CATHOLIC LEAGUE FINAL
SJ Prep 77, Dougherty 70
Because the Pub final went OT and Broad Street offered some very frustrating congestion, I didn't arrive until just before halftime. But I can tell you this about the second half: The Prep was The Prep and then some. With their student (and adult) fans roaring their approval at every opportunity, the Hawks showed brass and savvy and, frankly, had more bounce in their step than the Cardinals. Dougherty did a nice job of containing jr. WG John Griffin (1-for-9, 2 points), but its defenders were often a split-second late in getting out on jr. PG Chris Clark (15, three treys), sr. WG T.J. Valerio (14, four) and sr. F Kyle Eisenmann (13, one) and dearly paid a price. As for Mark Zoller, hey, give him a loud volume holler! How fantastic was this kid during the playoffs? The sr. C shot 11-for-16 and 9-for-10 for 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. He did so while wearing two numbers, his usual 24 and then 32 (due to blood on the jersey). Also, in the waning moments, he got smacked hard in the face by jr. G Kyle Lowry, who was whizzing past trying for a steal (a tech was called). Lowry finished with 29 points and 5 steals and caused some definite late-game concern for the Preppers when he rallied Dougherty within five, shortly after the lead had swelled to 12. His best helper in this one was sr. G-F Isaac Greer, who zigged and zagged to 19 points (four treys) while also claiming 7 boards. Sr. PG Shawn Bolling had 5 assists.
PUBLIC LEAGUE FINAL
Bartram 64, Gratz 62 (OT)
Far too many cheap fouls were called in this one and it detracted greatly from the overall experience. Plus, until late in the fourth quarter, the spectators at Temple's Liacouras Center mostly just watched and refrained from expressing themselves. But by the end of regulation, there was a true rockin' and rollin' Pub feel and pulses were definitely racing. The Braves' headliner had to be sr. F Todd "Kojak" McCoy, the acknowledged fifth starter. The FB quarterback exploded for 23 points (9-for-13, 5-for-6) and 14 rebounds and made clutch plays again and again. He was especially effective on the offensive boards. He did some understated trash-talking along the way, too, and seemed to get in a few Bulldogs' heads. Sr. C Jason Cain had just one FG en route to 8 points, but he made some excellent passes from the post (7 assists) and had good numbers in the rebound (9) and block departments (7) as well. Sr. PG Charles Jones had gigantic struggles at the foul line (5-for-14) and if Bartram had lost, he would have agonized for many moons. Everywhere but at the stripe, though, he was big-time, finishing with 21 points (7-for-11 floor) and 4 assists. Sr. F Khalil Abdus-Salaam had 10 boards and 5 blocks and did some lockdown defending on Gratz' only truly reliable scorer, jr. F Mark Tyndale (10 points, just 10 shots from floor). Tyndale fouled out with 7.9 left in regulation after hammering Cain on a left-baseline drive. Bartram trailed by one. Cain missed the first free throw badly and had a nervous smile on his face as he tried to regroup. He then stuck the second shot to create a tie at 51-51. At the other end, sr. PG Omar Johnson missed on a drive. Sr. backup G Antwan Garfield gave Bartram an early lead in OT with a layup on a pass from Jones, and that would be the Braves' only FG attempt of the session. It then went 11-for-18 at the line. Gratz, meanwhile, shot 4-for-15 from the floor. The Bulldogs used nine players. Eight scored from six to 10 points.
CATHOLIC LEAGUE SEMIFINAL
Dougherty 70, Neumann 60
The semifinals were not kind to the Cardinals in the previous three seasons, as they lost by medium-to-big margins, and things looked ominous this time, too. With 1:29 left in the third quarter, jr. G Kyle Lowry, the North MVP and his team's obvious heart and soul, incurred his fourth foul and began a slow walk to the bench. But when he got there, he was pushed back onto the court by coach Mark Heimerdinger. With 10.5 seconds left, 6-7 jr. C DeSean White picked up his third foul and then his fourth right away in the form of a tech. So, as the fourth quarter began, Dougherty's best player was one false move from being disqualified and its second-best player was watching the action (coach's decision; he never did return). Nevertheless, the Cardinals fashioned what was likely their best quarter of the season against a quality opponent and won going away. Their edge was 25-8. Lowry and his best buddy and housemate, jr. F Shane Clark, had 8 points apiece in the session. Sr. WG-SF Isaac Greer added 7. The Cardinals were aggressive and brassy, and their confidence mushroomed as the quarter went on. Sr. PG Shawn Bolling, Greer and jr. G Bilal Benn, a lockdown defensive whiz, helped to hold scoreless Neumann's quality guards, jr. Richard "Tabby" Cunningham and sr. Antwain Wynn. Lowry finished with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. White and Greer also scored 17. Clark had 12 with 10 boards. The Cardinals crushed Neumann on the boards, 38-23, and in one important fourth quarter sequence got four chances (with Greer being fouled on the fourth). Once they got rolling, the Redbirds had a tidal wave look. The developments had to be extremely disappointing for Neumann, the two-time defending champion. Once things started to go wrong, it must have been hard for the players not to flash back to the 88-53 pounding they suffered a few weeks ago vs. St. Joseph's Prep. Three Buccos finished in double figures: Cunningham (15), sr. WG Kenny Fulton (12, all on treys) and jr. F Adon El (11). Only El, with 7, had more than 4 rebounds. Cunningham (7) and Wynn (4) led in assists. Before the game even started, Neumann's student rooters spotted Prep star Mark Zoller walking to his seat and came out with some funny chants related to his bushy hair. Each one was better than the last and Zoller appeared to be enjoying it. The best "bust" was then someone yelled out that Zoller looks like "Sideshow Bob" of Simpsons fame. Mark and all his teammates cracked up over that one.
CATHOLIC LEAGUE SEMIFINAL
SJ Prep 66, La Salle 44
I figured La Salle could give Prep a decent battle on the rivalry factor and the fact it had looked pretty good while dumping Wood. But Prep had too much talent and sr. C Mark Zoller proved to be unstoppable, so . . . Zoller shot 11-for-16 for 25 points and sank his last eight shots in a row. He also had 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Jr. WG John Griffin added 20 points while going 5-for-12 on treys. Jr. PG Chris Clark, who suffered a sprained left ankle in the quarterfinal win over Carroll, showed no ill effects. He went 3-for-6 on treys (distance shots usually require decent lift) and had 11 points overall. He also had 7 assists and 3 steals. Victimizing sr. C Will Furey in the high post, Clark had a couple steals during a 10-0 run that gave Prep a 31-19 lead. He also started the spurt with a trey, his first FG of the game. Sr. F Kyle Eisenmann had eight boards and did his usually effective job on inbound passes. For La Salle, Furey finished with 9 points and 8 boards and sr. F Brian Donohoe had 12 points. Nine of them came on three straight treys that rallied La Salle from a 21-10 deficit. One thought: I was a little surprised Prep coach William "Speedy" Morris did not go to his seventh-eighth men a little earlier (two minutes left). Getting them some playing time before garbage time might have made some sense in case they're needed in the title game. Both schools has big turnouts, students and adults. It'll be interesting to see if the Neumann-Dougherty game comes anywhere close to filling Tom Gola Arena. Still no programs or roster sheets. Unbelievable. The looks of disgust on the faces of TV cameramen, and their comments, are priceless.
PUBLIC LEAGUE SEMIFINAL
Gratz 67, Franklin LC 37
Phew, the Bulldogs were ready for this one! With a chance to return to the championship game on the line, Gratz was bold and brassy from the very beginning and pretty much dominated throughout. Leading the way was sr. PG Omar Johnson, who got the better of sr. PG Michael Green in their personal duel. Johnson, a true waterbug, had 23 points and 3 assists while shooting 8-for-12 and 7-for-10. Green shot 2-for-13 and one of those FGs came near the very end. Early, Johnson received all kinds of help in the havoc-wreaking department from sr. WG Tyree Watson, of FB fame. Those guys, along with another sr. G, Tariq Wharton, swarmed all over FLC's ballhandlers. Also, the Bobcats were not helped by an early injury to sr. G-F Tyreek Byard, who fell and hit his head in the midcourt area. It looked very bad, at first, and Tyreek's loved ones even rushed out onto the court. But he turned out to be OK, thankfully. In fact, he wound up being the only Bobcat to have a decent outing (6-for-10, 14 points). Jr. F Mark Tyndale had 17 points and 8 boards for the Bulldogs and 6-7 jr. C Matt Walden, a thin lefty who's starting to blossom, had 7 points and 4 blocks. He also made an impressive quick-step move to free himself for a layup. For FLC, jr. G Michael Scott showed quickness and the big, get-around-guys first step. He's definitely one to keep an eye on. The play of the game (season?) came at the very end when sub sr. F Paul Graham, son of ex-NBA player Paul "Snoop" Graham, almost jumped through the basket on an alley-oop slam (inbound pass from sr. G Brandon Void). It was unbelievable. As the buzzer sounded, the starters and subs alike zoomed from spot to spot on the court expressing glee over Graham's finishing touch.
CATHOLIC LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL
La Salle 46, Wood 29
You've gotta feel some sympathy for the Vikings, at least to some degree. Lifetime, they are now 0-10 in playoff games and the pain was greater than usual because this time they entered as the higher ranked squad. Until the waning moments, Wood had just TWO turnovers, so sloppiness was not the problem. What was? Shooting, or lack thereof. Wood went 11-for-53 overall and 5-for-21 on treys. La Salle continually switched defenses, but the cornerstone of the shut-'em-down effort was a diamond-and-one on sr. PG Greg Arrow (1-for-8, 4 points). Sharing the honors were sr. G Matt McGurkin and jr. G Ryan Kirk. Sr. C Will Furey had 14 points (6-for-9) and 6 boards. Sr. PG Chris Reedman (11) and sr. F Brian Donohoe (10) also scored in double figures while sub G-F Kevin Moll, a jr., plucked 11 rebounds. Not much more to say about this one, troops.
PUBLIC LEAGUE SEMIFINAL
Bartram 50, King 44
March came in like a lamb. A limping lamb with bad eyesight. In the hallowed Palestra, the teams combined to shoot 26-for-106 (24.5 percent) and such lack of marksmanship made this game very difficult to watch. So did all the personals (42). Then, near the end, and I understand the need to be cautious, it was very disappointing to see at least 30 police officers swoop down and surround the court even though there'd been no hint of trouble. Altogether, I was told 50 officers were on hand (school district/Penn). The crowd could not have been more than 1,500. Maybe more like 1,200. Anyway, the only player to shoot even remotely well was Bartram sr. WG Bryant Leach, and even he finished under 50 percent (6-for-14). But he was excellent early, scoring 12 of the Braves' 16 first quarter points thanks in part to three consecutive treys. Bartram suffered a blow 4:48 before halftime when 6-9 sr. C Jason Cain was handed a tech (his third foul) for giving a King player a two-handed shove. Bartram led, 21-14, at the time and King seized the opportunity to take a 2-point lead into halftime as sr. SF Stefon "D.J." Jackson hit a baseline jumper. The third quarter ended 36-36. Sr. PG Charles Jones, who's known for brassy fourth quarters, got the Braves rolling with a couple of early field goals. The matchup between Cain and King's 6-10 Wayne Marshall was nothing spectacular. Cain had 6 points, 9 boards and 3 blocks. Marshall had 14, 12 and 6. Neither one was particularly smooth. Going to the Palestra, I was excited and looking forward to a great game. Instead, I got to witness something of a dud. It happens. I just don't like when it happens in a semifinal.
CATHOLIC LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL
Neumann 55, Roman 53
It's amazing how often this happens: a few times every season, a team will trail throughout a game and then win on a shot at the buzzer. As the team that's ahead loses the lead little by little, there's almost a scent in the air. The victim this time was Roman, which coughed up an 11-point lead in the last 7-plus minutes. The winning basket came at 0:01 as sr. G Antwain Wynn (8 assists) drove down the lane and dropped off a pass to jr. F Adon El, who deposited a layup off the glass. Neumann scored the final seven points of the game. El (13 points, 7 rebounds) had a follow and jr. G Richard "Tabby" Cunningham (10 of 15 points in fourth quarter) had a huge trey on a pass from Wynn, creating a tie at 51-51. At the other end, Roman missed a pair of tight shots and Cunningham somehow wrested the ball out of grasp of Roman's 6-3 jr. manchild, Charron Fisher, thus setting up the deciding sequence. Fisher shot 11-for-21 and 3-for-4 for 25 points and grabbed 20 boards. Jr. SF Khalil Ferguson (9 points, 4 blocks, 2 steals) also did some nice things for the Cahillites, especially early to help set the tone, and when he fouled out with 5:03 left, Roman had a nine-point pad. Thereafter, Roman was guilty of some shaky fouls, thus allowing Neumann to prolong the game; its goal anyway. Among the Buccos' prime contributors was sr. F Todd Johnson, a Shippensburg signee. In 22 minutes off the bench, he had 11 points, 8 boards and 3 blocks. Sr. F-C Kevin Lauer posted nine rebounds. Just as the fourth quarter started, an adult Neumann fan stood behind us and yelled, "It's your time, Tabby! Put these guys on your shoulders! Carry them! C'mon!" Damn if Tabby didn't do it. With help, of course. Something to think about: All six of Roman coach Dennis Seddon's previous playoff losses came to the eventual champion. Does that mean Neumann is headed for a threepeat???
PUBLIC LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL
King 66, Straw. Mansion 63 (OT)
This was the kind of game, and atmosphere, that first drew me to Pub ball three decades ago. There was intensity and, especially toward the end, serious nervousness for all involved, even sports writers. I knew we could be witnessing the end of a fanastic career -- that of Mansion sr. G Maureece Rice. I heard about this kid even before he got to high school and I've enjoyed watching him progress as a player and, more important, as a young man. He is definitely more mature and I'm told, by friends at Mansion, that he is seeing more and more of the big picture and what he needs to do to continue his success on the next level. Anyway, Rice scored 20 points, raising his season total to 759 and career total to 2,681, far and away the No. 1 total in city history (Wilt had 2,206). He also got off the last shot of the game, a trey he released while tightroping along the left sideline after taking an inbound pass from sr. F-C Delton Morgan-Hines (14, 11 boards). The ball bounced off the glass and hit the near side of the rim. Close, but not really close. Mansion coach Gerald Hendricks thought Rice was fouled and indeed he might have been. However, I'm not sure it would have been in Rice's best interests to see him go to the line, with all that pressure, needing to hit three consecutive free throws just to force a second OT. Rice got the chance for his last shot after King 6-4 sr. F Stefon "D.J." Jackson batted away a long pass intended for Rice and sr. PG Quincy Marshall (6 assists) tossed the ball into the rafters, in premature celebration. The refs put 1.5 seconds on the clock. My DN story focused on Jackson, who's springy and has a wide wingspan and is a master of the mid-range jumper. He went for 24 points and 13 rebounds. D.J. is a junior academically, so prep schools should be camped out on his doorstep. Sr. C Wayne Marshall (Temple) had 19 points and 8 rebounds and a key, late block even though a foul would have ended his action for the day. He shot 11-for-12 at the line, and how many coaches would kill for a big guy who can truly shoot fouls? Mansion sr. F Tyrell Mathis had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
PUBLIC LEAGUE ROUND OF 16
Northeast 99, Franklin 82
Now, THIS was the real Troy Roundtree. When I saw NE a couple times earlier this season, the 6-5 sr. F looked OK, but nothing special. But he was juiced from the outset, looked much quicker and more aggressive and, of course, exhibited his omnipresent body control/savvy. 'Tree needed 20 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He stormed within two by halftime and got the milestone with perfect timing, cutting off a hot streak that saw Franklin ease within 51-48. Rouendtree's final line: 13-for-19, 11-for-12, 37 points, 14 rebounds. Obviously, with 99 points for the Vikings, somebody had to get 'em. Three more srs., PG Maurice Sammons (24), WG Tom Jakeman (16) and SF Shawn Taylor (also 16) helped out. Frosh C Rockeed McCarter had 11 boards. The Vikings were killers in transition, in part because Franklin was mostly disinterested in playing defense. When the Electrons tried, they were called for numerous fouls and frustration set in. Northeast went 33-for-45 at the line. A number of D-II scouts were in attendance, no doubt checking out Roundtree, maybe Taylor and Franklin PG Brian Smith (24 points, 3 assists). Smith has much to offer. He has a smooth, radar jumper, even from distance, and also qualifies as a passing-whiz. He's similar to ex-E&S star Will Chavis, now at Texas Tech (or wherever it is that Mr. Disgrace of a Human Being, Bobby Knight, is coaching), and at this stage is a better deep shooter. Soph F-C Abdullah Moon showed good pogo-sticking. I was also happy to see sr. F Jamel Wellman do some nice things. 'Mel worked in our sports department earlier this school year as part of a senior project. We all think the world of him and want to see him do well. He has the look of a classic late-bloomer. Once his body fills out and he gains some confidence via experience, he'll make some coach very happy.
Roman 82, Carroll 55
A few people, knowing that both teams had clinched playoff berths, asked why I was covering this game. The answer became apparent afterward: It was coach Dennis Seddon's 400th win. Though the teams competed, there was no sense of urgency so this report won't be long. There were two cool plays: jr. F-C Charron Fisher, while stumbling backward and being fouled, caught a rebound and simultaneously pushed the ball back toward the glass. It banked in. Late in the game, sub soph F Scott Mascio threw down a dunk. In the second quarter, there was a 35-minute delay because the ceiling was leaking. (The details are covered in my DN story). Roman's rooters had some great lines. Noticing that referee Horace Owens, our city player of the year in 1979 for Dobbins, was wearing fancy sneakers, one yelled, "You can't wear Jordans when you're 40, Horace!" Another followed right up with a very deep voice, "But they make me feel like a man!" Horace said later he heard the kids and had to keep from laughing.
INTER-AC POSTSEASON TOURNAMENT, FINAL
Penn Charter 70, Gtn. Academy 66
The weather outside was brutal, but it would have been hard to surpass this affair on the good vibrations meter. The teams competed as though a title WAS at stake and their efforts were appreciated by an overflow crowd. In the worst way, GA wanted to bump off its arch-rival and it darn near happened. Though a spectacular second quarter, fueled largely by the play of jr. PG Sean Singletary (15 points), staked PC to a 45-31 lead, the Patriots kept pushing and pushing and, by late in the fourth quarter, sliced the lead to three points on a few occasions. It wasn't until 5.8 seconds remained, when Singletary hit a free throw, that PC's win was assured. All of the stats are in boxscore form, accessible from the home page. PC loses two important starters in F Matt Ryan and F-C Mike Boles. Everybody and his mother will be back for GA. Next season will be very interesting. Can we start it tomorrow? And can we somehow change the rules so the postseason tourney DOES decide the champ? Everyone in attendance would agree: This game had a for-all-the-marbles feel.
INTER-AC POSTSEASON TOURNAMENT
Gtn. Academy 59, Malvern 51
The Patriots, 4-6 during the season, toppled the 7-3 Friars by going on a 10-0 run after the game's last tie, at 49-49. The headliners were the two sophomore frontcourters, Ryan Ayers (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Brian Grimes (15 points, 17 rebounds, 4 blocks). These two will have all kinds of fun the next two years. They complement each other and already appear to have good chemistry. GA's unsung hero was jr. WG Doug Depte, who did a wonderful defensive job on Malvern franchise Brian Grandieri, a jr. PG-WG-SF, in the second half. In the second quarter, Grandieri (21 points) at some junctures toyed with the Patriots, scoring 10 points. But in the second half, he shot just 1-for-7 until getting an uncontested dunk at game's end. Jr. PG Larry Sharp had 9 points and 4 assists and went 4-for-4 at the line in the final minute-plus. Grimes, on an inbound pass from Ayers, had the first dunk in tournament history with 0:11 showing. GA went 17-for-19 at the line. Malvern's Pat Williams, a sr. sub, bowed out with a scrappy performance (nine points). Meanwhile, I have Grandieri finishing the season with 1,068 points. With one more remaining, of course. Not bad. Not bad at all.
INTER-AC POSTSEASON TOURNAMENT
Gtn. Academy 73, Haverford School 35
Yikes! The first postseason game in the league's 80-season history wasn't competitive, at all. GA rolled to leads of 17-0 and 27-2 and the Fords looked very rusty. Accompanying my DN story is a list of the various firsts. The first basket, a trey, went to jr. PG Larry Sharp. The Patriots' bookend frontcourters, Brian Grimes and Ryan Ayers, looked very good. They were active and played hard and showed good hands. Not too much else to say. I affirm, however, that GA has about 78 kids with the same build and same height (smile). It's unbelievable. I was hoping to get another good look at HS jr. WG Pete Kathopoulis. He was sick, though, and was unable to do very much. He finished with four points. Jr. F Dan Coleman came off the bench to add some pogo-stick qualities. Coach Brian Shane dressed three frosh. One of them, WG Bob Deasey, hit a late trey. He's the brother of Episcopal sr. WG Matt Deasey.
Judge 39, La Salle 36
Sam Katz, the Republican candidate for mayor, was in attendance, and somehow we wound up sitting maybe 5 feet apart. In the second quarter, after the score stayed stuck on 20-11 for what seemed like 5 hours, I leaned over and asked him, "Are you gonna have the power to put in a shot clock?" He responded pleasantly, "I'll try to get them some shooters." These teams had each other scouted as thoroughly as possible. La Salle coach Marty Jackson would call out a name or number and Judge coach Bill Fox would respond immediately with something to counteract it. Vice versa, too. With not much happening on the court, at times, and with the heat in the gym for some reason turned way up, I literally had to fight off the urge to sleep. My DN story focused on sr. F Tom Keenan. He was the only Crusader to score in double figures (10) and made two big blocks in the last couple minutes. He is being eyed by a few D-IIs and many D-IIIs. He plays hard with the hint of a mean streak and his body could fill out big-time by the time his college career is over. He can even succeed beyond the arc. Sr. PG Bill Geiger had 8 points and 3 assists. Sr. F Jim Glowienka had a big steal in the stretch and converted a double-bonus. At the very end, La Salle had five shots on two possessions, but could not convert. The second of Keenan's blocks came here, when he went flying toward sr. PG Chris Reedman in the left corner and blocked/controlled a trey. But he came down on the end line with the ball and La Salle got another chance. Kevin Moll's trey from the other side was long. Sr. C Will Furey had 13 points and 4 rebounds. Keenan, both in man-to-man and zone, did a nice job on him. La Salle got a few contributions from sub F Nick Shattuck, who'd been out with an injury. Judge JV coach Bill Koch was honored before the game for his 500th JV win in 24 seasons. It came Wednesday night vs. McDevitt. Some kids sitting behind me came out with a few good lines. Jackson, like most coaches, has a loud, booming voice. When Jackson bellowed out instructions one time, a Judge kid said, "Yelling does not solve anything." Later, same situation, another said, "Use your indoor voice."
SJ Prep 88, Neumann 53
With apologies to Vin Scully, dating back to the Kirk Gibson homer, "I don't believe what I just saw!" Every once in a while, you'll see a good team bury a medium team. But how often does a good team bury one that's its equal? You won't believe these numbers, but I'll give them to you anyway: In the first half, Prep shot 21-for-26 from the floor and 9-for-11 on treys! It then made four of its first five shots in the second half. I half expected the referees to say, "Listen, to try to even things up here, we're making you wear blindfolds the rest of the game." Prep's starters finished 34-for-46 and 12-for-15!! Leading the way was sr. C Mark Zoller, who went 13-for-14 (he followed his one miss for a basket) for 29 points. He also had 10 boards and 8 blocks. Jr. PG Chris Clark shot 8-for-10 and 3-for-3 for 20 points; he also had 9 assists and 3 steals. Jr. WG John Griffin shot 7-for-8 and 3-for-4 for 18 points. Sr. G-F T.J. Valerio went 5-for-11 and 4-for-6 for 14 points. The Prep had a very large student turnout and those kids were going absolutely berserk. There's not much to say about Neumann's performance. Coach Carl Arrigale kept coaching and kept imploring his kids to play hard, but it was truly one of those days. Here's a stat that will show you how well Prep shot: No Bucco had more than 4 rebounds. Prep has now swept Neumann with this one, of course, being a debacle. Will it have long-range negative effects? My strong guess is no. Then again, I doubt anyone would ever want to lose a big game by 35 just to test how resilient the players can be.
King 57, Gratz 55 (OT)
For the second week in a row, King received big contributions from a lesser light. It was jr. G Ricardo Laing in the win over Bartram and this time it was jr. G-F Mykol Hutson, who goes a mere 200 pounds (at 5-10). The Bearded One barely plays in some big games, but received 17 minutes here (in part because Laing is out with an injury) and came up with 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. He has a great attitude about being a sub and it was nice to see him enjoy some time in the limelight. Gratz had no one to contend with 6-10 Temple signee Wayne Marshall, who shot 9-for-13 and 9-for-13 for 27 points. He had two-three hanging on him all game and was tough! He even made several moves to the basket from outside the arc. Bartram's Jason Cain is not the only athletic tall guy in this city! Sr. PG Quincy Marshall did not score, but stood up to Gratz' pressure rather well. Oddity: the Garrison brothers, Bryan and Shawn, played 18 minutes total without taking a shot! For Gratz, FB franchise Tyree Watson started and went 31 minutes, collecting 6 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. Sr. PG Omar Johnson had 16 points and jr. F Mark Tyndale added 14 points, 10 boards. Sr. PG-WG Tariq Wharton took a last-second trey that could have won it, but it was a tough shot because two defenders were flying at him. The division title was King's first since 1984. The Cougars, who entered The Pub in 1976-77, can finish perfect for the first time by winning at Washington on Tuesday. Joe Stanley, King's AD, was home sick. Marge Stinson did a great job filling in and keeping things running smoothly. She even convinced the DJ to play some Martha and the Vandellas during pre-game warmups. The King players were playfully frowning hard. Marge yelled over to me, "This is OUR music, right Ted?" Yeah, for a moment. Then it was back to rap and hip-hop (smile).
West Phila. 66, Overbrook 52
Sad chapter in this storied rivalry, folks. At the start of the game, maybe 60 people were in the stands and only six players were in uniform for 'Brook. The other eight? Academically ineligible. Of the six, only sr. C Elijah Talbert and sr. SF James Paige, forced to play PG, had seen much action this season. But you know what? The Surviving Six played hard and together and definitely put some fear into the Speedboys. The halftime deficit was only three points and 'Brook cut it to one, 30-29, when the only meltdown of the game incurred. Helped by three quick turnovers, West went on an 8-0 run and maintained from there. West's leader was jr. PG Chris Williams, a solidly built lefty with a good handle and feel for the game. I wonder, however, if he needs contacts because he's forever squinting and when he misses, he often does so badly. He had 21 points, 4 assists, 3 steals. Sr. SF Shalty Smith was aggressive and enthusiastic en route to 13 points. Sr. PF Maurice Polen had 8 points and 3 steals in the third quarter. Jr. WG Ricardo Lovelace again showed his great form on jumpers; this kid's career bears watching. Among 'Brook's extras, soph WG Richard Harvey, a lefty, showed the best. He bobbed and weaved and threw in several impossible bank shots. Sr. F Sean Holland grabbed 8 rebounds and had 5 assists. Talbert mixed 16 points, 13 boards. D-IIIs looking for inside workhorses should be on this kid hard. But here's an oddity: he went to the line six times after getting fouled while shooting. Every time he made one, missed one. The game was halted with 0:37 left because the players and fans were getting, um, let's call it "edgy."
Dougherty 109, McDevitt 83
Fans who sat courtside are still being treated for windburn in area hospitals. Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh! Again and again and again, the Cardinals grabbed rebounds or made steals and zoomed downcourt for easy baskets against a team that couldn't or, in some cases, wouldn't offer much opposition. Dougherty shot 47-for-99 and hit its first 11 attempts. It snatched 63 rebounds and dished 29 assists!!! The Cards had 24 points in the first 3:50. They had 41 at the quarter and 69 at the half. Unbelievable. My DN story focused on 6-7 jr. C DeSean White, who finished with 31 points and 14 boards. He had 24 and 11 at the half. Jr. CG Kyle Lowry had 16 points, 8 boards, 4 assists. Ah, if you want to see all the amazing numbers, they're in the DN. I'll add this: sr. F-C Walter Fortson, a sub, deserves a medal. He made some of the best frontcourt passes I've seen all season and was totally unselfish when other guys, understandably, were gunnin' like madmen. He's the lone senior among Dougherty's bench players and could have easily looked to get his. He didn't. Take a bow, Walter. As for McDevitt . . . By this point, I'm not sure what to say. The Lancers shot 28-for-74. The three lefties, sr. WG Chris Hanes, sr. F-C Mike Ross and soph PG Greg Stitt, combined to go 17-for-57. Meanwhile, sr. WG Chris Palmero missed just three shots total (two floor, one line) while scoring 24 points. It was nice to see deep sub Ryan Cressman, a sr., throw in a basket. If our records are correct, the points were his first of the season. Best line of the night: From the Looney Bin, before the first shot was even taken, a kid yelled, "It's all over!" Second best line: At halftime, ref John Luciano, a former star for Judge, said, "I was tired after the first quarter."
SJ Prep 60, Roman 46
Early, this looked like a bad game in the lower reaches of the Public League. The teams combined to miss their first 16 shots and no one scored until 3:16 remained in the first quarter, when Roman jr. G-F Khalil Ferguson hit a trey. That basket did not exactly touch off a scoring explosion; the first quarter ended with Roman up, 5-2. The teams eventually settled down, but this one never quite reached nail-biting stage. Roman thrice cut Prep's lead to three in the fourth quarter (the last time it was 42-39) but the Hawks dominated from there. Prep's headliner was sr. F-C Mark Zoller, who shot 9-for-15 and 7-for-11 for 25 points. Twenty came in the second half and, in terms of importance, don't discount the severe foul trouble incurred by Roman jr. F Brett Johnson. He was limited to 19 minutes; he'd done a decent job vs. Zoller in the teams' first meeting. My DN story focused on sr. F Kyle Eisenmann (6 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals). Jr. WG John Griffin had 10 points while jr. PG Chris Clark and sr. WG-SF T.J. Valerio had 8 apiece. For Roman, jr. F-C Charron Fisher shot 8-for-20 and 2-for-2 for 20 points; he nailed two treys. It's hard to believe he went to the line just once. He added 15 rebounds and 2 blocks. Soph PG Bobby Jordan had 4 assists.
La Salle 61, Ryan 49
Some thoughts . . .
Sr. C Will Furey is becoming a more prominent name among D-III coaches looking for a pure post player. He shot 9-for-13 en route to 20 points and showed his usual good attributes -- soft hands, quick release. He still doesn't jump through ceilings (don't hold your breath), but I very much like this kid's approach and demeanor. He added 6 rebounds and 3 blocks . . . Sub sr. G Matt McGurkin had the best charge-draw of the season. The feisty d-back planted himself dead center in front of Ryan jr. Joe Mullin (14 points, three treys) and allowed himself to be run over . . . Another Explorer, jr. G Kevin Moll, also had an outstanding play. Maybe 30 feet from the basket, while on the floor in a scramble, he made a pass to sr. G John Creed for an easy layup . . . My DN story focused on 5-9 sr. PG Chris Reedman, who somehow grabbed a game-high 9 rebounds. His golf handicap is PLUS-1 and he'll play that sport in college . . . Again while facing a zone, Ryan had trouble getting comfortable looks. Mullin is mostly a wing player and the Raiders had no inside presence . . . Sr. WG Mike Devine did play with juice in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of his 15 points.
Franklin LC 63, Mansion 60
The final score was tight, but it took no miracle for the Bobcats to win this battle of Division C unbeatens. They jumped on Mansion early and led from then on. I was curious to see how FLC sr. PG Michael Green would fare in a hostile environment. Except for being guilty of a couple, um, unintelligent fouls and having to miss 10 minutes, he was great! He showed poise and fearlessness and a few D-I coaches were there to see the qualifier. My DN story focused on sr. F Tyreek Byard, who is on the doorstep of qualifying and could be a gem down the line. He had 21 points and 7 rebounds and made a series of brassy plays. I said this in an earlier report, but playingwise, he's very similar to former FLC star Joe Brown. Also important was backup PG Michael Scott, a jr. He filled in admirably for Green and remained on the court for the stretch. He had 6 assists. Jr. Meril Branch and Scott had to chase around sr. WG Maureece "The Scorelord" Rice and did creditable jobs. Rice finished with 26 hard-earned points, with 11 coming in the last quarter. 'Reece also was a defensive terror in the last quarter, getting 4 of his 6 steals. Sr. F Delton Morgan-Hines, showing his usual savvy and desire, grabbed 19 rebounds. Coach Gerald Hendricks told me that M-H and sr. F Brian Draper, a bench player, both rank among the top 10 students in the sr. class. Love hearin' that!! Tricky sr. SF Tyrell Mathis had 13 points and 7 boards. Soph F Jahkal Curry, a bulky lefty who always seems to look composed while moving a half-speed slower than everyone else, converted a double-bonus to make it 63-60 with 0:13 left. For whatever reason, Rice did not touch the ball on Mansion's last possession. Jr. G-F Tracey Worley missed two treys -- an in-and-out job from the right wing followed by a rushed, not-even-close heave from straight on (after M-H tipped him the rebound). Mansion had not lost a home game in almost exactly four years. The Knights showed inactive interior defense in the first half. FLC never even went to the line. Also, Mansion had 13 turnovers in the first 16 minutes.
King 68, Bartram 58 (OT)
This was a true "Only in The Pub" affair. King's stands are condemned and are nailed shut, so the fans have to stand behind ropes on one sideline and one baseline. Except, that is, for maybe 40 who can sit on wooden benches spaced out along the sideline. During the game, Bartram sr. F Khalil Abdus-Salaam was sent to the bench with four fouls and that same fate almost hit sr. G Charles Jones. But after vehement protests by Jones and coach Lou Biester, referees Tom Skellan and Pat Shanahan asked two reporters (the Inky's Todd Zolecki and myself) what our numbers showed and we both said four. Ultimately, Skellan told Jones to stay in the game and he hit a big shot to help get the Braves to OT. (If King coach Greg Moore had lost and protested, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened.) Anyway . . . my DN story focused on the Marshall first cousins, 6-10 Wayne (Tall) and 5-9 Quincy (Small), the center and point guard, respectively. Quincy had 11 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. Wayne shot 5-for-12 and -- check this out! -- 12-for-13 for 22 points. He also had 7 rebounds. He incurred his third foul with 42 seconds left in the FIRST quarter and then sat down, presumably until halftime. But with the Cougars down, 23-19, and looking dazed, Moore took a big gamble and put Wayne back on the floor with just under 3 minutes left in the second quarter. Except for a brief period, after falling hard to the floor, Wayne played the rest of the game. Bartram helped see to that by almost never feeding its own big-time frontcourter, Jason Cain. Cain took just 7 shots for the game en route to 9 points. Unbelievable. Abdus-Salaam had probably his best big-game performance ever, shooting 8-for-13 en route to 19 points and grabbing 9 boards. Jones had 12 points and 5 assists. Sr. WG-SF Bryant Leach had some rough moments and was yanked in and out. Special mention has to go to jr. G Maurice Wood. When Abdus-Salaam was banished to the bench after being part of a double-technical flareup, Wood had to go in cold and shoot a one-and-one. He made both clean as a whistle. He then got a steal and layup to help force OT. For King, SF Stefon "D.J." Jackson had 18 points and 10 boards. He's a springy kid with heart and a good feel for the mid-range game . He's also a fan favorite. Jackson is in his last year of eligibility, but needs another year of school. Sub G Ricardo Laing was likely King's best player during the late regulation and early OT, making a series of clutch plays. He finished with 10 points, 2 assists and 4 steals. As you can tell by the point differential, the OT was one-sided. Virginia, Temple and Villanova were all on hand to watch Cain.
Judge 48, Ryan 30
You'll find this hard to believe, but in the first quarter, it looked as though Ryan was going to blow the Crusaders back to Mayfair. The Raiders were shredding Judge's man-to-man defense and getting mostly easy baskets. What happened next? Well, Judge switched to a zone and Ryan, assumedly confident that its quality snipers would toy with that, too, opted NOT to keep Judge in man. Somehow, Ryan hit just 6 of 30 shots in the last three quarters and was actually limited to one FG over a 10 1/2-minute period. Judge caught up at 17-17 on a trey by jr. G-F John Geiger. Its lead was 24-23 when Geiger hit a trey on a pass from his brother, sr. PG Bill Geiger. The Crusaders forged on from there and, in time, removed all suspense. My DN story focused on Bill Geiger, who mixed 13 points, 3 assists, 4 steals and even a team-high 7 rebounds. He's flashy and unorthdox, especially for a Judge player, but coach Bill Fox has learned to accept Geiger's ways. Sr. F-C Tom Keenan had 11 points, 5 rebounds. Sr. F Jim Glowienka failed to score, but posted 5 boards and 3 blocks. Jr. F-C Steve Wolf had 9 points. The biggest cheer from Judge's student rooters was saved for tiny sr. Ryan Carrelli, who made a halfcourt steal in the waning moments and motored in for a layup. For Ryan, only frosh G Joe Zeglinski (12) scored in double figures. The Raiders were guilty of some very bad turnovers (passes to nobody, etc.) and got more and more frustrated as many shots "almost" went in, but didn't. Sr. WG Mike Devine was the Raiders' leading rebounder (10). This was my first look at 6-6 frosh Kevin Hudgeons. He freed himself for a pair of early, easy baskets and looked smooth. Later, he showed a shade of lack of coordination. He got off his feet very nicely on a put-back attempt, though. He's assuredly one to watch. I've been covering high school basketball for 32 years and I'm 99 percent sure I'd never seen this before: Late in the game, Ryan coach Bernie Rogers made offense-defense substitutions involving EIGHT guys. The offensive platoon included Devine, Hudgeons, Jim Welsh and Joe Mullin. The defensive platoon: Joe Clancy, Sergio Colon, Tony Pratico and Rick Ferraiolo. Zeglinski was the constant.
Neumann 72, Roman 59
Here's the story of this one: Neumann led after one quarter, 19-6, because Roman was guilty of seven turnovers and shot 2-for-18 with six of those shots being blocked. Jr. F Adon El notched 5 of those blocks (en route to 7 total). As in the teams' first meeting, Neumann's guards pretty much toyed with Roman's. Jr. Richard "Tabby" Cunningham had 11 points, 10 assists, 6 steals and even 6 rebounds. Sr. Antwain Wynn had 19 points, 3 assists and 2 steals, and he shot 9-for-9 at the line. Some D-I coaches were in the house and I strongly assumed they were on hand to watch Wynn. El added 13 rebounds and the three other frontcourt players, srs. Todd "Most of My FGs Are Dunks" Johnson and Kevin Lauer and soph David Burton had 8 points apiece. Sr. WG-SF Kenny Fulton tallied 12 points. For Roman, jr. F-C Charron Fisher was borderline incredible with 27 points and 19 rebounds. As Fisher continues to improve his ball skills, I keep wondering, "Is this kid going to be Charles Barkley someday?" Stranger things have happened. Jr. F Brett Johnson also had some nice moments. He appears to be getting more accustomed to what it takes to succeed in the Catholic League. He even tried to throw one down in a Neumann defender's face. He had 12 points, 13 boards and 2 blocks. Roman drew within 57-50 with 4:13 left, but never quite made the Buccos feel uncomfortable. Before the game, the fact that coach Carl Arrigale won his 100th game Friday night was acknowledged. Nice gesture.