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Huck's Corner, 2002-03
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        Ed "Huck" Palmer is one of our trusty statisticians/observers. He is not to be confused with Tom "Puck" McKenna. (Huck is normal. Puck is not even close). He will make reports on games he sees. You may contact him at TEDDYCAT10@aol.com.

DEC. 23
Wood 59, West Catholic 53
     The Vikings (5-3) placed four players in double-figures to claim a nice road win. Sr. F Tim Opdyke paced Wood with 15 points, on 7-for-9 shooting. Eleven of his points came in the second half, including seven in the fourth quarter. Jr. PF 6-4 John Gwiazdowski help Wood seize control in the third quarter. The beefy forward bullied the smaller Burrs around the basket. He finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Six of his rebounds (3 offensive) came in the pivotal third quarter. Sr. PG Greg Arrow (3 steals) struggled early with some turnovers, but shined later. The crafty floor leader had 11 points and dealt 8 assist. He converted 5-of-6 freebies in the final stanza. Promising soph WG Matt Spadafora added 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assist. He exhibits many of the traits that older brother Mike Spadafora '02 possessed. In time he should be the team leader. I liked how he just let the game come to him and didn't try to force the issue. I expect him to show much court savvy in the future. Sr. WG Kevin Oliver and jr. WG Dan Walters provided quality bench minutes throughout. This Viking team could contend for a playoff spot in the Northern Division. The Burrs (5-5) are just not the same team without talented, jr. 6-4 WG Marshall Taylor, still nursing a tender ankle. The team hopes to have his services for their last game of the non-league schedule next Monday in Wildwood. With Taylor, you could argue that the Burrs still might have an unblemished record, but injuries are part of the game and at times you need other players to step up. Sr. F Brandon Weston and sr. F Brandon Wicker carried most of the load, and have carried most of the load in Taylor's absence. Tonight was no different. Weston finished with a game high 24 points and 9 rebounds. On many occasions showing highly athletic moves on drives through the lane. Wicker scored 14 points and snatched 8 rebounds (6 offensive) before fouling out. No other Burr did much of anything. Even with a healthy Taylor that can't happen if this team hopes to be competitive in the ever-tough Southern Division. It was a long day for me at the Burrdome. I arrived around 3:30, yes a good half hour before the start of the freshman game. Which was followed by the JV game. I don't usually do that, but I watched the tape of the varsity's Friday night game versus Judge for stat purposes. Then, West's JV blew a late 11-point lead, which led to the game going into not one, not two, but three OT's. Each team used buzzer-beating three's to send the game into extra sessions at the end of the first and second overtime. West JV went on to win, 89-87.

DEC. 11
SJ Prep 67 Germantown Academy 55
     With the win the Hawks were able to give Head coach Speedy Morris his 700th career coaching win (high school & college). That is a ton of W's!!! By the looks of things he should pick up a few more before this season is over. The Hawks (6-0) kept the Patriots at arm's length all afternoon. They took control for good at the end of third quarter and at the beginning of the fourth. Sr. F 6-6 Mark Zoller scored right before the third quarter buzzer and baskets by, sr. WG TJ Valerio and jr. PG Chris Clark gave the Hawks their largest lead at 54-41, with 6:48 to play. The Patriots (1-5) would draw no closer than six points the rest of the way. The Prep was once again led by Zoller. For a player who doesn't jump and isn't that quick he sure does find himself in prime scoring position on a consistent basis. He finished with 28 points (12-for-18, FG's), 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Amazingly, he hit his first three shots. Then he suffered through a 1-for-7 stretch in the second quarter, but rebounded nicely and merely hit his last eight shots. Penn coach Fran Dunphy was in attendance. Maybe he was there checking out Zoller, who in my opinion could be a nice fit for the Quakers. Scoring help came from jr. WG John Griffin (5 rebs, 5 asst, 3 steals) who dropped 19 points. Griffin hit a couple of big threes late in third stanza when GA started to sniff towards getting back in the game. Already a very heady player, he looks to have gotten somewhat quicker. He showed good ball and head fakes to get himself open. Valerio and Clark played a balanced floor game. Each scored eight points and each had 5 assist. Clark does a nice job of running the team, while Valerio is a capable shooter and a nice complementary player. To say that the Hawks are efficient is putting it mildly. They turned the ball over just 7 times, and shot 25-for-46 (54.3) from the field.  Rarely, do they have a bad possession or take a bad shot. They are not overly athletic or that big, but they play intelligently and are well coached. They seem to know their limitations and look for each other out on the floor. Come league play they will have to be reckoned with. I expect them to give Neumann and Roman all they can handle, and in the long run they just might be the cream of the crop in the always tough Southern division. Two areas of concern might be depth and lack of height aside from Zoller. Coincidentally, they were last year's concerns and rarely did they come into play. The Patriots might just be the best (1-5) team in the area. They lost a wealth of talent from last year's squad, so experience is an issue. However, the future looks promising. Seven of the eight players who saw action today were underclassmen, including all five starters. There is much hope in two talented soph's in 6-6 F Brian Grimes and 6-5 F Ryan Ayers. Grimes (15 pts) looked good on some midrange jumpers. A few times early with his back to the hoop he caught, then faced, and got good lift off the ground nailing a couple over Zoller. He also showed a nice touch in converting all five of his free throws. Ayers, is the son of 76ers asst. coach Randy Ayers. I was also impressed with him. He finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds. He is athletic and looks like he could grow a few more inches. He showed a few good moves around the basket. Jr. PG Larry Sharp (13 pts) is heady. He hit 4-of-6 from the field and nailed all four of his freebies. Jr. F 6-3 Joe Gill hustled for 11 pts, 5 rebs, and 5 assist. He looks like he will provide much of the dirty work for the Pats. Soph CG 6-3 Kirk Jones (4 rebs, 3 asst, 2 blocks) showed some skill and when he gets stronger should be a decent player. The more this team plays together the better they will become. Next year and the year after they should be very good again. For a miserable afternoon there was a solid crowd. Also, it was a very good showing by the Prep student body. I get the feeling they might be sensing some of the magic that the football team has provided in recent years starting to show in this year's basketball squad.

DEC. 7
West Catholic 80, Academy Park 43
   The Burrs (2-0) took command during the midway point of the first quarter and never looked back. Their largest lead ballooned to 40 at one point in the fourth quarter. All twelve Burrs who dressed scored, three made it into double-digits; jr. WG 6-5 Marshall Taylor (17 pts), sr. F Brandon Wicker (13 pts), and jr. WG Rob Latimer (10 pts). Six other Burrs scored between four and seven points. It was good day for Head Coach Bill Ludlow to give all of his troops a chance to play. Wicker was a terror on the boards, and grabbed 12 of his 15 rebounds (7 offensive) in the first half. He is probably a shade over 6-1, but shows good quickness on the baseline and doesn't waste any time on putbacks. He's almost always surrounded by bigger players. Taylor didn't start due to being sick during the week. He wasted no time showing that he has gotten well. He packed 15 of his 17 points in the second quarter and also added 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. West received solid bench play from jr. WG Brian Robinson (2-three's), jr. PG Kyle Whalen (2-three's), and jr. CG Mark Anthony (3 steals). All three will be expected to pitch in and all three can do something different to help the squad. Whalen should provide solid ballhandling in time and he shot the ball confidently today. Anthony will also provide ballhandling relief, but what I like about him is how he looks for offense and isn't afraid to take the shot when presented. He shows much confidence in this aspect. Robinson could be the sleeper player on this year's Burr squad. He is athletic, who could turn himself into a decent defensive player if he applies himself. He also doesn't waste much time getting his shot off and seems to possess somewhat of a scorer's edge. The good news for the Burrs is that they have won both of their contests without much help from sr. F Brandon Weston and sr. PG Curtis Bryant. Neither has played bad, but they were probably the team's most consistent players a year ago, and neither has done anything out of the ordinary yet. I expect that they will in time. The Burrs have a couple of quality freshman that have found themselves already dressing varsity in 6-3 F Chris Mayo and 6-4 F John Maddox. Maddox played significantly on the Burrs football team. Mayo has the look of someone who just might turn out to be pretty special. Though far from polished, he does exhibit good body control, takes the ball hard to the rim, and is very fast and athletic for a young kid. West hit (8-of-19, 42.1%) on threes. The forced Academy Park (1-1) into 23 turnovers. They also held the Knights to 15-for-56 shooting in the game, a frigid 26.8%. Somebody please, shovel the snow out in Sharon Hill. As I mentioned in my last report I thought this Burr squad could be highly entertaining and effective at home on the small court. They wasted no time in showing me that in this contest. However, like the case for many Burr squads, consistency will be crucial if they expect to make any noise in the ever-tough Southern Division.

DEC. 1
West Catholic 68, La Salle 67 (OT)
     The Burrs (1-0) needed one free throw with just :03 seconds left from jr. 6-5 WG Marshall Taylor to escape with a win in the opener for both squads. LaSalle (0-1) could not get a shot off and threw the ball out of bounds on their last possession. The versatile Taylor started slowly, but in the end came within sniffing distance of a triple-double. He finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assist, and 4 blocks. The talented shooting guard looks to be much stronger and seems to possess more body control than last year. This is a key year in his development. He still seems to get himself in foul problems by committing silly fouls. He'll need to show better discipline and stay on the floor for the Burrs to be successful. To his credit he did play a portion of the third quarter, all of the fourth, and the overtime with four fouls. Sr. F 6-1 Brandon Weston (11 points) treated the crowd to a couple of breakaway slams. Both dunks came off open-court steals. Weston made 5 steals in the game. Sr. F 6-1 Brandon Wicker (13 pts, 6 rebs) showed some explosiveness working along the baseline. He has the nice ability to place the ball nicely off the glass against bigger defenders. Sr. PG Curtis Bryant fouled-out midway through the third quarter. He'll need to stay on the court and right now is truly the Burrs only option at the point guard position. Jr. PG/WG Marc Anthony may help in time. He'll have to gain more confidence in his ball-handling skills, but shows a nice form on jump shots. He only took two shots, but made them both. He shoots the ball with confidence, and doesn't hesitate on his release. Jr. WG/SF Rob Lattimer in many ways mirrors a Public League player. He likes to slash his way to the basket, but at times gets a bit out of control. The Explorers were led by sr. F 6-5 William Furey (16 pts, 6 rebs). Furey showed good hands and a nice touch. Bruising, F 6-5 Doug Kelly will be relied upon to do a lot of the dirty work for La Salle this season. Kelly managed a respectable 11 points and 5 rebounds. Jr. WG Kevin Moll (4 steals) scrapped his way to 12 points. Flashy, sr. PG Chris Reedman struggled early, but scored all of his six points in the fourth quarter. Two of those points tied the game at the end of regulation on a reverse-layup. Star football players, PG Matt McGurkin and WG Brian Donohoe (7 pts), will probably contribute more as the season progresses. Jr. WG Ryan Kirk (7 pts) provided a spark off of the bench for the Explorers and could end up getting more playing time. Considering this was the first game for both teams it wasn't that badly played. West held a six-to-eight point lead for long stretches before the Explorers made their fourth quarter run. I suspect this bunch of Burrs could be very effective in the Burrdome, on a smaller court where they'll be able to use their athleticism.