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The Daily Times' boys basketball blog

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Want tickets to the Feb. 1 meeting between Chester and Penn Wood? Have your credit care close by.

Only 200 tickets have been made available to the general public for the game, which has a maximum attendance capacity of 650. (350 for Penn Wood's student body and 100 for Chester's.)

Click here to bypass Penn Wood High's website and its athletic department page, and go right where you need to be.

Tickets are $6.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I should've known Upper Darby was due for a strong season ... when coach Bob Miller deflected preseason attention upon other teams in the Central League.

When asked about his club, Miller told me to talk to the coaches from Ridley, Strath Haven and Springfield. That's usually a good indicator that a team is going to win -- a lot.

That's what Upper Darby has done thus far, winning its first 16 contests overall and the first 11 of its Central League slate. They have to be at or near the top of the District One Class AAAA tournament points scale.

And for good reason: the Royals are for real, something that looked more apparent following their win Tuesday over Springfield.

They have a post presence in senior center Daron Harris (6-5, 240) that is unmatched in the Central League. No one can keep a body on Harris without getting into foul trouble.

Elsewhere, junior Brandon Hashim (pictured) and Terrence Bridgers have long, lean, athletic bodies on the perimeter that create headaches on defense and matchup problems on offense. They are the Royals' leading scorers. And point guard DJ Johnson, a senior, is one of the best on-the-ball defenders in the county.

I can't help but think Upper Darby stands a great chance at making the PIAA playoffs this season. In District One, all it takes is two wins in the tourney ... or one win and staving off trouble in three rounds of elimination games.

Keep an eye on the Royals. They could be around deep into the winter.

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In this reporter's opinion, it's never too early to talk about All-Delco.

So let's have it.

Send e-mails (, Tweet me (@chrisvito) or reply to this blog post. Let me know who you think deserves consideration for the All-Delco boys basketball team. I have my own list, which will get scribbled on and re-written about 10 more times, but it's always fun to see what the readers think.

The reigning Daily Times Player of the Year Aaron Brown, pictured, certainly made his impact felt last weekend with his Penn Wood teammates at the Brandon Jennings Invitational.

Only a few ground rules here:
1. Keep it clean.
2. Don't disrespect other players to strengthen your case.
3. Remember that only six make the cut, so give me your best half-dozen.

Have fun with it.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Well, it looks like Upper Darby (finally) has gotten some state-wide attention.

The product of 15 consecutive wins to open their season, the Royals have broken into the latest PIAA Class AAAA rankings, as issued by the Harrisburg Patriot-News. But their inclusion does not extend beyond the "honorable mention" listing.

Either way, Upper Darby joins Chester (No. 1) and Penn Wood (HM) in the Class AAAA poll.

Archbishop Carroll still resides near the top of the Class AAA poll, holding down the No. 2 slot.

Here's the latest issue of the rankings, in full:

1. Chester (1) 12-1 1
2. Council Rock North (1) 14-1 2
3. Bethlehem Liberty (11) 12-1 4
4. Neshaminy (1) 13-2 3
5. William Allen (11) 9-2 5
6. Reading (3) 13-2 6
7. Shaler (7) 14-0 8
8. Plymouth-Whitemarsh* (1) 10-3 7
9. La Salle (12) 12-2 9
10. Norristown (1) 13-2 10
Honorable mention: Bensalem (1) 12-3, Easton (11) 12-1, Gateway (7) 13-2, North Allegheny (7) 11-3, Penn Wood (1) 7-5, Scranton (2) 13-2, Upper Darby (1) 15-0, York (3) 16-1

1. Neumann-Goretti (12) 10-3 1
2. Archbishop Carroll (12) 12-3 2
3. West Mifflin (7) 12-1 3
4. South Fayette# (7) 11-0 4
5. Octorara (1) 13-2 5
6. Eastern York (3) 13-2 6
7. Lancaster Catholic (3) 14-0 8
8. Philadelphia Electrical (12) 13-3 NR
9. Sharon (10) 11-2 NR
10. West Scranton (2) 12-1 7
Honorable mention: Allentown Central Catholic (11) 8-6, Archbishop Wood (12) 11-4, Bishop McDevitt (3) 10-6, Boys' Latin Charter (12) 13-2, Franklin (10) 11-2, Mifflinburg (4) 13-1, North Pocono (2) 11-3, Trinity (3) 12-2


Sunday, January 23, 2011


At one point this month, Penn Wood owned a 2-5 record. The Patriots, District One's Class AAAA defending champion, were down in the dumps following a loss at the hands of league rival Chester.

Maybe all the Patriots needed was a trip nearly 900 miles from home.

Penn Wood thrashed Crenshaw (Calif.), 84-62, in a game that was never all that close at the Brandon Jennings Invitational, in Milwaukee, Wis. That makes five wins in a row for the Patriots (7-5), who appear to have righted the ship.

So is the Patriots' switch flipped?

Aaron Brown, the reigning Daily Times Player of the Year, earned MVP honors Saturday with a 21-point, 13-rebound effort. Shawn Oakman, who had missed a couple with a sprained ankle, scored five points in his return. And Darian Barnes, who had been invisible in the scoring column of late, went off for 19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Something else to consider: junior point guard Malcolm Richardson, who had strung together consecutive 25-point games, only put down eight against Crenshaw. The fact is, with everyone else scoring, his role wasn't as essential. That's what happens when everything is clicking on all cylinders.

Things were going so well for Penn Wood, even reserve point guard Jerry Price tossed in 14 points.

Lost in the shuffle of it all was the tournament - the Brandon Jennings Invitational. The Milwaukee Bucks star spent time with all of the teams, stayed for all of the games and allowed the players to attend Saturday's Bucks-Grizzlies game.

"It was an awesome event," said Penn Wood coach Clyde Jones.

Yeah, especially when your team has gotten its groove back.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011


Springfield coach Kevin McCormick assures that, during a two-game stretch earlier this year, his team shot less than 25 percent from the field.

Based on what I saw Friday night, I find this hard to believe.

The Cougars shot 25-for-52 in a blowout win over Marple Newtown, a 64-46 decision that left things a little more dicey in the Central League standings ... assuming one team (Upper Darby) doesn't finish the season unbeaten.

Springfield was spot-on from the floor against Marple Newtown. The Cougars made seven consecutive shots to start the second half, rolling to a huge lead.

And they got contributions from everyone. Brendan McNamee picked clean the offensive glass, going for five of his 10 boards on the scoring end. That led to easy buckets. Outlet passes from Steve Baker and Dave Carpenter made things easy for wingers Adam Washington and Zack DeVito.

That explains the 48-percent shooting night had by Springfield. It doesn't explain how McCormick's crew could possibly have had 25-percent shooting nights in the past.

"It's a work in progress," McCormick explained afterward.

Well, everything looked A-OK from my vantage point.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Penn Wood hadn't played a game in its home gym since Dec. 15, so it was peculiar that fewer than 200 were on hand for the Patriots' 71-60 win Tuesday over Glen Mills.

But one spectator in particular drew a stir: Tyree Johnson.

The Patriots' point guard for three seasons, Johnson was back in Lansdowne Tuesday night. He left the San Jacinto (Calif.) Junior College team, for which he became a starter as a freshman.

Johnson said it wasn't because he was homesick, but declined to comment any further.

The move is peculiar, much like his decision to de-commit from the University of Hartford last year. Basically, when Hartford's coach, Dan Leibovitz, jumped ship to become an assistant at his alma mater, Penn, Johnson was in limbo. Ultimately, he left a Division I offer for a junior college.

But not just any junior college - San Jacinto, which this week ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA Division I poll ... and for which Johnson was sixth in the nation in steals per game.

So why leave? Nobody had an answer Tuesday. Not Penn Wood coach Clyde Jones. Not Johnson himself, who departed before he could be pressed any further on the decision.

Johnson went from being a highly recruited point guard, who won a pair of Del Val League titles, a PIAA Class AAAA championship in '08, a District One Class AAAA crown in '09 and finished state runnerup in '09 ... to becoming an athlete who walked away from his junior college team in midseason.

Until Johnson offers up an answer, the move will remain a bewildering one.

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The overnight snow and ice storm, from Monday into Tuesday, has caused the postponement of four events on the high school sports schedule. Here they are:

Boys Basketball: Marple Newtown at Ridley (Moved to 1/22)
Boys Basketball: Oxford at Sun Valley (Moved to 1/21)
Girls Basketball: Sun Valley at Oxford (Moved to 1/19)
Wrestling: Upper Darby at Strath Haven (Moved to 1/24)

Everything else is on as planned. If I hear anything further, I'll be sure to update Gettin' Schooled with the latest.

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Monday, January 17, 2011


There's no easy way to put this, so here goes: Neumann-Goretti has Archbishop Carroll's number.

OK, now that that's out of the way.

The Patriots' 74-68 loss to the visiting Saints Sunday typifies a rivalry that has been competitive of late, but more one-sided than outsiders might think.

Neumann-Goretti has won 23 of the team's last 24 meetings in the last 10 years. (The only contest that Carroll stole from N-G? A 70-65 decision in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals in 2008-09. Two wins later, and the Patriots were state champions.)

In their most recent meeting, the Patriots (10-3) held a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter. They were up by 13 heading into the final period, at 51-38.

So what happened? The Saints, the reigning Class AAA state champs, went to the line and knocked down shots so regularly that the Patriots could not keep pace.

Tracy Peal (pictured) had 15 points and 10 rebounds, All-Delco Juan'ya Green had 22 points, nine assists and five boards and Shane Randall coupled eight points with 11 rebounds.

What it boils down to is Carroll has to beat Neumann-Goretti. Plain and simple. The only time the Patriots beat the Saints in the last decade, they made it count by winning the state crown. If they intend on making another lengthy run, they'll have to go through Neumann-Goretti.

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Friday, January 14, 2011


It doesn't seem like all that long ago that Chester High was at No. 1 in the Pennsylvania boys basketball rankings.

But the Clippers are back, holding a spot at the top. They haven't been there since the 2008-09 preseason Class AAAA poll, following their sixth big-school state title in '07-08.

Surprisingly, the leash for state runnerup Penn Wood is short. The Patriots have tumbled out of the Class AAAA poll and, because of their 2-5 record, rest with others 'being considered.'

In the Class AAA poll, Archbishop Carroll holds the top spot.

For more on the polls, by the Patriot-News' Michael Bullock, click here.

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Monday, January 10, 2011


In advance of the snowfall that's been forecast for Tuesday evening, one Central League game has moved up its tipoff time. I'm expecting more to follow, but, for now, it's just the one.

Marple Newtown at Penncrest, which had been slated for 7 p.m., will begin at 3:45 p.m. instead.

If I hear of any further changes, you'll know about them.

UPDATE: 1/10/11, 9:30 p.m.

Garnet Valley at Conestoga also has been moved up, from 7 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., to accommodate for inclement weather.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011


So by now, you've probably read my game story on Chester's 71-65 win over Penn Wood Thursday night. And Terry Toohey's column.

In case you haven't gotten enough of the game and its outcome, here are some other opinions ... from the players and coaches involved:

Chester sophomore Rondae Jefferson
On playing up to the competition:
"It's about playing up to who's on the floor. If we came out and played like we did against Penn Wood, we'd have beaten those other teams (we played) by way more.
On playing Penn Wood:
"The coaches put a lot of pressure on us to win this game."

Chester sophomore Darius Robinson
On why Penn Wood struggled:
"They don't have no guards. No guards means no ball pressure."

Penn Wood senior Shawn Oakman
On losing this game:
"I was confident we were going to win, the whole game. I knew my team, at the end of the day, we could buckle down and play defense. We just didn't."
On how different Penn Wood looks without he and fellow big man Darian Barnes:
"We're a big part of this team. When we get in foul trouble, we don't have a dominant post player except for Jeffrey (Kyem), but he's still hurt."

Penn Wood senior Aaron Brown
On the difference in the game:
"(Chester) played hard, and we had some key turnovers down the stretch. We lost it. They didn't win it. We lost it. Those turnovers killed us."
On the rest of the season:
"We're still the team to beat. We have a few things to work on, but once we get those things down, we'll be good."

Chester coach Larry Yarbray
On any other team in District One matching the Clippers' depth:
"They're going to have to try. That's our strength. Any given night, we have somebody who can beat you."

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Friday, January 7, 2011


Here are a couple photos from Thursday night's Chester/Penn Wood game, which the host Clippers won, 71-65. (All work by Daily Times photographer Bob Gurecki):

Chester All-Delco Mo Nelson picks the ball from Penn Wood's Jerry Price en route to the rim. Nelson's bucket closed the Clippers' deficit to 16-15 just before the end of the first quarter.

Chester's Richard Grandbury swats a Penn Wood shot attempt in the third quarter, during which Grandbury made blocks on back-to-back possessions.

Chester's Tavaune Griffin tries to pass around a pair of Penn Wood defenders, reigning Daily Times' Player of the Year Aaron Brown, left, among them.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011


Entering Thursday night's games, here's how my stat book shook out:

1. Juan'ya Green, Arch. Carroll ... 22.1 ppg
2. Aaron Brown, Penn Wood ... 22.0 ppg
3. Jordan Tucker, Academy Park ... 20.4 ppg
4. Shawn Church, Ridley ... 18.3 ppg
5. Ian Campbell, Penncrest ... 17.3 ppg
6. Jordan Sbraccia, Delco Christian ... 17.1 ppg
7t. Erikk Wright, Chester ... 16.0 ppg
7t. Taylor Wright, Episcopal Acad. ... 16.0 ppg
9. Omar Randall, Strath Haven ... 15.4 ppg
10. Steffon Poole, Glen Mills ... 14.8 ppg

More to come next week, when I unveil the county's top 25 scorers in the first installment of the boys basketball notebook.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Thursday night is the night.

Longtime titan of the Del Val League Chester and the two-time reigning champ Penn Wood go to battle Thursday in the first installment of the rivalry. Both enter the game at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Penn Wood (2-4) has taken its act on the road, playing teams from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and New York over the holidays. The two-time PIAA Class AAAA finalists are relying heavily upon reigning Daily Times Player of the Year Aaron Brown, pictured, who is averaging 22.0 points per game. Brown, a West Virginia commit, isn't getting much help elsewhere. Malcolm Richardson averages 6.8 points and Darian Barnes is tallying 5.5.

Chester (6-1), meanwhile, is off to a hot start after finishing last season in a disappointing fashion - in the first round of states. Erikk Wright (pictured) and Lamon Church are dominating the post, averaging 16.0 and 14.4 points per game, respectively. All-Delco Maurice Nelson and forward Rondae Jefferson also are pulling their weight for the Clippers.

Outsiders may think this is Penn Wood's game to lose. But I'm telling you now that Thursday night's meeting will be closer than expected.

Should be a fun one.

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There's a 6-foot-8 eighth grader in Warminster, Bucks County. Why should we care? Because a recruiting service says we should.

If you drop Horace Spencer's name into Google, chances are you'll come across a video like the one I linked here with this post.

He's a 13-year-old who attends Klinger Middle School, he's ranked second in the nation by HypeBasketball in the Class of 2015 and he has college coaches from the Big 5 attending his games ... and he's not even yet enrolled in high school. (He also recently was the subject of a feature story in one of the Philadelphia area daily newspapers.)

This is what's wrong with youth/high school sports. Let the kid be a kid. Chances are he's swatting shots toward midcourt, rebounding with authority and scoring at will because he's got six, seven inches on his tallest opponents. I'm not saying Spencer isn't the real deal (even though I do think it's absurd to compare a pubescent basketball player to LeBron James), but I'd like to see how this all levels out as he moves up in skill level in the next couple years.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Chester alumnus Nasir Robinson milled about Widener's Schwartz Gymnasium last Thursday, looking around as he heard his name pouring down from the grandstands.

Admittedly, Robinson hadn't attended a high school basketball game since he last played in one - in March 2008, when Chester won the PIAA Class AAAA championship.

"This is my first time back," said Robinson, a junior at Pittsburgh, where he's averaging 7.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. "It feels good to be home."

Robinson was on hand for the Clippers' loss to Sanford (Del.), part of the Jameer Nelson/Pete Nelson Classic. His younger brothers, Kareem Robinson and Darius Robinson, are members of the team.

"I talk to them a lot," the elder Robinson said. "I try to give them some advice when I can. They like to talk about the team.

"From what I hear," Robinson added, "they have some good players, some guys who can help them get over the hump."

The hump, to which Robinson was referring, is the PIAA playoffs ... where the Clippers have won only one game in the last two seasons. In other words, it's been very un-Chester-like in Chester.

"They're going to have a good team," Robinson said, pontificating. "At least I hope they do."

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