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The Daily Times' boys basketball blog

Thursday, December 31, 2009


We all make them, these things we call new year's resolutions. We resolve ourselves to be better, more committed, more determined to something, anything. But we never follow through.

That changes now.

It's the early going of the boys basketball season, and it's been tough finding chances to blog about the teams and players in Delaware County. But I'm vowing right now to fix that in 2010. (Question: Is it twenty-ten, or two-thousand-and-ten? I need to get that answered post haste.)

Anyway, here's a quick-hitting recap of Wednesday's games:
---Penncrest (6-0) is Delco's lone unbeaten boys basketball team. The Lions won their own tournament behind 27 points from Andrew Radomicki. Is it just me or is someone different stepping up every night for coach Mike Doyle? One night it's Radomicki. The next it's Rodney Duncan, or Matt Atkinson, or Ian Campbell. That's a well-balanced team.

---Marple Newtown's Soutiri Sapnas put up 47 points in a one-point loss to Girard College. It was the third time in his career that Sapnas has eclipsed the 40-point barrier. His career-best was in the second-to-last game of the regular season a year ago, when he tossed in 49.

---The Class AAA teams in Delco are all over the place. Springfield wins four in a row to start the year, then loses four straight. Strath Haven, on a four-game winning streak, opened 2009 at 1-3. And Carroll needed overtime in its first two games.

More to come in the days to follow. Happy New Year, everyone.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Chester's loss Saturday at the Jameer Nelson Classic threw up a couple red flags, but not because the Clippers lost at the tournament bearing the name of one of their most famous alums.

Losing 65-46 to Plymouth Whitemarsh was the Clippers' first loss of 19 or more points against a District One foe in 13 seasons. Not since Chester lost to Glen Mills, 71-49, on Jan. 9, 1997, had the Clippers been completely dominated by a team within their own district.

Of course, the Clippers are not perfect. They've lost a number of games over the years. But most of them have been in national tournaments to ranked teams from other states, or to familiar foes from the Catholic League, Public League or Inter-Academic League.

Consider the following: Since that 22-point loss to The Mills in January 1997, the Clippers have...
...played 403 total games.
...gone 59-5 in the District One playoffs.
...won seven District One Class AAAA titles.
...gone 33-10 in the PIAA playoffs.
...advanced to the PIAA Final Four seven times.
...claimed three PIAA Class AAAA titles.
...had four Daily Times' Players of the Year (2000 Nelson, '03 Shaheer McBride, '06 Darrin Govens, '08 Karon Burton).
...lost just twice by double-digits to a District One opponent (Council Rock 67, Chester 51 - Feb. 10, 2001, and last Saturday).

It took some research to find all of this, but it was well worth it ... because the Clippers' loss to Plymouth Whitemarsh was more than just a loss. It was one for the ages.

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Monday, December 28, 2009


Welcome to Schwartz Gymnasium at Widener University, the site of Monday's installment of the Jameer Nelson Classic.

I'll be on hand for a couple of the games. Stay close to Gettin' Schooled for odds and ends on each of them and check back regularly for results.

NESHAMINY 63, LOWER MERION 58: Without leading scorer Alon Seltzer, the Aces did everything they could do to stay competitive, before suffering their first loss. Lower Merion, on first glance, has a really well-balanced team. But the Redskins' Ryan Arcidiacano is better. The sophomore guard had a game-best 21 points and could be on his way to reaching 1,000 points before his junior year. Seltzer has been out since dislocating his knee cap in a game against Upper Darby.

ST. JOSEPH'S PREP 62, MARPLE NEWTOWN 42: Defending the 3 isn't a recommendation. In this game, it was. The Hawks made 2 of 19 3-point attempts before giving way to their bench. Senior Joe Nardi knocked down seven of them on his way to 23 points. For Marple Ryan Hanley and Soutiri Sapnas had 15 and 11 points, respectively. Check out Tuesday's Daily Times for a full report.

ALSO ON THE SCENE: Archbishop Carroll All-Delco D.J. Irving, wearing a red Boston University hat ... Penncrest senior guard Rodney Duncan ... Ridley coach Keith Heinerichs, doing some advanced scouting, as were dozens of other District One coaches ... Widener guard Chris White. A member of Penn Wood's state-title team a year ago, White was wearing his letter jacket - and getting hassled by Widener athletic personnel for doing so. "Don't you have any Widener gear?" one asked.

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Friday, December 25, 2009


No one told Penn Wood that defending its PIAA Class AAAA championship was going to be easy. They're not even into the Del Val League portion of their schedule but the Patriots are fighting an uphill battle.

Coach Clyde Jones (pictured) and the Patriots went 1-3 this week at the City of Palms Classic, an exclusive, invite-only basketball tournament held in Fort Myers, Fla. Only the best of the best make it there. That's why the Pats got the call this offseason.

Among their losses were defeats at the hands of Paterson Catholic (N.J.) and Westchester (Calif.), both ranked within the top 50 in the nation by ESPN/Rise Magazine. The Patriots also lost to St. Frances (Md.) Wednesday.

Here's how Jones sizes up Penn Wood's performance down south:
On his level of frustration after these games were:
“Well, (Wednesday) we lost on a last-second shot to St. Frances. Against Paterson Catholic, we were up 20 and we turned over the ball late. Shawn (Oakman), Darian (Barnes) and Dequan (Pelzer) all fouled out. And (Tuesday), against Westchester, we tied it late and had another turnover. It's really been turnovers in late minutes that have hurt us.”

On accepting these losses because of who they were against:
“No losses are acceptable for me. But it's something the kids needed to experience. It's a measuring stick for us. It'll help us when we play teams back home. We were a turnover away from beating Westchester, the No. 6 team in the country (according to ESPN/Rise Magazine). And we were taking apart Paterson Catholic, another nationally ranked team, for three quarters. It's probably the best three quarters I've seen us play since I've been at Penn Wood. I feel for the kids because they deserved to win one of these games. They deserve them.”

On the play of junior forward Aaron Brown (pictured), who averaged 20.3 points and 7 rebounds in four games:
“He hit a wall (Wednesday), but he's really made it known that he's become a big-time recruit and a big-time player. The last two games, teams have seen what he can do. And it's not just Aaron. With Shawn, we've had coaches ask us why he isn't a top-10 Division I recruit. In Will Brown, you're starting to see what he can do when he comes out of his shell.”

On what he heard from college coaches while there:
Tom Crean from Indiana told me he hasn't see a team play this well together in a long time. He also said it was encouraging to see kids interacting with each other and pushing each other the way our guys do. I also heard from coaches at Auburn, who saw our game against Paterson Catholic, that we were one of the best functioning high school teams in the country. The people running the tournament told us our kids were the most well-mannered, well-behaved team that's ever come through. That all means a lot to me, because when you're a coach, you're a lifelong learner. And it shows that our kids can learn, too.”

Penn Wood (3-3) returns to action Monday against Academy of the New Church at Widener.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009


Hey, everyone. Happy Holidays from your family at the Delaware County Daily Times and Gettin' Schooled.

In the spirit of the season, here's your favorite boys basketball beat writer's holiday wish list for this current season. Enjoy:

1. A 30-points-per-game scorer. In my two years on the job, we've gotten close with Sun Valley's Tom Brennan (25 ppg in '08) and Strath Haven's Calvin Newell (29.4 ppg in '09). There's nothing quite like seeing one player take control of a game.

2. League-championship tournaments. I like the idea of a strong regular season deciding who hangs a banner in his gym, but there's something to be said about winning with everything at stake. You've seen the attendance totals at a January game between Penn Wood and Chester. What kind of crowd would they draw if a title was on the line? They might fill the Palestra.

3. A state championship team. Covering playoff basketball is the best part of this job. The games matter more and you can see it in the faces of the players. I've been fortunate enough to follow the 2008 Chester Clippers and title runs by Archbishop Carroll and Penn Wood in '09. Let's get another team to play deep into March.

I'll draw the line at three wishes. Happy holidays, everyone. Enjoy the good times, the good food and the good company. Cheers!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


There was a heck of a Central League game played Wednesday between Strath Haven and Springfield.

It featured more turnovers (34) than made baskets (29). It featured an eight-point lead - in favor of the host Springfield - that turned into a one-point deficit. Check out Thursday's Daily Times for the game story, but here's A Closer Look at Wednesday's unsung stars:

Omar Randall – 10 points, 5 rebounds. While the junior forward didn't give the Panthers the lead for good, he hit the free throw with 62 seconds to go that represented the Panthers' final point. He was the silent difference-maker.
Pat Fisher – 8 points, 3 assists, 3 steals, 3 rebounds. The senior guard penetrated the lane, put the ball on his hip and put up a layup that helped Haven hold onto its lead late in the fourth. He showed some grit.

Adam Washington – 11 rebounds, 6 offensive. Although quiet on the scoreboard, the junior forward made his impression on the game off the glass. Coach Kevin McCormick believes the Cougars will be a different (read stronger) team when Washington starts scoring. I think McCormick's right.
Zack DeVito – 7 points, 7 steals, 4 assists. The junior guard was willing to grab the ball and shoot it when no one else was. That can go a long way for the Cougars, who shot 29 percent.



****Haverford School, which beat Marple Newtown, 68-60, is off to its best start in four seasons. Hard to believe, considering the Fords (6-3) started the year with three straight defeats.
****Penn Wood, which lost to St. Frances (Md.), 63-61, at the City of Palms Classic, lost three of its four games down in Ft. Myers, Fla. Those three losses came by a combined five points. Keep in mind that last year, when they won the state title, they lost only four times. Tough breaks for the Pats.
****Chester's Mo Nelson had 38 points on six 3-pointers, seven shots within the arc and a 6-for-7 showing at the free-throw line. It's only Game 4, and Mo's already heating up.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Jameer Nelson shouldn't surprise anyone by now. You know what to expect from the Chester High and Saint Joseph's University product.

Except when speaking to him on the phone.

The 2000 Daily Times Player of the Year, Nelson called me this week to preview the Jameer Nelson/Pete Nelson Classic, the annual holiday round-robin tournament that features Delco's and Southeastern Pennsylvania's finest boys basketball teams. Of course, we talked other things, too --- like politics, food and holiday goodies.

Take a look:

Nelson, on supporting the burgeoning political career of former Chester coach Fred Pickett, who in November lost his campaign for Chester city council:
"I support him and everything he's doing - always. The one thing about Fred is he has a big heart. I don't get into politics all that much. I follow enough, but not too much. But politics is just like everything else - somebody's got to win and somebody's got to lose."

On coming home for the holidays:
"I never get a chance to. Fortunately, I'll be able to get most of my family down here to stay with me and my wife (Imani), probably around 10 or 12 people."

On his cooking preferences during the holidays:
"Believe it or not, I can cook. Basketball is so time consuming that I leave the cooking up to my wife and my mom most of the time. I can cook pretty much anything. My mom is the ultimate cook. My dad (Pete) was, too. Being in the NBA, it took years of not having anybody with you to learn how to cook. Nobody was there except me and my cousin, so you learn to fend for yourself."

On his dream Christmas gift:
"I'm not a guy that gets overwhelmed with gifts. I guess to help my family get down here to spend the holiday with us and visit with us is my gift."

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Hey Delaware County basketball fans: Welcome back to Gettin' Schooled.

There's a new Web address, but I'm committed to providing you with the same high school boys basketball coverage, the very best in Delaware County. Here, you can expect to find the following:
*** Q+A interviews with Delco's finest.
*** The latest scores and standings.
*** Injury updates.
*** Post-game analysis, taking you deeper than what you'll read in the Daily Times (there's no deadline or word-count watches online, so I can write as much as I want.)
*** And so much more.

This is the first post of the season. It certainly won't be the last.