WITH THE HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL SEASON ABOUT TO BEGIN NEXT WEEK. REPORTER RICH FLANAGAN'S PIECE TAKES US BACK TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS FROM LAST SEASON.
COMING THIS WEEK- OUR 2019-20 SEASON PREVIEW
By: Rich Flanagan (richflanagan33)
While the winter sports season ended a few weeks back and spring sports are in full swing, we were still treated to a number of memorable and captivating performances over the course of the high school basketball season, particularly in the Philadelphia Catholic League and the Inter-Ac.
Here are some of the moments and standouts that were worth noting:
Haverford School completes undefeated season with state title
Since coming over from Archbishop Ryan, Bernie Rogers has taken the Haverford School from a middle of the pack team to the premiere program in the Inter-Ac and the Fords reached the apex in 2018-19. Spearheaded by league MVP Christian Ray (La Salle), Jameer Nelson Jr. and breakout freshman Jameel Brown (11.6 points per game), the Fords claimed the Inter-Ac title for the second straight season by defeating Malvern Prep, 69-68 on February 5.
The Haverford School finished the season with an unblemished 28-0 record - PSD Photo by Mike Nance
They entered the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association Tournament unbeaten and advanced to the championship game after winning their first three matchups by 16.3 ppg. The title game pitted them against Friends School League champ Westtown and they held on for a 67-62 overtime victory to capture the state title as well as complete a perfect 28-0 season.
The Fords became the first Inter-Ac League team to finish unbeaten since Friends' Central (21-0) in 1939. Ray finished with a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds and Brown had a team-high 24 points with six three-pointers. Despite missing 15 games due to injury, Nelson finished the season strong and capped off his career with a 17-point outing. It was fitting end to a magical run for the Haverford School.
Roman Catholic wins second straight PCL title
The 2017-18 season was momentous one for the Cahillites as they took home the Philadelphia Catholic League and PIAA Class 6A title. The addition of Kingsway (N.J.) transfer Hakim Hart to a core of Seth Lundy (Penn State), Lynn Greer III and Allen Betrand proved to be the final piece for Matt Griffin’s team. The offseason presented a few question marks with Betrand having moved on Towson and Greer initially transferring to Oak Hill Academy (Va.) then returning to Roman Catholic before the season began.
Greer was eventually ruled a transfer, making him ineligible for the PIAA postseason but he was still able to compete in PCL play and the Cahillites handled their business as the best team in the league. With the additions of electric freshmen Justice Williams and 6-9 Jalen Duren (13.3 ppg), the Cahillites went 13-1 in league play, with their lone loss being to Bonner-Prendergast. Greer, Lundy and Hart helped Roman Catholic stave off a quarterfinal scare against St. Joe’s Prep then ignited a commanding win over Neumann-Goretti in the semifinals.
The PCL slate culminated with a dominating 64-50 triumph over La Salle in the title game as the Cahillites won their second consecutive league crown and fourth in five years. Lundy scored 18 points, Greer added 14 and Hart chipped in 21, one point above his final season average. Even though Hart and Lundy will not return, the trio of Greer, Williams and Duren should help Roman Catholic stay atop the league standings and in contention for a third straight title next year.
Wong, Ingraham leave lasting impression at Bonner-Prendie
The Friars hadn’t been to the PCL semifinals since 2008. They won a first-round playoff game in 2017 but loss to eventual league champion Archbishop Wood in the quarterfinals. If they really wanted to take that next step as a program, they were going to need a big addition and they got not one but two of them. Isaiah Wong transferred over from Notre Dame (N.J.) and 6-8 forward Tariq Ingraham came over from Salesianum (Del.). Paired alongside Ajiri Johnson (Rider), Wong, who took home PCL MVP, and Ingraham helped Bonner-Prendergast lock up the top seed in the playoffs in their first season. The Friars advanced to the league title game where they fell to Roman Catholic by two points. The integration of the two worked better than expected as they helped the team reach the state semifinals where they lost to eventual champ, Abington Heights.
Wong and Ingraham returned in 2018 as seniors and continued much of what they started. Wong committed to Miami (Fl.) before the season then picked up where he left off by becoming the first player to win back-to-back PCL MVP awards since Steve Vasturia (St. Joe’s Prep) in 2012 and 2013. He led the league in scoring this season (21.9 ppg), which included scoring a school-record 44 points against Neumann-Goretti on Jan. 11.
MBAP senior & two-time Philadelphia Catholic League MVP Isaiah Wong pictured with his teammates after scoring 1,000 points vs. St. Joe's Prep - PSD Photo by Chip Frenette
MBAP senior Tariq Ingraham averaged 11.4 ppg during his final season - PSD Photo by Chip Frenette
Ingraham received consecutive appearances on the Second Team All-Catholic list and took his game to another level by averaging 11.7 ppg and 10.0 rpg in the PIAA Class 4A Tournament after missing the first round. The Friars advanced to their first-ever state championship game where they fell to Imhotep Charter, a team they had beaten for the District 12 4A crown.
Despite the loss, it was a remarkable two-year run for Bonner-Prendergast and they owe most of that success to these two Division 1 prospects. Wong scored 1,281 points in two seasons with the Friars while Ingraham avg. 11.4 ppg in his final season.
La Salle gets revenge on Roman in state quarterfinals
After being steamrolled in the PCL title game and having to watch Roman cut down the nets at the Palestra for a second consecutive year, the Explorers’ season wasn’t over just yet. They still had an opportunity to rebound and make a run in the PIAA Class 6A Tournament. After pulling out a five-point win over Reading High in the first round then a 17-point beatdown over William Allen, La Salle was presented with a third matchup with the Cahillites. The familiarity they had with Roman Catholic and the hardship of having lost twice previously gave the Explorers the advantage as they won 55-47 to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2014.
First Team All-Catholic selections Allen Powell (Rider) and 6-7 forward Konrad Kiszka (Princeton) led the way for the Explorers, who lost to the Cahillites by six points in the regular season. Powell scored 11 points and Kiszka added a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Cahillites had three players in double figures but it wasn’t enough as La Salle played with a chip of its shoulder and prevented Roman Catholic from claiming a second consecutive state championship.
Bishop McDevitt advances to the PCL semifinals for the first time in thirty years
It’s too farfetched to say Will Chavis has resurrected the Bishop McDevitt boys basketball program. Chavis, a former star at Engineering and Science who played for Bobby Knight at Texas Tech, took over in 2017 and immediately turned things around.
With skilled players such as Robert Smith, Jamil Manigo, Shamir Mosley and Ahmir Harris, the Lancers advanced to the first round of the PCL playoffs as well as the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 3A Tournament before succumbing to eventual champion, Neumann-Goretti.
As if the success of 2017 wasn’t enough, Bishop McDevitt put together the most impressive season in school history this year by advancing to the PCL semifinals for the first time since 1989. Manigo (15.0 ppg) earned First Team All-Catholic and Smith (14.2) garnered Second Team All-Catholic honors.
After falling to the Explorers at the Palestra, the Lancers rolled into the state tournament where they won their first two games by double digits before another matchup with the Saints. This quarterfinal showdown had a different feel to it and the result was the same as the regular season: a victory for the Lancers.
Manigo had 20 points and eight rebounds while Smith chipped in 17 and Mosley scored 11 to dethrone the Saints, who had won eight state titles in the last nine years. Chavis and the Lancers advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in school history where they fell to Trinity.
The quartet all return next season as seniors and should have Bishop McDevitt primed for another strong year.
Archbishop Wood reaches state title game
The Vikings were only two years removed from capturing a PCL and PIAA Class 5A title behind league MVP Collin Gillespie (Villanova), Tyree Pickron (Quinnipiac), Matt Cerutti (Lock Haven), Andrew Funk (Bucknell) and Seth Pinkney. 2018 was a down year for head coach John Mosco’s group as the most accomplished team in school history had to start over. New players such as Rahsool Diggins, Daeshon Shepherd and Jaylen Stinson were added to veterans like Julius Phillips.
It took this new influx of talent one year to figure things out as they returned to the PCL playoffs before falling to Bishop McDevitt. Diggins (17.6 ppg) was the first Vikings player to be named First Team All-Catholic since Gillespie and Pickron in 2017. Shepherd and Phillips were named Second Team while Stinson was selected to the Third Team.
With an offense of multifaceted players, Archbishop Wood won the PIAA District 12 5A title over Mastery North then carried that momentum into the state tournament, which culminated with a trip to the title game. They fell to Moon, 74-64 despite 22 points from Shepherd, 20 points from Diggins and 12 from Stinson.
Phillips is the lone starter who will not return next year but there’s a lot of optimism for the Vikings as they head into the 2019 season.
Malvern Prep’s Turner scores at historic pace
All Deuce Turner has done in three seasons with the Friars is score and score some more. As a freshman, he burst onto the scene by averaging 19.3 ppg.
Malvern Prep junior Deuce Turner reached the 1,500 point plateau in only three season - PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
He only improved as a sophomore by avg. 20.5 ppg which included a school-record 48 points versus Bishop Shanahan. His junior year topped each of his first two seasons as he erupted for 718 total points which included 21 20-point games and a 42-point performance against Friends Central in the opening round of the PAISAA Tournament.
He became the first junior to surpass 1,500 career points in three seasons. Additionally, he and Ray became the first Inter-Ac players to scored 1,500 points in their first three seasons since Detroit Pistons’ guard Wayne Ellington (Episcopal Academy) from 2004-06. Malvern Prep finished second in the Inter-Ac this season and with the league up for grabs, look for Turner’s continued scoring prowess to keep them atop the standings.
Devon Prep completes first season in PCL
Tenured and historic programs within the PCL know the grind the league slate brings with it. A new school hadn’t joined the league since Lansdale Catholic came over from the Pioneer Athletic Conference in 2008 but Devon Prep was welcome following the 2018 season.
Devon was welcomed into the PCL this season - Photo courtesy of @DevonPrepBball
Led by head coach Jason Fisher, the Tide transitioned in from the Bicentennial Athletic Conference and had their share of moments during their first season. They won their league opener, 52-49 over Father Judge. They had a close contest with Archbishop Wood as Nick Crowe (10.3 ppg) drilled a stepback three-pointer to force overtime.
The Vikings ended up winning by seven but it was a statement for the Tide. Devon Prep also picked up a win over Lansdale during league play.
Crowe, Eamon Walsh (8.9) and Scion Dorsey will all be back for year two in the PCL. Look for the Tide to make a steady improvement in 2019-20.
Archbishop Carroll wins thrilling PCL title in OT
The Patriots finally broke through under head coach Renie Shields by capturing their first PCL crown since 2012 in thrilling fashion. After losing in the PIAA Class 5A Tournament semifinals a year ago, leaders such as Erin Sweeney (Drexel) and Harlem Jennings rallied together and had a driving force for the upcoming season.
After getting freshman Grace O’Neill acclimated to the team, Archbishop Carroll rolled through the PCL playoffs which included a 13-point victory over rival Bonner-Prendergast. Sweeney had 18 points and eight rebounds, Jennings had five of her 15 points in the first quarter and O’Neill scored the go-ahead bucket with 1:28 remaining in overtime to down Archbishop Wood, 48-42.
It was Shields’ first PCL title as head coach after winning three as an assistant previously. The Patriots weren’t done yet as they put together an emphatic run to the PIAA 5A championship game before falling to Chartiers Valley. With its core coming back, Shields and the Patriots are looking to return to the Palestra for a second straight title.
Germantown Academy caps off flawless season with a state crown
The Patriots (30-1, 12-0 Inter-Ac) knew it was a daunting task going up against the two-time defending Shipley but they finished off one of the most dominant seasons in school history by dethroning the Gators, 58-43.
It was Germantown Academy’s first PAISAA title since 2011 and fourth in school history. Team captain Rachel Balzer (George Mason) scored 13 points and sophomore forward Becca Booth notched a double-double with 15 points (13 in the second half) and 11 rebounds. Jaye Haynes had 11 points and Maddie Vizza chipped in 10 in the title game victory.
Winning both the Inter-Ac and state title capped off a season where Germantown Academy finished with the most wins in program history. Balzer, who finished her career with 1,092 points, was the lone senior of the Patriots roster last season but Booth, Haynes, Vizza and the rest of the team will return to defend their title.
Neumann-Goretti junior Diamond Johnson was named Pennsylvania's Gatorade Player of the Year - PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
N-G’s Johnson wins Pa. Gatorade Player of the Year
After leading the Saints to their fourth consecutive state title, a game in which she scored 14 points, Diamond Johnson knew the expectations were not only high for her team but for herself. She became the third straight PCL MVP from Neumann-Goretti joining Jabria Ingram (Hartford) and Chyna Nixon (Temple). She led the Saints to the PCL semifinals where they were upended by Archbishop Wood. Johnson and the Saints’ hunt for a fifth straight state crown fell short with a loss to Dunmore in the quarterfinals.
Still, Johnson’s statistical dominance with 28.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 steals made her the Pa. Gatorade Player of the Year, the girls basketball player from Neumann-Goretti to win the award.
Her standout performance behind the award was scoring a school-record 54 points in the District 12 3A title game against Imhotep. Johnson will be back for her senior season and the potential for what she could still accomplish seems endless at this point.
Bonner-Prendie makes another run to the state semifinals
The Pandas fell in the 2017 PCL quarterfinals but banded together and put together a gritty performance in the PIAA Class 4A Tournament. They won their first three state playoff games by no more than eight points to reach the semifinals before falling to Lancaster Catholic.
Dakota McCaughan, Maive McCann and Ariana McGeary were at the forefront of Bonner-Prendergast’s success and that continued in 2018. McCaughan and McCann were named First Team All-Catholic while McGeary earned Honorable Mention All-Catholic. The Pandas fell to the Patriots in the PCL semifinals despite 14 points and seven rebounds from McGeary and 11 points from McCaughan.
Just as they had a season ago, they came together and made another run to the state semifinals winning three playoff games by an average of 23.3 ppg. The Pandas’ bid for a trip to the state title ended at the hands of eventual champ, Bethlehem Catholic. McCann was the only B-P player in double figures with 15 points. It was a disappointing ending to an outstanding two-year campaign for the Pandas.
Orihel’s success as an underclassman for Archbishop Wood
From the get-go, Kaitlyn Orihel has proven herself to be as confident and poised as any player to come through the Archbishop Wood program. Head coach Mike McDonald has had a multitude of talented players, which has led to five state championships since 2010, but Orihel began to flourish as a freshman. She averaged. 10.5 ppg and was the only freshman to be named First Team All-Catholic last season in helping the Lady Vikings reach the PIAA Class 5A Tournament title game.
Archbishop Wood senior Kaitlyn Orihel was named First-Team All Catholic during her freshman and sophomore seasons - PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
She continued what she started as a sophomore notably in the PCL semifinals where she scored 31 points including 16 in the fourth quarter to down Neumann-Goretti. She scored 15 points in the league title game which included the game-tying layup to force OT versus Archbishop Carroll. She’s already been named First Team All-Catholic in her first two seasons with the Lady Vikings and her performance in the state playoffs showed why her junior year should be another high-scoring one.
She tallied 11 fourth-quarter points against Springfield in the opening round then scored 12 points in the second in a win over Mechanicsburg. The Lady Vikings’ season ended at the hands of the Patriots in the 5A quarterfinals as Orihel was limited to only four points.
She’s developed a knack for making big plays late in games and she’ll be thrust into a leadership role next season. Orihel looks to be the next great player to come out of the Archbishop Wood program.
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