OLNEY TOURNAMENT CONSOLATION
Straw. Mansion 76, Olney 63
SCHOLASTIC PLAY-BY-PLAY CLASSIC
St. Vincent/St. Mary (Ohio) 85, Strawberry Mansion 47
The potential for this matchup looked great from the individual standpoint, with Mansion's Maureece Rice going against the nation's top player, LeBron James. But with no experienced ballhandlers, Mansion is very shaky against pressure and St. V/St. M is great at applying it, so this game was basically a no-contest. Mansion trailed at halftime, 36-15, and after three quarters, 65-25, and it was 47 seconds earlier that Rice scored his first points of the game!! With James taking a breather after twice being intentionally fouled to prevent what undoubtedly would have been spectacular jams, Rice hit a trey to halt an 0-for-8 skid. As the fourth quarter began, James returned and somehow the game became a glorified contest of 1-on-1. The stars' teammates gave them space and let them go at it as the overflow Palestra crowd stood as one and roared. Rice hit four field goals, including a trey. James hit two; both were treys. James had an 8-inch height advantage, so it wasn't easy for The Scorelord. But he did rather well in that stretch and was able to leave the 'Lestra feeling at least partially good. Otherwise, his psyche no doubt would have suffered a huge blow. Mansion committed 26 turnovers and shot 16-for-45. Rice was 5-for-17 total (2-for-8 on treys) and 1-for-2 at the line. Sr. F Delton Morgan-Hines had 11 points and five rebounds. Mansion no doubt will be a strong contender for Pub honors, but one can't help but wonder what long-range effects this very public crumbling might have. It will be up to Rice, the veteran, to nurse his teammates through this. Meanwhile, coach Gerald Hendricks at some point might have to decide whether some very green players deserve a chance to run the offense.
SCHOLASTIC PLAY-BY-PLAY CLASSIC
Gratz 64, Penn Charter 58
Many teams never recover from a 14-point deficit in a basketball game. Gratz not only accomplished that feat, it did so with a 14-0 run. PC was cruising along at 31-17 in the first game of Palestra quadrupleheader when Gratz coach Leonard Poole abandoned scrambing pressure in favor of man-to-man. The run resulted and, more important, the Bulldogs began to neutralize star PC guard Sean Singletary, a jr. Singletary had accounted for PC's first 14 points with 10 himself and assists for the other two field goals. Gratz' headliner was sr. PG Omar Johnson, who, if he didn't control Singletary, at least made him uncomfortable. Johnson finished with 14 points, 3 assists and 5 steals. He went 4-for-4 at the line in the fourth quarter (and his teammates went 5-for-6). Football star Tyree Watson saw no playing time in the second half, but make no mistake, his contributions were vital. In the second quarter run he had 4 points, 3 assists and 2 steals. Jr. G-F Mark Tyndale, a transfer from Frankford, shot just 4-for-15 (11 points), but did show athleticism. Sr. F Paul Graham, son of ex-NBA player Paul "Snoop" Graham, also had some good moments. He showed spring and a wingspan and could be a classic late bloomer. We'll talk more about Gratz' other players as the season proceeds. For PC, Singletary had 20 points (four treys; 6-for-16 total), 7 assists and 2 steals. Jr. F Rob Kurz never seemed comfortable with the flow of the game, but hey, when he shot he made 6 of 8 en route to 14 points. Oddly, he went just 1-for-4 at the line. Sr. F Matt Ryan had just one point. Sr. F-C Mike Boles shot 4-for-5 for nine points. Soph G Zack Zeglinski had 12 points, nine rebounds, four assists. Here's a crucial stat that led to PC's demise: The Quakers shot 3-for-11 at the line in the fourth quarter. I have a feeling the next practice will feature all kinds of running, with tongues darn near hitting the floor, followed by all kinds of foul shooting.
Episcopal 65, West Catholic 56
Well, folks, I have one piece of advice: Go see Episcopal sometime soon so you, too, will be able to say you saw Gerald Henderson early in his varsity career. Henderson is a 6-4 freshman forward and the son of the former NBA player of the same name. Son has game! He has long limbs and terrific hands and runs on the balls of his feet with long strides. He gets off his feet quickly and has pogo-sticking ways. In transition, he made three catches of long/medium passes that Marvin Harrison would have been proud to call his own and twice twisted in reverse layups after the catch while showing hard-to-believe body control. Henderson shot 8-for-11 and 3-for-4 for 19 points while adding nine rebounds and three blocked shots. As you might imagine, he is still a shade unassertive and is not yet in the habit of demanding the ball from his much older teammates. He worked mostly around the basket, but did take and swish about a 13-foot baseline jumper. What a future he has! The rest of the Churchmen, except for sr. C Brett Meyers (eight points, but just one rebound), are guards. I love the way they play and look for each other. Sr. Matt Deasey (12 points) shot 7-for-7 at the line in the fourth quarter and finished with seven assists and three steals. Soph Dylan Brown added five assists. Sr. WG Ronnie Frazier went hard to the hole en route to 12 points. Jr. Brian Shanahan had six assists. West was without its top player, jr. swingman Marshall Taylor (ankle). Sr. F Brandon Wicker played his butt off, collecting 21 points and 17 rebounds (12 offensive) mostly on hustle. Jr. G Rob Latimer scored his 16 points mostly in transition. Jr. G Brian Robinson mixed six points, three assists, three steals. Sr. PG Curtis Bryant went 2-for-6 on treys and managed six assists. For whatever reason, and this goes back years, West seems to miss a lot of tight-in shots whenever I'm around. The Burrs get to good spots, both in and out of transition, and just don't finish. It's amazing. (In fairness, a lot of possible fouls weren't called in this one.) I sat with Huck and Anthony "Hubba Bubba" King, a scoring machine at William Penn in the early 1980s and Curtis Bryant's neighbor. Bub's 6-year-old son, Anthony, was buzzing all over the gym. He broke Dad's heart by saying football is his favorite sport (smile.)
Prep Charter 84, Bodine 52
I likely won't see these teams later, so I figured I'd catch them now against each other. PC probably faces a long season and won by 32, so you can imagine how things will be for Bodine. PC does have some decent young players, though. Soph F-C Jason Dogan had 27 points and 13 rebounds while freshman F Rodney Green was very active while mixing 12 points, 17 boards, three assists and four steals. Freshman F Paris Griffin also has the look of a future player. Soph PG Bilal Rogers, a lefty, was spunky and played with smarts. He had 19 points and five assists. Jr. G Keith Smith, added three assists and played with composure. Bodine's only true player is jr. WG Jawaan Montgomery. But even Jawaan, on a good team, might not be a starter. On this squad, he rarely gets to take a comfortable shot, and plays on edge because he realizes the ball could be whizzing in the other direction at any moment. He shot 8-for-24 for 20 points while adding 10 rebounds and four steals. Jr. PG Tyree Ezell dished eight assists and worked well with Montgomery. Tiny soph G Keith Gastearl excited the home crowd when he swished a trey. When the game began, there were TWO people in the gym aside from players, coaches, managers and refs -- myself and a parent. Bodine is a few blocks away from the rec center, Northern Liberties, and maybe 40 students showed up after school ended.
Neumann 61, Bartram 47
After the game, a couple of Neumann fans came over and asked, "Now that we've beaten Mansion and Bartram, does this mean we're champions of the Public League?" Neumann not only did it, the wins came in a three-day period. I had high hopes that this would be an event, but not enough people got the word and the crowd was medium, at best. Some were leaving before the end as Bartram faded badly. The Braves may have been slightly distracted because they leave Tuesday night for a tournament in Florida. The biggest moments crowdwise came early in the fourth quarter when sr. WG Kenny Fulton drained a left-corner three -- it was his fourth in five attempts -- to provide a 45-43 lead. Then, after a Bartram bucket, sr. F Todd Johnson (six rebounds, three blocks) came flying down the lane and unfurled an emphatic one-handed jam, making it 47-45 and creating a lasting buzz. Bartram shriveled, to be honest, and scored just two points the rest of the way. Fulton finished with 14 points, and so did sub soph G-F David Burton. But the Pirates' headiner was sr. PG Antwain Wynn. Jr. G Richard "Tabby" Cunningham was unavailable, so Wynn had to shoulder large responsibility. The crafty lefty was juiced going against Bartram sr. Charles Jones and did a fantastic job -- 18 points, 7 assists, 6 steals, even 7 rebounds. Hopefully, the Neumann coaches will send the tape to some colleges. For Bartram, 6-9 sr. Jason Cain finished with 20 points and 12 boards. Sixteen and 10 came in the first half, and he took just three shots in the second half (none in the fourth quarter). The explanation was probably a combination: he didn't do the best job of flashing into the lane, and his teammates weren't so hot at making sure he got the ball no matter where he was. Whatever the reason, no shots for the star player in the fourth quarter is inexcusable. Jones finished with eight points and five assists while splitting time between the point and wing. Sr. F Khalil Abdus-Salaam had six boards. Jr. Maurice Woods played the point in stretches, but was not nearly as brassy as Jones. He was hesitant to split the defense and make two guys play him. He'll learn in time. Tiny sr. Antoine Garfield showed excellent speed and made his only two shots. Amauro and Duck were also in the house. So was Puck. The Neumann assistants gave him a good, playful going-over before the game. He needs that.
Germantown 61, Washington 56
I went to this game in part to watch Washington's 6-8 Dontay Tabbs, only to find out he has been dismissed from the squad. Oh, well. Another day in The Pub. G-town got a shade sloppy in the fourth quarter and allowed G-Dub to slash a 20-point deficit to four points (the Bears missed eight free throws), but overall did some nice things. The guards, srs. Steve Custus (11 points; he's a lefty) and Tyrone Sheppard (four), were quick and aggressive and very interested in sharing the ball. They had five and six assists, respectively. I also liked 6-5 sr. F Keith Shanks. He's a shade on the slow side, but exhibits nice body control and general b-ball savvy and has a good touch, even from beyond the arc. He also has a decent build. He shot 8-for-20 (two treys) and 8-for-8 for 26 points while adding six boards. He appears to be a state school prospect. Jr. SF Ivan Evans had 10 points and 12 boards; he's one of those slinky guys. Jr. Bryan Jones, a lefty, does similar things (he had six points, six boards). G-town coach Otis Hackney had eight players in uniform and will add a ninth next week. He's 6-6 sr. William Pierce, who's expected to start. Washington's leaders were sr. combo guard John Hampton (15 points, five steals) and jr. F-C Bryon Gaddy (eight points, 12 rebounds). Srs. Joe Ndanu, Mike General and Kasid "Nate" Bland are similar little guys, and coach Calvin Jones mixes and matches them depending on situations. Ndanu had just six points, but he has some born-scorer tendencies and will do much better later. General shoots almost the instant he touches the ball, usually from deep. He needs to make more to have that green of a light. Srs. Lamar Jones and Brent Smith battled hard inside. G-town's gym is in great shape. Clean and bright. It was fun seeing some old friends in phys ed teachers Rick Beckett, Joe Fite and Harry Markovitz, along with FB coach/AD Mike Hawkins.
Penn Charter 78, Neumann 55
I know the holiday is still two weeks away, but all I can say is "Holy Christmas!" Amauro and Duck had told me (and written) some wonderful things about Sean Singletary's ability as a basketball player, and now I've seen for myself. The jr. PG, who formerly played at Haverford School and Perkiomen Prep, was spectacular in this showdown between Inter-Ac and Catholic League headliners. In the first quarter alone, he generated 13 points, three assists and three steals and then almost finished with a triple double -- 24, 10 and seven. I could have watched him play for another couple of hours. He was smart and quick and aggressive, but when he shot, he had the relaxed body language of someone who was alone in a park, merely tossing coins in a fountain. In every sport, the great ones have it. Singletary ended a 28-10 first quarter with a four-point play, as he was bumped to the floor while draining a trey. The crowd buzzed about Singletary through the entire break between quarters. The best thing about Singletary's outing was that it came against a high-quality backcourt tandem, jr. Richard "Tabby" Cunningham and sr. Antwain Wynn. They combined for 13 points, six assists and - very telling stat -- just one steal. Also for PC, 6-8 jr. G-F Rob Kurz shot 11-for-18 (two treys) and 6-for-8 for 30 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He's an accomplished wing player, but at that size, of course, he has to spend some time inside. Kurz was able to catch and shoot and use his height to survive against meatier, more physical players. Star QB Matt Ryan, a sr. F, mixed eight points and five boards. Sr. C Mike Boles had six boards. Soph WG Zack Zeglinski hit two treys en route to eight points. The day was not a good one for Neumann. The game had to be held up for at least 15 minutes because a pipe was leaking right above midcourt. Finally, workers wrapped tape and what looked like a plastic trash bag around it. After the horrible first quarter, Neumann dug in better defensively and actually won the second, 24-15, but PC adjusted and maintained control throughout the second half. Pirate sr. F Kevin Lauer shot 4-for-5 for eight points. Sr. WG Jack Hatty came off the bench to drain two treys. PC's unselfish ways continued to the end as jr. Dave McEnerney scored a late basket on a pretty feed from sr. George Castle.
Roman 75, Friends' Central 66
This is tough to fathom, but just eight days ago jr. F-C Charron Fisher and jr. G-F Andre Sloan-El were playing football. Yes, they looked a shade out of sync and even a little slow at times, but their contributions were big-time. Fisher totaled 30 points, 15 rebounds and even 4 assists. Sloan-El had 24 points. Geez, imagine if they had not played football. Fisher was victmized multiple times early by blocks as he tried to ram through everyone. But he eventually settled down and took what came to him. He shot 8-for-21 overall, 3-for-5 on treys and 11-for-15 at the line. Check out that stat line again: yes, 3-for-5 on treys. He looked comfortable shooting them, too. One thing I wanted to see this season was whether Charron had improved his floor game. The early answer: a resounding yes! Sloan-El did his damage with threes, shooting 6-for-9 (and 8-for-13 overall). He is not to be left open. Jr. F Brent Johnson, a transfer from Shawnee, in South Jersey, battled for nine rebounds and eight points. Jr. PG Bobby Jordan dished three assists. Overall, coach Dennis Seddon was only mildly pleased. The Cahillites went off half-cocked and made silly mistakes far too often. They did, however, withstand all of FC's challenges, and there's much to be said for that. Late in the game, Jordan and mates did a much better job of breaking FC's pressure and getting easy baskets (or foul shots) at the other end. For FC, sr. guard Mustafa Shakur, considered by many to be the nation's top point guard prospect, was a whirlwind. FC's talent level is such that he just can't concentrate on setting up teammates, so he often has to look to score. Staf went for 36 points, shooting 11-for-24 overall, 5-for-10 on treys and 9-for-11 at the line. He added 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. I love how he shoots the ball, quickly getting it into launch position and leaning forward slightly, minimizing the chances he'll leave it short. He goes hard all the time and rarely makes bad decisions. His shirt was soaked before the first quarter even ended. FC's 6-7 sr. C, London Houston, formerly of Franklin Learning Center, had 10 points and nine blocks. He was quick off his feet, obviously, and showed great timing.
CHESTNUT HILL TOURNEY
St. Joe's Prep 86, Central 51
This one was never a contest. Prep jumped to a 15-0 lead and surged ahead by as many as 40. Central was unable to use School District buses to get to CHA, so CHA officials sent two vans to get the Lancers. They arrived late and were rushing through warmups. Just a fact. Not an excuse. The Hawks appeared to be in midseason form. They were crisp and aggressive and Central had no answer for 6-6 sr. C Mark Zoller. Zoller, who's being pursued by many lower-level D-I academic schools, shot 12-for-17 and 6-for-6 for 30 points. He also plucked eight rebounds. He did not play in the fourth quarter. As always, I loved the kid's hands and instincts. For my tastes, there's nothing better than a basketball player who doesn't waste motion and this is Zoller personified. Jr. PG Chris Clark mixed 14 points, 8 assists (he kept claiming he had 10 -- smile) and 5 steals. Jr. WG John Griffin shot 3-for-4 on treys en route to 14 points; he also dealt 5 assists. Griffin exhibited a calm demeanor; he looked like he knew he was going to play well and wasn't surprised when he did. Not cocky, just confident. Jr. WG T.J. Valerio hit all three of his treys as did a sub, jr. WG Jared Black. Sr. backup F Brett Novielli battled for 5 rebounds in his fourth quarter stint and his teammates got excited when he canned two late free throws. Jr. WG Pat O'Toole almost set a national high school record for most fouls in a first half by a deep sub with three (smile), but in the fourth quarter he made the move of the game with a spin move followed by a layup. As for Central, whoa, the Lancers struggled mightily. There appears to be no true point guard and the Lancers had major trouble getting into their offense, especially against Prep's starters. Soph F Malcolm Ingram hustled for 10 points and nine rebounds; eight off the offensive boards. Frosh Kenneth St. George also had some decent moments, knifing through the exterior defense to get into the lane. So did soph Lamar Williams, who appears to have the truest PG look and body language. Soph G-F Scott Rodgers collected 12 points and 7 rebounds. Central will likely be much better later.
King 51, Southern 50
As good as football is, you can go a whole season and never see a game truly decided on the final play. This was my first basketball game of the 2002-03 season and, presto!, last-second heroics! The Cougars won on a layup by 6-10 Temple signee Wayne Marshall, who only shot 12-for-12 from the floor (two dunks) and 5-for-6 at the line for 29 points. The play was picture perfect. King inbounded at 0:07 under Southern's basket and had to go the length of the court. Four guys touched the ball -- sr. F Bryan Garrison, sr. PG Quincy Marshall (Wayne's first cousin), sr. WG Andre Hammond and Big Wayne. Southern had taken a 50-49 lead at 0:07 on a fifth-chance basket. Soph WG Amir Ryan missed a shot in the lane, then jr. C Shawn Sabb and jr. F Steven Rudd played two sets of ping-pong until Rudd made his only field goal of the game. W. Marshall had 11 rebounds (10 in the first half) and two blocks (both AFTER he incurred his fourth foul with 7:10 left). He showed excellent footwork and body control and several times scored on reverse layups, using the basket for protection. Q. Marshall dealt five assists and went 9-for-13 at the line, all in the fourth quarter. He did miss his last three, though, allowing Southern to hang around. Hammond (six points) is a respectable wing shooter, but went 1-for-10 on treys. His feet weren't always set. He'll hit some very big shots later on. Jr. SFs Stefon "DJ" Jackson and Sean Amos did little things. Sr. F Carl Samuels never got off the bench, but did get into some funny discussions with Southern's fans. At one point a fan hassled him about not getting into the game and Carl hollered, "I'm a football player!" The fan shot back, "Go play football, then!" For the Rams, Sabb shot 7-for-14 and 2-for-3 for 16 points and grabbed nine boards. Jr. PG Antoine "Doo Dirty" Brown shot 3-for-12 and 2-for-2 for eight points. He has very good body control and needs to get to the line more often. On many of his misses, he got to great spots, but failed to finish, sometimes throwing up slop. He added seven assists (one was beautiful) and five steals. Jr. WG Ryan Williams (16 points) swished his first three treys and went 4-for-6 overall. He looked extremely comfortable and confident letting fly. Ryan, a transfer from Furness, showed flashes, but he tended to rush and get caught in in-between spots. He was just trying to make a nice impression before his new fans, no doubt. Jr. WG Keith Grimes is not yet in action. Meanwhile, King coach Greg Moore has benched three players for the first four games for not doing well enough academically, even though they're eligible by School District standards. The sequence of the game occurred in the third quarter when Sabb scored on back-to-bank dunks, providing a 32-26 lead. Strangely, the Rams then lost much of their juice and allowed King to score 19 of the next 27 points.