By: Rich Flanagan
Photos: Mike Nance, Kathy Leister Chris Evangelist & Mike Gray
PHILADELPHIA- Scoring was paramount on the Pa. All-State Class 5A Team and even that might be an understatement. From top to bottom, the all-state selectees poured in their fair share of points and their scoring output translated into wins for their respective teams.
Kieves “Deuce” Turner culminated a career that may never be topped again by scoring an Inter-Ac record 2,452 points, won league MVP and finally Pa. All-State Class 5A Player of the Year. He’s the first Malvern Prep player to win a Pa. All-State POY award since Brian Grandieri (University of Pennsylvania) in 2004.
The 6-foot-1 senior guard averaged 22.5 points this season, his third straight season avg. at least 20 points. As a junior, he became the first player in Inter-Ac history to surpass 1,500 career points in his first three seasons on his way to a Pa. All-State First Team selection.
He holds the school-record for points (48) in a single game, which he accomplished as a sophomore but his senior season had its high-scoring totals. He had 34 points against Coatesville, where he grew up, in the Pete and Jameer Nelson Classic at Jefferson University. He had a season-high 39 versus William Allen in the Lehigh Valley Hoop Group Showcase. He added a 36-point game in a win over Kiski School in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association quarterfinals, which turned into a run to the title game and ended with a loss to the Westtown School.
The Bucknell commit put together a historic career and capped it off with a memorable senior campaign. Head coach John Harmatuk knows many get caught up in the scoring production but there were a lot of things that went unnoticed, especially in his final year.
“How much his game has grown,” Harmatuk said. “He could always score but now he can lead a team. Watching the joy he had for his teammates’ success this year is a satisfying culmination to a great career.”
Rahsool Diggins, who was named a Pa. All-State Class 5A First Team selection for the second year in a row, was at the point for Archbishop Wood’s run to the PIAA 5A title game as a sophomore. The 6-3 floor general avg. 20.2 points on his way to Philadelphia Catholic League MVP this year, the first Vikings player to claim that award since Collin Gillespie (Villanova) in 2017. He scored a PCL semifinal-record 35 points vs. Roman Catholic at the Palestra. He came out firing with 32 points against Cornerstone Christian (Texas) in the National Hoop Festival at DeMatha High School (Md.) in the season opener. He currently sits at 1,186 career points, only 200 from tying the school record.
“It shows that he's not settling for anything and keeps working hard,” Mosco said. “He's trying to get better in the little things that we're telling him as well as the things he feels he needs to work on to evolve his game. He's always in the gym, working out, shooting the ball and working on moves."
Diggins, who holds offers from DePaul, UConn, Florida, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech and Kansas, which he added on April 29, had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a double-overtime win over the Cahillites in the regular season. It’s one of the many games that Archbishop Wood head coach John Mosco saw Diggins’ maturity take over.
Diggins is one of four Vikings players to make the all-state team, a first in program history. Jaylen Stinson (14.4 ppg) and Daeshon Shepherd (13.0) were named to the Second Team and Marcus Randolph (14.2) was selected to the Third Team. Stinson, the 6-foot guard who began his career at the Haverford School, scored 31 points in a wild, seven-overtime game against Paul VI (Va.) in the Diane Mosco Shootout. He drilled the game-tying three-pointer to force 2OT against the Cahillites. A starter on the team that went to the state final last year, “he took advantage of Rahsool getting him the ball and he makes shots. He's a shot maker and had some big ones this year, especially the one to tie Roman. He's a tough Philly guard and he's gotten used to our system so we're expecting big things from him next year,” as Mosco said.
Shepherd, a two-year starter and member of the rotation since his freshman season, has been Archbishop Wood’s best all-around player. The 6-5 forward plays above the rim and controls the game in a variety of ways. He had 35 points and was the last starter remaining on the floor vs. Paul VI. He had 11 rebounds against Neumann-Goretti then converted the game-clinching and-one in a win over Brooklyn Collegiate (N.Y.) in the All-City Classic two days later. “He always wants to defend the best player on the other team and he wants to shut them down. He's working on a lot of aspects of his game, not just scoring,” according to Mosco.
Randolph transferred in from Willingboro (N.J.) prior to the season and the 6-4 lefty found his role on a team with four, double-digit scorers. He had a 21-point game against West Catholic and a 24-point outing vs. St. Joe’s Prep. He avg. 17.0 points in two state playoff games before the PIAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. “It took Marcus a little bit of time to adjust but then he started having bigger games toward the end and had the freedom to shoot the ball. It's tough coming in with all of these guys and trying to find your niche. He fit in, guarded and rebounded better than I thought. He's a playmaker and he got guys involved,” as Mosco noted.
Joe Zeglinski and Archbishop Ryan were dealt with what appeared to be a major blow in January when Aaron Lemon-Warren (24.4 ppg) broke his foot, which forced him to miss the remainder of the season.
He and Gediminas Mokseckas (19.0) were both named Pa. All-State Class 5A Second Team selections after combining for a 43-point combined scoring avg. The Raiders have two Pa. All-State selections for the first time since 2016-17 (Penn State’s Izaiah Brockington made Class 6A First Team and Bowling Green’s Matiss Kulackovskis was Third Team).
Lemon-Warren posted a 34-point game vs. Turner and Malvern Prep in the second game of the season then poured in 35 against Plymouth Whitemarsh six days later.
It was performances like those that forced so many to take note of Lemon-Warren’s play, despite only playing 16 games, and Zeglinski stressed how much the 6-5 versatile forward did to put the Raiders in position for success.
“It's a testament to how well Aaron was playing,” Zeglinski said. “Aaron was just starting to touch the surface of his game where everything just comes so natural. Once he gets back to 100 percent and works out full time, he's going to take an even further step going into his senior year. It could be scary for some teams because he can do so much on the floor by going into the post, stepping out and shooting the three and his guard skills have improved so much over this year.”
Mokseckas, the 6-4 senior and Campbell commit, scored 29 points over Sankofa Freedom, the 2019 PIAA Class A champion, in the season opener to dictate how his season would progress.
He poured in 24 points against Father Judge, the Raiders’ first game without Lemon-Warren. He avg. 20.4 points over the final 12 games, which included the Philadelphia Catholic League and PIAA 5A playoffs, without his talented teammate.
He was the catalyst behind the Raiders run to the PCL semifinals, becoming the first league team to come out of the first round of the playoffs to make a trip to the Palestra. It was Archbishop Ryan’s third trip to the league semifinals in five years under Zeglinski.
Dominic Vazquez and Gywnedd Mercy commit Christian Isopi were instrumental to the Raiders success after Lemon-Warren’s injury, but according to Zeglinski, it was Mokseckas’ leadership and play that spearheaded that run.
“He came in two years ago and kind of took a backseat during his first year,” Zeglinski said. “Then, this year it was his time and he took on that role of a lead guard right from the start. He would set the tone in practices and he's always had that heart and determination. His expression never changed whether he was scoring 25 points or having a tough night. His ability to push his teammates to play harder and play the way that he plays was huge for us this year. We took that mentality when Aaron went down and we became a tougher team.”
Turner and Mokseckas are moving on to Division 1 programs while Lemon-Warren and the quartet from Archbishop Wood are coming back with major aspirations in their final high-school season. They’ve already provided plenty in the point total and they’re hoping they’ll be adding hardwood to this year’s Pa. All-State honor next year.
Deuce Turner, 6-1 Sr. G, Malvern Prep
Rahsool Diggins, 6-3 Jr. G, Archbishop Wood
Andrew Carr, 6-10 Sr. F, West Chester East
Michael Carmody, 6-6 Sr. F, Mars
Quadir Copeland,6-5 Jr. F, Gettysburg
Rodney Gallagher, 6-0 Fr. G, Laurel Highlands
Jaylen Stinson, 6-0 Jr. G, Archbishop Wood
Daeshon Shepherd, 6-5 Jr. F, Archbishop Wood
Michael Lucarotti, C 6-4 Jr. G, Erie Cathedral Prep
Aaron Lemon-Warren, 6-5 Jr. F, Archbishop Ryan
Gediminas Mokseckas, 6-4 Sr. F, Archbishop Ryan
Josh Parra, 6-5 Sr. F, Milton Hershey
Mason Barnes, 6-1 Sr. G, Pottsville
Marcus Randolph, 6-4 Jr. F, Archbishop Wood
Logan Shanahan, 6-6 Sr. F, Unionville
Daryl Coleman, 6-4 Jr. F, Southern Lehigh
Seth Beers, 6-0 Sr. G, Lampeter-Strasburg
Elija Rosenthal, 6-0 Sr. G, Wallenpaupack
Player of the year: Deuce Turner, 6-1 Sr. G, Malvern Prep
Coach of the year: Tyrone Nesby, Muhlenberg