On the Trail With Ted
Basketball 2009-10

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 Observations, notes, etc., on games I've seen during the 2009-10 season . . .

Photo by The Wife

  I ask. I beg. I plead. To all scorekeepers: PLEASE try to make sure that correct info on scoring is called into the Score Service (215-854-4570). Part of my daily routine, especially after full-scale Pub days, has turned into this: answering multiple emails from coaches/players reporting mistakes in boxscores. We are reaching the point of no return. For years I've asked the leagues to make a rule that would force scorekeepers to sit next to each other with the scoreboard operator to one side or the other. It would thus be much easier for the scorekeepers to coordinate fouls/timeouts, not to mention cross-check info on which players actually make the field goals/free throws. Supposedly, that IS now the rule in the Pub, but many refs aren't enforcing it. Please remember, we want the info to be correct and making that happen is only fair to those involved. When the game is over, the scorekeepers should confer and make sure that their point totals for all players match up. Sounds simple, right? (smile) One more thing: Generally, it's better for us when the winning team calls in the results. That way we get info to explain HOW the game was won because representatives of the winning team will usually be in a better mood (just human nature) to provide extra details such as rebounds, assists, etc., or the identity of someone who maybe hit a winning shot. Thank you.

If your name is misspelled on a TEAM PAGE, please speak up. Send an email to silaryt@phillynews.com or leave word on my voicemail at 215-854-5814.

December reports
January reports

(About the legendary Thomas "Hockey Puck" McKenna)

  Hockey has had two dinners at 401 Diner in Conshy before the Donofrio Tournament.
  Both times he ordered waffles and ice cream.
  The first time a new waiter stiffed him and only gave him a waffle and a few scoops of ice cream
  The next night the regular waitress gave him a waffle, way more ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup. You ought to have seen  Hockey's eyes light up.
  Bucks County's Jim Kenny was with us. He said there used to be an ice cream place along Route 1 called Greenwood's that had something called a Pig's Dinner -- tons of ice cream, syrup, whipped cream, etc. Jim said if you finished one they gave you a commemorative button.
  SUDDENLY, Hockey starts howlin' and laughin'. He chimes in, "I loved that place. One night I got 2 buttons."

South Fayette 49, Strawberry Mansion 47
  Almost everyone is into recycling these days, so why not this sports writer? Here we go, with the change of one word:
It was only one shot, but it could have doubled Mansion's loss total for the season . . . That was the start of last night's report on Neumann-Goretti's AAA success over Chartiers Valley. This game, with a 2 o'clock start at the Bryce Jordan Center, also came down to a final shot. The differences this time: It was taken BY the Philly squad and when it missed, that meant the tears cascading down the cheeks of many players would be the agony variety, not joy. After Tyler Henry canned a follow with 0:25 showing, giving SV a 49-47 lead, Mansion called time at 9.7 and made plans to take a sensible shot. A decent look on a trey would have gotten coach Gerald Hendricks' approval, but mostly he wanted to make sure the Knights would at least get to OT. Sr. G-F Saadiq Berry inbounded from a spot across the way from Mansion's bench. The ball hot-potatoed from Berry to sr. PG Marque Griffin to sr. WG Khalil Meadows to Marquette-bound sr. WG Devonte' "DJ" Newbill on the right wing behind the arc. SF sent two defenders at Newbill and only a force-job would have resulted. So, DJ knew he had to pass and the open guy wound up being Meadows, also along the arc. He accepted the feed, scrambled forward a little and launched an uncontested jumper and . . . no good. No deep explanation is needed. It simply did not connect. Several Mansion players, with Newbill the most prominent, and displaying the most emotion, cried hard in the minutes immediately after the game. Watching this stuff is never easy, especially when the team is mostly populated with kids who come off as solid citizens and are always fun to be around. There was some minor acting out by the players and an assistant coach even questioned the referees' integrity. But with Hendricks and Robert Coleman, the D-12 chairman, leading the way, the Knights were guided into acceptable behavior and they hung tough through the medal presentation ceremony. Of course, that was what they were supposed to do. Why did Mansion lose? Poor shooting, for one. The Knights shot just 18-for-53 from the floor. An immature act by Meadows also didn't help. Late in the first half, Meadows was hacked on a drive and wound up drawing a tech for kicking the guy who fouled him. Though Khalil made his two free throws, so did the SF player on the techs. Also harmful was the fact that star soph G-F Khyree Wooten fouled out with 2:41 left when he flashed into the lane and pushed off with his right (off) arm while trying to set himself up for a flip shot. That call was definitely correct. Another crucial one was NOT. And I have a pic to prove it. With 6:00 left, sr. PF-C Jamal Jones made a hard drive along the left baseline and was fouled on what could have been a three-point play; he missed the free throw. At that moment the foul was charged to star guard Patrick Zedreck (No. 2), and that's what the photo shows. It was his fourth personal. Not his fifth. Though he would not have departed, he would have been forced to tone down his aggressiveness at least a little. Somehow, a short time later, the foul was switched to another player (and Hendricks vehemently protested, only to be casually dismissed). Not good! How does that happen? If the wrong player had originally been charged, and they'd ultimately gotten the call right, OK, you can live with that. But to have a RIGHT call switched to WRONG is inexcusable. Mansion did a nice job of scrambling back from a 43-39 deficit on a short jumper by Wooten and a tapin by Jones. It even went ahead, 45-43, on a play featuring the seventh and eighth men as Griffin made a snappy pass to Berry for a layup. Moving ahead slightly, Mansion's last points came on a jumper by Newbill at 0:37 that tied the score at 47-47. And then we had the sequence that left large holes in the Mansion guys' hearts . . . Newbill contributed 15 points, six assists and four rebounds. As in other recent games, he could have been more assertive and I especially kept waiting for him to be stationed along the baselines or even in the low post; I have no doubt he would have succeeded in either spot on his combination of craftiness and hunger. With that being said, I appreciate the fact that Newbill did not go off half-cocked. The last thing the Knights needed was one guy trying to win the game by himself. Jones had 10 points and an amazing 19 rebounds. Alas, he went 0-for-4 at the line. Wooten settled for nine points. Griffin had a nice moment when, after getting clobbered on a trey, he drained all three free throws. There was a VERY strange moment right before the game. Somehow, there was a mixup on Mansion's starting lineup. Sr. F-C Eric Jefferson was introduced as the third starter and did NOT run out into the spotlight. Why? Because he wasn't scheduled to start. Sr. PG Cedrick Powell was. There was a delay of what seemed like at least a minute. Game officials would not budge. "E" started. Unless something REALLY off the wall takes place, this was Hendricks' final game as Mansion's coach. He retired as a teacher last November and stayed around in a second-fiddle capacity as Stan Laws handled the Knights' day-to-day operations. As mostly everyone knows by now, Laws was removed from the bench after getting into a disagreement with the principal, Lois Powell Mondesire, over, of all things, shooting shirts. Mansion later that day lost a playoff game to visiting Franklin and eventually had to win a consolation game over Prep Charter to earn a spot in the state tourney. Laws had been following the Knights ever since, sitting opposite the bench and yelling encouragement along with occasional, ahem, pointers. Strangely, he was not on hand today. "Henny" -- that's what his players always called him -- steps away with a total record of 425-227 (.652), counting this year's 28-2 mark. He was always a gentleman and a great role model for his players and I know I join with everyone around the Pub in wishing him ALL the best . . . In terms of regular games (i.e. -- non-all-star), this wraps up my 35th season of covering city high school basketball (33rd at the Daily News) and 39th in all going back to time at a suburban newspaper chain while still in college. As always, thanks for paying attention. Hope you had as much fun as I did.

Neumann-Goretti 65, Chartiers Valley 63
  It was only one shot, but it could have doubled N-G’s loss total for the season. And sent rivers of tears cascading out of many eyes, those belonging to players and fans and, who knows, maybe even coaches. The Saints wanted desperately to finish with 30 wins and just that one loss and the knowledge that only a 97-96 setback to Yates, of Houston, which finished 34-0, had kept them, perhaps, from being named the nation’s No. 1 team. Let’s face it: There aren’t too many teams with four Division 1 signees in the starting lineup and two more guys among the top seven that will also, barring any shocking developments, wind up with D-1 scholarships down the road. But there the Saints were, playing defense with a two-point lead in the final 13.1 seconds and all of the positive vibrations could have gone poof!!! To be followed by a lifetime of lingering disappointment. Luckily for the South Philly guys, the last shot, a trey launched from the right wing in front of CV’s bench, did not connect. Firing it up was sr. G T.J. McConnell, who merely poured in 32 points (and fired up 32 shots from the floor while doing so). Jr. CG Lamin Fulton started out on him. Then it was sr. WG Mustafaa Jones’ turn. Then sr. WG Tony Chennault took a stab at it. Followed by sr. PG Tyreek Duren. McConnell did miss eight of his first nine shots, but then he caught (mostly) fire. I've been trying to think of someone this kids reminds me of and here’s the name I’ve come up with: SJ Prep frosh Steve Vasturia. Of course, Vasturia is nowhere close to McConnell’s overall class yet, but he has the same kind of athletic tendencies (decent hops, hips that swivel, able to use both hands, dangerous from distance AND on drives) and everyone pictures him becoming a major force. My first question after the game to coach Carl Arrigale was whether he’d considered using a box-and-one on McConnell or even putting two guys just on him. He said he’d never worked on a junk defense all season and would have felt uncomfortable using something unfamiliar to his players in such an important game. Very acceptable answer, especially since N-G survived (smile). After Duren (La Salle) hit the back end of a double bonus at 13.1, Fulton and Chennault doubled McConnell on the inbound play and I thought, “Wow, they ARE going to double him on this last possession?" But after the ball was passed in to someone else, Chennault hung around to exert pressure in the backcourt and McConnell zipped upcourt with Jones in tag-along mode. There were screens and a pass or two, along with some dribbling, and McConnell wound up with the ball. Jones was at least nearby, but Fulton had to help out and he was the one who executed an extended-hand lunge, with his back turned slightly toward McConnell, as the star player fired. Honestly, the drama was not THAT heavy, at least from my angle along press row (across from N-G’s bench). It was obvious early on that the shot would not be long enough. It indeed hit the front – maybe even the bottom part – of the rim and the Saints might have exhibited a hint of jubilation. Just a hint (smile). Despite how tired these guys had to be, there were several way-up-there chest/hip bumps and the cheerleaders went rushing to the middle of the court. So, after zipping to an 18-8 lead, how did N-G find itself in a contest? Bad shot selection was part of the reason. The Saints took too many rushed treys (they finished 6-for-22) and otherwise had some out-of-control moments. I know these guys like to run, and they’re usually great at it, but more of a halfcourt approach, for my money, would have made all kinds of sense since CV had NO depth. The Colts used just six players and the sub was out there for less than a minute. As he mentioned, sr. F-C Danny Stewart (Rider) gladly would have operated, in effect, as a point forward if his teammates had chosen to feed him down low. To beat the double teams, he would have kicked it back out for calm and sensible threes rather than rushed ones. Well, at least it all worked out. Chennault experienced difficulties en route to 18 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Was he a warrior? Oh, yes! Was he overzealous at times? No doubt. He forced things a few times while winding up with seven turnovers and he picked up his third and fourth fouls without getting close to his money’s worth. But he did find a way to stay on the court, and be productive, over the final 3:30 and isn’t that what the great ones do? Stewart shot 6-for-12 and 5-for-6 for 17 points while adding 12 boards and three blocks. Jones (Hartford) was respectable from Threeball Land (4-for-10) while totaling 14 points. He also dealt four assists. Duren, who does his best, destructive work when opponents play man-to-man, was mostly quiet tonight as CV stayed with zone. He made a GIGANTIC steal in the last minute, however, and then followed with two free throws to provide a 63-57 lead. Steve Burda and McConnell nailed treys for CV to offset just one free throw by Fulton and there we were, with the score at 64-63. Duren was fouled immediately and his first shot was too much of a line drive and it skidded off the rim. Uh, oh. Who knows what would have happened if the Saints were still shooting one-and-ones? Instead, this was their first double bonus. Whatever negative thoughts Duren was having, he eased them out of his mind and perfect swished the second shot. Great job! N-G, of course, wanted nothing more than to go the Triple Crown route this year (CL, city, state) after getting the first two last year and then falling to Carroll in a AAA quarterfinal. So now, though it lost out on becoming the first CL team to win a state title, it can claim the distinction of being the first to claim three championships in one season. Well done, guys. (At some point, we’ll set up a State Champ Tribute page as we’ve done for the other squads to earn that distinction. Just not sure when that will be. Please be patient.)

Strawberry Mansion 49, Imhotep 47
  Score one for the regular schools. When it comes to top quality, and especially deep advancement in the state tournament, no matter the level, the charters have been dominating the Pub in recent times. But tonight's winner was Mansion -- in hairy fashion, phew -- and the Knights will be appearing in a Class AA final for the second time in three years. All other teams to make it to finals have been charters (Prep, Imhotep, Freire) and a special-admit (Comm Tech). Mansion used to be a true neighborhood school with almost none of its players qualifying as outsiders. That has changed slightly, and this year's team even includes three recent transfers, including two who weren't even eligible until midway through the season, but let's not hold that against them, OK? (smile) This game, played before a nearly full house in a gym where someone, anyone, has to improve the lighting (grrrrrr!), was a strange bird. Almost never did both teams play well simultaneously. Check out these numbers: Mansion roared to a 17-6 lead. Imhotep stormed back and claimed a 30-25 bulge. Mansion regrouped and surged ahead, 44-35. Imhotep refused to go away and sliced the deficit all the way to one point. And that's where we'll pick things up for those who would like a permanent record of the play by play. Jr. PG Terrell Johnson canned a layup to bring the Panthers within 44-43 with 1:08 left. Mansion sr. G Marque Griffin missed a front end at 54.1 and 'Hotep jr. F Earl Brown rebounded. Jr. WG David Appolon had the ball out front, thinking about to how approach things and killing some clock, when star sr. WG Devonte' "DJ" Newbill -- he missed the Markward Club dinner to play tonight; he was named the Pub's top senior -- flashed into Appolon's space and flicked the ball to soph WG Khyree Wooten, who was fouled at 37.9 and hit both ends of a double bonus. With Newbill on him, Appolon drove for a layup at 24.1, again advancing Imhotep within a point. Wooten took an inside pass from Meadows, got hacked and again converted the double bonus, this time at 17.1. Imhotep could have opted for a trey, of course, but instead Ameen Tanksley, a lefty, took the rock inside and scored on a layup at 5.1. Griffin inbounded and, oops, couldn't get the ball in. A 5-second call almost resulted, but he was able to call for time. Next time out, Meadows was the inbounder. He got it to Newbill, who was chopped at 4.3 DJ then did, for him, the unthinkable. Missed BOTH free throws. Before the second one, coach Gerald Hendricks decided to wave sr. F Eric "Birthday Boy" Jefferson onto the left side of the lane, right next to jr. C Erik Copes. That was risky. Imagine if Jefferson, while going for the ball, had committed an over-the-top violation. Imhotep would have been going to the line with virtually no time having come off the clock. But all worked out. When Newbill did miss that second shot, E-Jeff was able to get his paw on the ball and slap it back out. Griffin recovered, got fouled and hit HIS first at 1.2. He missed the second and the ball came right at me (sitting to the side of Mansion's bench). As did one guy from each team. At full speed! Uh, oh!. I wasn't in the mood to get pummeled. (smile) Luckily, the guys avoided me -- thanks! -- and a bunch of Mansion fans came storming out of the stands right after website legend Frog Carfagno, serving as the PA announcer, told them not to. Geez, kids just don't listen today, do they?! (ha ha ha) Anyway, that's how it all went down during the stretch. DN ink mostly went to Newbill, who was viewed by, among others, Marquette head coach Buzz Williams. This wasn't much of a numbers game, for anyone, but DJ did have 12 points, four assists and five steals. He enjoyed a big sequence to up Mansion's lead from 38-35 to 44-35 -- a regular jumper, another one that followed a vintage cross-over (and excited the fans no end) and maybe a 25-foot, diagonal pass that led to two foul shots for Meadows. Wooten totaled 13 points while sr. PF Jamal Jones had 10. They halved 12 rebounds. Sr. G-F Saadiq Berry had no points, but contributed three rebounds and two apiece of assists/steals. Tanksley and Appolon halved 32 points, with the former dominating the first half (12) and the latter taking over in the second (14). Copes had seven boards and five blocks. Undersized jr. F Tyhiem "Redz" Perrin, with nine boards, again showed why he's such an important cog. The Pub has already produced three state champs at the AA level with Prep Charter in '06 and '07 and Imhotep in '09. Are we looking at four? Well, if Mansion does come through, I think we're looking at five in '11. EVERY member of Imhotep's rotation is a junior. Kudos to tonight's officiating crew of Tim Tirabasso, Kevin "Cat" Compton and Gary Mitchell and they didn't cause one oh-brother moment of muttering. In other words, I barely noticed them and that means they let the kids be the story. Good job, guys.

Neumann-Goretti 81, Eastern York 73
  Sometimes, the toughest decision of the game is the one that comes right after the game. As in, which player deserves the ink? Since all scored in double figures and fared well in other areas, too, a case could have been made for any of the starters. But for my money (not that I have much), the choice was obvious -- sr. WG Mustafaa Jones. Not so much for what he did on offense, though he did hit three treys and make all four of his free throws en route to 13 points. For what he did on defense. 'Staf is 6-foot and weighs about 83 pounds (smile). His assignment was to cover EY co-franchise Andrew Nicholas, who goes 6-6 and could easily pass for a tight end. Though just a junior, the Rutgers-bound lefty has scored 1,800-plus career points (maybe even 1,900?) and one thing is for big-time sure: He is NOT bashful. Again and again, the ball was barely into his hands before it was out again, rimward bound. And not very successfully. Nicholas finished 6-for-20 (3-for-10 on treys) and started the night 1-for-9 (0-for-4), plus his frustration led to a third quarter intentional foul that greatly harmed EY's chances. After being turned by Jones, Nicholas had his shot blocked by sr. C Danny Stewart (Rider). As the ball headed the other way for a fastbreak, ref John Murphy (this was a District 1 crew) blew his whistle and immediately signaled an intentional foul while extending his leg. Yes, Nicholas had tripped/kicked Jones. N-G was already enjoying a good stretch and Jones hit both free throws to make it 53-42. Off the tack-on possession, Stewart flushed down an alley-oop dunk on a pass from sr. PG Tyreek Duren (La Salle), Duren followed with a fastbreak drive for a three-point play (he beat his chest in I'm-a-warrior fashion; at least one EY student rooter right behind that basket gave him the finger) and N-G finished the quarter with a 60-44 bulge. For the story, Jones mentioned his summertime workouts with John Hardnett (all levels of players, even NBAers) and how they feature 3-on-3 drills with one special rule: no defensive switches allowed. 'Staf said those sessions helped him immensely, and it shows . . . As the game wound down, the EY kids were yelling, "Overrated! Overrated!" I guess they expected their team, which entered with a perfect record, to get hammered. Of course, N-G does have way more talent, but Nicholas and jr. G Austin Tillotson (26) form an impressive duo. Amauro had seen EY vs. Dobbins earlier in the state tourney and he said of Tillotson (who's white, by the way), "This kid's a tough nut. He could come to 25th and Diamond and have no problem. In fact, he'd probably jaw with the fans." One thing N-G had almost zero of tonight: Fan support. Reading High's Geigle Complex, one of the coolest gyms ever, holds roughly 3,200. There was an overflow crowd and the N-G people were outnumbered my maybe 100 to one. Of course, not all of the others were rooting for EY; same came to just watch a hoped-for good game. But imagine being 17-18 years old and going into a place where almost no one wants you to play well. The girls' AAAA prelim, in which Ryan triumphed (also with little overall fan support, except for website legend Anthony Magallanes and his posse of maybe 15 students; GREAT job guys and gals -- holla!), featured Red Lion. Many of that school's fans stayed around to support EY. Thanks in large part to Nicholas' two close-together treys, EY did storm within 66-62 with 3:50 left. Just when you were thinking N-G could be headed for Uh-oh-ville, Jones took a pass from jr. CG Lamin Fulton in the left corner, right in front of N-G's bench and buried a threeball. Early in the quarter, N-G missed four free throws and two of those were front ends. Late, it was ding-ding-ding-ding as shot after shot succeeded. There was some funny extracurricular stuff in the late going. An EY adult fan, sitting right behind N-G's bench at the end of a row, was ejected after getting into a verbal situation with some of the Saints' adult rooters. Later, one of those guys yelled over to the EY kids, "The cows are calling! . . . The cows are calling!" (EY gets its name not because it's in the eastern part of York, the city, but because it's in the eastern part of York County, about 10 miles west of Lancaster.) Some of the kids eventually yelled back, "You suck (one of the nicknames for Richard and we don't mean Rich)! You suck (one of the nicknames for Richard and we don't mean Rich)!" That moment of indiscretion was brief. Stewart finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. He scored five of his field goals on alley-oop dunks (with four coming from Duren). Duren, as he always does, thrived when the defense switched from zone to man. Overall he went for 18 points, seven assists and two steals. Fulton had 14 points with the help of two treys and a 6-for-6 late showing at the line. He also had two A's/two S's. Sr. WG Tony Chennault started off in crazed mode, scoring nine points in the first quarter. In part due to a cold streak early in the second quarter, along with foul trouble, he added just five more. He incurred his third personal just 3.6 seconds before halftime when he was whistled for elbowing a defender before the ball was even inbounded. Luckily for N-G, Nicholas got his second with three-10ths left for riding Duren just before he tried a desperation heave. In the second quarter, due to the foul trouble, N-G began spreading the floor, even holding, to some degree. How to approach things was a tough call. Though N-G can be devastating against man, it's not as if zones are problematic thanks to the outside sniping of Jones, Fulton, Chennault and even Duren. Anyway, it all worked out and the Saints are headed to the state final Friday night at Penn State. Are the cheerleaders? (Absent tonight.) Are any of the other students? (Almost none made this trip.) Are many of the team's other supporters? We'll seeeeeeeeeee.

Plymouth-Whitemarsh 54, Roman 46
  The plan was to roll out of Harrisburg High the instant Imhotep-Hughesville ended, barrel down the turnpike and make it to 'Nova in time for the second half of this one. Worked like a charm! Walked in, wiped a few droplets from a Puck verbal attack off my face, heard the buzzer sound and, hey, here we go, second half. P-W entered with a 20-15 lead and when I saw the Colonials come downcourt the first time, the first thought was, "Man, imagine if those guys had stayed at La Salle." As in star sr. C C.J. Aiken, who's bound for Saint Joseph's, and jr. F Jaylen Bond, who's a star everywhere but on the foul line (smile). They transferred after the 2007-08 season. I'm happy for their success, but I wish it had happened in 'Splorerville. Meanwhile . . . How'd you like the foul shooting contest? Pretty exciting, eh? With 3:45 left, P-W owned a 41-27 lead and some people began heading for the exits. Then, just like that, it appeared (well, slightly) they'd be forced to pay a price for trying to beat the traffic. Roman embarked on a rally and stormed within 43-38 at 2:06 as sr. WG Rakeem "Rahk" Brookins converted his second double bonus in 14 seconds shortly after passing to sr. G-F Kevin Regan for a left corner trey. But after Aiken hit the first of two free throws, Brookins could not convert a spinning layup attempt and Roman's hack-hack-hack-some-more approach did not quite pay off (P-W even took Bond off the floor once his foul-line miseries reached 1-for-8). Aiken went 7-for-10 at the line in the last session. As mentioned, I didn't see the first half, but it's hard to believe Roman could not find a way to force Aiken to commit a foul before 4:22 was showing in the third quarter. That HAS to mean his shot-blocking talents are better than ever (or else the Cahillites didn't try hard enough). Twelve of Roman's 15 first half points went to Brookins and he finished with 22 in all, cementing his career total at 1,382 for seventh in Roman history. Sub soph G Daiquan Walker (11) also reached double figures while sr. C Anthony Mayo (nine) and Regan (eight) were the rebounding leaders. Roman was killed by 24 turnovers. P-W's guards were quick of hands AND feet and did an excellent job of stepping into passing lanes and/or executing flat-out strips. Once again, District 12 has come up short in AAAA and once again I'll say this: Philly ball will not receive true respect until one of the highest enrollment schools claims hardware. Or at least gets to a final.

Imhotep 42, Hughesville 37
  Haven't we seen this scenario somewhere before? Ah, yes. In last year's semifinal. That meeting between these teams, won by Imhotep, 53-46, was played at East Pennsboro High, in the Harrisburg suburb of Enola and, as mentioned in my report that night, a school official said the gym held 1,436 and since Imhotep's rooters numbered 27 and the place was PACKED . . . The difference this year? Well, this game was played at Harrisburg High, and in the daytime, so the emotional involvement of Hughesville's faithful, though strong, was not as crazy as in '09. But the fan imbalance was almost identical, so the Panthers are to be applauded, big time, for once again surviving. Thanks to a wrong turn, which added about 45 minutes to the journey (ugh), I arrived only 15 minutes before gametime and coach Andre Noble came over to bust 'em. Not about almost being late. About my choice of shirt color. Dark green. Hughesville's main color. Ooooops. I usually try to avoid wearing the colors of teams I'm covering and I'd completely forgotten about Hughesville's primary color. Sorry 'bout that, troops. At least I didn't jinx the Panthers. By the end of 32 minutes, they were golden. (And I was out the door pretty much immediately. Made it to Villanova for the second half of Roman/Plymouth-Whitemarsh.) Imhotep was fortunate to some degree because Hughesville missed a hefty amount of bunnies. Some were fully blocked or deflected, but most were just flat-out blown. Credit the presence of 6-8 jr. C Erik Copes (George Washington), who did record six blocked shots and logged occasional intimidations. Also working in Imhotep's favor was the fact that Hughesville's only reliable scorer, Brian Gerney, missed his last five shots from the floor with the outcome still in doubt. He was terrific until then, and his 23-point outing (62 percent of his team's points) included four treys. Many Panthers took turns trying to stop him. Though jr. Tyhiem "Redz" Perrin did surrender an easy layup at one juncture, otherwise he appeared to be the most effective defender on Gerney. Jr. WG David Appolon led 'Hotep with 15 points, saving nine for the last quarter. After Appolon converted a one-and-one with 31.6 left, making it 41-34, a win appeared to be a given. But Greg Taggert scored his only points, on a trey, at 23.0 and Hughesville used its last timeout. Appolon couldn't inbound and had to call time. He tried again and -- uh, oh -- a 5-second call was whistled. (Probably could have been the first time, too, honestly). But with an offensive rebound by a teammate in between, Gerney missed threes from up top and then from the right wing. Appolon grabbed this rebound, got hacked and made the back end of a double bonus at 13.7. Perrin posted an it's-all-over steal at 5.9. The Hughesville players aside from Gerney made just six of 33 shots; he was 7-for-19. Appolon added six rebounds and two steals to his performance. Jr. WG Ameen Tanksley, usually a headliner, managed just two points, though he did have nine boards. Copes added eight points and the same number of rebounds to his six rejections. Perrin had seven boards, three dimes. Something else must be mentioned because I imagine it's gong to pop up on message boards around the state. In the last minute, with the gym VERY quiet otherwise after an obvious foul call, a supporter of an Imhotep player, perched behind the bench, bellowed the "ing" version of the F word at HIGH volume while frustratingly delivering instructions, even orders, to the kid. Immediately, almost all of the Hughesville people on that side of the gym, and even others from across the way, looked in the guy's direction while yelling "Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!" As in, that was uncalled for. Along with classless. Noble even turned around to look at the guy with the hint of an evil-eye glance. No wonder. Tonight, I called Andre and mentioned that the incident would be part of this report. He understood. Asked whether he'd like to comment, he said, "That was just unfortunate. You never want anything like that to happen." That instance was the only hint of negativity all game. Meanwhile, for reasons that qualify as an all-time, head-scratching, Only in the Pub moment, league honchos have scheduled the all-star event for Wednesday at Southern. So what does that mean? No one had faith that someone in AA would reach a state semifinal? Or didn't care. Guess what? TWO teams did. Mansion also won and one of Wednesday's semis will be an Imhotep-Mansion battle. At least at this juncture, the all-star event will still take place. Brutal! Imhotep's guys are all underclassmen (only seniors are permitted to play), but Mansion is senior-heavy (the leader is Marquette commit Devonte' "DJ" Newbill) and those guys deserve the chance to play in the less-pressure, please-your-peeps all-star event! I hope the PIAA has a rule stating that leagues can't hold all-star events until all members have completed their seasons. Someone? Anyone? Please speak up. As for Imhotep-Mansion, that might wind up at Ben Franklin. We'll keep you posted . . .

Neumann-Goretti 53, Carroll 38
  Imagine if the final score had wound up as 24-8, Carroll. Say what??!! Well, projecting it out . . . The Patriots led, 6-2, after one quarter. Say what??!! It was obvious from the start that Carroll had no intention of flying up and down the court with the Saints. With sr. DJ Irving (Boston U.) and jr. Juan’ya Green doing yeoman guard work, the Patriots spread the floor and forced N-G to chase. It wasn’t a flat-out stall, just a take-our-time, and it got them through the first quarter in good shape. Thereafter? Not so much. Three things wound up working against Carroll: dropped/bobbled drop-off passes, fatigue for Irving and Green (due to N-G’s more aggressive approach), and tweets. One of the refs called many ticky-tacks and the Pats were victimized the most. I understand why this happens, especially with relative newcomers to playoff games. The refs know they’re being watched by observers and the young guys don’t want to be accused of letting stuff go. The veterans? Hey, they’re more secure. They know how things should be called, ESPECIALLY in a game between teams that are very familiar with each other. The approach should be: Keep the lid on, but holy Christmas let 'em play. Oh, well, live and learn. From the second quarter on, N-G often had two guys near the ball at all times defensively. It was a stellar effort. The Saints really got after it. DN ink went to sr. PG Tyreek Duren (La Salle) and the beginning focused on last year’s AAA quarterfinal, when N-G was stunned by the Pats after besting them 18 consecutive wins. I remembered hearing a story shortly after that game and Tyreek confirmed it tonight during our interview. With an important math test coming up the next day, he’d studied for it en route to Ryan and then had laid a giant-sized egg. His poor performance that night had bothered him ever since. In this one, he posted 10 points, four assists and three steals (and even two blocks) while also performing the ballhandling duties in nearly flawless fashion. This was an interesting outing for sr. WG Tony Chennault (Wake Forest). As noted in the past, sometimes I felt Tony was too concerned about trying to prove to everybody every time out, “Hey, don’t forget! I’m Tony Chennault!” That definitely could have been the case tonight because yesterday he was named the Pa. Player of the Year by Gatorade. He had to know neutral observers would be making judgments on him. How’d he do? Great. Chennault totaled 20 points (10 in last quarter), four rebounds, two assists and five steals while showing good juice and (mostly) common sense throughout. Danny Stewart (Rider) contributed seven points and nine boards. His sophomore brother, Derrick, had five rebounds. These elements can sometimes be overlooked, but N-G collected five key points as sessions wound down. At the end of the second quarter, soph G Billy Shank hit a left-corner trey on a pass from Duren and then, at the end of the third, Duren canned a layup on a pass from Chennault. Soon, Tyreek was "durening" a three on a pass from sr. WG Mustafaa Jones (Hartford) to make it 41-28 with 4:04 left. Ballgame. All season, Carroll has gone through its primary guards. Tonight, Irving (nine) and Green had to settle for 17 combined points. Four of Juan’ya’s came late and DJ had just three beyond halftime (with no shots in the fourth quarter), with Duren covering him then. Sr. F Ben Mingledough stepped up with 17 points and eight rebounds while sr. sixth man Anthony Butler had six boards. Congrats to Carroll and coach Paul Romanczuk on a great season. Basically, the Patriots’ only problem was that they had to face N-G four times. Also congrats to Carroll’s student body, which mustered a good turnout. Widener’s gym was filled to about 80 percent of capacity. I can’t say N-G’s student turnout was THAT great, but there were definitely a lot of adults and even recent grads on hand. N-G’s next game will be Tuesday night (details TBA) vs. unbeaten Eastern York. Frog and sidekick Joe McFadden helped with extra stats tonight while sitting nearby were college head coaches Phil Martelli (Saint Joe's), John Giannini (La Salle) and Monte Ross (Delaware) and assistant R.C. Kehoe (also Delaware; former Roman star). Conversing the most were Phil and R.C. Hmmmmmmmm. Know why? Phil is R.C.'s uncle.

Strawberry Mansion 61, St. Pius X (Pottstown) 54
  First, two thumbs up way up the Mansion folks for caring enough to bring two fans buses to this one. AD Jill Syp, who has already made people forget Charles Sumter (ha ha), said she sold 44 tickets to students and 12 to adults, and that the total didn’t count the newly re-formed cheerleading squad, which made its first appearance of the season. Second, two thumbs way down to whoever messed things up to the extent that the kids/adults didn’t scramble into the gym until one minute remained in the first quarter. C’mon, folks. Do it ALL the way right! The kids deserve it! And I’ll never let up on that issue. Never! As for the game . . . Probably what many expected. A win for Mansion, but not without some consternation caused by Pius’ outside sniping and refusal to fold. This was the last hoops contest in school history because Pius and Kennedy-Kenrick are closing and merging to form a new school in Royersford. I keep forgetting the name. Does it really matter? The new school won’t be in the Catholic League anyway. Boooooo! Smile. Oh, almost forgot. Mansion came somewhat close to coughing this one up because it went 1-for-8 at the line down the stretch. Well, most of the Knights did that. Luckily for coach Gerald Hendricks, franchise guard Devonte’ “DJ” Newbill (Marquette) sank all six of his free throw attempts over the last 1:07 – all off double bonuses – and that perfect performance enabled Mansion to prevail. DN ink went to soph WG Khyree Wooten, a talented guy already with even better possibilities. Don’t be surprised if he becomes the next DJ Newbill (though he’s lefthanded) because the skills and, more importantly, temperament are present. For the moment, understandably, he mostly defers to Newbill, but does show occasional flashes of athleticism and hunger. In one game, he soared twice on the same leap – it was so weird – and tonight he whipped home a follow (not quite a dunk) after reaching back to collect an offensive rebound that almost crazy-caromed away. That play was an eye-popper! Wooten finished with nine points by going 4-for-8 from the floor (one trey) while adding seven rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Newbill was in understated mode. He played well and sensibly, but probably should have been a little more assertive, especially considering the effect his heroics can have on his teammates (and the fans). He took just eight shots from the floor and none in the fourth quarter. Final totals: 15 points and and three assists. As he often is, sr. PF Jamal Jones was a strong early force with eight points in the first quarter. He wound up with 14 and just five rebounds; surprising number, seemed like more, maybe because he’s so authoritative when he grabs each one. Srs. Khalil Meadows (four assists) and Saadiq Berry were responsible for holding the dangerous Andrew Meszaros without a field goal for 22 minutes. He went 6-for-6 at the line to salvage eight points. Ross Reber (18) and Mike Dinnella (13) wound up leading the Winged Lions. Two subs, Spencer Stratton and Jeff Evans, hit important field goals in the first half as Pius hung tough. Reber's trey cut the lead to 57-54. Newbill made his second double-bonus at 46.4 and then Pius missed one, two, three shots before Meadows was able to grab a rebound and get fouled at 27.8. Oops, he missed both free throws. Pius turned it over and Newbill succeeded again at the line. Comfort zone time. Imhotep also won tonight, so two teams remain alive in AA. West Catholic fell. Roman is the only still-kickin’ AAAA squad because Frankford and La Salle were bested. So, five of the 10 D-12 entrants made it through the second round. Not bad. Thanks to Norristown AD Chuck Knowles and sidekick Bobby Davis for their hospitality. Great to see them! Also great to see Mansion’s fans . . . Eventually.

Carroll 64, Danville 51
  Getting burned for backdoor layups is bad, but at least then you’re getting tricked. Surrendering the frontdoor variety is brutal because on those you’re just being lazy. Not all were layups, mind you, but Carroll was burned for 11 consecutive buckets in the first half of this tilt, played in yet another beautiful facility. Oh, and check this. After the 12th shot was missed, Danville (it’s about eight miles southwest of Bloomsburg) got the rebound and scored. Then, after the 14th shot was missed, these dudes AGAIN got the rebound and scored. At halftime, rumor has it, coach Paul Romanczuk gave a high-volume lecture that caused a puddle to form in the middle of the locker room floor. Of paint. Which had turned into liquid as his voice caused it to peel off the walls (smile). The message was received, folks. After making everything and anything in the first half, Danville didn’t post its second field goal of the second half until 5:38 remained. DN ink went to jr. CG Juan’ya Green, and the focus was on how he’ll be – SHOULD be, anyway – a point guard in college. With sr. PG DJ Irving still slightly limited by a broken bone in his (right) shooting hand, Green did a lot of heavy-load ballhandling and fared very well. Put on a Globetrotters-worthy exhibition, actually. Overall, Green went for 21 points, five assists, two steals and five rebounds and he posted two big plays during a run that saw the Patriots spurt to a 50-36 lead. First he drained his third trey of the night, then he used a steal/sweet pass combo to get Irving a layup. (By the way, good thing the run saw the Patriots do something because few fans did. While Danville had a great turnout, Carroll was supported by no more than 40 fans. And that number may be slightly high. Both schools are roughly two hours from Harrisburg, so geography wasn’t a factor. Carroll might even be closer.) Sr. F Ben Mingledough was a productive constant en route to 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Though his hand is still tender – witness that he often caught passes lefthanded – Irving managed 13 points, three steals and five apiece of assists/rebounds. He hit his first shot, a trey, and that was important. Early in the third quarter, there was a good omen. As “Mistletoe” missed a free throw, jr. PF-C Matt Donaldson and a Danville player reached out and up for the rebound. It glanced off someone's hands, probably not Donaldson's, into the basket. (Hard to tell. I was at the opposite end.) Sr. WG Vince Mostardi helped to limit mad-bomber Ryan Reichard (11 points) to 0-for-6 on treys. This kid, though dangerous, was the all-time flop artist. When someone even breathed near him, he hit the deck (smile). I got to the gym roughly an hour ahead of time and Carroll’s players, along with some student fans, were sitting in the stands. I told them they’d taken Puck’s heart last Saturday, when they busted his you-know-whats about picking Hoey Gost Pwep over the Patriots. Puck wailed on Sunday, “I ain’t pickin’ baskball game no moah. Cahwoll guy bitchin’ like cwazy. Ain’t wohf it. I dohn wann people hatin’ me.” So then, he called about 10 o’clock this morning, saying he DID want to post a pick just on Neumann’s game. I was knee-deep in a story for later in the week and told him to call back at noon. He failed to do so. Can the world survive without hoops picks by Puck? It’ll be difficult. Extremely so. It was nice sharing the press table with Chris Vito, of the Delco Times, a DN intern during his days at Temple, and talking before the game with Tom Taylor, who has provided major help for many years with city scoring totals. Tom's records for Pub/Cath guys go back to the 1950 season and include every league game, as well as almost all non-league games in "recent times." Maybe someday it'll all be published. (smile)

(At Norristown)
La Salle 42, Chester 41
  I never cease to be amazed by sporting life's twists and turns. Hopefully, you feel the same way. Not that he'd missed dozens in the interim (just eight), but sr. WG Troy Hockaday had not hit a three-pointer since the early moments of the Explorers' win over North Catholic in a CL quarterfinal. Almost four full games ago (North, Carroll, Bartram, today). And then in this one, with his career just short of two minutes from ending and his team facing a six-point deficit, he took a pass from jr. PG Eddie Mitchell and, bang!!, nailed a three-pointer. Brassy, for one. Clutch, for two. He wasn't finished, for three. Wasn't finished WITH threes, either. After Chester missed two great opportunities to expand its lead, and La Salle couldn't convert a one-and-one opportunity, jr. F Joe Brown canned a layup to draw the Explorers within 40-39 at 0:52. Chester held and, at one point, I looked over to La Salle coach Joe Dempsey and saw him wincing big time. He was agonizing over what to do. Hope for a steal or send the Clippers to the line. At 23.3, Laquan Robinson was fouled and to the line he strolled for a one-and-one. First one, up and good. Second one, up and bad, with the rebound going to La Salle jr. C Steve Collins. Time was called at 15.9. After the game, I heard Dempsey quip as the giddy Explorers entered their locker room, "Just like we drew it up!" Um, not exactly (smile). Option No. 1 was a pass from Mitchell to Brown for a hoped-for layup that would tie the score. In lieu of that, Mitchell would pass the ball to his left and jr. G Michael Poncia would launch a jumper, most likely a trey. Poncia did get the rock, but he also passed. Also to his left. Standing there was the only senior to step on the floor for La Salle today. Mr. Hockaday. He fired. He connected. Ballgame! Not quite. The "problem" with Troy's BIG-time trey was that he'd launched it with 8 seconds remaining and the ball had passed through the net at maybe 5.9 or 5.8. Yes, the early release would have given La Salle a chance for a follow, but now it afforded Chester the opportunity to race downcourt and perform its own "ending" miracle. For the second time in two days at Norristown, where the AD is former C-E FB coach Chuck Knowles, luck was with the CL squad. (Roman beat Souderton yesterday on Kevin Regan's last-eyeblink follow.) Pushing the ball was Jameer Nelson's brother, Maurice. Doing the last-instant launching was Robinson, from the right wing. Three guys were in the vicinity. Hockaday was jumping at him. Poncia, assumedly in try-to-distract-him fashion, was running past. Jumping out toward him, hand raised rafterward, was the 6-8 Collins. No go. Yet one more weekend win for D-12 (10-for-12 total in the four classifications). It stands to reason that Hockaday, in the late going, was the most focused Explorer. He was the only one whose career would have ended. What a nine-day period this kid had. Last Saturday he held Bartram franchise Tyrone Garland to eight points to help give his school the AAAA City Title. And then today he hit two BIG-BOY treys to advance it to the next round in the state tournament. In school tomorrow, maybe everyone should be required to wear braids (smile). Speaking of Chuck Knowles, he proved to be quite the sage. Early in the fourth quarter he sauntered past and mentioned that Chester had made a habit this season of coughing up late leads, and that he'd seen it a couple times himself. Guess what? Chester led, 37-28, with 4:34 left. Know any good lottery numbers, Chuck? The Clippers even led, 38-34, with 2:57 left and Pat McLoone, managing editor of the Daily News (and sniping guard for La Salle in '77), chose that moment to bail! Boooooo! Ha, ha. Just kidding. Pat HAD to leave. He was with two of his sons, Dan and Tom, and the latter had a 5 o'clock game somewhere. Here's hoping Tom won and that someone called/texted Pat after the game with the final score, and description. I couldn't think of his cell phone number. Anyway, this was a VERY strange game. Reason? Chester looked like it belonged in the ol' Catholic North. Owing to their much-lower-than-usual talent level, the Clippers played a halfcourt game and almost never embarked on fastbreaks. If at all. It was amazing. Early, their aggressive man-to-man made La Salle's life difficult. But some foul trouble, especially to Nelson, caused a switch to zone and La Salle became noticeably looser. Mitchell wound up with nine points, five rebounds and two assists. Hockaday (also five rebounds) saved eight of his 13 points for the fourth quarter while Brown contributed 11 points and eight rebounds. Collins missed all five of his shots, but dealt two assists and grabbed THE rebound that needed to be plucked after the late flubbed free throw. Jr. big-'un Brennan Woods had four points and as many boards. Now you'll be rewarded for plowing through this entire report. With a Puck story! I picked him up at the office at 1 o'clock and drove him back downtown, too. Oh, the agony. He was in beyond rare form today. All kinds of goofy/clueless statements. En route, we wound up on the outer lanes of the Ben Franklin Parkway and the St. Patrick's Day Parade was taking place in the inner lanes. Puck's real name, of course, is Tom McKenna. He suggested we make a pit-stop at the parade and I told him, just trying to see where I could take things with website entertainment in mind, "Forget it. You want to get us killed?" He shot back, "Why we get kill?" (Past tenses and plurals are not Puck's strength.) Me: "Because you're wearing an orange sweatshirt." Him: "What wong wit dat?" Me: "That's the main color of Northern Ireland, Puck. Ireland's hated rival. (Figured I'd give it to him in a sports term.) People see that, they're gonna be hissed." Him: "Dey like aahnge? Nohthen Eyelan people?" Me: "Yup." Him: "OK, keep dwivin. Don't stop foh pawade." Later, as we were walking toward Norristown's gym, I told him, "Puck. You REALLY screwed up wearing orange today." Before I could provide the other reason, lo and behold, it hit HIM. "Ohhhh, you wight. Aahnge Chestah main colah. Look like I wootin' foh dem. All dem Wa Salle coach gonna be piss." . . . OK, so much later, after the game, we're heading back downtown on the Schuylkill Expressway and the traffic on the westbound side is VERY heavy. Bumper to bumper. I say to him, "Yo, Puck, look at the other side. All kinds of cars. As far as we can see." So what does he say? "Dat all da people goin' home fwom Eyewish Pawade. We shoulda gone. I coulda left sweatshiht in cah."

(At Carroll AND Wood -- smile)
West Catholic 49, Tri-Valley 32
Only in the Cath. You knew that was coming, right? Ha, ha. Wild and crazy things usually happen at/in games involving Pub teams, but today we had an all-timer on the Catholic League trail. If not for a power failure that occurred with 2:29 remaining in the third quarter, and West on top, 34-17, this tilt would have been eminently forgettable. West isn't bad and Tri-Valley, in comparison, is not too good. If the final 10:29 had played out under normal circumstances at Carroll, you would have remembered this game for about a week. Instead, everyone in attendance will be talking about it years, even decades, from now and there's nothing EVER wrong with that, especially since no one got hurt and no tragedies were involved. This was Saturday the 13th, not Friday, but Carroll's gym was not exactly swimming in good luck. Ducks were swimming nearby, though, because SERIOUS rain was pelting the area and somewhere in the vicinity, for whatever reason, something happened to cause a power failure. At first it was a partial job. Just a few of the lights conked out, but the referees stopped play and maybe 30 seconds later, bingo, darkness. The gym wasn't completely black -- not even close, really -- because windows run the length of Carroll's gym on the side opposite the benches and a decent amount of light was coming through. A decision to just finish the game would not have been the most outrageous one ever made. It COULD have happened. Yet I understood why the refs did not want things to continue. I'll have to wait until Monday's Daily News to get into some of the other ins and outs, but there was a long delay, close to two hours, as assorted honchos decided how to proceed. Let alone the fact that this one needed to be finished and it would have been grossly unfair to expect Tri-Valley, which is roughly 70 miles due west of Allentown in a hamlet called Hegins (not far away is a town called Rough and Ready -- GOTTA love that), to come back tomorrow just for 10:29, especially since it was being doubled up, at 34-17. There was an extra variable. This game was going to be followed by La Salle vs. Chester. Attempts were made to find a site to take the rest of this one and that one. No luck. Ultimately, Wood athletic director Joe Sette, the CL boys' basketball moderator, offered his school's gym and everybody trekked to Warminster for the 7 o'clock resumption/conclusion. Exactly 20 minutes later, that was it. Tri-Valley went quietly, West coach Bill Ludlow substituted liberally and the chilly gym was basically empty by 7:30. On the way back to South Jersey, I encountered two different detours caused by flooding. And there was a puddle as big as a small lake on the Jersey side of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. I got home at 9:35 and I'd left at 11:40. Why so early? For one thing, I thought the game time was at 2. Turned out to be 2:30 (I walked into Carroll's gym at 10 to 1. Talk about having time to kill). A decent chunk passed by swiftly thanks to a great conversation with Carroll's former boys-then-girls' coach, Barry Kirsch. There was also a chance to witness Carroll soph Pat Finnegan, with rebounding help from an assistant coach, take about 500 jumpers, with some free throws mixed in, over a period of time that had to be 45 minutes, if not an hour. Then, fiiiiiinally, the teams came out to warm up. The partners for this one included Huck, Cauls, Bert and Bert's little son, David Jr. Lil Dave spent part of the down time dribbling and then passing the ball to his dad. He dribbled righthanded and passed lefthanded. He'll be a good one! Count on it! Jr. PG Aquil Younger led West with 17 points, two assists and two steals. Sr. WG-SF Vincent Ho scored seven of his 13 points in the first quarter while finishing with five total assists and four steals. Sr. C Tim Carroll posted three blocks. In the second part of the game, Younger started the scoring with a layup at exactly 1:00. Tri-Valley didn't re-hit the scoreboard until 6:21 was showing in the fourth quarter. At Wood, Tri-Valley's coach expressed displeasure to Sette that Carroll had even been used as a site for a state playoff. The reason? As those who've been there know, part of a ventilation/heating contraption is right above the entry corner of the gym. In the third quarter, a T-V guy moonballed a trey from there and, clang, it hit against the metal. Turnover. Meanwhile, guess who did NOT make the trip to Wood. Huck!!!! He bailed. Did not tough it out! Sold out his beloved Burrs! Ha, ha, ha. Ah, it's OK. He's forgiven. He's getting married later this month and he had night plans. Meanwhile, Pucklehead showed up at Carroll during the delay and of course bounced from locale to locale to babble and drive people crazy. Then, somehow, he bummed a ride with La Salle's coaches to HersheyPark Arena to watch the Hempfield-Nazareth 7:30 game. Kevin "Sparky" Cooney, a back-in-the-day website legend now a bright light at the Bucks County Courier Times, offered to bring Puck back home to the Far Northeast after writing about Pennsbury-Wilson. But first Goofball wanted to see yet another game in that venue, Reading-Hazleton and Sparky agreed to stay. Finally it was time to leave and Sparky needed dinner. As did Puck. Sparky reported all this via cell phone. "He actually bought my dinner," he said. "Well, he gave me money for the combined bill. Puck had a pizza steak and fries. I've never seen someone put so much salt on french fries." A short while later, Sparky called back again. "Update," he said. "Puck said he tried to get into Carroll via a side door. Some players were there and they wouldn't let him in because he'd picked Holy Ghost. They were imitating him. 'Go to Hoey Gwost. Dey you fwiends.' . . . Oh, and we just had a conversation about Daylight Savings Time. Puck swears we'll be gaining an hour's sleep. I told him, 'Puck, the clock is going forward. Less sleep.' He goes, 'Yeah, goin' fohwahd. Dat mean you get one moah houh of sweep.' He just can't grasp the concept." Not of DST. But definitely of high-quality entertainment (smile).

(At Southern)
Math/Civics/Sciences 62, MMI 32
  This was a slicing and dicing, folks. When this game began, I was holed up in the office of Southern coach George Anderson, writing the DN story about Dobbins and Basir Fulmore as Amauro (shooting) and Duck (other stats) handled the particulars. That office is right behind the home bench and, though the door was closed, I could hear noise from the game and especially the chirping of the PA announcer. Along the way it was hitting me: He's saying almost NO MMI names. Reason: Almost no Preppers were scoring. The first quarter ended 18-4 and the rout was on. DN ink could have gone to anybody, but I decided to relay the interesting story concerning jr. CG Chris Stokes, who began this season playing for Prep Charter. He had five steals and keyed the early dominance. Coach Danny Jackson substituted with a heart, so no one rang up big numbers. Jr. WG Thomas Moore (three treys) had 11 points while 10 apiece went to sr. PF-C Andre Thomas, sr. PG Kwahmere Gredic and jr. WG Nigel Caldwell. The best moment for the subs was posted by jr. PF-C Muhammad Amin, who got the ball maybe 18 feet from the basket, up top, and drove in for a dunk. Whoa! Where'd that come from? Ha, ha, ha. I told Muhammad, "Yo, next time you dunk, do it at the end where I'm taking pictures." We'll see if he listens (smile). In case you're wondering, MMI stands for Mining and Mechanical Institute. The school, about 15 miles south of Wilkes-Barre, in Freeland, began in the late 1800s and this name dates to 1888. Here's hoping none of today's students -- this is now a private prep school -- have to spend part of their day in coal mines. These guys played hard, but, phew, were they small and young looking. I read somewhere that the 2008-09 squad featured an all-senior starting lineup, so it looks as if this group overachieved. Meanwhile, Constitution, the A runnerup, fell to Girard College. In today's paper I'd written about the Generals' bus miseries while returning home from the play-in game Tuesday night. With that in mind, here's an email coach Rob Moore sent FROM the bus en route to tonight's game: "The bus windows won't go up. It's freezing and rain is coming in the bus . . . " It never ends, folks. Never comes CLOSE to ending.

(At Southern)
Dobbins 57, Springfield Delco 52
  Getting doubled up is nothing when the score is, say, 8-4 or maybe 14-7. When it’s 26-13 and the team is front has drained seven of 10 attempts from behind the golden arches – oops, I mean the arc; I’m jonesin’ for a cheeseburger – that’s cause for concern. Not to fear, though, troops because Dobbins rallied nicely and made its first state playoff appearance a winning one. Frosh G Marquell Tate provided head-into-halftime momentum by banking home a 30-foot trey to barely beat the buzzer and draw the Mustangs within 32-22. Still a 10-point deficit, of course, but that’s much preferred over a 13-pointer. Coach William Johnson made two key adjustments during the intermission. He decided to stick jr. franchise big man Jerrell Wright mostly at the high post, as opposed to the low post or along the near baseline. Springfield had done a tremendous job of minimizing Wright’s effectiveness in the first half by fronting him in a zone and daring the other Mustangs to lob entry passes up, over and beyond. They rarely bothered and Wright didn’t post his first field goal (on just his second attempt) until 3:34 remained in the second quarter. Not a recipe for success. Up top, Wright had breathing room and worked in harmonious fashion with jr. G Basir Fulmore, who doesn’t like it when I say he also plays forward (ha ha) and played a pretty mean PG. Following his own miss, Wright scored his fifth and sixth points of the third quarter, all inside three minutes, and Dobbins was within 34-31. Ballgame! Not as in over. As in we now had one. And then we REALLY had one when jr. G Fred Jones (also three assists) buried a right corner trey on a pass from Fulmore to make it 34-34. I know his tricky-dick effectiveness is important on the wings and/or baseline, but I like Fulmore at the point. Though he’s not a classic point guard, he does have good court sense and he’s tough to cover and the fact that he often must be doubled creates opportunities for Wright. Fulmore finished with 11 points, five assists and DN ink. Up to the point of our interview, the gifts for his 17th birthday had included the win and cupcakes at school. Wright wound up collecting 20 points while shooting 9-for-12 from the floor and 2-for-6 at the line. After missing his first four free throws, he toughed out a two-straight visit down the stretch. Nice. He also had eight rebounds and three assists. Soph G-F Walter Lawrence, whose input lately had been limited, got another chance tonight and fared very well. His 10-point outing (no playing time until the third quarter) included a crucial trey and 3-for-4 at the line in the waning moments. Also, it was encouraging to see sr. G Ermon “Chops” McMillan, sometimes an afterthought this season, make some key contributions. Back to Fulmore: He also played determined defense during the final few possessions on Springfield star Adam Washington, who’d just rained down a pair of treys – one from the top of the key, left, and the next from the top of the key, right – to fuel the Cougars’ late, we’re-still-IN-this rush. Despite its early marksmanship, S-D went just 2-for-13 from beyond the arc in the second half. It was nice to have a pre-game chat with coach Kevin McCormick, who formerly played and coached at Bonner, and to witness the gritty ways (no surprise) of sr. F-C Wally Rutecki, whose father, also named Wally, was a multi-sport star at Bonner. Back in the early days of this website, I’m pretty sure I took some pics of Wally and brothers/cousins serving as ballboys at Bonner football games. I didn’t spot Wally Sr. across the way tonight. He’s now a prominent college hoops ref, so if he wasn’t in attendance, he was probably tweeting a tourney game somewhere. All the best, Wally. We miss you on the city scene. All three D-12 AAA teams are still alive. N-G and Carroll also triumphed tonight. Niiiiiiiiiice.

Devon Prep 57, Franklin 39
  Hard to believe, I realize, but every so often I’m dead-on correct about something. Tonight would have been a good time to be wrong, though. As the teams prepared for the second half, I mentioned to Amauro and/or E&S coach Charlie Brown and/or E&S assistant Rich “Yankee Doodle” Yankowitz (I forget who was standing nearby at the time) that I could picture “the Devon Prep kid hitting five threes in a row.” Gulp. He then did exactly that in the third quarter after hitting one to conclude the first half. What an amazing contrast. Sr. G Jeff Hughes missed his first NINE shots from the floor, with six trey attempts included, then HIT his next nine, with six makes of treys included. Since he also went 8-for-9 at the line, he finished with 32 points and he wrecked his all-time streaky night by missing his final shot from the floor, a layup attempt with 1:40 left. No one takes that many shots from behind the arc unless he’s supremely confident and when Hughes hit that one to close out the half, I just had the feeling he’d keep it rollin’. He hit most of them from dead out front and, honestly, the Electrons did not exactly make his life difficult. He often had more than enough breathing room. When they finally did try to be right in his face, he used respectable ballhandling skills to maneuver his way to the hoop for layups. One was an and-one. Hughes’ sniping helped DP win the third quarter, 21-10, and that expanded the lead to 41-26. Ballgame. Pretty much. Aside from Hughes, Franklin was done in by foul trouble. The top two players, sr. Gs Kenny Bey-Brown and Jeff Giddings (DN ink), incurred two early personal fouls apiece and coach Larry Gainey opted to sit them. They were understandably tentative later and Bey-Brown picked up his third and fourth only a few seconds apart early in the fourth quarter. Giddings got HIS fourth just 22 seconds later, with 5:24 left, and he was gone by the 3:36 mark. Giddings had 10 points, four rebounds and two apiece of assists/steals. B-B settled for five points. Neither one scored in the first half. Jr. Shaquil Taylor had a team-high six boards. Due to its amazing lack of size (and girth, for that matter), Franklin deserves major credit for doing so well this season and ESPECIALLY for pulling off that all-time shocker AT Mansion in the playoffs. One last point: Why in the world was this game played at Future? I know what the D-12 people will say. It’s a nice gym, which it is, and they wanted to have a doubleheader featuring a girls’ game as well. (E&S’ gals played first.) Well, guess what. It was unfair to Franklin. There were 11 play-in games around the state tonight in the four classifications. At least eight were played in the gym of the higher seed, and maybe nine were. If the D-12 folks want their teams to advance, they shouldn’t deny them an earned advantage. Gainey said that playing AT Franklin was never mentioned to him as a possible option. The best part of the night: exchanging a quick hello with Dawn Staley. The Dawnster, an all-timer at Dobbins, Virginia, WNBA, Olympics, etc., and now the coach at South Carolina (following a stint at Temple), was in town to check out E&S franchise Brittany Hrynko.

La Salle 42, Bartram 40
  Talk about a drought. The Explorers had not won a basketball CT since 1950! Well, the years from 1981 through 2008 don't count because no CTs were available (long story . . . short version: the CL pulled out of the multi-sport series because it refused to be forced into playing girls' games; funny how things change, eh?). So, how'd THIS one get captured. Wasn't easy, peeps. La Salle trailed by 24-13 in the second quarter, but a nice late rush, fueled in part by treys from jr. WG Michael Poncia, made the halftime deficit just 26-24. Then it was time for US to scramble. By us I mean the Daily News/website crew. I walked into Lincoln's gym about halfway through the first quarter after staying at Northeast for the entire Imhotep-West Catholic AA City Title. And when I looked under the basket at the east end, ugh, talk about a sinking feeling. Amauro was nowhere to be seen. He was going to handle the game, and recruit some help, if necessary, for full-boxscore purposes and then I was going to concentrate, upon arrival, on website photos and play-by-play. But Amauro was late -- came in right after me -- due to a minor issue (his, um, digestive system was acting up; phew do I know THAT feeling sometimes -- smile) and we had to catch up on first quarter stats we'd missed. Luckily, assistant Bill Donohoe and manager Pat Looby brought us up to stat speed on La Salle, but Bartram -- uh, oh -- had no one keeping stats. I guess we could have looked at the game tape later, but riding to the rescue was Dave "Not the Ex-Flyer" Schultz, who attends lots of games and always keeps stats and often winds up driving The Puckster from gym to gym (anyone out there know the process for getting someone declared a saint? smile). Amauro and Dave matched stats wits and we were all caught up. Yeah, baby! Thanks to Bill, Pat and Dave, and on to the final 16 minutes! The biggest development was the fact that Bartram's franchise guard, Tyrone Garland (Va. Tech), went scoreless during that span. That might have been a lifetime first for this scoring machine. He went 0-for-6 from the floor and even missed two front ends and his body language changed greatly after he hit was hit with a tech late in the first quarter for growling over a no-call that followed contact on a drive. Garland had hit two early treys. He missed his last nine shots from the floor and settled for eight points. He'll now need 23 in Bartram's first-round state playoff to surpass Wilt Chamberlain (2,206) for the No. 2 spot on the city's career scoring list behind Maureece Rice (2,681). It was sr. WG Troy Hockaday who blanketed Garland in a box-and-one over the last three quarters and who was also in the neighborhood when Ty missed a trey with 0:06 left that would have provided Bartram a 43-41 lead. After grabbing the rebound at 1.1, jr. F Joe Brown strolled to the other end and hit the front end of a one-and-one to make it 42-40. He then missed the second on purpose -- well, let's assume he did; that was the smart play -- so the rebounder would have to do a catch-and-wheel, fullcourt heave with NO time to spare. That guy was Garland. No drama. Hockaday did more than play D. He also scored 15 points and someday, maybe while watching Ty on TV, Troy will be able to brag to his buddies about the day he almost doubled such a legendary player's scoring output. With classmate Brennan "Big'-Un" Woods nursing a tweaked ankle, jr. F-C Steve Collins got a start and responded with 12 points and four rebounds. Check this out: HE shot the free throws after Garland's tech. Brown had six points, nine boards, two assists. Bartram was missing two starters -- sr. WG Zaahir Allen, who has basically done a disconnect since the Pub final, and jr. PF-C Dijon Wright, who experienced some kind of recent problem at the Bartram annex he attends. He might be back. Coach James Brown said Allen won't be. That could change, of course. One shoulda-been-prominent Pub player was on and off his team three times this season before disappearing for good. Sr. F-C Devin Moore scored just two points, but had nine boards and four blocks. Football player Darrell Lane, also a sr., had 10 boards and shot 4-for-5 for nine points. Jr. G Darrell Robinson added nine points and two steals while sr. WG Quasim Jones scored 12 points. By the way, the star of that 1950 La Salle team was Tom Gola, who went on to national fame at La Salle College and served a long, high-quality stretch in the NBA. He grew up in Olney, literally around the corner from where our DN managing editor, Pat McLoone, was raised a generation later. Pat was a zone-busting guard for La Salle High in '77, and his teammates included Lansdale Catholic coach Bernie Fitzgerald and Siena coach Fran "White Magic" McCaffery. Meanwhile, here's a mini-profile I did for the DN in 2002 on Tom Gola. It focuses on his early hoops years. Thought you might like it.

  Tom Gola, a 1951 La Salle High graduate, is considered one of the greatest scholastic basketball players in Philadelphia history. He then went on to stardom at then-La Salle College and in the NBA. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975. Here's a deeper look at this legend's early days.
  He grew up living at 5110 N. 3rd St., near Lindley, and attended Incarnation School, 4th and Lindley. He was a fifth grader when he began playing basketball.
  "I was an altar boy. One day one of the priests, Father Joseph Belz, took all the altar boys to the gym and had us shoot baskets. I kind of liked it. I went out in my back yard and nailed a peach basket to a post. I started out shooting a beach ball into it. "
  When Gola was an eighth grader, "Inky" lost to St. Athanasius for the championship of La Salle's grammar school tournament and later beat that same foe in the citywide tournament.
  "La Salle offered me and two other guys a scholarship. That was when the high school is where the college still is, at 20th and Olney. I made it through [academically]. The other guys bombed out. Sometimes I'd walk up there or ride my bicycle. Or else I'd take the 47 and 26, or the J bus. La Salle was private. Otherwise I'd have been at North Catholic. [Cardinal Dougherty did not yet exist.] I don't think North even knew I was supposed to go there. They had so many kids anyway. They didn't need me. "
  Wilt Chamberlain always said that Gola, four years ahead of him in school, was a hero to him. Who was Gola's hero?
  "Our coach at Incarnation, Lefty Huber, used to take us to see the 1947 Philadelphia Warriors. That was the start of the NBA. They were the first champions. Joe Fulks, Howie Dallmar, Ed Sadowski, Angelo Musi and George Senesky. That was the starting five. I patterned myself after Howie Dallmar. He had what they called a 'glider shot. ' He'd come right down the lane and jump for an underhand layup. "
  In 1950, with Gola the only junior in the eight-man rotation, La Salle won the Catholic League and city titles. Its only loss came in a postseason tournament. He averaged a record 18.9 points in league play.
  "When you win a city championship, that's the best you can do. That was a lot of fun. "
  In 1951, the Explorers lost to St. Thomas More (closed in 1975) in a semifinal. Gola averaged 25.7 points.
  "We just couldn't hack it that year. That was disappointing. "
  One of Gola's more vivid high school memories is off the wall.
  "When I was a freshman at La Salle High, I was still playing for Incarnation [CYO team consisting of high school kids]. One day Lefty came in and said we were going to scrimmage North's JV. So we went down there and we were really kicking their butt. [Varsity coach] Phil Looby walks in. He sees what's going on and he sits down and starts to coach. We still kicked their butt. We go back to the locker room and Father 'Knobby' [Thomas Walsh, director of discipline] walks in. He asks Lefty, 'What school do you kids go to? ' Lefty tells him, 'Tom here goes to La Salle. The rest of them go to North. ' Father Knobby says, 'They go here?! Why didn't they go out for the team? ' One of the kids says, 'We did. We were all cut' . . . That was the problem back then. There were so many kids at tryouts, if you went in and missed your first layup, you were gone. There was one Incarnation kid on that North JV team. He got cut from our team."

Imhotep 51, West Catholic 42
  This game should have started at 3 a.m., instead of 3 p.m., and cots should have been sprinkled around the gym for those unable to avoid falling asleep. And that would have been MANY. Imhotep was coming off a short, emotional stretch that produced a second consecutive Pub title. West hadn't played since losing to Wood on Feb. 17 in a first-round CL playoff. Can you say hard to get motivated? Luckily, the game wasn't a complete snoozeathon and had some decent moments in the second half as the Burrs spent some time in the threatening-to-pull-an-upset zone. Imhotep is ever amazing. It won this despite getting a total of just nine points from its top-dog scorers, jr. WGs David Appolon (six) and Ameen Tanksley (three). Jr. C Erik Copes, who often has to beg for the ball, and still doesn't get it, scored eight quick points on -- I was ready to faint (smile) -- designed force-feed plays. Alas, he hardly touched it thereafter and finished 6-for-6 for 12 points with two dunks (and two others lost to violations). Jr. SF Tyhiem "Redz" Perrin once again splendidly filled his little-things role with perfect shooting -- 10 points on 3-for-3, 4-for-4 -- and six rebounds. Jr. CG Bakari White, the sixth man, spent his afternoon chasing around star jr. G Aquil Younger. It wasn't easy. Younger scored more than half of West's points, notching 22 with the help of five treys, but he missed his final three longball attempts while White was hitting two of the crucial variety. The first made it 41-32. The next made it 46-36 and both came on passes from Appolon. Younger's pass for a layup by sr. F Kiwan Murray drew West within 47-40 at 1:08, so there was still a hint of hope. White again helped to put Imhotep in the black, nailing two free throws at 0:32 for a see-ya-later, 51-42 lead. Nah, I didn't leave then. But as soon as the final buzzer sounded, zoom, I speed-walked out of Northeast's gym and headed over to Lincoln for the AAAA final featuring La Salle and Bartram. There was one major absentee today: The Huckster! He and the wonderful Shannon are getting hitched later this month and today was his bachelor party. Tame variety, by the way. "Just hanging out with my boys all day," Huck had said. He couldn't resist sending text messages every so often to football coach/AD Brian Fluck to see what was happening. Balancing out Huck's absence was the presence of ex-Burr FB star Curtis Drake, now blossoming (and ready to explode again, no doubt) at Penn State. It'll soon be time for spring practice. Curt must think it's springtime already. When he came over to say hello to Fluck and Mary DeMasi, West's assistant AD and do-everything-possible-for-the-school person, he was wearing a sleeveless white T-shirt. No wonder he resisted having his picture taken (smile) with FB Juan Rozier ('09) and d-back Ray "Cholly" Manuel ('10), who were part of his walk-around-at-halftime posse.

Neumann-Goretti 75, Dobbins 44
  The more things change, the more they don’t. N-G had to enter this one without star sr. WG Tony Chennault, due to his double-tech ejection from the CL title win over Carroll, but still triumphed by almost the exact same margin it had averaged while going 19-0 in regular season games and playoffs. The average score then was 86-56. This was lower, of course, but coach Carl Arrigale downshifted his squad over the final 3 1/2 minutes. Dobbins had its own missing link in soph PG Courtland Gilliam (team matter). Gilliam is not yet a prominent player, but he does bring aggressiveness and feistiness to the court and in the second half, especially, the Mustangs had major problems taking care of the ball and getting into their offense. DN ink went to jr. CG Lamin Fulton, who lit up Lincoln’s new gym, not that it needed to be lit up (VERY bright; I love it!), for 25 points and four steals. Fulton, who already boasts decent strength, can really power up into his jumpshot and he showed classic form on three in a row quite early. Bang, bang, bang. Each was launched from behind the arc and the trey trio helped N-G zoom from a 10-10 tie to a 23-14 lead. The outburst, off a timeout, had started with a dunk by sr. PF-C Danny Stewart (Rider) off an alley-oop feed from sr. PG Tyreek Duren (La Salle). Once the Saints got motivated, and rolling, there was little Dobbins could do. The talent gap was waaaaaaay too wide, along with the experience-in-big-games factor, and the Mustangs also suffered the downer of having their usually reliable No. 2 scorer, jr. WG-SF Basir Fulmore, largely limited by foul trouble. Duren, who’s as enjoyable to watch as any player in the city, had 19 points, eight assists and six steals. Stewart was also a house afire with 14 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks and five steals. Sr. WG Mustafaa Jones (Hartford) had six boards, three assists and five steals to offset the fact he went an ouchy 1-for-13 from the floor. Tonight’s fifth starter was soph F Derrick Stewart, Danny’s brother. He had seven rebounds and, more impressively, drained two treys. Soph G Billy "Meadowlark" Shank came off the bench to contribute four assists, five steals. In the first half, jr. C Jerrell Wright, who continues to generate non-stop attention from La Salle and Temple, appeared destined to challenge the city’s all-time postseason record for points in a game – 40, by some guy named Wilt. Wright owned 20 at halftime, having shot 9-for-15 from the floor with two dunks. The lefty big-'un experienced some tiredness in the second half, along no doubt with frustration. He added just three more points, but did finish with 15 total rebounds. Helping This Old Guy with stats was budding website legend Amos Leak. He did a masterful job with rebounds, assists, steals and blocks while I concentrated on the usual, shots and turnovers (and occasional play-by-play notes). Amos then was able to fax the full box to the office thanks to the help of Lincoln’s FB-hoops coach/new AD Ed McGettigan. Thanks, guys! I’m pretty sure Lincoln’s gym is the brightest I’ve ever set foot in. It’s amazing! Maybe it’s because the walls are painted white? (In addition to quality lighting, of course.) I’d been here at the very beginning of the season for a game between Lincoln and Mastbaum. That one had revealed a MAJOR problem. The gym basically runs east-west and there are large, elevated windows that run the length of the gym on the south side. Know what that means in the afternoon? Yup, the sun comes POURING in. If you’re shooting a jumper from the northeast corner, forget it, you need 58 pair of sunglasses to keep your eyeballs from getting scorched. Plans are now being made to frost/tint those windows. Can’t happen soon enough. Lincoln will also be the site, 5 o’clock Saturday, for the Bartram-La Salle AAAA City Title tilt. The sun will be out of harm’s way by then. I hope to make it there in time after catching the 3 o’clock Imhotep-West Catholic AA City Title at not-too-far-away Northeast. If the game’s about to start and you don’t see me yet, do me a favor, OK? Spill some water on the court, or pretend to faint, or start babbling incoherently. Something, anything, to delay the proceedings. Oh, and save me a seat. Bartram’s Tyrone "Braidheart" Garland (Virginia Tech) is an attraction and La Salle has a very good following. I’m sensing this crowd could tax the building’s capacity (1,500), though a 5 o’clock start on a Saturday night is weird and could mess things up. We’ll see . . .

Roman 53, Frankford 50
  There IS a basketball god. After a disappointing Pub final, I asked for appealing consolations and state playoffs and, so far, someone is listening. This one, played at Ryan like Carroll-Gratz last night, was VERY entertaining and came down to a final shot. Can’t beat that, right? The teams went after each other with multiple teeth and nails and the tempo was usually fast, even though the score doesn’t reflect that. Guess we have to blame the missed shots and turnovers. DN ink went to sr. SF Kevin Regan, who’s bound for West Chester to play OLB and might double his sporting fun with hoops; TBA. Win or lose, this would not have been Roman’s final game of 2009-10 (or even his career), but he certainly played like it. Regan snatched a career-high 17 rebounds while also totaling 18 points. Two of them were clutch, too. After grabbing a defensive rebound at 9.6, and after missing two free throws earlier in the quarter, Kevin went ghe big-boy route at the line, hitting two free throws to provide a three-point lead and a hint of comfort. Roman could only be tied by Frankford’s ensuing possession, not daggered through the heart as Prep’s Joe Nardi had done to it in a CL quarterfinal 12 days earlier. Frankford sr. PG Dehaven Brown tried his best, though. Maybe too much, actually. Covered by soph G Montana Mayfield, Brown wound up taking a straight-on trey. As he lifted into the shot, however, Brown seemed mostly intent on trying to force contact. It was if he was thinking, “Even if I don’t make this, maybe I’ll get to the line for three shots.” Or maybe this: “Maybe I can make this AND get fouled and win it with a four-point play.” No luck, either way. For the second straight night at Ryan, we almost had a late-game reversal. Mayfield’s drive with 5:07 left made it 43-32, but Frankford kept rockin’ and rollin’ and used stepped-up intensity on traps to force key turnovers. Sr. F Terrell Clark was terrific throughout the second half, scoring 15 of his 18 points, and he hit his last four shots for eight. But it was sr. G Rodney Walters who was given the opportunity to make the big play, and he had no trouble doing so. Beginning on wing, Walters angled toward the middle and zoomed straight down the lane for a driving layup. Tweet. With a foul tacked on. Walters is ordinarily a tremendous foul shooter, but he missed this one and Roman remained on top, at 51-50. The aforementioned sequence involving Regan’s rebound and two free throws followed. Then Brown’s non-success on the late trey. Sr. WG Rakeem “Rahk” Brookins, bound for Tulane, looked extremely comfortable in the non-CL tempo. VERY fast, I’m talking. He scored “just” 14 points, though, and almost ALL of his missed jumpers hit the far side of the rim. Nervous energy? A little bit of rust with the 12-day gap? One thing I noticed. His jumpers did not quite have their usual perfect arc. Oh, well. There’s time to regroup before Wednesday’s first-round game. Soph G Daiquan Walker had a strong outing with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the floor (two treys). Roman jumped to a 7-0 lead and folks had to be thinking, “Uh, oh.” But then Frankford scurried for the next seven points and all was OK again. As Amauro pointed out, sr. F Carl Wallace accumulated four steals and two assists just in Frankford’s seven-point run! He wound up with nine total points. Clark added 11 boards to his points. Sr. SF Karon Blackman had four steals in the third quarter while Walters managed three dimes in the second half. The Pioneers really had to, um, Poole their resources. Steffon is out with an ankle injury and his first cousin, Darryl, has decided to leave the team. Both teams could create state playoff noise. My interview with Kevin Regan was semi-rushed. Reason? There was flooding in that part of the building. A pipe burst in a third floor bathroom and the water cascaded all the way down to the first floor. The gym was unaffected, but I noticed puddles on the floor, and drops semi-pouring out of the low ceiling, while heading through the locker room on the way to the parking lot. Rumor had it school would be closed Friday.

Carroll 48, Gratz 43
  They say 13 is an unlucky number. Not sure about that, but it’s certainly a prominent number in the context of monumental city basketball shockers. In the 1968 Catholic League final, O’Hara stormed to the final 13 points of regulation over 2 minutes, 18 seconds, and went on to defeat Judge, 53-52, in OT. In a ’97 Pub round-of-16 playoff, West Philly trailed Franklin by 13 points, 73-60, with 1:27 left. It won, 78-76, AT Franklin, as 5-8 soph Donnel Feaster set PL and city postseason records with seven threes (in 12 attempts), scored half of his 38 points in the final quarter and dribbled the length of the court to flip in a 7-footer with 0:03 left. And now we have this one, played at Ryan to determine the third AAA seed (loser go home) in the upcoming state playoffs. True, Carroll did not overcome a late 13-point deficit, but it did trail by eight, 43-35, with 1:29 showing, and it did reel off – yup, you got it – the final 13 points. Incredible. I was part of a Froggy sandwich tonight. To my right was The Real Frog, website legend Mark “Frog” Carfagno. To my left was The Temporary Frog, website legend Amauro “Amar” Austin, who’s battling a cold and for the moment speaks with a scratchy voice. By late in the game, Frog had gone over to hang out with ref all-timer Tom McClain (Frog’s a Pub ref, too) and with the score at 43-35, I turned to Amar and said, “If Gratz guards against threes, they should be OK.” He agreed and, bang, an instant later jr. WG Juan’ya Green began the stormback by hitting a trey on a pass from sr. WG Vince Mostardi. Here’s what happened from there, for those who are into keeping things around for posterity’s sake: Gratz missed a one-and-one and Carroll soph PF-C Pat Finnegan, the DN inkman, rebounded; Green converted a one-and-one; Green stole the inbound pass, missed a layup, got fouled on the follow and hit one of two, then the rebound went over the baseline with possession to Carroll; Green inbounded to frosh G Yosef Yacob, who buried another trey; a Gratz player missed a layup; Green hit two more free throws; a Gratz player missed an off-balance from the corner; Finnegan rebounded, got fouled and hit one of two free throws; a Gratz player tried to make a move along the left baseline and dribbled the ball off his foot out of bounds; Finnegan hit one of two free throws again to complete the scoring. Wow!!! Just like that, the defending state champs went from the doorstep of collecting uniforms to having a shot at repeating! What a memorable victory. Even without extenuating circumstances, that would have been the case. But there were these: two of Carroll’s three best players were unavailable. Sr. PG DJ Irving (Boston U.) had broken his hand in the CL semis. Sr. G-F Ben Mingledough had been ejected from the title game and by PIAA rule was not even allowed in the building. That left an anvil on Green’s shoulders and for a long while he struggled with the responsibility. He missed 15 of his first 19 shots (MANY were rejected at the end of the penetration; definitely got fouled on some of them, too) and even, at times, appeared disinterested/frustrated. That was surprising because his competitive spirit is usually highly noticeable. But in the fourth quarter, especially as the tide started to change, he was again warrior-like and, as outlined above, made lots of big plays down the stretch. He wound up logging 24 points, five rebounds, four assists and three apiece of steals/blocks. Finnegan, the sixth man, had eight points and a whopping 11 rebounds. We say “whopping” because he had played quite sporadically this season and had never gotten off the bench in six-seven games. He banged hard with Gratz bully Antoine “Ness” Bland, the city’s most physical player, and is to be commended. Sr. F Anthony Butler had eight boards. Bland finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, two blocks. Sr. WG Tyree Smith, always a slow starter, saved all 12 of his points for the second half. He also had eight boards, three feeds, four thefts, two rejections. Damion McBride managed four blocks. Joe “Haystacks” Hearon was on hand, and filed a report, and so was La Salle University frosh Phil Consalvo, a website contributor while at Ryan, who brought excitement as the PA announcer. At halftime, however, he showed that his jumper needs LOTS of work (smile).

Straw. Mansion 64, Prep Charter 60
  Well, the secret location was Roxborough, just like last year, when Mansion found itself involved in a play-in game, and if you meet sr. CG Saadiq Berry somewhere in your travels, perhaps he’ll tell you the secret of HIGH-quality foul shooting. How’s this for a strange occurrence? Berry scored 12 points. All in the fourth quarter. All from the foul line. Thanks to a perfect performance. And with 10 of them accounting for Mansion’s final points. Oh, and all 12 successes were perfect swishes. Berry, as you might know, is the kid who last year finished fourth in the city in overall scoring (24.5) while playing for Future, then transferred to Mansion. The Future folks refused to sign off, believing the transfer was for basketball reasons, and Berry was not cleared to play until Feb. 1. In this one, though he did see some time, he had no stats in the first half. While helping to keep the Knights’ season alive, he finished with three rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot. All of the free throws were needed, too, because PC kept fighting and even advanced within a point, at 58-57, on a pair of free throws by jr. sub G John Longo with 38.3 remaining. Though “no” spectators were permitted for this one, 12 people did wind up in the stands. Mostly scouts from other high schools, or colleges, an administrator or two, former UC coach Ken Gritter, a couple Mansion loyalists (one was the brother of a current player) who came in with the team, and the now-famous Stan Laws, who was recently forced to cut ties with the Knights by principal Lois Powell Mondesire. Stan sat across from Mansion’s bench, watching but offering no input, as the squad was coached by long-time boss Gerald Hendricks, who’d been serving as Laws’ right-hand man this season. Anyway, the youthful Huskies gave Mansion all it wanted as coach Dan Brinkley kept making great adjustments and dictating developments. Late in the first half, there was one misstep and, though lots happened later, it has to be viewed in retrospect as costly. With PC trying to get to halftime down by only two, it committed a turnover and sr. WG Khalil Meadows stuck a baseline jumper off a pass from sr. PG Cedrick Powell. Then, star CG Devonte’ “DJ” Newbill (Marquette) made a halfcourt steal and powered in for a high-flying dunk. It was a big sequence, especially right before halftime. Newbill finished with 24 points, eight boards, two assists and four steals and spent a decent percentage of the game out front with the ball in his hands. Interesting development. He looked very comfortable doing so. Sr. PF Jamal Jones had nine points and 11 boards. Soph WG-SF Khyree Wooten was an early terror, but did little thereafter. He had one sensational layup, however, where he jumped and then appeared to soar some more while still in the air from the first jump. VERY impressive. For PC, sr. SF Matt Hankerson had some strong moments en route to 10 points, six boards and five assists. He also wound up with the ball out front on a few occasions and showed a keen sense of how to handle things. Jr. PF-C Mark Wilmer had 10 points, six boards, five blocks and I like this kid’s possibilities. Soph G Akhir Frazier – does this kid grow an inch per week? – had four assists and classmate Laquan Stephens, a SF, went for 13 points, eight boards. The best performance, however, belonged to frosh G Abraham Massaley, who totaled 17 points while knifing strong to the hole and mostly taking care of the ball. He did go just 2-for-7 at the line, however, so he’ll need some work there. Hey, maybe Berry could pick up some extra cash giving foul-shooting lessons? Smile . . . Thanks to Terrell Burnett, Roxborough's coach and AD, for making this visit entirely pleasant. He did a great job running the show and allowed to me to hang around afterward to write the DN story in the gym before heading up to Carroll-Gratz, at Ryan. Maybe halfway through the writing process, I happened to look up and notice that Berry and a teammate were shooting the ball right nearby at one of the side baskets. (The game had started early. Mansion's School District bus had not returned to Roxborough yet.) I called over to Saadiq and asked, "Want to see what I've written so far?" He walked over and checked out the computer screen. Reading about his heroics, he laughed a little and might have even turned red. Just that quickly, guys called out from the other end. Mansion's bus was now here. He hustled toward the exit. Good luck in the state playoffs, Saadiq. And other Knights . . . 

Imhotep 58, Bartram 46
  It’s the morning after as I begin this report and the feeling of disappointment will not go away. The hope each season is that the excitement will build through the playoffs and the best game will be the final. Not this year. There was a flip-flop. The quarterfinal doubleheader I had the pleasure of seeing – Dobbins over Gratz, in OT, then Bartram over Frankford in FOUR OTs – was great, then the semifinals – Imhotep over MC&S, Bartram over Dobbins – were medium, then this one bordered on clunker. Oh, well. Maybe we’ll get back to goodies for the City Title tilts and/or consolations, then forward into the states. If not? Hey, there’s always baseball season (smile). A 12-point spread isn’t too large, of course, but Bartram never created a late-game buzz. Only a partial sliver of one. Plus, everyone seemed to sense it just wasn’t going to mushroom. So, how did Imhotep become the first team since Franklin in 1998-99 to win consecutive championships? By doing most things well. The Panthers played great interior defense, witness their 13 blocked shots, again and again battled for second-third shots (teams are supposed to rebound better out of zones; Bartram didn’t) and often beat the Braves down the floor in transition. And this was Bartram’s flat-out killer: Woeful overall shooting aside from star G Tyrone Garland (Virginia Tech). “Braidheart” poured in 32 points, going 6-for-12 on treys. The total is a liiiitle misleading because he posted 14 in the final quarter with nine of them coming during what amounted to garbage time. Shooting wise, his teammates could have stayed home. They went a combined 5-for-37 (13.5 percent). Two of them, at times, have been known to be pretty darn accurate when launching jumpers over zones. But srs. Quasim Jones (1-for-11) and Zaahir Allen (2-for-11) never got going. Jr. C Dijon Wright did hustle for 13 rebounds. DN ink went to jr. C Erik Copes, who has already committed to George Washington. His uncle, former King/Rhode Island star Roland Houston, is an assistant there, and he made an appearance tonight. Copes is the anti-modern day player and it’s great to see! As in, he doesn’t mind if you don’t pass him the ball. He’ll get it off the glass and keep sending opponents’ shots back where they came from. He's the ultimate team player. (And he still has a killer handshake. I'd forgotten that. After our interview, he almost broke my hand again. Someday I'll sponsor a handshakeoff between "E" and Germantown Academy assistant Craig Conlin, who boasts the all-time knucklecracker. Smile.) "E" finished with 13 boards, seven blocks and, oh, four points. Bartram could not even take advantage of wicked foul trouble experienced by jr. WG David Appolon. “There’s an App for That” began the night covering Garland and picked up two fouls in 1:45. He tried coming back . . . quick foul. Tried coming back . . . another quick foul. He wound up being a virtual non-factor and it hurt the Panthers not at all. Amazing. Jr. WG Ameen Tanksley won game MVP honors with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. No offense to “Meen,” but I thought the award should have gone to Copes. Jr. F Tyhiem “Redz” Perrin was his usually chipper self with eight points, seven boards and two blocks. More and more, this young man is proving to be a terrific piece of the puzzle while showing great-teammate qualities. Jr. PGs Terrell Johnson and Bakari White were great at maintaining court balance and taking care of the ball. White received increased minutes to due Appolon’s tweet miseries. Jr. F-C Earl Brown added eight points, six boards, three blocks. When Jones drove for a three-point play 2:37 before halftime, those markers were the Braves’ 9th, 10th and 11th in a row and they provided a 21-20 lead. Imhotep closed with five consecutive points and dominated through the third quarter, which finished at 40-29. The last part of the session featured this sequence: trey by Johnson, follow by Brown, two free throws by Brown after steal by Johnson, bucket by Perrin on pass from Tanksley. There could have been a true exclamation point, but Brown pounded a dunk attempt against the side of the rim. Now he can laugh it off. If Imhotep had somehow lost by one, that wouldn’t have been easy. There was a GREAT crowd on hand. Except for one section of stands that was purposely kept empty, the lower deck was pretty much filled and, eventually, spectators were allowed upstairs as well. One problem: someone threw an object – no idea what it was – down into Imhotep’s section. Hopefully no one was hit or hurt. Bands from Coppin State and Lincoln Univ. provided entertainment throughout both games – Central beat Prep Charter for girls’ honors – from the stands behind (and a shade to the south side of) the baskets. Imhotep, of course, received its championship hardware in a post-game ceremony. Pub honchos should have just doled out the 2010-11 version simultaneously. Why? Every rotation member is an underclassman. Can you say threepeat?

Neumann-Goretti 75, Carroll 59
  Since when have the Harlem Globetrotters moved to South Philly? And since when has a white guy become their primary showman? (smile) ONE of the lasting memories for everybody at the Palestra tonight will be the dribbling exhibition put on by soph G Billy Shank, the seventh man, in the waning moments of the Saints’ historic victory. Even more noteworthy was how he ended it: After putting on his zip-here, zip-there show near halfcourt, Shank penetrated down the right side toward the east end, darted across the lane and, while facing west and jumping, whipped the ball backward, past his right ear, to frosh G-F John Davis for an easy layup. The N-G folks went properly crazy. (If popular senior deep sub Mark Squilla had connected on a last-second trey, they might have torn down the building.) I figured we’d start off with lighthearted stuff because THE lasting memory of the evening won’t be a good one. And, yes, those who were there know what’s coming . . . We’re talking about the dustup, the brouhaha, whatever you want to call it, that occurred with 1:29 left in the third quarter just as Carroll, a heavy underdog due to the absence of star sr. PG DJ Irving (Boston U.), was causing the sensation that was missing from both of Sunday’s Pub semis – oh, baby, here we goooooooo! The Patriots were within FIVE points, at 51-46, of a team with much more talent, a team that had beaten them 20 of the last 21 times. The only slipup had occurred in last year’s AAA quarterfinal and Carroll had gone on to capture the CL’s first state title. Here’s what happened: N-G sr. WG Tony Chennault (Wake Forest) sailed in for a layup and was fouled by Carroll sr. WG Vince Mostardi. Did Mostardi unleash extra oomph? Definitely. Did he do Chennault dirty? With intent? I wouldn’t go that far. It was exactly the kind of play a coach would want in that situation. A hard foul to prevent two points. Maybe a little overboard, but not outrageously so. Chennault took exception and voiced his displeasure. Other things happened. Our DN crew – Huck and Frog were along for tonight’s ride, along with intern Mike Mazzeo, who covered the Carroll-Wood girls' tilt – was stationed in the first row of the press area right by N-G’s bench. The only thing I can say for sure that I KNOW happened was that Carroll sr. G-F Ben Mingledough delivered an obvious push to a Saint a few seconds after everything started. Compared to many on-court messes, this one was rather tame. Again, from what WE could see. The three refs were much closer and they could hear the assorted comments growled by Chennault and others and, after meeting near midcourt, they came up with this solution – double techs and EJECTIONS – for Chennault and Mingledough . . . Quick aside for going-forward purposes: N-G should still be OK without Tony for its AAA City Title game against Dobbins. Carroll now faces an even more uphill battle without Ben for its third-place seeding game against Gratz, especially since his athleticism would have been important against inside bully Antoine “Ness” Bland. In AAAA and AA, D-12 gets four spots for the state playoffs. Only three are available in AAA, so the Carroll-Gratz loser is out . . . In a brief interview after the game, during the net-cutting ritual, Chennault acknowledged, “I made a mistake,” so it would appear he knew he deserved his punishment. As Chennault sat and watched (he and Mingledough were not made to leave the bench area until the end of the third quarter, when CL hoops moderator Joe Sette noticed their presence and ordered them to vamoose), Shank took his place at the line and hit one of two free throws. The Saints then added four of the next six  points before the end of the quarter, then five more in a row to start the fourth by the 5:42 mark, thus padding the lead to 61-48. Leading the way was sr. PG Tyreek Duren (La Salle), who’d been completely quiet, scoring wise, through the first half and had posted just five points before the game’s visit to Meltdown City. This kid is virtually unmatched in transition and when he decides he wants to take his man, man, he takes him. With Carroll no longer in zone, and with Chennault not around to lead the way, Duren went berserk, and he received highly capable go-at-'em assistance from jr. WG Lamin Fulton. Duren scored 12 of his 17 points over that last 9:29 (lottery number, maybe?) and Fulton’s seven-point fourth quarter included a pair of three-point plays. As for the earlier parts of the game . . . N-G came out smokin’. It roared to a 12-1 lead as sr. F-C Danny Stewart (Rider) scored shortly after the tap on a pass from Duren, Chennault bombed a trey (again from Duren), Stewart scored on a layup (Fulton), then canned a follow and Fulton threeballed off a pass from Stewart. It was impossible not to think Carroll would be blitzed and that the Saints could wind up scoring 100. What went wrong? A mix of careless play and fire-'em-up-from-anywhere syndrome. The Saints appeared to get caught up more in pleasing their fans than stepping on Carroll’s collective threat and at times the game gave off a summer league/AAU aura. The quite gritty Patriots took advantage and clawed back into contention. Jr. CG Juan’ya Green, Mingledough and Mostardi all had wonderful moments in the third quarter. The Pats shot just 3-for-8 at the line in the middle two quarters and one of the misses was a front end, so the score could have been even closer at ejection time. Now for some stats: Duren added two assists and three steals to his 17 points. Chennault had 12 points, seven boards, three A’s. Stewart totaled 14 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks. Fulton shot 5-for-9, 5-for-6 (one trey) for 16 markers. Not to be lost in the shuffle is this: Shank posted nine total points and notched one trey apiece in the first and second quarters. Green, stepping up nicely in Irving’s absence (there’s a hard cast on his hand), had 20 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals, two blocks. Mingledough managed 16 points, nine boards. Thin frosh G Yosef Yacob fared well in a very difficult situation, with older/stronger guys continually hounding him. N-G now walks with the CL legends. This is the league’s 91st hoops season. Only twice has a team gone undefeated through the regular season and playoffs: N-G these last two years (38 total games) and Roman in 1990-91 (34 total games). Roman also went perfect in ’33 and ’34, but that accomplishment was a different animal; no playoffs back then. This is Arrigale’s 12th season. In his first, 1998-99, the Pirates (the school was still just Neumann back then) fell in a quarterfinal. Ever since, they have advanced to at least the semis in 10 of the 11 years (except for ’08) and have played in eight finals. This is title No. 6 in that span and their overall record, counting playoffs, is 159-28. (It’s 171-31 counting the ’99 campaign.) Interestingly, assistant John Mosco told Huck that no championships during this hot streak have been won with the Pirates/Saints wearing white uniforms. As Huck noted, the two were kidding around about assorted matters at that time, so he wasn't positive whether John was being serious. I checked back to look at pics from title games in '09, '06 and '05. NOT wearing white in any of those. And in boxscores from '01 and '02, we had Neumann listed as the visiting team. Guess John was serious. White SHOULD have been N-G's uniform  color tonight, as they were, of course, the No. 1 seed. Instead they wore black. Here’s what I’m guessing was the reason: League officials wanted to keep Carroll as the "home" team in each game so their fans wouldn’t have to switch ends between the girls’ and boys’ games. Home teams always shoot at the west basket in the second half, like Penn does. I’m guessing N-G was NOOOOOTTTTTT complaining when the wear-black order was given.

FEB. 28
Imhotep 66, Math/Civics/Sciences 52
Bartram 75, Dobbins 63
  I should have known this would be a disappointing day merely while driving to the site of this doubleheader, Southern. The radio was tuned to WRNB and Dyana Williams was staging her weekly contest to determine which singing group (or individual, depending) was better than the other. This week’s combatants were Rose Royce and Atlantic Starr. They play some songs from each and people can vote on the internet or by calling in to the show, and they announce the winner a shade before everything wraps up at 1 o’clock. This week’s winner: Atlantic Starr. You kiddin’ me? Rose Royce kicked royal heiney! I could listen just to the songs that comprised the sound track for “Car Wash” 24 hours a day!! Anyway, this devastating dissing of Rose Royce put me in a foul mood (smile) and the events at Southern did nothing to change it. OK, so the games weren’t horrible. But neither were they very good. I guess a letdown should have been expected by anyone who’d seen Saturday’s quarterfinal doubleheader at Franklin featuring Dobbins-Gratz (OT) and Bartram-Frankford (four OTs). Now THOSE were some games. Though Southern was oh-so-close to being filled for both contests, there was very little fan involvement as most folks just sat and watched. Sure, there was occasional noise, but nothing outrageous, and there was very little sustained, top-level action to get the spectators juiced. Plus, in the second half of each game, the team behind never could play well enough to cause that oh-baby, here-we-goooooo atmosphere. Oh, well. Maybe it’ll happen Tuesday night at Temple’s Liacouras Center when Imhotep defends its title against Bartram. Let’s hope so. DN ink went to Imhotep jr. WG Ameen Tanksley and Bartram jr. C Dijon “Mustard” Wright. Tanksley, a lefty who’s strong, yet agile and can use either hand on his drives, went for 26 points and 12 boards. He fared poorly at the line (6-for-14), but all of his teammates did rather well there so his lack of marksmanship didn’t hurt. Tanksley is one of the city’s top juniors and is stirring good interest. The Panthers’ other quality junior, WG David Appolon, is a shade quicker and bouncier, but not as crafty quite yet. Somehow, he didn’t score until 4:35 remained in the third quarter, then finished with 15. Once those two guys got rolling, MC&S had no answers for stopping them. Jr. C Erik Copes (cut under eye) and jr. SF Tyhiem “Redz” Perrin (banged-up hand) halved 14 rebounds despite missing some time. For MC&S, jr. G Thomas Moore (25 yesterday) failed to score until just after Appolon managed to do so. Weird. Sr. PG Kwahmere Gredic wound up leading the Mighty Elephants with 15 points. The beefy Wright’s main task was to try to tame Dobbins star jr. C Jerrell Wright (no relation), and he fared quite well as JW was limited to 14 points, 11 boards and two blocks. DW shot 4-for-5 for eight points and went 0-for-3 at the line. Hey, at least two of his misses, launched on the same visit to the foul line, provided comic relief. One slammed against the left side of the backboard and the other headed in the same direction to become an air ball. If you have a tape, DW wants you to burn it (ha ha ha). For the weekend, DW went 9-for-10 from the floor and I’ll have to check and see what he’s shooting in Bartram games I’ve seen this season. I suspect it’s incredible (it's 16-for 25 in four games for 64 percent). Basically, he just stands near the blocks and converts layups if the other guys notice that he’s wide open. Star sr. WG Tyrone Garland had 23 points (three treys), four assists and five steals. Sr. CG Quasim Jones went 8-for-8 at the line – perfect swishes every time – en route to 14 points. The ever-bouncy Zaahir Allen, a sr. WG-SF, had 18 points. The youthful Mustangs were led by jr. WG-SF Basir Fulmore, who dipped into his bag of tricks to finish with 21 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds. When you think about it, this result should not have surprised. Bartram’s squad is fraught with experience and Dobbins, for all its progress this season, is still a year away from being able to meet THIS demanding a challenge. One thing the Mustangs must do against Carroll or N-G in the AAA City Title game, and thereafter: Take better care of the ball. All kinds of website guys were in attendance: Amauro, Duck, Frog, Amos and Big Steve. Well, Big Steve gets mentioned on the website and often serves as my stat sidekick, but he has yet to write a report. Meanwhile, Pub czar Robert Coleman and hoops chairman Charles “Shorty” Sumter are being very secretive about when Mansion and Prep Charter will meet to determine the fourth and final AA seed for the state playoffs. Coleman broke out a few cliches when asked about it. One was something like, “We’re keeping that water under the dam.” Huh? Some folks are suspecting the game will be Wednesday. There was a big disturbance when these guys played last year and when they met this regular season at PC, it was in what was basically a closed gym. Stay tuned. Whoever wins District 3 will be 12-4’s opponent. God forbid teams from out that way get the word in time to set up scouting missions, just in case. The last disappointment of the day? Stopping at the McDonald’s on the left side of Broad Street as you head toward City Hall. I could not have been any clearer. No. 2 with ONLY cheese. Chomp. Frickin’ onions. It nevvvvver ends.

FEB. 28
  I'm getting lots of emails from people wondering about the City Title games and state playoffs, etc. So I'll pass along what I can, for now . . .
  City Titles: They'll be played Friday, March 5, and Saturday, March 6.
  AAAA -- La Salle vs. Bartram, March 6, at Lincoln, 7 p.m..
  AAA -- N-G/Carroll winner vs. Dobbins, March 5, at Lincoln, 8 p.m.
  AA -- West Catholic vs. Imhotep, March 6, at Southern, 3 p.m.
  State playoffs, number of qualifiers:
  Four teams in AAAA (two from each league).
  Three teams in AAA (one apiece from each league, plus a third from either league).
  Four teams in AA (one from CL, three from Pub).
  Two teams in A (both from Pub; CL has none).
  Seeding for state playoffs:
  AAAA -- CT winner is No. 1, CT loser is No. 2, a game between Roman and Frankford will determine third-fourth seeds. To be played Thursday, March 4, at Southern, 7:30 p.m.
  AAA -- CT winner is No. 1, CT loser is No. 2, a game between N-G/Carroll loser and Gratz will determine the third seed. To be played Wednesday, March 3, at Ryan, 7:30 p.m. NO spot for loser of that game.
  AA -- CT winner is No. 1, CT loser is No. 2, Franklin is No. 3, a game between Mansion and Prep Charter will determine the fourth seed. Details not yet received. NO spot for loser of that game.
  A -- MC&S is No. 1, Constitution is No. 2.

FEB. 27
Bartram 89, Frankford 87 (4 OTs)
  This one stirred non-stop memories of 1988. You gotta remember this, folks: I've been around a good while and it's impossible not to put games in historical contexts, when it's justified. In '88, Frankford won its first-ever Pub hoops title by outlasting West Philly, 71-64, in four OTs, at Temple's McGonigle Hall. Today in a CRAZY atmosphere at Franklin, Frankford found itself on the wrong end of a four-OT marathon (in "only" a quarterfinal -- smile) and the reason it lost was the same as the reason it won back then -- super performances by lesser lights, especially jr. PG Michael Burton-Young, who might be as short as 5-5. In '88, Frankford's ultimate hero was ninth man Jeffrey Mack, who made one gigantic steal apiece in the third and fourth OTs. Just flat-out strips, if I remember. If not for the fact that four Pioneers fouled out, he would have been nailed to the bench all game long. But when he got his chance, he produced. Guess who served as Bartram's ninth man today? Yup, Michael Burton-Young. He did not enter this classic fray until 2:38 was showing in the first OT, and he got his chance only because franchise sr. G Tyrone Garland fouled out on an accidental trip 30 feet from the basket. MBY almost immediately made a steal and I thought immediately of Jeffrey Mack. This new unknown hero would not be finished. MBY went the rest of the way, meaning he played 14 1/2 minutes. All he did was contribute NINE points, two assists and that aforementioned steal, oh, and bury an incredibly important three-pointer. As Harry Kalas would have no doubt said today, "Michael Burton-Young, you ARE the man!" Also vital to the Braves' cause was G Darrell Robinson, who entered much earlier as the seventh man. He had just four points and even struggled mightily at the line (2-for-6), but he grabbed 10 rebounds and dealt five assists and likewise was clutch. Bartram's Big Three includes Garland (Virginia Tech) and sr. WGs Quasim Jones and Zaahir Allen. Garland had a strange outing. He was killin' anybody and everybody in the first quarter, and finished with 10 points. But he sat as the second quarter began (the reason was NOT foul trouble) and I don't care if he was about to collapse, he was on too good of a roll to rest. He was almost a non-factor the rest of the way, finishing 4-for-17 from the floor en route to 18 points. Jones (14) went just 5-for-15, but did drain two key treys. The bouncy Allen hung around for the duration, and his contributions included 20 points, 11 boards and two apiece of steals/blocks. Sr. F Devin Moore had eight points and nine boards and jr. C Dijon Wright shot 5-for-5 for 10 points while adding nine rebounds. The sixth man, sr. F-C Darrell Lane, had six and six. For Frankford, highly athletic sr. SF Carl Wallace, a lefty, slashed and dashed and looked like someone who someday wants to play for cash. He had 17 points, six boards, four assists and two treys/steals before fouling out with 1:58 left in regulation. Sr. PG Dehaven Brown mixed 20 points, seven boards, four assists in a strong overall outing. Undersized sr. PF Terrell Clark willed his way to 18 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks. Jr. F Steffon Poole, the sixth man, had 12 points and 13 boards. Frankford's eighth man, soph WG Imire Taylor, a lefty, barely had time to step off the bench before nailing a big-boy trey in the second OT. OK, now for some details . . .
  Regulation, ended at 61-61: A left-corner two by sr. G Harold Hicks created that tie. Hicks then drew an offensive foul on Garland at 1:07 and Bartram remained in a 2-3 zone, allowing Frankford to hold and hold. Off a pass from Brown, Hicks missed a buzzer-beating, right-corner trey.
  First OT, ended at 71-71: Two free throws by sr. G Rodney Walters had Frankford sittin' pretty, at 71-66, with 58.5 left. But Allen hit a banked trey (doubt he called it -- smile) from the right top of the key at 47.7 and Lane tied it with a layup on a great pass from MBY. The session ended with Allen leaping to get a piece of Brown's foul line jumper.
  Second OT, ended at 82-82: MBY's fast break bucket on a pass from Robinson made it 80-76 with 1:40 left. Taylor's trey, off Brown's assist, got Frankford within 82-80 at 0:46 and Brown made a sensational fade-away follow at 0:14 to create the tie.
  Third OT, ended at 84-84: The scores were early -- Lane on a pass from Robinson, S. Poole on a pass from Walters. Frankford again had the final possession and was permitted to hold and hold. In the waning moments, Walters missed a right baseline jumper and Clark was clobbered as he attempted a fly-through-the-air follow. No call. It's possible time had run out. There was major discussion about this sequence.
  Fourth OT: ended at 89-87: MBY went 4-for-4 at the line and the second two made it 88-87 at 42.2. Walters missed a right-wing trey and Moore rebounded. After a turnover, Brown could not connect and Robinson grabbed his fourth rebound of this OT. He went to the line for a double bonus at 5.4 and missed both. However, he wound up with the rebound and headed back to the line for two more at 2.8. This time he hit one to make it 89-87. Frankford's original inbound play was foiled and the Pioneers wound up with one more chance, starting at 1.0 from deep in its backcourt. Clark fired long toward the foul-line area. Moore intercepted and INTENSE celebrations broke out all over the court.
  There were occasional problems with the score and clock, especially starting/stopping it when that should have happened, and Bartram's rooters caused the security detail, which eventually included some Philly cops, major headaches at the east end, right next to where Amauro, Ed and I were seated. There is VERY little room between the baseline and first row of stands and the guys kept edging over and forward to not only get in our way, but to harass the refs and Frankford's foul shooters. (Later, at the other end, the same thing began happening, with Frankford rooters hounding the refs and Bartram's guys.) It was NUTS. Finally, Pub czar Robert Coleman did what he should have done a half-hour earlier. At the end of the second OT, he grabbed the microphone and said the third OT would not began until everyone moved away from the court and sat down. He even ordered the clock guy, who happened to be his son, to put a minute on the clock while saying that anyone not sitting down by 0:00 would be "forced to leave the gym." It worked. Briefly. Before long, the same guys were in their same spots, making things nutty. Luckily, when this highly emotional game ended, no one acted like a knuck-knuck. Bartram's players, coaches and fans celebrated wildly and everyone from Frankford behaved. The best line of the day was uttered by some guy up to our left. When one of the zebras made a call that seemed to anticipate something would happen, but barely did, the guy bellowed, "Stop predictin' calls, ref!! You ain't no psychic!!" Meanwhile, who could possibly predict what'll happen tomorrow when Bartram meets Dobbins in an overall semifinal? Dobbins' win over Gratz was tremendously physically taxing, also. One more note: Frankford shot just 29-for-88 from the floor and 21-for-38 at the line. Bartram was 29-for-73 and 24-for-36 . . . And whatever became of Jeffery Mack?

FEB. 27
Dobbins 58, Gratz 57 (OT)
  OK, so you want to beat a team that long has been the Pub's most prominent program (despite a hint of a slide in recent years). Would it be a good idea to commit 28 turnovers? NO! Would it be a good idea to shoot less than 50 percent from the line, at 12-for-27 (44.4)? NO! But did Dobbins somehow overcome those two negatives and turn back Gratz? YES! Coach William Johnson's Mustangs, borderline pitiful last year while going 2-17 overall, continue to be the Pub's feel-good story of 2009-10. In a way, it was a shame that the Bartram-Frankford AAAA final wound up going four OTs and drawing so much attention because this one was likewise a classic. Dobbins frittered away a seven-point lead over the final 2:06 of regulation but then showed the wherewithal to shake off that disappointment and advance to a Pub semifinal for the first time since 1987. DN ink went to . . . oops, no Sunday paper (ugh). The stories for Monday's paper will focus on Sunday's winners, so who knows how that will play out. It COULD have gone to any of a number of guys. I wrote about jr. C-PF Jerrell Wright earlier this season, but he again was tremendously worthy with 21 points, 16 rebounds and eight rejections. Jr. SF Basir Fulmore had 11 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal. Soph PG Courtland Gilliam had nine points and four dimes. And jr. WG Fred Jones hit his team's only treys; two of 'em. For Gratz, sr. PF-C Antoine "Ness" Bland powered/bullied/growled his way to 15 points and 17 rebounds, sr. WG Tyree Smith woke up late to finish with 21 points (7-for-24 from floor) and grab 10 boards, jr. F Andrew Moye registered six steals and sixth man Kiari Saulsbury, a sr. G-F transfer from Strawberry Mansion, loomed large with nine points and six steals. Alas, Gratz also struggled from the line (14-for-27) and was wickedly bad from the floor (20-for-69) in this very physical game. A foul could have been called, no lie, on almost every layup attempt. These teams were POUNDING each other. A field goal by soph SF Walter Lawrence on a pass from Wright (after a steal by Fulmore) made it 48-41 at 2:06 and capped an eight-point run. An amazingly powerful blocked shot by jr. F Daquan Bryant, at 37.4, highlighted Gratz' comeback and Moye's two free throws at 22.1 put Gratz ahead, at 50-49. Lawrence, who'd missed his first four free throws (and had rarely come close), went the big-boy route at 16.1 to hit the second of two. Clutch! Dobbins also wound up with the final possession. Jones whipped a great downcourt pass to Lawrence, but for some reason Walter backtracked instead of going forward and there'd be no last shot. In OT, Fulmore provided a five-point lead with a sensational righthanded layup (he's a lefty) on which he used his left arm to protect himself. Down the stretch, Smith hit a pair of treys to give Dobbins big cause for concern. The second came at 4.2 and cut Dobbins' lead to 58-57. Somehow, jr. F Khalil Curtis was left pretty much alone and the Bulldogs didn't get over there to foul him until 2.2. He obliged by missing both free throws and Bland rebounded at 1.7 while instantaneously calling time. With Gratz going east to west, Bryant inbounded from a spot opposite Dobbins' bench and he had to throw the ball roughly 90 percent of the court's length. The ball, which almost hit a rafter, was caught in the left corner by Moye, who had to try a trey as he fell out of bounds. Didn't come close. Meanwhile . . . we had a classic Only in The Pub moment! Somehow, the OT began with 5 minutes on the clock instead of 4 and no one noticed. Not the players. Not the coaches. Not the refs. The clock was up behind, and to the right, of where Amauro, Ed and I were sitting. We didn't see it, either. Finally, scouting guru Allen Rubin walked over and said rather calmly, "The clock had FIVE minutes at the start of OT." Say what!?!? The play was coming toward us and as ref Bernard Orr set up shop nearby, I let him know about the glitch. When play halted, he alerted another ref, walked to the table and a correction was eventually made: the clock went from 3:01 to 2:01. Legendary! Best line of this one: after making a strong play on defense, Bland HIMSELF crowed, "Good defense, Antoine Bland!" Ha, ha, ha.

FEB. 24
Carroll 51, La Salle 47
  There was a wonderful message for non-stars everywhere in the waning moments of this game: Be ready and confident because YOU might have to lead your team to victory. Headliners DJ Irving, Juan’ya Green and Ben Mingledough had no involvement in posting Carroll’s final four points, the ones that broke a 47-47 tie and provided a spot in Monday’s final (8 o’clock, again at the fabled Palestra, against N-G). Sr. WG Vince Mostardi, known almost exclusively for making defenses stay honest y occasionally draining three-pointers, showed the brass to set sail on a hard drive from the left wing toward the hoop. When opposition prevented his own shot, he had the presence of mind, and vision, to notice sr. sixth man Anthony Butler, a gritty SF known mostly for lockdown defense, standing by his lonesome at the right block. Pass, flip, two points. This happened at 0:32, so La Salle still had a chance to tie or even go ahead, depending on its approach. Things did not work out. A right-side layup by jr. F Joe Brown ever so slightly missed, skipping off the front of the rim, and a foul line jumper by jr. sixth man Steve Collins, who goes 6-8 and has shown interesting potential these past few weeks, was left well short. Butler snagged the rebound, got hacked, strode to the other end, took some deep breaths and knocked down both free throws to clinch the win. The overall story was an injury suffered by Irving, and the surrounding controversy. The BU-bound Irving, with his future coach, Pat Chambers, among the spectators, headed for the bench with 5:48 left in the second quarter. His right hand was dangling and he was wincing, big time. As he told reporters after the game, he heard a cracking noise as his hand was bent backward while trying to defend La Salle jr. PG Eddie Mitchell. The hand was numb from that moment on, Irving said, and over time felt worse and worse. Carroll’s trainer examined him and DJ sat for the rest of the half. Then, Dan Hoban made an announcement over the PA system, asking the doctor to please report to the scorers’ table. Nothing. After a slight gap, he made the announcement again. Where was the guy? Had he not yet arrived? Was he getting a hot dog? Anyway, he finally did appear and could be seen checking out Irving as the third quarter began. Then, from press row, Huck heard extra bouncing and told me that DJ was doing some dribbling in the corner nearest Carroll’s bench, obviously testing the hand. The body language of people along the bench was not good. It appeared he’d be unavailable. But then, with 6:03 remaining in the third quarter, with Carroll still up 29-26, and just after Carroll’s cheerleaders returned to their posts (somehow, at halftime, one of them had gotten into a rather frisky cat fight with a female fan said not to be a Carroll student) after assumedly being reamed out by their coach, Irving appeared next to coach Paul Romanczuk and then headed for the scorers’ table. He played the rest of the game, though he said he’d filled a decoy role. Romanczuk said he did not have a direct exchange with the trainer about Irving’s status, and DJ himself said the decision to re-enter the game was HIS. Also that he’d been advised to cool it the rest of the night. Kids are kids. And as Romanczuk had told us along press row late in the second quarter, “He’s the most competitive kid I’ve ever coached. He would be IN that game” if not for something serious. After the game, Paul told me, "It's hard for him to even open his hand. That's not a good sign." In Carroll games I’ve witnessed this season, DJ barely shot the ball in the first quarter, let alone scored much. But in this one, he tallied nine points over the first eight minutes with a pair of treys included. He added two more pre-injury points and just two more beyond his return (on three shots). They were huge. With 2:38 left, Green, a jr. WG, gave Carroll a 45-43 lead with a left-wing trey on a pass from Mostardi. Then it was time for the latest ref controversy in these playoffs. In La Salle's frontcourt, with coach Joe Dempsey frantically calling for a timeout that was not awarded – we were roughly half the length of the court away and had no trouble hearing him -- Irving executed a strip and drove about 60 feet for a layup. He said he used his left hand because he couldn’t use his right. Another STRONG indication that he should not have been out there, despite his admirable competitive spirit. That basket made it 47-43 and completed an eight-point run. Not long thereafter, jr. G Kevin Piotrowicz, La Salle’s seventh man, stripped Irving and then took a return pass from Mitchell for a layup that made it 47-47. What happened thereafter has already been detailed. With Irving limited, Green properly stepped up to finish with 17 points. He shot effectively and dished four assists, also. Mingledough, a sr. G-F, had 12 points and a game-high six rebounds. For La Salle, Brown shot 6-for-8 for 12 points while adding two blocks and two steals. Collins, setting up at the high post, showed a feathery touch on some early jumpers, and even attempted a trey en route to 10 points. As he continues to improve, he’ll be a very interesting weapon for La Salle next season (and maybe later in this one; the Explorers still have City Title and state playoff appearances to prepare for). Sr. WG Troy Hockaday and Mitchell had 10 and six points, respectively. Jr. WG Michael Poncia had five points, two steals, and jr. PF-C Brennan Woods claimed five boards. I wrote this game story for the paper during the first half of N-G/Prep. Somehow, when I’m working at home, I easily get distracted if The Wife has the TV sound even slightly above whisper levels. Somehow again, though an interesting game was going on a few feet away, and thousands of people were making major noise . . . The mind works in mysterious ways. Thanks to Huck, Froggy and Puck (kinda, smile) for their help all night. The Frogster even took pics during the first half of N-G/Prep while working with Huck to tally all of the stats that go into the full boxscore. As always, I was the last one to leave the Palestra and the place was empty except for the men who were working to clear the stands of trash. I can’t tell you how special it feels to stand in that building and just look around, and think of ALL the amazing events that have taken place.

FEB. 24
(Class A semifinal)
MC&S 69, New Media 61
News flash: MC&S sr. C Andre Thomas scored two-thirds of his team's points today!!! Oh, my goodness. Can you believe that!!?? Two-thirds of 69 is 46. What an outburst! Here's the catch: TODAY included only 7 minutes, 54 seconds of action and Thomas tallied four of the Mighty Elephants' six. This game began yesterday but was halted by a leaky window that's part of the sloped roof on the west side of the gym at the ol' Berean Institute, at 19th and Girard, footsteps from SJ Prep. This place isn't very big overall -- the stands on that west side are only four rows -- but I love it. Extremely bright! I was able to take a lot of the pics without even using a flash. When the game was halted with MC&S up, 63-48, NM sr. PG Bryton Hawthorne had just been fouled. As play resumed, he stepped to the line and hit the first of two free throws. The miss turned out to be an omen. NM went just 3-for-8 at the line over the final 7:54 and did poorly (4-for-17) from the floor as well. Nevertheless, the Jaguars did zoom within 63-56 at 2:00 on a 1-for-2 outing at the line by sr. CG Rasheed Wilkins and got close again at 1:08, 65-59, as sr. G-F John Stevens buried a trey on a pass from Wilkins. But that would be it. As NM coach Al Greene said afterward, the Jaguars had had their chances and had only themselves to blame for not pulling off a miracle victory. Thomas finished with 15 points overall while G Chris Stokes had 19 (all pre-resumption) with the help of five treys. Thomas also had four boards and a block today. Sr. PG Kwahmere Gredic also scored all of his points (10) yesterday. NM's star guard, Isiah Clark, scored 21 points before fouling out with 0:39 left. He made four steals in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Hawthorne goes into the books as the answer to a trivia quiz. In the MC&S-NM playoff resumption, who took the first and last shots? Ol' Bryton Your Day! He began the proceedings with his made free throw, then ended them with a missed left-side trey at the north-end basket, not THAT far from the famous/former/soon-to-be-again-unless-someone-fixes-it water spot.

FEB. 23
Dobbins 78, Phila. Electrical 65
  Just messing around, I was hoping hard that Dobbins would miss a free throw over the final 1:13. Why? Well, the Mustangs had already missed NINETEEN in the quarter and I wanted to be able to say I’d seen a team miss TWENTY in one quarter. I even started taking pictures of every free throw so I could capture the “historic” miss. Guess what? The Mustangs somehow hit their last TEN free throws to finish 17-for-36 in the session. PET was 16-for-20 over those same eight minutes so the teams combined to launch 56 freebies!! No wonder this tilt lasted 2 hours and 2 minutes. In all, they shot 87 free throws with Dobbins going 25-for-51 and PET countering with 24-for-36. Phew! Pub games always have two refs, but during the playoffs, in gyms that are bigger than phone booths, chairman Charles Sumter tries to use three. At least five times, if not more, one guy made a call only to be overruled by another. Such indecision got the fans riled up and some were relentless about busting the zebras’ cubes. Eventually, one was escorted out by two Philly cops after dropping a high-volume F-bomb and suggesting I should interview them instead of the players. The Three Stooges, he called them. I should have known it would be one of those days when the opening tap was butchered. The ball was thrown up way too high and neither center got a piece of it. The three guys didn’t notice, or didn’t care, and there was no re-tap. Oh, well. DN ink went to soph WG Walter Lawrence, who was highly productive on both ends of the court – 25 points and nine steals. He lives in South Philly and said he opted for Dobbins because Bok no longer has culinary arts. I called Frog and he called Bok hoops coach Lloyd Jenkins, and then later I spoke with Lloyd, and he confirmed that Bok DOES still have culinary arts. Don’t know how the miscommunication took place, but I doubt Dobbins is interested in sending Walter back toward Bok. With his also-big daddy cheering his every move, Wright was sensational. With 24 points, 18 rebounds and nine blocks, the lefty just missed a triple-double, but man was he brutal from the line. He missed 10 of his first 12 attempts before knocking down his last four. Lawrence also struggled early and medium, going 3-for-10 before hitting his last six. Jr. WG Basir Fulmore had an uneven performance early, in part due to foul trouble and a mini-injury but made some tough/clutch moves down the stretch. Soph PG Courtland “Redz” Gilliam, who’s very frisky and chatters non-stop, totaled 13 points, three steals and six apiece of rebounds/assists. He also got hammered above his right eye (little bit of blood) and twisted an ankle in this physicalfest. There was also an and-TWO as an intentional foul was called on a MADE basket by jr. F Khalil Curtis. Alas, neither foul shot succeeded. Jr. CG Fred Jones had three assists and frosh G Marquell Tate played serious defense in brief bursts. Dude looked he was literally attached to his man. Quite a sight! Jr. WG Carrington Ward scored 23 points for PET, but needed 21 shots from the floor to get them. This kid is very fluid, though, with a nice wing span and swivel-ability. To a large degree he stirs thoughts of La Salle University star Rodney Green (Prep Charter). Does need to finish more authoritatively, though. Jr. PG Devante Chance, so impressive in my previous look at PET, shot just 2-for-13 for four points. One of those days. Sr. F Kyle Baldwin grabbed 10 rebounds. Sr. WG Chris Green had 15 points while frosh WG Hakeem Baxter mixed 10 points, seven boards. This has been a beautiful turnaround season for Dobbins, just 2-12 and 2-17 last season. It’ll continue with the AAA final vs. Gratz. A state playoff spot has not been assured, however. Only three teams advance from District 12 with one apiece from the Pub and CL guaranteed. The third spot will go to the winner of a down-the-road play-in game. Just before Big Steve Reid and I departed, word came that Strawberry Mansion had been stunned by Franklin. “I just want to fall out,” Steve kept saying. Then, we couldn’t GET out. The car was boxed in. Finally, after a good while, somebody finally cleared out in front of us and off we were to McDonald’s. Drive thru, of course. I offered to pay for Steve’s double cheeseburger and dollar fries and the bill came to $9.05. “Here, Ted, I got a nickel for you,” Steve said, laughing, and then he did hand me a shiny coin. What a wonderful gesture! (ha ha ha).

FEB. 22
New Media, 75, Robeson 69
  For the longest, in the second half, as NM climbed back from a deficit that reached 18 points in the second quarter, I had the feeling this one would come down to a last shot. It just had that feel. Robeson was reeling more and more and the Jaguars were surging harder and harder. But by the time the buzzer DID sound, all drama was gone. NM had claimed its second win in Phone Booth Gym this season. If coach Al Greene had been felled by the Big One, I would not have been surprised. He was fuming all game long. If not at his team, then at the conditions that put the visiting team at the far baseline and make it very difficult to track personal fouls, timeouts remaining, etc., and even just to get subs into the game. Even though NM won, I could picture him firing off an email to Pub czar Robert Coleman to suggest that Robeson should not be allowed to host playoff games in that gym, if not any kind of contest. (By the way, Coleman’s son, Brandon, works in Robeson’s phys ed department.) When NM trailed by 18, Greene called a timeout and really lit into his players. Among other things, he advised them to “Look in the mirror!!!” Guess they did. The Jaguars then embarked on the ever-popular, chip-away, chip-away-some-more journey. Deficit down to 16. To 12. To 10. To seven. To five . . . you get the idea. They played smarter ball on offense – most wild drives were abandoned – and were more aggressive at the other end, stepping out little by little and forcing the Huskies to make crazy passes deep into corners. I strongly suspect the Huskies just lost their legs because of all the leaping they were forced to do to catch too-high tosses. Anyway, DN ink went to sr. CG Rasheed Wilkins, who began his high school days at La Salle and boasts not only a 3.2 GPA, but also a 1200 score on the conventional SAT. Niiiiiiiiiice! Upon hearing that, I was not surprised. Know why? He showed tremendous concentration/poise at the line and those traits often translate to the classroom. I’m not saying poor students always are lousy at the foul line, but in the NCAA, I’d be willing to bet the Ivy League teams always finish near the top of the foul shooting heap. Wilkins was 12-for-14 total at the line en route to 21 points and his fourth quarter showing was 10-for-12. The last miss shouldn’t really count because by then he was just excited about ending the proceedings. He also had six rebounds, three assists and six steals. Sr. Bryton “Your Day” Hawthorne (12 points) is officially NM’s point guard, but Wilkins is just as capable and tends to show better control. Hawthorne is more of a flash-and-dart guy. Sr. WG Isiah Clark, NM’s top player, struggled mightily during the early miseries, missing his first nine shots (seven floor). He did post 15 points before fouling out with 2:59 remaining. Sr. PF-C Harold Gordon gathered in 12 rebounds while classmates Jemiel Parker (10, 10) and Josh Stevens (eight, eight) helped out. All but two of Wilkins’ foul line visits occurred before the Jaguars seized the lead. He easily drained two shots to put them ahead for good, 69-67, and then, after sr. deep sub Melvin Brown, forced into action because of foul trouble, registered a blocked shot, Wilkins recovered the ball and passed ahead to Parker for a layup. The Husky I most feel sorry for is sr. CG Jay Harris. He entered the contest needing 32 points for 1,000. Aside from being off, he also experienced foul trouble and wound up with just 10 markers. The 1,000 thing had to be on his mind, at least a little, and that could not have been easy. Soph G Marquise Richards led Robeson with 17 points. Jr. PF-C Andre Washington banged throughout for 13 points and 19 boards and, in retrospect, it’s easy to say the Huskies should have tried to go to him more. Poor outside shooting mostly caused Robeson’s demise. It needed 23 attempts to corral just three treys. As he always is, ref Bernard Orr was right on top of this one and his partner, whoever it was, also showed authority at the proper moments. One of the spectators, and he said hello to me in the hallway after the game, was Alem Watson, starting forward for Gratz’ 31-0 national champs in ’93. Alem had the lowest hoops profile of the starters (Rasheed you-know-who was the headliner), but do not doubt this for a moment: He was that team’s glue, and its voice of reason, and he was SUPREMELY important to everything good that happened. He was also a great student. Hmm, maybe he’s related to Rasheed Wilkins? (smile). As it turns out, Alem and DN statman Big Steve Reid are buddies. They used to live two doors apart on 33rd, below Lehigh.    

FEB. 22
Please let me take a few moments to explain the inner workings of my Daily News and website responsibilities. I'm employed by the DN while the website is a hobby. When games take place on Saturday, the DN story doesn't come out until Monday. Thus, if there's something extra important/interesting to reveal, I have to hold back for the website and save it for the paper. A classic example happened this time with the Prep-Roman game. Specifically, the fact that Prep hero Joe Nardi was unabashedly honest about the fact he'd double-dribbled before hitting the winning three-point bank shot. I was going to ask him about it momentarily because en route to the Prep's locker room, I had to pass by Roman's and all of the coaches were standing nearby in the hallway, insisting that Nardi had double-dribbled. Except for asking his height and weight, my first question to an obviously jubilant Joe was whether he'd called "bank." He offered immediately, "I double-dribbled. I got away with one. I double-dribbled." He then further explained the sequence and his response explains this section of my website report -- Monday's Daily News will include more info about that final possession and the assorted twists and turns from Nardi's perspective . . . Meanwhile, for my money, today should be Joe Nardi Day. Not because he hit that amazing shot, but because he was so refreshingly honest about what took place during those final moments. All parents ever want is for their children to tell the truth. It would have been easy for Nardi to say he wasn't sure whether he'd double-dribbled. But he WAS sure and he DID state that and his parents and coaches have to be feeling so proud that the messages they've given to him through the years have been received. Oh, one other thing I held back from the website report: In the last-second pic, notice the referee maybe 12 to 15 feet directly to Nardi's right. He's making the hand signal -- defender hit ball -- that refs use to indicate a double-dribble has NOT taken place. One had, of course. And if the whistle had blown, Joe Nardi would have handed the ref the ball, yes, with great disappointment, but with no complaint.

FEB. 20
(At Carroll)
Neumann-Goretti 89, Dougherty 58
“Cardinal Dougherty’s Last Stand”
This report was submitted by someone who wishes to remain anonymous
  It seemed like any other PCL weekend at Archbishop John Carroll.  A Team bus was pulling into the parking lot; the Carroll volunteers were building the snack stand and organizing the gym for a varsity basketball game.
  However, on this day the Carroll Basketball team was in street clothes (most visibly DJ Irving ).  They were just filtering in from a playoff victory versus Archbishop Wood.  Today the school was hosting what most PCL fans viewed as a “Ted Silary” future trivia question: Where did CD play its last basketball game and vs. whom?
  Anyway, CD and NG both warmed up for this “showdown” as if either team could win the game.  The prayer before the game was said, the national anthem played and we were off to the races.  The NG Saints were in home white and CD in the historical maroon.  The first quarter demonstrated to the fans how the Dougherty team reached this game.  They were playing hard and doing everything they could to fend off the Saints.
  The first quarter ended 20-14 NG.  Dougherty looked relieved and ready to settle into the game.  Brandyn Wims without any doubt could play with NG's Guards and I do mean guard(s), Lamin Fulton, Tyreek Duren, Mustafaa Jones, Tony Chennault . . . it seemed he was covered by a different player each time down the court.  He (Wims) kept his composure and took well advised shots and distributed the ball to his teammates.
  The second quarter brought more of the same.  However, the Saints were starting to settle in as well.  Each NG player taking his turn to shine:  A driving layup by Chennault, Duren to the basket, 3 balls by Jones and Fulton, a dunk by Danny Stewart and the half ending 42-27.
  CD could almost say they were happy to be where they were based on the two previous league game meetings (large-deficit losses both home and away).  Down 15 and playing well.  No apparent foul trouble and a half to go.
  Unfortunately for Dougherty, the trivia question would be formed.  The Saints won the 3rd and fourth quarter 24-18 and 23-13 respectively.  The final 89-58.  A well played game for both teams and a credit to the Dougherty players for coming out and representing the school with so much PCL history.

FEB. 20
(At Carroll)
SJ Prep 42, Roman 41
  Bear me with a little, so I can set up how this day played out and then get into an amazing "verbal report" that was offered to me on the way home. Huck and Amauro were unavailable today due to social functions, so Frog and Big Steve Reid (a Mansion grad, he usually only hits the Pub trail) agreed to handle full boxscore duties at Carroll while yours truly and Ed Morrone caught the two games at Ryan. I wasn't sure whether I'd make this game, but there was no extra drama at North-La Salle and there was enough time to head to Carroll, so what the heck. Rather than step on the toes of Frog and Steve, I just took pics and wrote down key details for a possible story and let them do all of the shots, rebounds, assists, etc. (Boxscores for all four games will be in Monday's DN.) Steve lives on 33rd Street, near Lehigh, and since he's using SEPTA for the moment, I said I'd take him home. We were en route, passing through the back way from Conshohocken to Ridge Avenue, when he blurted out, "That boy is something, man. I couldn't believe him." He was talking about Prep sr. WG Joe Nardi. He continued, "Prep was out there warmin' up for maybe 30 minutes. For the longest, when the other guys did layups, he took foul shots and three-pointers. Dude was NOT missin'. I started countin'. That whole time, until he finally joined in the layup lines, I don't think he missed more than five-six shots. I was goin', 'Man, this cat ain't human!' Between the foul line and threes, I think he made his first 25 shots combined. I was thirsty, so I went over to get a drink of water. But I made sure my body was still facin' that way, so I could watch him keep hittin' shots. That dude always shoot like that?" Not always, Steve, but enough that he owns a big reputation for long-distance sniping. Tonight he, um, greatly enhanced it. After Roman broke a 40-40 tie with a basket on a hard drive along the left baseline by soph G Daiquan Walker with 11 seconds left, Nardi banked home a straight-on, buzzer-beating trey to win it!!! As he noted afterward with a smile, he did not call "bank." Monday's Daily News will include more info about that final possession and the assorted twists and turns from Nardi's perspective, and the aftermath, but we can tell you it capped a memory-making evening, one that gave legendary coach William "Speedy" Morris his 200th Prep victory in nine seasons. The two-time, first-team coaches' All-Catholic honoree, who'd never gotten a story (I can be a nitwit), finished with 20 points while shooting 6-for-10 from the floor, 3-for-4 on treys and 5-for-5 at the line. Believe it or not, the game-winner somewhat shared his personal spotlight for best shot of the night. With 2:48 left, he nailed a right-corner trey while absorbing contact from Tulane-bound sr. WG Rakeem "Rahk" Brookins, who was one of at least four guys to take a crack at trying to muffle Nardi. He got off THAT shot in an eye-blink and then went to the line to complete a four-point play, thus drawing the Hawks within 36-35. Not all that long earlier, specifically at the end of the third quarter, things had not exactly looked promising for the Prep, due to a 34-25 deficit. With just over a minute left, Nardi missed a shot but regained possession and stuck a jumper from the right side of the foul line, thus drawing the Hawks within 39-37. On a strong burst down the lane, between sr. Preppers Connor McIntyre (PF-C) and Sean Brophy (G), Brookins lost the ball over the baseline and the nearest ref said the ball bounced off his body. Might have. There was a tangle of three guys. At :39, Roman had a defensive breakdown and Brophy hit frosh G Steve Vasturia for a too-easy layup that he kissed off the glass. The baskets by Walker and Nardi followed to end it. Though the refs appeared to call things especially tight -- numerous ticky-tacks against guys covering Nardi -- deep down the Roman players and coaches know they must bear the brunt of the blame for the loss. I mean, less than a minute into the third quarter, the Cahillites owned a double-the-score lead, at 26-13, and pad like that should not be relinquished. Ditto for the nine-point edge after three. Williams was the only other Hawk in double figures, with 10. He was also his team's top rebounder, with five. Brophy scrambled for three apiece of assists/steals. McIntyre had four boards, four assists and two blocks. Jr. PG Mike Fee dealt a pair of assists and Vasturia had six points. Brookins also scored 20 points and his shooting numbers were darn near spotless (6-for-8, one trey, 7-for-8). Sr. WG-SF Kevin Regan had nine points and five rebounds and had some success vs. Nardi by literally putting his hand in the shooter's face. Off the bench, jr. PF-C Fortunat "Junior" Kangudi recorded three blocks while snagging a team-high six boards. I wound up sitting right at the edge of Roman's small section of student rooters and one high-energy kid kept crackin' on Nardi. "I own you!" he kept roaring. "You're thinking about me all the time!" Late in the game, with the outcome nowhere near being finalized, another student asked me, "Who will you be writing about?" I told him a lot of guys still were possibilities, and we'd have to see what would happen. After Nardi stuck his banked-in trey and the Prep kids surged down to our end and formed a pile of humanity, the kid said dryly, "Guess I know who you'll be writin' about." And the guy Steve will be raving about to his buddies . . . the subject, finally, of DN ink.

FEB. 20
(At Ryan)
La Salle 54, North Catholic 43
  The team that was living on borrowed time could not buy a basket. After advancing to the quarterfinals on a shot AFTER the buzzer (my opinion; also that of many others) against Judge, North came into this one and launched brick upon brick. Well, not all were bricks, of course, but the Falcons entered halftime with just four makes in 30 attempts (13.3 percent) and one in 11 (9 percent) from beyond the arc. They were 1-for-14 over the first eight minutes -- a girl sitting behind us screeched at one point, "Oh, my God! The shots keep bouncin' out!" -- while falling into an 11-4 hole, and they're no doubt still kicking themselves over that because it helped to cost them one last trip to the Palestra for a semifinal. Not completely, mind you, because the Falcons did show inner strength and even rallied within a point, at 31-30, toward the end of the third quarter. But baskets by jr. PG Eddie Mitchell and jr. F Joe Brown created a hint of breathing room and the Explorers prevented any late drama by roaring to a 48-39 lead with 2:38 left in the game on a three-point play by Mitchell off a feed from jr. WG Michael Poncia. Sr. WG Troy Hockaday had registered a rejection to start the fast break. Monday DN ink will go to the ambidextrous Brown, who totaled 15 points and 10 rebounds along with two apiece of two assists and steals. Joe shoots free throws and his occasional jumpers lefthanded -- almost two-handed, actually -- but takes all of his layups righthanded, at least when I'm around (smile). His three field goals in an eight-point fourth quarter were all layups and on the first, he even curled it in righthanded from the left side of the lane. Can you say curious? I'll be interviewing him Sunday by phone -- had to run out and head to Carroll for Prep-Roman -- and I can't wait to hear the ins and outs of why he does what he does. Hockaday also scored 15 points while shooting 7-for-11 from the floor, and he showed a strong knack for big plays, of all varieties, at times when they were needed most. Steal here. Block there. Even just knocking the ball out of bounds to make sure North would have to reset. Mitchell was able to get off just five shots from the floor, but since he made four no one will complain. He also dealt three assists. With jr. C Brennan Woods rendered unproductive due to foul trouble, jr. backup Steve Collins stepped forward for eight points and two blocks. Poncia had seven points and two feeds. The North buzz centered on sr. WG Jaleel Mack, a first team All-Catholic honoree who merely watched and watched and watched until 5:04 remained in the second quarter. Everyone seemed to think, or know, that Mack was being disciplined, so as the Falcons returned to the floor from their halftime talk, I asked coach Guy Moore in a quick aside, as he headed to the bench area, whether Mack's absence for the first 11 minutes should be explained as "a violation of team rules." He brushed that off by saying, "It was nothing like that." Well after the game we spoke again, as the last few Falcons were leaving their locker room, and Moore said Mack had tweaked his ankle vs. Judge "and we wanted to go slowly with him. Once he tested it out, he was fine." Sr. F Alex Amrhein, who started in Mack's place, grabbed five rebounds. Sr. WG Mike Terry (16) and sr. PG Woody Redding (12) managed to score in double figures, but like every Falcon, they struggled with shooting. Sr. F Bobby Makor, the ultimate hero of the Judge game, had five points and eight boards while helping to muffle Mitchell. Sr. F/FB player David D. Williams grabbed seven boards. As we've mentioned along the way, it definitely appears that North will stay open. Whether that'll happen for next school year, and how sports will be affected, remains to be seen, but for now the last basket in Falcons' history belongs to Redding, who scored on a follow with 1:13 remaining. With subs exclusively on the floor, the last shot was taken by FB player Kerry Shields at just about the right-side block. Collins was contesting and it didn't succeed. Moore and his staff deserve credit for standing tall in a crazy season. Four rotation members -- Rakeem Christmas (ANC), Jack O'Neill (Wissahickon), Xavier Harris (Constitution) and Josh Stevens (New Media) -- bailed out during the offseason and coach Mike McCarron also stepped away. There was MAJOR turmoil in December -- one of the headliners almost transferred -- and the Falcons were on the verge of imploding. They hung tough, settled their issues, developed camaraderie and again became a factor. Much to be said for that.

FEB. 20
(At Ryan)
Carroll 61, Wood 40
  Wickedly bad stretches against some teams can be overcome. But not against good ones. Well, at least not often. After finishing the second quarter with a pretty nice rush, Wood came out for the third quarter and laid an egg the size of a curling rock. The Vikes missed one, two, three . . . eight, nine, 10 consecutive shots before sr. WG-SF Doug Macrone finally scored on a follow with 0:32 remaining to cut -- relatively speaking -- Carroll's lead to 14 points. During its down stretch, Wood also committed five turnovers after being guilty of just three through the first 16 minutes. Carroll played good defense, obviously, but the fact that Wood just couldn't hit was as much of the story. Aside from Wood's collapse, the most noteworthy aspect of this contest, played with a noon start at Ryan (low attendance, not much juice, Carroll couldn't have had more than five students here except for managers), was the Patriots' wonderful share-the-ball togetherness. Coach Paul Romanczuk's club finished with 15 assists and had this been hockey, approximately half of those buckets could have included two A's. Jr. WG Juan'ya Green was a major factor and yet finished with just one field goal (and eight total points). Again and again he maneuvered around/through people to deliver drop-off or kick-out passes to anybody/everybody. Sr. PG DJ Irving (Boston U.) managed four assists and darted his way to 15 points. Just when Wood was creating its late-second-quarter buzz, Irving notched a three and then a layup off a steal and halfcourt drive to restore some order. Yes, sr. G-F Brian O'Grady did hit a trey at the buzzer for Wood, but Irving's plays immediately beforehand were crucial. This was just the latest example of a guy turning in a strong performance right after being denied first team coaches' All-Catholic honors. It happens pretty much every year, folks. Sr. SF Ben Mingledough athleticized his way to 17 points and 11 rebounds. He had a couple of fabulous catch-and-deposit-or-kiss plays and even knocked down a trey. Sr. WG Vince Mostardi did what he always does -- camped out in the corner and did occasional launching. This time he drained three for nine points. Jr. PF-C Matt Donaldson grabbed four rebounds and sr. F Anthony Butler, who has become a VERY important sixth man, snagged seven while providing his ever-ornery defensive presence, as well. For Wood, jr. PG Joe Getz, showing his usual assortment of dipsy-doodle moves off crafty penetration, finished with 17 points. O'Grady toughed out 11 points and 12 boards before fouling out late. Sr. WG Fran Dolan managed just one point, but his fearless forays in the second quarter, with kick-outs for treys, were important to the Vikings' comeback from a 24-11 deficit all the way to 24-22 (on O'Grady's trey). Sr. PF-C Kevin Fenstermaker had five boards. Macrone hit two threes en route to eight points. The overall result was disappointing because you never want to see a playoff game decided WELL before the final buzzer. But this one did feature some entertaining moments and left you, due to Carroll's unselfishness and crisp play, that there's hope for this sport yet -- smile. Congrats to Wood on a strong season in the face of top-level adversity, namely the way-early loss of Penn-bound center Fran Dougherty (stress fracture to foot). The Vikings' players, coaches and fans will always wonder what might have been, of course, but here's hoping they don't lose sight of how special what they DID do was. (The last part of that sentence is kinda fractured, but you know what I mean -- smile).

FEB. 19
Germantown 55, Olney 47
  This one went the way it did because Olney had no true point guard and Germantown had two . . . eventually. As the game began, sr. QB Ramadan Abdullah was running the show for the Bears and soph Kamani Jordan was nowhere in sight. Abdullah, who recently signed with Rhode Island for football, was doing a damn good job, actually, though his teammates weren’t always catching or converting his snappy passes, often delivered on the move. Where was Jordan? Well, I found out much later while leaving the gym for the day. He said he’d left his sneakers at home and had to go get them. Gotta love young boahs, right? Smile. Once Jordan entered the game, Abdullah moved to his more familiar spot on the wing and the duo’s defensive savvy out of trapping pressure, along with quickness, caused Olney major headaches. The Trojans turned it over WAY too often, even in unforced manners, and G-town won in reasonably comfortable fashion. Bears coach Matt Wahl is in his first season and he wasn’t quite positive how the mysterious Pub tiebreakers work. I broke it down and eventually mentioned that we could figure out where the Bears stood with access to a computer. We entered a small office right next to the gym, he found a usable computer, then accessed a goofy website that covers Philly high school sports and is operated by some dude named Ted. We counted off the wins accumulated by the three tied teams – Germantown, Southern and Central – and, lo and behold, soon Matt was heading back into the gym to tell his players that they’d be hosting a first-round game on Monday as the fourth place squad in A. The Bears’ competition will be provided by Southern. DN ink went to sr. PF-C Eddie Callender, who’s also a quality WR prospect (after just one season) and is being eyed by the D-II state schools for basketball and/or football. He’s already academically qualified. Nice! Eddie goes 6-6, 190, and has nice square shoulders, so I’m guessing he could put on lots of weight and become a horse, in either sport. Today he collected 10 apiece of points and rebounds and was especially effective in a 17-9 third quarter as the Bears battled back from a 26-17 halftime deficit. The frisky Abdullah wound up with 11 points and five apiece of assists/steals. Sr. G-F Dominique “Diddi” Twiggs, another WR, had 15 points and nine boards. Jordan, a lefty like Callender, mixed eight points, two feeds and as many thefts. Sr. WG Shawn Green had 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals. This was a solid overall effort by G-town, which had to create its own enthusiasm because very few people were allowed access to the gym. Olney’s top three guys are WGs, though sr. Kadeem Patterson often winds up at the point, kind of by default. He drained three treys in the first half and even added three free throws in one foul line visit early in the third quarter, but had just one point thereafter (13 total). Maybe fatigue? This HAS been a long week for all Pub teams. Jr. Ray Jaggon showed terrific form while nailing two deep treys down the stretch, but he’d been off until then and he had to settle for eight points. Sr. Jabreil “Brilly Mac” McLeod had 14 points. During a 5-minute period spanning the third/fourth quarters, he could only watch after getting bumped on a layup attempt (no call) and falling hard on his tailbone. Big Steve Reid and I were at the other end and when McLeod hit the floor, the noise resembled a ball hitting a bat. Ouch! I hope there were no lingering effects. Sr. F Darrelle Sherman had seven rebounds. Patterson was next with six. Steve and I spent some time talking with sr. Michelle “Mickey” Grace, who last fall played FOOTBALL for the Bears. At halftime, coach/AD Mike Hawkins fetched a football and I took a pic of Mick. “Hawk” then headed back into his office to get a bat and another pic was snapped. Mickey also plays basketball, so the props included a football, basketball and bat. Overall, this was a down day for the G-town community, especially for those members close to the football program. Earl Morgan, a volunteer assistant for close to two decades, passed yesterday of a heart attack. “He would do the world for us,” Hawkins said. “One of those great guys who completely supported our program, and the kids. And let’s say you had a problem with your plumbing, or something, at 3:30 in the morning. If you called Earl, he’d say, ‘I’ll be right over.' " RIP, Earl. A whole BUNCH of Bears are grieving over their loss and that number will only increase over the next few days as word of your passing spreads. 

FEB. 18
Straw. Mansion 71, Comm. Tech 65
  Through the years, though only against quality opponents, Mansion has experienced some monumental collapses in its own gym. Almost happened again today. The Knights led by 18 points, 49-31, at roughly the midway point of the third quarter and then, uh, oh, here came the Phoenix! They ran and jumped and thieved and plucked and shot and played their butts off and Mansion’s lead dwindled all the way to TWO, at 65-63, before the necessary regrouping took place. Why does this happen? A theory: Though I LOVE the juice of Mansion’s fans overall -- it's kind of like Back in the Day Dobbins Southwest -- some are quite demonstrative and demanding and the players, I feel, sometimes are driven to distraction. They’re worried more about pleasing their posses, especially when they feel the win is assured, than just making sure the win IS collected. Oh well, at least today the W didn’t turn into a L, as nerve wracking as things did get. DN ink went to sr. PF Jamal Jones, a transfer from Imhotep who got approved for a fifth year and has been back in action for only a few weeks. When he wasn’t sure approval would come, he let his body go a little. At least that’s what HE thinks. Sure, he’s slightly heavier, at 6-4, 200, but the added girth probably helps him because he now must do major banging for the undersized Knights. Jones fouled out with a decent chunk of time remaining (5:13), but first collected 12 points and 16 rebounds along with two apiece of steals and blocks. What was great for Mansion was that sr. F-C Eric Jefferson proved to be very clutch after Jones’ departure. He scored the Knights’ final six points and a 4-for-4 showing at the foul line was included. He was one of only two players all game to make four consecutive free throws. The other? Not a surprise. Sr. CG Devonte’ “DJ” Newbill. The Marquette commit turned in a terrific performance. Once he settled down. After missing his first four shots, DJ stormed to 26 points, unfurled a pair of wicked throw-downs, snagged 14 rebounds and added three apiece of assists/steals. Because he’s strong with the ball, he often wound up at the point. Makes sense. To some degree DJ stirs memories of former Gratz/Temple star Mardy Collins, who’s now with the LA Clippers. Not a classic PG, but nevertheless very effective. Sr. WG Khalil Meadows had 11 points and eight boards and, on several occasions, he showed that highly desirable big first step on darts to the hoop. Big second and third steps, too. Sr. G Cedrick Powell hit a pair of treys. Soph WG Khyree Wooten, had an off day shooting and was lost to a wrist injury early in the third quarter. Didn’t appear to be serious. CT received yeoman efforts from the guys you’d expect to supply them, sr. CG Shaquille Shannon and sr. F Sherman Blanford. Shannon scrambled for 22 points, 15 boards, six assists and three steals. Not a bad day at the office. His one downer: missing seven free throws. That can’t happen. Blanford, a true horse with legs made of granite, blended 18 points and 17 boards. Contributions from other guys were sporadic. Sr. PF-C Chris Burney did add 11 points, but managed only four rebounds. Jr. PG Gameel “Pepsi” Strange waterbugged his way to four assists and three steals. Soph WG Terrell Parker had six apiece of points and rebounds. This win clinched the C title and the top playoff seed in the Pub’s best division. Imhotep and others will try hard to have a say, but it’s possible these teams could meet again in a Pub quarterfinal. Mansion’s gym had NO heat, by the way. That caused DN statman Big Steve Reid, a Mansion grad and unabashed loyalist, to mutter, “It’s like Lambeau Field in this jaun’.” Famous Amos Leak made an appearance. Gotta love that.

FEB. 17
North Catholic 66, Judge 64
  Maybe schools should be in danger of closing more often. If North survives, someone should threaten to shut its doors every year. The “final” football game, the Thanksgiving win over Frankford at La Salle University, was an all-timer and this one ranks WAY up the goodies list, as well. Unfortunately, it ended with MAJOR controversy. You know how you can hear a song early in the day and it continues to roll around in your head thereafter? En route to an afternoon Pub game, I heard “Giving You the Best That I Got” by Anita Baker. It kept replaying and replaying and replaying in my mind. Tonight I learned why. It was an omen. The players from North and Judge gave the best they had, putting on a wonderful show. As for the referees . . . Not so much. This game was filled with head-scratching calls and Judge coach Sean Tait, in particular, spent much of the 32 minutes everything from disturbed to irate. Then came the final play. With the score at 64-64, after taking a pass from sr. PG Woody Redding, and after fiddling around a little, North sr. F Bobby Makor hit a mid-range, right-side jumper. But had he let it go in time? My pic shows no time on the clock and the ball sliiiiiiightly out of Makor’s hand. Inconclusive. In a still shot, there’s no way to know whether the zeroes were on the clock BEFORE Makor fired. But as the sequence unfolded, as has long been a habit, I dictated what I was seeing into my tape recorder. Reason? Very simple. It’s earlier to watch and talk than watch and write. Here’s what went into the tape recorder as the ball passed through the net, and afterward: “No good! No good! Nooooo good! . . . Ohhhhh!! Rebstock ruled it GOOD! Rebstock ruled it GOOD!” Those last two comments were uttered a good three seconds after the buzzer sounded. The play took place at the basket closest to the hallway where people enter the gym. Amauro and I were camped out behind the basket at the opposite end. I first looked to the ref on the right side, Bill Grutzmacher. He was bent over with his hands on his knees. Nothing. Then to the ref underneath, Rick Dormer. He was partially obscured. Nothing. Then to the ref on the left side, L.B. Rebstock. Nothing, at first. But he then made an understated count-the-basket motion and that was it. Was he incorrect? Certainly appeared so to my naked eye. Was this good-basket-or-not situation a rough one to untangle? No doubt. Either way, it was VERY close. But I was definitely a firm believer in NO GOOD, as evidenced by what went into the tape recorder. Rebstock was the guy who’d tossed up the ball at the beginning of the game, so he was considered the lead ref. From his vantage point, he would have had the best look at Makor AND the clock. When you come down to it, in terms of reffing protocol, I guess it was ultimately incumbent upon HIM to finally pull the trigger since neither one of his partners was doing so. Nevertheless, he WAS the furthest away . . . rest of report In speaking afterward with some North people, and just observing others, there was a definite air of “we got away with one.” No one came right out and said it, of course. Anyone remotely connected to Judge was livid. Back in the office, while doing the story, I received a call from coach Sean Tait. His overall thought on the matter: if the call was that difficult to make, considering the delay, the game should have been decided in OT. Can’t find anything wrong with that rationale. Put it this way: if any one of the three refs had been positive immediately of what to call, he would have done so. Emphatically. That didn’t definitely did not happen. OK, on to the rest of the proceedings. What a ballgame! The teams combined to shoot 57 percent from the floor, and Judge (25-for-41) was even better than North (27-for-50). There were lots of athletic plays and smart plays, along with leave-it-ALL-out-there hustle, and, not to sound sappy, every kid who stepped onto the floor deserves kudos. Makor, known mostly for defense, led the Falcons with, for him, 18 whopping points. He shot 7-for-11 from the floor! He also grabbed five rebounds and made two steals, both in the fourth quarter. Boston U.-bound wing guard Mike Terry was even better in the sniping department, going 7-for-9 with three treys for 17 points while adding six rebounds. Sr. WG Jaleel Mack had 13 points, four assists and six steals. He had a bad turnover in the late going and was briefly yanked. But upon his return, he made a key steal. Redding had four assists and three steals. Off the bench, star LB David D. Williams added seven points and four boards while sr. F Alex Amrhein, in brief duty, made his only shot and totaled two steals, two boards. For Judge, jr. CG Reggie Charles further opened eyes by hustling for 11 points and seven assists. He showed great old-school tempo with bursts when needed and methodical sashays when they made better sense. Six-nine jr. C Seamus Radtke, sometimes the king of missed chippies, suffered the same inside fate early on two shots. But then it all came together – catching, turning, making sure he was positioned correctly, everything – and he made his last seven shots en route to 17 points. He added seven rebounds and six blocks. Jr. WG Joe Kehoe likewise struggled early, missing his first four shots. Then he went berserk! (smile) He finished with 16 points, hitting four treys total and three in the final quarter. He also dealt three assists. Jr. F (and QB) Tony Smith was his usual tough-guy-but-also-fluid self. He contributed 10 points, four boards and three apiece of assists and steals. Jr. CG Gavin Whalen made all three of his shots for six points. Jr. sub G Nick Sullivan hit a three and made two steals, and his front end of a one-and-one at 36.3 created the 64-64 tie. His second attempt did not succeed and Williams grabbed the rebound. Judge had two fouls to give and took the second at 7.8. Makor then inbounded to Redding near North’s bench and Woody circled around to a spot just a little to the left side of the court before hitting Makor with a pass on the right. It appears Makor was about 15 feet from the hoop, at about a 45-degree angle? Judge deserves MAJOR credit for rallying from an 11-point deficit in the final quarter. Especially since dunks – one by Makor, another by Mack – were part of the outburst that put the Falcons ahead by that much. They can be very demoralizing, especially for visiting teams. Kehoe’s trey (pass from Charles) got the 'Saders close at 62-61. After Mack’s turnover, they went ahead at 1:19 on Radtke’s basket off Charles’ lobbed, dump-in feed. Makor then slipped on a move through the lane and lost the ball out of bounds. Next was Mack’s theft. Though he missed the layup, Terry was there for the follow. Sullivan then headed to the line and we’ve already discussed, exhaustively, what happened from there. If this does prove to be the final game in North’s history (thought I doubt it), how weird is this: It might have been decided after it “ended.”

FEB. 17
Vaux 37, Bracetti 28
  It was amazing enough that the final score was 37-28. This is even more of an all-timer: The halftime count was 15-10! Phew! Bracetti’s court, a former Rite-Aid (I kid you not) in what used to the Kelly’s Korner shopping complex on Kensington Avenue, is shorter than normal and much thinner than normal. Even thinner than Roman’s and that’s damn near impossible. Coach Kyle Epps and others told me a new building will soon be constructed. Let’s hope so because this gym – oh, it’s also dark as hell; the Geico cavemen should have been the refs – does no one any good. Both teams took cautious approaches and I think there were consecutive possessions featuring fastbreaks just twice the entire game. It was tough to make judgments about anybody on anything, truthfully. DN ink went to sr. F Jeremy Henderson, who had 11 points and five rebounds. He has grown four inches since the ninth grade and two in the last year, but he still shows some guard skills and bears watching for D-IIIs. Came off as a nice kid in the interview, too. The backcourt has VERY nice possibilities, thanks to soph Shawn Williams and frosh Rysheed Jordan. Williams mostly ran the show in this one, but I’ve been told that Jordan is also a point guard, so the Cougars should be set for a few more seasons. Bracetti’s top players are jr. CG Darrell Ockimey and soph PF Andrew Sanders. The former showed some quick, late bursts on drives while scoring 16 points. His jumpers weren’t smooth, however, and he had that annoying habit of backing off the line while finishing the first of two free throws. Note to Darrell and everybody else: STAY AT THE LINE!!!! (smile) Where could you possibly be going? Sanders grabbed 13 rebounds and for a while had more than Vaux’s whole team. It was good to see former Frankford star Jamie Ross, who’s Vaux’s athletic director and helps head coach Vic Otarola. And assorted Bracetti people could not have been nicer. They even brought out a padded desk chair for me to use. Leather makes my butt sweat (ha ha), so I let DN statman Big Steve Reid have it. At halftime, while seated in the corner, he came close a couple times to hitting shots. Then he went back to sleeping. Well, almost. Every so often, he would say, “Yo, Ted. Wake me up when this one’s over. This is free money, man.”

FEB. 16
Penn 80, Furness 65
  Considering these teams were returning to action after a 12-day, snow-caused layoff, this game wasn’t half-bad. Actually, it was pretty damn good in the first quarter as the teams went at each other hard, made most of their shots (five treys total) and were guilty of few turnovers. Second quarter? Ugh. Very messy. Hard on the eyes. Penn regrouped rather nicely in the third quarter and upped its lead to as much as 20 points, 53-33. Then, just as the Lions appeared ready to run away and hide . . . here came the Falcons! They reeled off 10 consecutive points and everyone figured, “Hmm. This one could turn into a classic.” Oh well. Penn scored 10 in a row and garbage time set in early. I’d written about sr. PF-C Mark “Stretch” Blount a while back, so he couldn’t get the ink today. But what a show he put on! With Neumann University in attendance, the 6-4 slenderooski totaled 21 points, 20 rebounds, six blocks and even five assists. He showed smarts and good timing and he interacted well with his teammates and it was a just a REALLY nice performance. Be advised: Furness has no true inside force. Then again, Penn has no one else who closely resembles an inside player, so Blount mostly had to fend for himself. This game had a mostly quick pace and he kept up tremendously. DN ink DID go to sr. CG Darell Dyches, who had some great moments in football last fall, as a first-year player, and says he now wants to try baseball, as a shortstop. He’s quick and feisty and his stats included 12 points, six assists and five apiece of rebounds/steals. He also suffered what at first appeared to be a serious back injury when he got pounded into the base of the stage at the west end of South Philly’s Murphy RC. He sat for the last 5 ½ minutes of the first half, but was fine thereafter. Sr. WG Lawrence Inman was in da zone from deep, witness his five treys en route to 19 points. Sr. PG Mike Gray scrambled for 12 points and even 11 boards. Sr. SF Steve Scott added seven apiece of points/rebounds. Furness’ leader was sr. F-C Shakim Thomas, who’s shorter and maybe even a shade thinner than Blount. He worked his BUTT off (not that he has one – smile) while totaling 24 points and 11 rebounds. Very nice job. Sr. PG Calvin Hill had 19 points, three steals and three apiece of rebounds/assists. His backcourt bookend, sr. Chris Marano, managed 10 points and six steals while frosh F Tyriek Gilliard managed eight points, nine boards. Penn’s roster includes backup sr. PG Erik Simmons, the son of coach James Ockimey. In the second quarter, after Erik was called for traveling, Dad roared toward him, “I BOUGHT you a TRANSPass.” (With the emphasis where I used capital letters.) Ha, ha, ha, ha. Dyches’ cousin, Lee Dyches, played guard for Edison in the mid-'70s. Two Furness subs are the sons of ex-star guards: Dijon McNeill (dad Thomas “Reggie” Faison, Franklin) and Ian Ceasar (dad Wendell “Chico” Ceasar, Neumann). Furness’ cheerleading squad was a six-pack. “Damn,” said DN statman Steve Reid, “I’ve never heard six girls make so much noise in my LIFE. They’re killin’ me.” They were definitely loud.

FEB. 15
Bonner 62, North Catholic 57
  Never underestimate the hunger factor, folks. North would have appreciated getting the win, but it was already assured of a home game in Wednesday’s first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Bonner NEEDED the win to avoid a pre-playoff with Ryan and such a meeting (tomorrow) would have been a third game in three days and a fourth in five. A win would have produced a fourth game in as many days. This game turned late in the first half as the Friars used a 7-0 run to spurt to a 29-22 lead. Honestly, I didn’t make specific extra note of whose points made it 24-22, but sr. SF Keefer Francis then hustled for a three-point play and sr. PG Jamal Melvin added two free throws. The good vibes continued into the third quarter and a four-point play by Melvin made it 35-24 with 4:42 left. Thereafter, oh my goodness, you would have thought the refs were allowing North to have six guys on the court to Bonner’s five. The Falcons doubled and even tripled the ball ALL over the court, in true whirlwind fashion, and immediately roared back into contention. One of Bonner’s assistants said he was pretty sure his team committed nine consecutive turnovers. Several times the rest of the way, one could not help but think North would slap together enough effort, and production, to emerge victorious. The Falcons did enjoy several strong runs, but Bonner withstood each one and even answered with brass of its own to claim the playoff berth. DN ink went to sr. PF-C Dan Vanderslice, a three-sporter (also K-P in football, stroke in crew) who knows his place (background, mostly) and never fails to work his tail off. Slice had five points and six boards before fouling out with 1:42 left. He line-drived home his only shot from the floor and converted a late one-and-one to help his team, as well. He’ll focus on crew in college and he’s hoping his plan of attending Drexel works out. So are we. Slice definitely comes off as a kid who deserves good things. This game featured a nice battle between mini-PGs Melvin and sr. Woody Redding. Melvin finished with 17 points and three assists and made every shot he took, floor and line, from the second quarter on. I was stunned to see Redding in the game because the world famous Hockey Puck said earlier today by telephone, “Woody got mini-'cusshin. He out foh while.” Not quite. He merely posted 23 points and absorbed numerous poundings on forays to the hoop. Nine of his markers came on three-point plays and after one of the times he got pounded to the floor, he looked right in my direction with spacey eyes. I hope he truly felt OK and wasn’t forcing his participation. Two Fs, Francis and jr. Scott Slade, scored 12 points apiece for Bonner and Slade made nice overall contributions down the stretch. Two lesser lights added big field goals in the fourth quarter – soph WG Karonn Davis made a hard drive and curled home a layup with his off (left) hand. Also, sr. WG Rick Reigner, a real lefty, swished a key trey while also dealing an assist. North’s two explosive guards, srs. Mike Terry and Jaleel Mack, combined for just 14 points and only ONE field goal (1-for-19) over the final three quarters. Makor finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Bonner’s ex-coach, Brian Daly, now a Boston University assistant, was in attendance to watch one of his recruits, Terry. This makeup game started at 4:30 and no more than 60 folks were watching. Later the “crowd” grew to maybe 115? North will host arch-rival Judge in Wednesday’s first round. Though most suspect North will find a way to stay open, who knows for sure what form it will take and whether its teams, if there are any, will be permitted to compete in the CL? So I’m sure this game will be an “event” with a large spectator turnout. At least for now, the parking situation around the school is BRUTAL due to the recent snowstorms. Get there early, folks. Meanwhile, the last points in the JV game were scored by North’s Christian Hall on a three-pointer from a shade to the left of the top of the key an eye-blink before the buzzer. Bonner won, 53-51. Until that moment, the “last” JV point in The Pit had belonged to Friar soph G Billy Cassidy on a free throw.

FEB. 14
Dougherty 61, Conwell-Egan 52
  So, I’m on the Expressway, heading back to the office in the company car, which now is completely covered with goofy advertising, thinking about how to word the beginning of the DN story, specifically how Joe Conklin imitated Ed Rendell, and I look to my right and . . . it’s Conklin, driving right along beside me! Incredible! No one else is really close by, behind or in front of him/me, and I look over again and he begins that twirling motion, as in “Roll down your window. I want to tell you something.” So I do and he yells, “They wouldn’t make Stan Hochman drive that!” Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. He pulls away, but somehow we wind up next to each other again close to where I’d ease to the left to catch the Vine Street Expressway. This time it’s my turn to make the roll-down-the-window sign and then I yell over, “I’m going to start the story with you! The Ed Rendell stuff!” He responds, “That’s great! I love it!” Joe, a 1980 grad, was the PA man for Dougherty’s football and basketball games while still a student and he returned today to liven up the proceedings for the Cardinals’ final home game. What a special day! Though it’s quite distressing to know Dougherty will soon depart from the CL scene, being in attendance today reduced some of the sting as I was given the honor of being able to report the ins and outs of an historic event (and take my usually cwappy pics, as Puck would say – smile). All of the extra stuff is covered in the story and I’ll post that here in a few days, for posterity’s sake. Otherwise, let me say it was GREAT to see a lot of former players, coaches, fans, and it was especially nice to see amidst the family of deceased ex-coach Bob "16 And 0 and Down They Go . . . And Don't Quote Me Until After the Game" Harrington, for whom the gym is now named. Bob fathered five daughters and I’m pretty sure all were in attendance, as was his brother, Roger, and nephew, Roger Jr., a first team All-City outfielder at La Salle in '92. Also on hand was Jack Boyle, a great friend of Bob’s who also spent a stretch as Dougherty’s head football coach. All the best to everyone close with Bob. What a great man! Early, it appeared the day was going to be a downer for Dougherty. The Cards – uh, oh – fell into a 9-1 hole. Well, at least it was early. After some choice words from the coaches, CD roared to 19 of the next 21 points! By halftime they led, 27-19, and they owned a 15-point pad early in the fourth quarter. C-E mounted a mild threat and I’m sure some Cards’ fans were thinking, “Oh, baby. Don’t tell me we’re going to blow this.” The fears proved to be unfounded, though. The best thing about the win was that many guys contributed. Four guys scored in double figures, from sr. F-C Brandon Brown (14) to sr. G Brandyn Wims (12) to soph G Jamal Nwaniemeka (11) to sr. G Christen Gibbs (10). However, in the overall context, I chose to highlight two other senior Fs, Ryan Colbert and Art Comas. When I told Puck late tonight that I’d interviewed Colbert, who often sees scant playing time, he babbled excitedly, “That good! He gweat kid! He pway on my Nahbeth Lig team.” He also approved of the choice to mix in some comments from Comas. “You mention his dad and bwothah, too, wight?” Puck purred. Yes, sir. The highly active Nwaniemeka added 15 rebounds to his performance and Duck, who showed up for stat-sharing purposes (and had a blast), said he was exchanging text messages with a Pub coach who’s hoping to snag Jamal for next year. Brown had 10 rebounds while Wims (five assists) and Gibbs (four steals) added some extra stats of their own. As for C-E, well, and this is easy to second-guess because not many went in, it seemed as if the Eagles settled way too often for treys. They hit just three while missing 24! The scoring leaders were the three Trenton-area guys, srs. Ike Robinson, Mike Payne (15 apiece) and PG Devon Thomas. Payne toughed his way to 14 rebounds. Robinson managed 10, along with three blocks. Dougherty visits N-G Monday night to conclude the regular season and then has a first-round playoff Wednesday night. That almost certainly will be a rematch AT C-E. Couple more things: major props to ringleader Mike Dowling and the undersized but very boisterous Looney Bin crew, and to whichever CD person it was who spearheaded the effort to make sure school pillar Charlotte "The Photo Lady" Drummond was recognized for her years of selfless dedication to all things CD. I’d have to imagine she’s the favorite employee of every kid in the school.
   Here are CD's home-game lasts . . .
    Field goal: Christen Gibbs, layup (assist by Brandyn Wims).
   Rebound: Wims (rush upcourt and assist to Gibbs followed).
   Made free throw: Jamal Nwaniemeka.
   Made three-point shot: Brandon Brown (first quarter).
   Missed free throw: Wims.
   Missed three-point shot: Art Comas.
   Missed two-point shot: Gibbs.
   Blocked shot: Nwaniemeka.

FEB. 13
Gtn. Academy 80, Boys' Latin 57
  Holidays agree with the Patriots. At least when I'm among the spectators. Watching this one stirred memories of GA's performance in the post-Christmas tourney at Norristown. They played in free-and-easy fashion and most plays worked exceedingly well, largely because there was major rock-sharing. Of course you would expect the Patriots to play well against a team in just its second year of varsity basketball, and with no seniors. GA, meanwhile, is winding down its 101st season -- it played just three games in 1909-10 -- and that was THE major reason I showed. Congrats to coach Jim Fenerty, and others, for caring enough about the school's hoops tradition to celebrate the 100th anniversary. VERY nice. Those former players, coaches and managers in attendance (maybe 25? 30?) were introduced at halftime and the most noteworthy participant, for my money, was former coach Maje McDonnell (early '60s), who also happened to serve as a coach for the Phillies' 1950 Whiz Kids NL champions. Maje is an all-time GREAT guy and he looked as spry as ever while walking out into the court. He has to be at least 85, if not more (it appears he's 89, if research can be trusted), and he was rockin' a goatee. Legendary! (If you were ever part of a group of people that took an official tour of the Vet, or even CBP, Maje was almost certainly the guy, in his goodwill ambassador capacity, who showed you around.) After snapping pics, I got a chance to talk briefly with Paul Hutter, who was a FIVE-year starter for GA ('70) and a FOUR-time first team all-Inter-Ac honoree. Oh, he was also a first team all-Inter-Ac quarterback. Phew! Other headliners from the last four-plus decades included, from the late '60s on up (and apologies to those I might be missing): Gardy Kahoe, Tom Kehan, Dave Lawson, Rich Howden, Chris Krug, Larry Sharp and Ted Skuchas. As for the game, the hope was that BL would keep things competitive despite its youth. Didn't happen. GA cruised to 18 of the first 24 points and four treys -- three by sr. PG Austin Curry -- were crucial. From there, mostly, the game looked pretty much like a summer league contest. The teams went at each other, but not with over-the-top urgency. Curry finished with one more trey en route to 20 points. Sr. CG Cameron Ayers (Bucknell) was top-notch throughout with 36 points, nine rebounds and two dimes. He shot 13-for-16 (two treys) and 8-for-8. Sr. F Jake Beil was the perfect third wheel, filling up the stat sheet throughout thanks to his hustle and heady ways. In the first seven minutes he had four assists and two apiece of rebounds/steals (and finished with six, eight, three). Junior F Beau Jones also showed some of those same tendencies with five rebounds, four assists. One of the starters was sr. F Matt Sarshik, who has missed almost the entire season due to an injury. He drew great fan response and all would have exploded, no doubt, had he been able to sink either of his free throw attempts. He did consume a rebound (smile). Noah Kennedy, another little-used sr. given a start, dished three assists. BL, as always, was led by jr. PG Maurice Watson. But not in commonplace fashion. The fill-it-upper settled for 17 points and didn't score at all until 2:49 remained in the half. Fouled on a duck-in jumper, he hit all three free throws. I'm willing to bet that never in his hoops life had Watson gone 13-plus minutes into a game without scoring. It wasn't as if he was brickin' non-stop. He was just 0-for-4 from the floor before his free throw successes. In time, he dealt three assists. Frosh WG Yamir Greenlee added 15 points and three steals. Jr. frontcourters Kwahlil Coleman-Jones (10) and Isaiah Gans combined for 16 boards. (I like Gans' potential, but he has to become more productive throughout the game. I sense he lacks a hint of confidence. Not sure why because he definitely has the goods.) Again, congrats to the GA folks for going the extra mile on the anniversary thing. The turnout would have been even larger, Fenerty said, if snow had not gotten in the way last Saturday and caused a postponement.

FEB. 12
Judge 40, SJ Prep 38
  In a coaching career that has lasted forever on the high school level (when he wasn’t coaching women, then men, at La Salle University), William “Speedy” Morris has rarely lost games by seeing his team outscored by 10 points in the final quarter. I don’t have any numbers in front of me to back up that statement, but I think I’m smart enough to just KNOW it. Well, it happened tonight. The Hawks led after three quarters, 31-23, and even got off two shots on their final possession, but things just did not work out. Two variables helped to make this happen. Early in the game, when they had the Crusaders reeling, they did not step on their throats with enough force. Later, I suspect they got too comfortable with the fact they were able keep dodging bullets. Every time Judge worked hard to put on a burst and draw within a point, the Hawks, pretty much immediately, would post a bucket to re-establish a hint of command. Then it happened. DN inkster Joe Kehoe, a jr. WG, drained a right-corner trey on a pass from hard-luck jr. C Seamus Radtke to edge Judge within 36-35. At the other end, finally, the Prep did not answer as jr. CG Reggie Charles took an offensive foul on soph G Gene Williams. Back down this way, Seamus caught an entry pass and missed. And rebounded. And missed. And rebounded again. And drew a foul. To this point he was 1-for-11 from the floor (and that’s where he’d finish), but he stepped to the line and came through tremendously, hitting both free throws to make it 37-36. Then there was this and that and this and that, with no points resulting, before Williams hit a 10-foot, right-baseline jumper at 0:30 to lift Prep back into the lead. On Judge’s possession, Charles somehow was able to rumble hard to the hoop from the right side and can an unchallenged layup. The first part of the Prep’s possession did not pan out and the ball trickled over the baseline at 5.6. Frosh G Steve Vasturia inbounded and star sr. WG Joe Nardi wound up launching about a 12-foot, right-baseline, semi-fadeaway jumper. No good. A follow by sr. F Sean Brophy also did connect and jr. F/QB Tony Smith grabbed his 10th rebound with three-10ths of a second showing. Ballgame! Well, after Smith hit the front end of a one-and-one. Getting back to the early part . . . Prep stormed to a 9-2 lead and Judge continued to play poorly into the second quarter, posting just one field goal in the first 11 minutes (ouch!). But the Prep couldn’t pull away and, yup, Judge regrouped. Kehoe missed his first three shots, but hit five of his last six with four of them being treys. Smith collected nine points. The 6-9 Radtke, alternating behind the high and low posts, missed shots in every possible “almost” way. It was amazing. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for the kid. He literally could not buy a basket. But as time went on, he made some excellent passes and wound up with five assists! Charles had nine points, five rebounds, two steals and a perfect back-door pass that enabled Radtke to get his one field goal. Jr. PG Gavin Whalen had two assists. Though Nardi hit two early treys, he added just two points. He did have five steals in part because he took some charges in brassy fashion. Sr. PF-C Connor McIntyre, whose father, Paul, and uncle, Mike, starred for Judge, had seven rebounds and three blocks. Jr. CG Mike Fee distributed three assists. The young’uns, Williams and Vasturia, scored 11 and nine points, respectively. Brophy was versatile overall with five points, six boards, five assists and two steals. This was senior night at Judge and the pre-game ceremony flew by, folks. Only two of the Crusaders are seniors – backup C-PF Bob Tinney and deep-sub F Ryan Mohollen (no action tonight). Shooting DN pics tonight was Temple intern Jimmy Viola, who has an apartment in South Philly and, because he’s currently without a car, took the El and a bus to Judge. He rode back to the office in my company vehicle. Car cleanliness is not my strength. Wasn’t too bad tonight, though. As far as I know, he broke no ankles stepping on empty plastic bottles of diet Coke on the floor in front of the passenger seat (smile).

FEB. 9
Chestnut Hill 46, Penn Charter 25
  Maybe DN ink should have gone to the likes of Ed McCrossen, Matt Schreffler and Ryder Harman. Hmm, you’re hmmmming. Who are they? Students at CHA who provide great pizzazz to the student section known as the Kingsley Krazies. These guys and others (with some Springside girls mixed in) didn’t arrive at PC until 11 minutes into the game. At the time, world records for boredom were being threatened (smile) as the teams had combined for just 17 points, with PC up, 10-7. The kids made a noisy entrance as they strutted along the baseline, made the left turn at the stands and headed down to the corner opposite PC’s bench. Along the way they were joined by members of CHA’s JV squad, who were to waiting to play later on. What happened next? Well, by halftime, the kids were chanting, “It’s all over! It’s all over!” Suddenly coming to life, the Blue Devils roared to 16 of the next 19 points and then added six more in a row as the third quarter started. Phew, it really was over. Prominent during the outburst was sr. G-F-C-whatever’s needed Todd Cramer, who’s an off-the-charts student (770 on math SAT) being eyed by MIT and Cal Tech. He had eight of his 10 points and two of his three assists in the eye-popping stretch. Sr. G-F Pat Connaghan, soph WG Luke Mulvaney and frosh PG Bobby Keyes, a frosh who provided some major plays in his stint (hadn’t seen much of him before today; he’ll be a FB force) drained one trey apiece. Meanwhile, soph F-C Malik Garner was doing his part by continuing to muffle PC’s only consistent scoring threat, Princeton-bound swingman Tom Noonan (nine points, 3-for-12 floor). Soph Billy Dooley, son of the coach, didn’t score but had three apiece of rebounds/assists along with two blocks. CHA (8-0) is assured of a title share. Malvern Prep (6-2) is the only school that can possibly catch the Blue Devils, but the odds are definitely in the latter's favor since their remaining games are against teams (Episcopal Academy, Haverford School) with losing records. Malvern, which could not play Haverford today because a broken pipe shut down the school, will meet the same opponents. CHA began playing Inter-Ac basketball in the 1925-26 season. Because it withdrew three times through the years, this is “only” I-A season No. 61 as opposed to 85. The Blue Devils have never captured an outright championship, and that means they've never experienced I-A perfection. Now, many will be shocked if they don’t accomplish both goals. Pretty amazing. As for PC . . . well, the Quakers are in danger of finishing with as few league wins as one for only the third time in the Inter-Ac’s 87 seasons. They were 0-10 in ’73 and 1-8 in the league’s very first season, 1923-24. Why an odd number of games? Well, a tilt between PC and Episcopal finished with the final score in great dispute and league officials ultimately ruled it a tie! Legendary. PC is 1-8 with only Friday’s game against visiting GA to go.

FEB. 8
Kennedy-Kenrick 63, McDevitt 59
  As the joyous Wolverines bounded downstairs to their locker room, I mentioned to coach Jack Flanagan that I’d gladly take a celebration pic, if he wanted. His response (and I understood to some degree; I should have suggested a "group pic"), “No, we’ve done this before.” Not this year. Not very often for many years. Maybe never again. The feat? A Catholic League win. K-K entered this one at 0-13 and had won just twice in CL play a year ago (both over McDevitt). The first of those W’s broke a 42-game league losing streak and in ’06 I’d had the pleasure of seeing the ‘Rines edge Carroll to snap a 53-gamer. The school’s final season will end with home games Friday (Wood) and Sunday (Lansdale), so we’ll see what happens. Anyone with half a heart has to be happy that K-K is going out with at least one CL triumph. The DN story focused on the fact that the program is down to 11 players. Total. As in varsity AND JV. It was quite a shock to walk in and see a JV game involving 14 players, seven for each team. K-K’s four varsity-only seniors watched the end of that tilt, won by McDevitt, 23-19, and then took the floor for warmups as the JV guys regrouped downstairs before five of them came back up to flesh out the varsity. You know what that means, also: A JV starter also had to start for the varsity. The lucky guy, as he has been for close to a month, was frosh WG Brent Mahoney, who’s 6-foot, 145, and plays almost every minute of both games! No wonder he said he’s exhausted by the time he heads home. The other starters, all guards as well, were Cullen Rota (the school’s best hoopster AND football player, as a WR-DB), John Candelore, Frank “Crazy Man” Giunta and Matt Brennan. The sixth man was frosh Jamel Stinson, who wound up QBing the school’s final football game due to an injury to Noah Mascio, and soph James Pavlos played sparingly as well. (Candelore and Brennan fouled out.) Junior Nick Frangiosa and soph Martin McCluskey lent pine support. A quirk really helped to secure this win. In the second quarter, while sitting on the stage for pic purposes, I went to jot down a stat in the scorebook and noticed, “Hey, McDevitt’s No. 31 isn’t in here.” Reason: he’d never been entered into McDevitt’s book, nor K-K’s. A short time later, the people at the table brought the oversight to the refs’ attention and, by rule, a tech was assessed. It wasn’t Darren Wright’s fault, of course. Partially the refs’ fault, though. They’re supposed to cross-check the scorebooks before the game and make sure the number of kids partaking of warmups matches the number listed in the books. Anyway, Candelore hit the free throws and the Wolverines roared to 11 more consecutive points – three treys and a follow by Stinson right before the buzzer – to turn a 25-19 deficit into a 32-25 halftime lead. K-K did not maintain the lead from there, but seized it for good with 1:20 showing when Mahoney’s two free throws made it 56-55. Rota had a bunch of big plays down the stretch, including the forcing of a jump ball and a blocked shot. In the fourth quarter, he posted six of his 11 points and all five of his rebounds. Stats of other guys: Candelore had five points, six boards, three assists and three steals. Giunta had eight points, three boards, two steals. Brennan had 13 points (three treys), three assists, two steals. Mahoney had 15 points (three treys) and four steals. Stinson had 10 points and nine boards. Pavlos hit a free throw. McDevitt was led in scoring by one of its own FB headliners, jr. G-F Matt Conroy, with 21 points, and by soph G-F Gerald Scott with 20. Frosh PG Kenyatta Long had nine while sr. G-F Drew Siegfried, the AA FB MVP (might be bound for Bloomsburg?) claimed eight rebounds. Conroy, meanwhile, snatched nine boards in addition to posting three assists and two steals. Though, as mentioned, Long is a point guard, Scott often wound up with the ball at the top of the key and drove hard from there. Though he’s not the quickest guy, he does show good “rockability,” which enables him to get around defenders. He attempted 13 free throws and hit 10 of them. K-K never did get a CL win in its final football season (1-9 overall), but at least the b-ball squad has captured one. I just wished I’d ignored coach Flanagan and barged into the locker room to take pictures (smile).

FEB. 7
Dougherty 54, Lansdale Catholic 48
  LC’s Jon Slabek is my new favorite athletic director. Because he (among others, assuredly) had the brass to make sure this game was played. Did it snow like crazy yesterday? Sure. Did it require extra effort for some people to make it to Lansdale today? No doubt. Did everyone manage to do so? Sure looked like it. I’m so sick of everyone (seemingly) panicking at the sight of the first snowflake (or raindrop during football season). Years from now, these guys will remember how they played a basketball game the day after the second gigantic snowstorm of the 2009-10 winter. It says here that’s cool. How, you ask, WAS the game? Pretty darn good. Lansdale hung tough and received strong performances from its guards, sr. WG Mike Barr (22 points) and jr. PG Chris Hays. Dougherty played mostly strong and aggressive defense on each one and again and again good, tough plays were made. Barr has been the Crusaders’ leader all season. As for Hays, when I saw him earlier in the season against McDevitt, there were times when he showed some hesitancy and/or lack of confidence. Not today. He was aggressive and always in go-forward mode and there’s nothing better than seeing tangible improvement in a guy over the course of a season. Well done! DN ink went to Dougherty sr. CG Brandyn Wims, a crafty lefty who took over exactly when necessary: toward the end. Wims has an interesting trait. When beyond the arc, or near that spot, just when defenders figure he’s about to pass, he lets loose with his patented flip-shot mini-jumper. Hits a decent amount of them, too. Wims finished with 17 points (seemed like more) and packed nine into the fourth quarter (could have been more, as he missed four free throws down the stretch). Down by 39-35, Dougherty seized command with a 14-2 run. Wims was dominant during that rush and made a gigantic play with a steal near LC’s foul line and a drive all the way upcourt for a three-point play that made it 46-41 with 1:58 left. The last three points in the 14-2 run came on one free throw by Wims and a follow by soph G Laquan Coaxum. He and sr. G Christen Gibbs were the two main (only?) guys to stalk Barr all game. The contributions of sr. F Brandon Brown were also essential to the victory. He had 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals while soph G Jamal Nwaniemeka had six points, nine boards and four steals. Four of the boards and two of the thefts occurred in the fourth quarter, along with a key block. Sr. F Art Comas added six points, four rebounds. Also for LC, sr. C Dan Plummer and sr. G-F Alex Kirk halved 12 boards. Barr had a great sequence as the first half ended. After getting fouled on a trey attempt, he hit all three shots. Then, at the other end, as Wims tried to beat the buzzer with a threeball of his own, Barr stayed right with him and blocked it. In the DN story, we had fun with the fact Wims did no shoveling yesterday. Twice he was bothered with back spasms in this tilt. So much for the theory they’d been caused by the lingering effects of snow-tossin’ duties (smile). I watched this one from a chair on the stage. Good vantage point for pics. Though I like LC's cozy gym (only five rows on each side), there's definitely something weird about it. It's one of only places in the CL where the main entrance is not at an end or in a corner. It's along a SIDE (across from the benches) and causes maybe a 20-foot gap between sets of stands. At Prep, there are two entrances (though only one is mostly used) on the side where the benches are located.   

FEB. 5
Conwell-Egan 52, West Catholic 47
  Ah, nothing as good as a quiet cell phone. No ringing meant no late notice of a postponement and that was a welcome lack of news. I realize safety's important, but give me a BREAK!!!! The Pub wacked its games before nary a flake had flown. In fact, no snow fell before the games would have ended and the players would have been on their way home. Technology is better than ever and games are postponed faster than ever? Explain that to me, please. The CL and I-A joined Club Ridiculous to some degree, but at least the scrapped games had evening starting times. If he could possibly help it, I knew West's AD, football coach Brian Fluck, wasn't bangin' this game. So, how WAS the game? Not bad. But hardly a classic, despite the close score. The pace was not as fast as I expected and the first quarter mostly featured bricks and more bricks, and that likely assured that not much zooming would occur. DN ink went to sr. WG-SF Ike Robinson, who just recently heard from Rider (very close to his Jersey home) and is drawing strong interest from Central Connecticut and Quinnipiac. Though he's gangly and at times gives off a herky-jerky aura, Ike also shows good body control in traffic and has really developed his quick-release jumper. He was seriously clutch in this one, hitting his last eight shots (two floor, six line) and working well with sr. PG Devon Thomas throughout the stretch run. Robinson shot 7-for-13 (two treys) and 8-for-10 while adding seven rebounds, two assists and three blocked shots. Until foul trouble got in the way, he also played strong defense on West's far-and-away best player, jr. PG Aquil Younger. Incredibly, Younger and Thomas combined to go scoreless in the first half while shooting 0-for-11 total. Thomas finished with eight points along with four assists and five apiece of rebounds/steals. Younger had 15 points, five assists and three steals. C-E coach Rick Sabol received important contributions from the non-headliners, too. Sr. PF-C Mike Payne had five rebounds and three apiece of steals/blocks, jr. WG Kyle Bonner shot 5-for-7 (two treys) for 12 points and sr. F Kevin DeLorenzo made THE play of the game (maybe). We say "maybe" because the charge he took very late was quite questionable and West coach Bill Ludlow went off. The ref who made the call came thisclose to adding a tech on "Luds." My pic shows DeLorenzo off to Younger's side shortly after the contact occurred. What can't be determined from this still shot, of course, is where DeLorenzo was at the INSTANT the contact took place. I have a feeling Kevin didn't have perfect charge-taking position, but you have to praise him for the effort and timing. Here's a rundown of the late going: Younger incurred his fourth personal with 53.7 seconds remaining. Robinson hit two free throws to put C-E ahead for good, at 48-46. At the other end, Younger beat Thomas (Robinson also had four by now) on a back-door pass from sr. F Kiwan Murray and got hacked at the hoop. He made one of two. Robinson added two more freebies at 16.5 and the charge play followed. Having not exhausted its timeouts, West could go for two. Younger steamed hard toward the rack from the left side and, thump, collided with DeLorenzo. Worse for West, the shot went in. Robinson removed all suspense with two last free throws at 10.5. Murray had 11 rebounds to go along with his quality shooting (6-for-7, 2-for-3, 14 points). Sr. WG Vincent Ho scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half. Jr. F Yuri Burton posted 10 boards and two blocks. Sr. F Tim Carroll, of kicking fame, was unavailable due to a hip flexor. Unless he makes serious improvement, we won't be using this qualifier some day to describe him -- "of stat-keeping fame" (smile). Huck, he's not. While sitting on the bench, Tim decided to keep rebound totals. He matched stat wits with Huck at halftime and missed by two boards apiece on the first two guys he mentioned. What's with that? Kudos to Wood assistant Ed McCormick for coming out on a snowy night (yes, it was white-stuffing by game's end) to scout C-E.

FEB. 4
Phila. Academy Charter 54, Saul 36
  In an era when the brutally watered down Pub is FILLED with teams featuring only guards and small forwards, especially at the lower levels, PAC boasts . . . oh, my God, a guy with height! His name is Allan Dempster and he’s a 6-6, 240-pound senior center (power forward at the next level) and since I’d been hearing good things about him, I promised to see him at some point this season. The visit was going to take place last Friday, but a 3:15 game got moved to 5 and that messed things up. So today was the day. One problem: Saul, despite its best efforts, is weak and there was no one to contend with Dempster on the inside and he went for 25 points and 22 rebounds. How is he? Interesting possibilities. He runs the floor well, gets off his feet and has pretty good fundamentals. There’s still a hint of a lack of coordination, but on two occasions he gathered in loose balls and dribbled close to three-quarters court. He also served as the up-top guy in a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap, nailed a fadeaway bank shot after grabbing an offensive rebound and showed good timing/hands while catching/slamming the ball on an alley-oop play. He rushed a little in traffic and uncorked some unpolished shots. Dempster lives in Overbrook and PAC is all the way up in the FAR Northeast, so you have to like his commitment gene. For whatever reason, the well-spoken Dempster has received NO college interest and for now, with the help of guys attached to an AAU program he recently joined, he’s planning to hit the prep school trail in the Boston area. That could change, obviously. Dempster is not as polished, of course, but his body/mannerisms remind me a little bit of ex-Bonner/Comm Tech star Lijah Thompson, who’s now at Robert Morris. Mostly, this tilt was hard on the eyes. The teams combined to shoot 2-for-29 (you read that right) in the first quarter and at one point DN sidekick Big Steve Reid said with a smile (or was it a wince?), “Wake me up when something happens.” No other Charger scored in double figures. Jamil Hines, a sub, was PAC's next highest scorer with seven points. So. PG Elijah Crandall, yet another bench guy, was second in rebounds with six while sr. starters Jerome Maynard and Devon Shorter halved eight steals. There was also last-moment excitement when soph Bill McAdams, recently promoted to the varsity, caught a pass from Matt Ruiz and deposited a layup. For Saul, soph WG Josh Collins, a lefty, drained three late treys and finished with 17 points. Sr. WG Anthony Jackson had 10 points, six boards and two apiece of assists/blocks. When the game began, there was ONE student spectator on hand, plus two adults standing in the corner near Saul’s bench. I guess the game started before the official dismissal time? Maybe 40 kids later rolled in.

FEB. 3
Neumann-Goretti 81, Wood 51
  Lots of hopping around on the trail today, folks. The basketball part of my day began in the gym used by Parkway in upper Mt. Airy (footsteps from Chestnut Hill) and once the home of Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. One problem: Future wasn’t there. As coach-AD Don Stockton eventually told me by cell phone, the Firebirds never got a bus. See ya! Next stop, Kensington for a makeup game with Southern. Next problem: It took forever to get there due to school dismissals EVERYwhere en route. I walked in with 7:30 left in the second quarter and merely took pics for the rest of the game. Next stop: Mariana Bracetti Charter, which is very close to Kensington. The Bulldogs were practicing and coach Kyle Epps was nice enough to halt the proceedings for a team pic (and even ask the guys to change into their game uniforms) and make some copies of scorebook pages so we could nail down some issues from non-league games. Next stop: The office to crop/edit the photos before the trip to . . . Neumann-Goretti! You knew I’d get to this eventually, right? (smile) This was a mighty strange 30-point game. As Huck predicted in a late-afternoon phone conversation, Wood brought it early and the first quarter was replete with up-and-down action. But just as folks were thinking, “I hope this lasts all night,” Wood had to put on the breaks in part because star jr. PG Joe Getz was gassed. I hope Wood has access to a tape of the first quarter because it will stir major college interest for the ever-impressive Getz. N-G kept assigning different guys to cover him and he kept going around them, pretty much at will, all the way to the hoop for bouncy/flying finishes. He finished the session with 11 points. Also finished it damn n ear exhausted. Trying to get him a chance to catch his breath and reload, coach Jack Walsh moved Getz off the ball as the second quarter began. N-G became more aggressive, forced some turnovers and wound up having its way (even though it didn’t seem like a 30-point game). DN ink went to sr. WG Tony Chennault (Wake Forest) who sniped 5-for-6 on treys en route to 28 points while adding eight rebounds and three assists. Tony was shooting kind of a heavy ball. Each of his treys brushed the rim, in some slight fashion, on the way in. It was weird. What I liked best about his performance tonight: He was HIM! There was no forcing, no off-the-charts emotion, no acts that would have screamed, “Hey, don’t forget, I’m Tony Chennault!!” He just PLAYED and did so well and maintaining that mind-set will serve him terrifically. Sr. F-C Danny Stewart (Rider) made all six of his FG attempts in the first half and wound up with 18 points for the game, along with eight boards. Sr. PG Tyreek Duren created both-ends havoc with six assists and nine steals while wing players Mustafaa Jones (sr., Hartford) and Lamin Fulton (jr.) added 10 and six points, respectively. Getz wound up with 17 points and missed his last four free throws over the final three quarters; very unusual! I suspect he twinged something at one point because his gait was a little off. Sr. F Brian O’Grady had 10 points, three rebounds (all early) and three steals. The other Vike of note was jr. WG Jack Walsh, son of the coach. He hit his first four treys and that extended his Ted-in-attendance streak to EIGHT, counting all four in last Friday night’s win over Dougherty. Amazing! Alas, he missed his fifth and final shot at a trey with a shade under three minutes remaining. Back to Chennault: He had a great sequence in the third quarter, missing a layup but saving the ball back to Stewart (for a layup) as he tumbled over the baseline. I won’t dime out the guy by mentioning a name, but a Wood player had a good line after a couple of whistles (incorrectly, it appeared) went against the Vikings. “All these D-1 players and they still get all the calls,” the kid muttered. Not sure if you noticed, but N-G’s JV cheerleaders handled the duties for this one. Coach Nikki Badessa said the varsity gals were concentrating on getting ready for the Feb. 14 showdown at Carroll. And when this one ended . . . hey, there they were, practicing various routines and entertaining the folks who’d not yet left the gym. Tonight’s co-legends: Anthony Chennault, Tony’s dad and our City Player of the Year in ’81, and former Central star Charles Wise. In ’90, Charles and his brother, Craig, averaged 21.0 and 21.3, respectively, in PL play for the Lancers. Not bad, eh?

FEB. 2
Frankford 79, Bartram 70
**Before diving into the report, click here for a legendary photo by DN lensman Dave Maialetti. Bartram's Tyrone Garland is trying to save a ball and a couple guys, hanging out in the southeast corner of the gym, right at the end of Frankford’s bench, are in his way.**
  Right after this one end, a woman came scurrying across the court, stopped in front of DN helper Big Steve Reid and yours truly and asked excitedly, “How do you think my son played?!” Since I didn’t know this gal from Adamette, I said dryly, “Well, tell me who your son is and then I’ll tell you how he played.” She laughed and blurted out, “Rodney Walters,” referring to Frankford’s starting sr. WG. “He played nice,” I told her. Guess what? He wasn’t alone. The Pioneers won this showdown for first place, an intense game that stirred old-school Pub memories, because it received important contributions from all kinds of people. At times this season, maybe even often, Frankford’s depth has been a blessing AND a curse. Dudes wanna play, man, and of course every last one thinks he should be getting a full 32 minutes (as do his parents/guardians/posse members). It doesn’t work like that, not when a rotation goes nine-10 deep, but when a road win is captured in one of the Pub’s toughest environments, how can anyone complain? DN ink went to 6-2 sr. PF Terrell Clark in part for what he did today (17 points, 14 rebounds; no one else had more than six) and in part for what he has done all season in terms of behaving and trying his best to serve as a steadying influence/motivator. This kid is one tough nut and he showed it again and again vs. inside guys boasting MUCH more bulk. Well done! Walters packed 19 of his 21 points into the second half while showing warrior traits, as well. He had 11 in the third quarter and all were huge because that was the session that rallied Frankford back into contention. For the game he went 11-for-12 at the line and I’m pretty sure all of the makes were perfect swishes. Frankford’s other best-in-show guy was sr. SF Carl Wallace (23 points), an impressive overall athlete who likely would win any track meet involving hoopsters. He can go! The other starters were sr. PG Dehaven Brown (nothing noteworthy, but steady with ball) and jr. F Steffon Poole. In the day’s biggest development, 6-9 sr. C Shaquille Duncan, a Niagara signee, was back in uniform after resolving some issues and getting back into the good graces of both his teammates and coaches. Shaq played maybe two minutes earlier, but was reinserted with 3:52 left. His statistical contributions were minimal, but he was certainly a good luck charm. Frankford immediately surged from down one to up 11, putting together a rousing flurry of great plays. Poole had what we like to call a BRA (block, rebound and assist) on one play while three-spots went to Walters (trey) and Wallace (conventional version). For Bartram, three guys scored all but six of the points and combined to take every single shot through the first half. Sr. WG Tyrone Garland (Virginia Tech) had 25 points and needs 10 more Thursday at Olney to reach 2,000 for his career. He shot 9-for-24 (three treys) from the floor and, with his jumper still slightly off, was smart enough to rely mostly on hard drives. He added four steals. Sr. PG Quasim Jones had 17 points and five assists and was the Braves’ best player until foul trouble began to cramp his style (and sent him to the bench in the very late going). Sr. WG Zaahir Allen nailed three treys en route to 22 points while also making four steals. The first shot by a non-trio guy was a missed layup by sr. PF-C Darrell Lane, a FB player, with 7:34 showing in the third quarter. More than three minutes later, someone else finally scored as jr. PF-C Dijon Wright kissed home a layup on a follow. He finished with six points and as many boards. Bartram’s recently retired FB coach, Damond “Smash” Warren, controlled the gym-entrance door and had to fill a lead role at game’s end as the gym atmosphere got frisky-plus. Frankford’s players and fans (well, most of them) holed up downstairs for a good while before finally departing. (Lord only knows when. I left before they did and I didn’t see a School District bus outside, either.) This was a crazy day overall for the Pub. Not only did the Mansion-Imhotep game go FIVE OTs, with Mansion winning, 88-82 (regulation ended 46-46), but Esperanza scored just ONE point in the second half of a 61-14 loss to Vaux, Bracetti easily handled Prep Charter, 52-38, and Parkway had just seven players in uniform (all of 'em scored) during its 88-54 pasting of Elverson. One of the refs at this one was Harry Greer, who happens to be Big Steve’s uncle (as well as a prominent college baseball umpire).

FEB. 1
Boys’ Latin 84, New Media 68
  Only in the Charter Portion of the Pub. Not sure whether you know this, but charter schools don’t have access to School District buses and must provide their own transportation. So at maybe 2 o’clock, PL chairman Charles Sumter calls to say this game is off because NM’s bus has been stolen. Ugh. But then he has to take another call and there’s an update. BL is thinking of sending ITS bus to Mt. Airy, from West Philly, to fetch the Panthers and bring them to Shepard (nee Haddington) RC at 57th and Haverford. There were some other variables, but BL did send its bus and NM’s guys did make it to the rec center and, lo and behold, the game did take place, though it didn’t start until 4:28 as opposed to the original 3:15 scheduled time. I’ve seen these situations a few times through the years and often they go like this: the late arriving team sweeps into the gym and storms to a quick lead because the other guys, in part, are stale/bored/disgusted/whatever due to the long wait. One guy wouldn’t let it happen again: BL soph PG Maurice Watson, son of coach Maurice Watson. In the DN story I said this kid defines cat-quick. Feel free to add a few more words: energized, dedicated and focused. Watson had 12 points and four steals in the first quarter alone while making sure the Warriors resembled a tsunami. The score after eight minutes was 21-14 and BL maintained command the rest of the way. Watson finished with 41 points – tying his career high – while shooting 12-for-22 (one trey) and 16-for-20. Actually, I was kind of surprised he missed four free throws because he usually makes every damn one, or close to it. A few times, NM defenders severely overplayed him to his right and, yes, Watson STILL went right by in eeeeeeeasy fashion. This kid plays from a wide base and his lightning-speed footwork enables him to do what he wants. Also, he does a GREAT job of using the rim to shield the ball from defenders, and of using his off (left) hand. Whether Watson will grow much more is iffy, so you can’t be sure how college coaches will view him. But someone’s going to show faith and that guy WILL be rewarded. By the way, he also had three assists (and many passes for two-shot fouls) and seven steals. Frosh WG Yamir Greenlee, a lefty, added 12 points for BL while Isaiah Gans, a 6-6 junior, had 10 rebounds and seven blocks. Sr. WG Isiah Clark kept going and going all game and finished with 30 points for NM while shooting 11-for-21 (two treys) and 6-for-11. A few times he and Watson pretty much matched the same kinds of baskets in take-this, take-that fashion. Sr. SF Josh Stevens, the transfer from North Catholic, had 16 points and nine rebounds and sr. PG Bryton Hawthorne distributed six assists. Two things NM must do: take better care of the ball; cut off the baseline. The Warriors owned it. I wrote the DN story in a nice, quiet room at Shepard, as provided by rec worker Dawn Hoover, the former U. City all-timer, head boys’ coach at West Philly (briefly) and mother of ex-UC star Kenny Moore, who’s now at Midland JC in Texas and bound for St. Francis (NY) thereafter. Very nice!! Thanks for taking care of me, Dawn. From Shepard it was up to Houlihan’s for the DJ Newbill press conference, which was truly special because so many people came out to support him (and wolf down wings – smile).