Taylor, who were pivotal pieces in McDevitt’s 58-57 win over Conwell-Egan in the 1st round of the Catholic League playoffs.
Taylor and Clark spent most of their time on JV before this year, but this season they have made the most of their promotions to the varsity level and have helped the Lancers post their best season in over 50 years.
With their star Long struggling throughout, the combination of Taylor and Clark made consistent and timely contributions to lift their team to victory.
Here is a look at Clark and Taylor’s clutch sequence down the stretch:
With a little over two minutes on the clock, the Lancers went to a three-out guard set with ballhandlers around the perimeter. The objective was to milk the clock and that’s exactly what they did all the way down to 38 seconds.
The ball was swung around the three point line right before it went into the hands of Clark, who then proceeded to make a move to the basket. Two dribbles, a spin move to lose the defender and Clark was then fouled. The junior stepped to line and sank both shots of a one-and-one. McDevitt went up two and C-E called a timeout.
The atmosphere was electric and with the lead, all the Lancers wanted to do was let the clock run out on their way to the next round. But for McDevitt, they had to play one more possession on the defensive end.
Conwell-Egan’s Stevie Jordan took out the ball and rushed up the court. He evaded a pair of defenders, made it into the lane and threw up a floater. Nothing but net was the outcome, and the C-E cheering section erupted.
Another timeout was issued by Conwell-Egan in order for head coach Frank Sciola to get his team’s defense set. The Eagles showed a full-court press and they nearly forced a 10-second violation, however, Clark caught the ball on the wing and found a streaking Taylor over the top. Taylor caught the ball and found himself in a one-on-one situation going to the basket.
Euro-step, layup made, and a foul called was the outcome. Taylor stepped to the line and sank the free throw to finish the three-point play. With 14 seconds on the clock The Lancers were up three and the Eagles needed one from beyond the arc to tie.
Conwell-Egan got the ball over halfcourt and passed it into the hands of LaPri McCray-Pace. Pace was tightly guarded by Long as he threw up a 50-50 look but missed badly.
Clark got the rebound and was immediately fouled. Clark stepped to the line with four ticks left on the clock. He made one out of two but the four point lead was all they needed to seal the deal even if the Eagles were to make a three on the final possession (which they did!).
Ted recapped this sequence in his report, but it was definitely something that was worth a second read!
Cab Talk: After a Stevie Jordan floater in the lane to lock things up at 54-54, Conwell-Egan coach Frank Sciolla called a timeout in order to get his team’s defense set for the ensuing possession. Out of the timeout, the Eagles really took a took a gamble by coming out in a full court press. On one hand you have a chance at forcing a turnover against a team that did have some ball-handling troubles throughout, but on the flipside you take a chance at getting beat deep with a pass over the top. The ball was inbounded to Burgess who was immediately trapped and was forced to relay the ball to Clark, who was parallel. Clark anxiously dribbled the ball and quickly relayed it over the top to a leaking Taylor. This is exactly what you don’t want, but it’s something that the coach took a gamble on. If you're not trailing, why not have confidence in your team’s halfcourt defense? On the other end, you really have to tip your cap to Qadir Burgess who picked the perfect time for a hot three point shooting performance. He didn’t look for his shot from deep a lot on the season, but in this one he stroked it confidently from the three-point line. He finished the game with 15 points (5-7 from 3).
McDevitt 85, Bonner-Prendie 76
Earlier this season I got a chance to watch my Mighty Lancers down Cardinal O’Hara in a one-sided affair on the road. The team did well as they won by double-digits and held a 2-3 record in PCL play up to that point.
Since then, they were in the midst of a rough stretch and had won just two games over their past seven outings.
Then came this afternoon.
With a pre-playoff spot on the line, the Lancers did what they had to in order to play another day as they ousted Bonner-Prendie 85-76.
After the previous game (that I saw) McDevitt head coach Jack Rutter said that the team will go as far as Tyrell Long will take them. In today’s game Long held up the weight of the Lancers once again as he finished with a game-high 33 points, ten rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Long was the catalyst for his team from start to finish as he opened the game scoring nine of McDevitt’s first 11 points. At the end of the first quarter the Lancers held a 23-13 lead.
McDevitt held B-P at arm's length for most of the contest, but jr. guard Danny Ings put up an impressive scoring performance to try and keep his team within reach. Ings finished the contest with a team-high 29 points.
Sr. guard Amin Taylor also had a nice outing as well as he finished closely behind Long with 24 points.
Bonner-Prendie gave a valiant effort, but simply had no answer for the dribble drive offense of the Lancers. The final score isn’t the best indication of how the matchup played out. McDevitt could have held B-P to a lower output, but as I saw in their game against CO they often took off a number of defensive plays.
That combined with a number of unforced turnovers made the game seem like a close one in the box score.
Cab Talk: With the win McDevitt will take on Father Judge tomorrow at La Salle College High School in matchup that will determine the 10th and final playoff spot in the PCL. If the Lancers want to advance they will need to commit themselves to the little things that make a big difference in games. Fundamental things like boxing out and getting a hand up on shooters. Too many times did I see them not get back on defense or hedge on screens. Little things like that will take them a long way and hopefully get them the victory tomorrow night. With a win against Judge they would see Conwell-Egan, a team that they beat just a little over a week ago. They’ve proven to teams that they can score, but the intangibles and a commitment to defense will lead to success in the playoffs.
St. Joe's Prep 56 v. Archbishop Wood 40
I haven’t got a chance to see St. Joe’s Prep play since last season’s playoff loss against Roman, but from what I have heard, this season’s team is all about jr. Chris Clover. After watching the Hawks down Wood this afternoon, the claim was pretty accurate.
The game was Prep’s senior day as they recognized eight players for their four-year contribution to the program. Among those seniors were Tom Fox and Ryan Wall, who finished with nine and eight points respectively.
The atmosphere and added enthusiasm had the Hawks scorching it from deep early on. Fox opened the scoring column with a three, and after that the team continued to let it rain from deep.
The Vikings had trouble answering as the Prep’s six made threes in the first half built them a sizeable margin as they led 36-20 heading into intermission. Clover was even fouled while shooting one from beyond the arc. He went to the line and made all three as a part of his game-high 18 points.
But what made things even tougher for Wood to get back into the contest was the Hawks' pressure on their leading scorer, Pat Smith. Smith entered the contest averaging 17.8 points per game, but was held to just one field goal made on the day. Sr. guard Kyle Thompson (five points six rebounds 2 assists) did a great job blanketing the prolific scoring Smith and gave him a lot of hard looks at the basket.
Smith’s output was his lowest on the season. Smith hasn’t scored less than 10 points in a Catholic League game since last season when he had two-point outing Archbishop Carroll, so Thompson’s performance was no small task and his effort was extremely pivotal in the win.
In the third quarter Wood tried to make inroads. They outscored the Prep 10-4 as they were able to build some momentum scoring in the lane. Jr. forward Luke Connaghan was big part of his team’s success in the paint as he scored three of his team-high 11 points in the stanza.
However, in the fourth the Hawks would shut all doors and windows as they received a collective performance on both defense and offense to pull out the win. They finished the final quarter outscoring the Vikings 16-10. Seven Hawks players scored in the quarter as Clover led the way with four points.
Cab Talk: Clover came in leading the Catholic League in scoring at 22.7 points per game (10 league games). The team ran their offense through the versatile guard/forward and he was able to have great success in both the post as well as around the perimeter. He finished the contest with 18 pts, seven rebounds and three assists. On the other end, you have to tip your cap to jr. guard Cody Fitzpatrick (eight points, two rebounds, two assists) who didn’t show up big in the box score, but really gave it his best effort on both ends of the court in this one. He had a number of tipped balls that led to turnovers and points in transition. With their top gun Smith having trouble on the offensive end, Fitzpatrick continued to try and execute his team’s sets in the halfcourt. He did a solid job feeding the post to Connaghan as well as finding other open teammates around the perimeter.
King 60, Phila. Elec. 51
After losing to Math Civics and Sciences just a day ago, Martin Luther King hit the hardwood this evening once again as they downed Public League foe Philadelphia Electrical & Technology, 60-51.
The short-handed Cougars were without key frontcourt players Jamir Taylor and Jordan McNair. However, reserves Chase Rodgers and Rasool Samir filled in nicely as they stole the show. Jr. forward Rodgers (12 pts, 8 rebs 4 blks) and Samir (15 pts 12 rebs 3 blks) did a great job anchoring the paint and made the job for sr. guards Sam Foreman (9 pts 7 asts) and Jabri McCall (10 pts 8 asts) a lot easier by converting a number of passes into points around the rim.
PET received collective contributions from jr. Jihad Barnes (18 pts 3 rebs 0asts) , so. Nasir Marshburn ( 8 pts 5 rebs) and sr. James Suber (10 pts 7 rebs).
MLK got out to a double-digit lead early as they finished the first quarter with a 17-9 cushion. PET was in disarray throughout, but it wasn’t the press of MLK that was hurting them. PET just continued to shoot themselves in the foot with sloppy play that ended up being costly down the stretch. When they strung together quality possessions without turning over the ball they were able to trim the margin.
They finished the second quarter down by eight points, but at the beginning of the third MLK capitalized on a few more unforced turnovers and PET saw their deficit inflate back up 15 points (40-25). A timeout was issued by PET. Head coach James Lewis gathered his team and PET responded with a 12-3 run which got them back into the game trailing 43-37. The six-point deficit was their smallest in the second half, but Samir reignited the Cougars and scored 4 straight points to halt yet another PET comeback.
Sequences like that made up most of this game for PET found ways to penetrate the 10 point deficit time and time again, but MLK behind the play of their bigs were able to counter.
Cab Talk: The play of big men Rasool Samir and Chase Rodgers is a testimony of how good MLK has been this season. Their 16-3 record is due in large part by the play of their bigs and how well they have complemented guards Jabri McCall, Sam Foreman and Greg Bennett. Coach Sean Colson has a plethora of frontcourt players (that play both well on both ends of the court) at his disposal, which causes huge matchup problems for the opposition. Tonight they were without Taylor and McNair, but players stepped up in their absence and their team didn’t miss a beat (not to mention they lost to MCS by just one-point the day before in a game that they most likely would have had fun if their other post players had been available). The reserves on his bench aren’t just fill-ins, they’re legit contributors that could start on a number of schools throughout the city, including their own team. Such a luxury speaks volumes about this MLK’s depth and versatility. It also sends warning signs to AAAA teams that will have to match up with them when state tourney play comes around.
McDevitt 71, O'Hara 57
“As Long goes so does our team,” Bishop McDevitt head Coach Jack Rutter said following the Lancers hard-fought 71-57 win over Cardinal O’Hara. Sr. Tyrell Long (34 pts, 7 assists, 5 stls, 5 blks, not to mention 6 scratch your head TO’s) had a game to remember as he did “a lot” of everything in his team’s hard fought victory.
McDevitt, comprised of mostly guards, used its speed and quickness to get out in transition on every possession. However, this style of play ended up being both a gift and curse as the game went on. While the Lancers were able to drive and score in the lane with great regularity, their anxiousness to get the ball out and run often led to men going unaccounted for on the defensive glass. O’Hara sr. Mark Plousis (26 pts 12 rebs) was the main beneficiary of the Lancers' lack of close-outs, as he was able to manufacture offensive board after offensive rebound in route to an impressive double-double performance. Coach Rutter preaches defense (trust me I would know) and the importance of successful defensive sequences MUST end with a rebound. McDevitt lost sight of that at times and what was a 15-point Lancer lead at half time, dwindled to just 4 points heading into the fourth quarter (40-36).
So here we saw once again the resilience of the Catholic League (sorry if I sound biased) where no team will give up without putting up a fight. The Lions outscored McDevitt 18-7 in the third quarter, and the game was decided by a competitive final quarter.
Frosh starter Qadir Burgess (16 pts 4 rebs 2 asts) started the frame with two threes, while The Lions answered behind a pair of threes from frosh Kairi Jones (6 pts 3 rebs 2 asts) and jr. Tom "Tip" Swartz (10 pts 5 rebs 1 ast). It became a shootout for a short stretch, but a timeout by McDevitt ensued and the Lancers went to a more patient set offense. The ball was put in Long’s hands as he was able to create both for himself as well as his teammates.
Long dropped in 11 points in the final stanza, while jr. Fateem Jackson (5 rebs, 1 ast), who gave the team great minutes off the bench in this one, chipped in with six points of his own. O’Hara was unable to rally and before you know it the Lancer lead was back up to double-digits as they would cruise to a second Catholic League victory.
Cab Talk: Besides sitting next to Fr. Bill Chiriaco, the PA announcer and one of my favorite teachers during my years at McDevitt (now teaches at O’Hara), it was really great to see the Lancers perform well on the hardwood. They’re a team that can score in bunches. They have four legit ball handlers that use an array of offensive moves to get by their man. Their shooting is spotty, but if they’re hitting from deep they’ll be extremely difficult to defend for any Catholic League opponent. Their Achilles heel is going to be their commitment to both defense and rebounding for many lapses showed in this one. They were without their second leading scorer, Amin Taylor, who sat out with a wrist injury for the fourth straight game. Burgess (whose future is as bright as any young player in the PCL) along with the play of sr. James Bogans (younger brother of former Cardinal Dougherty and Fels guard Jahkeem Bogans, who used to torch us when I was at McDevitt) have been huge in his absence. Bogans finished with 3 pts (all in the fourth) 2 rebs and 2 asts. Bogans split most of the ball-handling duties with Burgess and really did a great job breaking the press and controlling the tempo while his team was under distress. He’s a guy whose stats haven’t showed up big in box scores, but missing him in this one could have really cost them down the stretch.
Archbishop Carroll 43, Conwell-Egan 22
Archbishop Carroll has steamrolled the competition this season, winning games by an average of 24.5 ppg en route to a 9-1 start. There’s no doubt their good, how about try great.
On the other side we have Conwell-Egan, a compelling team that entered the game with a perfect 11-0 record. When these squads entered the gym on Friday night, spectators were set for a wire-to-wire, competitive matchup between two Catholic League clubs, right? Well, not exactly.
Carroll showed once again why they have arguably the most talented roster in the city as they cruised once again to a double-digit victory. Their balance and depth, which features an array of unselfish guards and a tandem of towers in the post, served up quite the wakeup call for the undefeated Eagles.
After their dominant performance, I almost don’t know where to start. But one thing that stood out the most on this Carroll team was the commitment to defense, led by their laundry list of guards: sr. Austin Tilghman (6 pts 7asts 1 reb 3 stls), jr. Samir Taylor (2 pts 2 rebs 2 asts 1 stl) sr. Joe Mostardi (8 pts 2 stls 1 ast) and so. Josh Sharkey (0pts 4 asts 1 stl). What makes this team even tougher to score on is that the second wave of defenders makes putting the ball in the basket just as difficult. If the Patriots weren’t getting steals on the perimeter, juniors Derrick Jones (8 pts 8 rebs 1 ast 3 MONSTROUS BLKS!) and Ernest Aflakpui (10 pts 4 rebs) were altering and erasing shots anywhere within the 3-point line.
The opening quarter was slow to begin. Egan jumped out to a 4-2 lead on two baskets scored by jr. Jordan Burney. But after an early TO called by Carroll head coach Paul Romanczuk, the Patriots went into top gear, finishing the quarter with a 14-2 spurt. The Eagles never recovered.
Despite the healthy blunder in taking their first loss of the season, C-E shouldn’t be discredited for the success that they’ve had up until this point. They have a young club with versatile guards complemented by a bevy of committed role players. Not to mention, their starting backcourt comprised of sophomores LaPri McCray-Pace ( 5pts 4 rebs 0asts) and Stevie Jordan ( 1pt 4 rebs 1ast) came in averaging 12.4ppg and 11ppg respectively. But the defensive depth of the Patriots simply wore down the super sophs, who do most of the ballhandling and scoring for their team.
Cab Talk: Everyone knows the big names on Carroll’s stacked roster, while Jordan and McCray-Pace receive most of the attention for C-E. But I think the play of so. Vinny Dalessandro (5 pts 4 rebs) deserves some recognition. You always know what you’re going to get when you watch the headliners play, but I was thoroughly impressed by Dalessandro’s efforts being matched up against the combination of Aflakpui and Jones. He did what he could to close on every possession and his continued hard-nose play is something that will make a huge difference for his team down the stretch. Likely to receive D-III looks at best, D-Sandro is a blue-collar contributor that epitomizes the grit and toughness of playing in the Catholic League.
Next up: Carroll will face one of their biggest tests of the season as they take on Roman at Philly U Sunday while Conwell-Egan plays host to Judge on Monday.