Blogs > Gettin' Schooled

A boys basketball blog hosted by Daily Times reporter Christopher A. Vito

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


The All-Delco boys basketball team was unveiled in Wednesday's Daily Times. And based on the graphic at right - and the headline above - you should already know that Penn Wood junior point guard Tyree Johnson is the 2009 Player of the Year.

Johnson led the Patriots to their first PIAA Class AAAA championship and a Del Val League championship. Along the way, he became the county's best point guard and demonstrated the uncanny ability to make everyone around him play better, resulting in the school's first championship of any kind since 1992.

Four Patriots averaged in double figures this season - including Johnson - and two of them improved their scoring tallies significantly in the state playoffs. All thanks to Johnson's play, thus earning him the honor of Daily Times Player of the Year.

Here's the rest of the All-Delco team:
  • D.J. Irving, Jr. PG, Archbishop Carroll (pictured)
  • Calvin Newell, Sr. SG, Strath Haven
  • Aaric Murray, Sr. C, Glen Mills
  • Duane Johnson, Sr. F, Penn Wood
  • Rahlir Jefferson, Sr. F, Chester
*Murray and Johnson are repeat All-Delco selections.

# # # #

It's been a while since I last posted - following state-championship lag from State College - here's a quick-hitting recap of what you might have missed:
  • Former Chester coach Fred Pickett has thrown his hat into the political ring. He will launch a campaign for a city council spot.
  • Penn Wood coach Clyde Jones was named the PIAA Class AAAA Coach of the Year. Seven Delco players earned state honors, too.
  • Three-time All-Delco Tyreke Evans told that he plans to leave Memphis to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009


Archbishop Carroll is playing for a championship Friday. It's not the championship the Patriots perennially focus on, but it's a championship nonetheless.

The end-all, be-all of the Catholic League is the league crown. If you don't win one, you're season is a failure. But when the CL joined the PIAA this season, suddenly there's another reason to play.

At Wednesday's practice, I asked a couple of the guys about whether they think their head coach - Paul Romanczuk, who played for the Carroll team that won the Catholic League title in 1995 - is enjoying this state-title push more than the league-title season during his playing career:

Junior guard D.J. Irving (pictured): "He talked about the Catholic League championship he had and how special it was for him. We couldn't get that for him, so hopefully we can get this one for him. I think this (stretch) has been more fun for him, as a coach."

Senior forward Pat Daly: "You might have to ask him about that. If I had to answer, I'd say yeah he is having more fun this year. He feels really close to this team. He believes in us and has been pulling for us. He wants to see us go out winners."

Senior captain Andre Wilburn: "He's excited. We're all excited. We just have to get up there and take care of business and win the medal."

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Monday, March 16, 2009


When York Suburban and Archbishop Carroll go at it Tuesday in a PIAA Class AAA semifinal, they very well may be catching each other at their hottest.

I don't need to tell you about Carroll (26-3), which stunned league rival and perennial thorn-in-side Neumann-Goretti. But the Trojans (27-3) looked their best in their Round 3, 47-35 win over District 2 champ Crestwood.

Consider that the Trojans:
  • Scored 16 of the game's first 18 points
  • Led by as many as 19 points
  • Limited Crestwood to 14-of-35 shooting
  • Held a 28-18 advantage in rebounds
  • Forced 18 turnovers

Those are all impressive numbers, but how about this one: Crestwood finished the year having held opponents under 50 points in 25 of their 29 games. What does that tell me? That York Suburban (which scored only 47) was able to play someone else's game and still win.

The Trojans weren't all that intimidating when I saw them against Strath Haven in the second round. They don't have much size or much speed. They play a balanced team game. Expect at least three guys to hit double figures in scoring. The Patriots will need to spread the ball, too, so count on their All-Catholic backcourt of D.J. Irving and Juan'ya Green (pictured) to carry the load.

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Friday, March 13, 2009


In 32 minutes Friday night, Archbishop Carroll went from PIAA Class AAA dark horse to favorite in the state playoffs.

The Patriots did the unthinkable and dispatched Neumann-Goretti, 70-65, in a quarterfinal at Archbishop Ryan High School. They move on to the semifinal round against York Suburban.

To get there, the Patriots needed to beat a team they hadn't since 2001. The District 12 and Catholic League champs, the Saints held an 18-game winning streak over the Pats' heads. This is the same N-G team that is ranked No. 1 in the PIAA by the Harrisburg Patriot News and No. 14 nationally by ESPN. Even though Carroll is the state's No. 2 team, this is considered a monumental upset and a huge step forward for Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk's program.

D.J. Irving had 26 points, leading a quartet of Carroll scorers in double figures.

More to come in Saturday's Daily Times.

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Friday, March 6, 2009


The first two teams on the chopping block in the state playoffs passed their opening-round tests.

Archbishop Carroll and Strath Haven both survived the first round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs. Carroll knocked off District One champ Phoenixville, 56-50, and Strath Haven bested District 12 runner-up Franklin Learning Center, 76-56.

For Carroll, junior guard D.J. Irving and senior center Kasheef Festus each netted 20 points on their way to the Patriots' first win in the state playoffs in school history.

For Haven, senior guard Calvin Newell poured in 18 points by halftime - half of the Panthers' 36 points through two quarters - in their first-round rout.

Wins by Carroll and Haven were only the beginning. Five teams from Delaware County are in the state playoffs. The Del Val League triumvirate of Penn Wood, Chester and Glen Mills square off in opening-round games Saturday in the Class AAAA bracket.

For more on the boys basketball scene, pick up a copy of Saturday's Daily Times.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009


Wednesday was a big day for Archbishop Carroll and Strath Haven, which locked up PIAA Class AAA state-playoff berths with victories.

Carroll senior D.J. Irving posted a career day in beating Simon Gratz. And Haven senior Calvin Newell (pictured) went off for 40 points, and knocked down the game-winning shot, to dispatch Holy Ghost Prep in overtime.

In an attempt to recap Wednesday night's playoff games, here are a couple great quotes from the games:

***Holy Ghost Prep senior John Glenn on Newell's clutch shot:
"I think he was parallel to the ground. I mean, I just couldn't believe he hit that shot, because there were a couple hands in his face and he seemed to be fading away from the basket. But he's a heck of a player."

***Archbishop Carroll senior D.J. Irving, on the Catholic League earning more state berths than the Public League:
"I like all this Public-Catholic stuff, too. We get to see who's better. We think we are and we want to show them that."

***Strath Haven's Calvin Newell, on his shot selection:
"No layup. No tie. I was going for the win."

***Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk, on the Patriots' win-or-go-home game:
"You want everyone to respond with urgency when it's one and done like this. You look to the seniors first, then the guys who have been doing it all season. And D.J. (Irving) has been doing it all season."

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Archbishop Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk was named the Catholic League's Coach of the Year Tuesday, when the postseason awards were announced.

In his sixth season, Romanczuk led the Patriots to a 21-2 record and an appearance in Wednesday's league semifinal, where they will face Roman Catholic.

Romanczuk wasn't the only one from Carroll to garner high honors. Junior guard D.J. Irving and sophomore guard Juan'Ya Green (pictured, left to right) were named to the league's Blue Division First Team. Senior forwards Kasheef Festus and Andre Wilburn were picked for Blue's Second and Third teams, respectively.

At Monsignor Bonner, junior point guard Jamal Melvin was named to the Red Division First Team. Junior guard Keefer Francis was selected to the Second Team.

Episcopal Academy junior guard Omari Grier garnered a First-Team nomination. Teammate and senior guard Cory Goodman made the Second Team, and senior guards A.J. Jones and Sam Kurtzman of The Haverford School were Honorable Mention selections.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009


There was a pep rally Friday at Archbishop Carroll, employed to get everyone excited for the game that was going to determine (one way or another) the champion of the Catholic League's Blue Division.

There also was a scrimmage ... between Carroll's boys team and its girls team.

Kasheef Festus, (pictured), a senior who measures in at 6-4, 240 pounds, decided to sit this one out.

"Juan'Ya (Green) hit the game-winner at the end," Festus said. "Me, Andre (Wilburn) and D.J. (Irving) didn't play.

So you didn't want to get hurt for Friday's big game, huh?

"No, it's not like that," Festus said. "We had to make it a little more fair. That's not to say they're not good. They were actually really tough the whole game. They were hitting every jump shot."

Festus said the best individual matchup was Green versus senior guard Kerri Shields, a Boston College signee who earlier this week was named a nominee for the McDonald's All-America Game.

"Kerri guarded him really well," Festus said. "But he hit the game-winning shot off her, so he got the last laugh."

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Saturday, January 31, 2009


The Class of 2010 might as well be dubbed 'the class of the point guard'. As this reporter sees it, five of the county’s top-10 juniors play the point. And three more handle the No. 2 slot, which limits the number of post players to two.

Here are a few observations of Delaware County’s top juniors:
1. Tyree Johnson, PG, Penn Wood: A smart, instinctive No. 1 who can turn heads with his passing ability, Johnson, pictured, also has the ability to score in bunches (when needed).

2. Soutiri Sapnas, PG, Marple Newtown: A scoring, jumpshooting machine who is on his way to becoming his school’s all-time scoring champ, Sapnas is the focus of every team’s gameplan.

3. Maurice Nelson, SG, Chester: Like his older brother, he does a little bit of everything. Nelson has found a niche with the Clippers with his scoring (14.5 ppg).

4. D.J. Irving, SG, Archbishop Carroll: An unassuming player who looks for his teammates first, it’s a wonder how a player with that selfless mindset averages 14 ppg.

5. Jack Roberts, C, Strath Haven: His rebounding and shot-blocking skills are well advanced. His scoring touch is not there yet, but at 6-7, it is on the way.

6. Andrew Radomicki, PG, Penncrest: A gritty, hard-nosed point who does the stuff that doesn’t appear in box scores: gets everyone involved, takes charges, makes the extra pass.

7. Omari Grier, PG, Episcopal Academy: He can slash or hit a pull-up. Grier works his best in catch-and-shoot opportunities and he possesses some dangerous size on the wing.

8. Jamal Melvin, PG, Monsignor Bonner: An undersized guard who can bob and weave his way to the bucket, Melvin can also dish to his bigs if nothing is there. He is fun to watch.

9. Ben Mingledough, SF, Archbishop Carroll: Long and lean, he’s a terror on the perimeter. Mingledough has put scoring on the backburner for now because of his skills on defense.

10. Laquan Robinson, SG, Chester: A role player and a selective shooter, he chooses his opportunities wisely. On any given night, though, Robinson can go off for 15.

Others to watch: Radnor G Kyle Hammonds; Ridley C Cameron Gunter; Penncrest SG Rodney Duncan; Haverford School SG A.J. Jones; Chichester G Brian Parker; Springfield C Wally Rutecki; Glen Mills G Lavander Johns.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009


The subject comes up everywhere I go: Who's the best? When I give my answer, it usually comes with some rebuttal: Why them?

Here's a chance for me to make the best argument for the top six teams in Delaware County (in no particular order):

Record: 12-1 (4-0 Del Val)
Key Wins: Penn Wood, Norristown, E&S.
Key Losses: None.
More: Take a look at most of the preseason picks in Southeastern Pa. - they all had Chester out of the No. 1 slot. But the defending PIAA Class AAAA champs have rebounded and are perfect (except for a 2 OT loss vs. Reading). I still don't think we've seen the best of senior Rahlir Jefferson.

Record: 12-1 (3-1 Del Val)
Key Wins: North Catholic, Glen Mills, Bartram.
Key Losses: Chester.
More: Once nationally-ranked, the Patriots took a step back (in the league standings, too) with the loss to Chester. But they have beaten the best of the Catholic League and previously 12-0 Bartram, of the Pub. Behind junior point guard Tyree Johnson, the Pats are on course for a deep run in states.

Record: 13-1 (9-1 Catholic Blue)
Key Wins: Archbishop Wood, La Salle, Camden Catholic.
Key Losses: Neumann-Goretti.
More: The Main Line Patriots are deep. They usually employ a six-man rotation, but they can use as many as eight or nine, with all of them contributing. I like their backcourt, with D.J. Irving and Juan'Ya Green. If those two are on target, these Pats are hard to slow down offensively -- they have scored fewer than 54 points only twice.

Record: 10-4 (2-2 Del Val)
Key Wins: University City, Holy Ghost Prep.
Key Losses: Chester, Penn Wood, Frankford.
More: Senior center and La Salle commit Aaric Murray had his second career triple-double Saturday ... in a blowout win, which goes to show that as he goes, so go the Bulls. There is a nice supporting cast around him, with guards Reginald Miles and Tyrik Gass, but they need to slay some of the Del Val's big guns to be taken seriously. They have an upset (or two) in them.

Record: 12-3 (9-2 Central)
Key Wins: Lower Merion, Penncrest.
Key Losses: Springfield, Conestoga.
More: It's easy to justify losing to Conestoga, the unbeaten titan of the league. But when you drop a decision to a Springfield team that is a step below in the PIAA classifications (after Springfield had lost to a one-win team only two days prior) it raises serious questions. Forward Chase Peterson and guard Khayri West need to carry the load if the Royals are to rebound.

Record: 12-3 (8-3 Central)
Key Wins: West Chester Henderson, Radnor.
Key Losses: Conestoga, Lower Merion, Upper Darby.
More: After 10 straight wins to start the year, the Lions' three-game slide had everyone fearing the worst. Senior center Marvin Holman-Little, who is averaging 14 points per game, has been a steadying force for a young, green crew. They lack big-game experience, but it has not come back to get them thus far. Don't sleep on the Lions.

Of course, if I let a team out that you deem worthy, let me know. As for which team is No. 1, that's yet to be sorted out. But these are definitely the big guns in Delco through the first half of the season. There's no argument there.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008


The basketball season kicked off Friday night with a flourish. There were high scorers abound, some upsets and some high expectations that were given foundations for the rest of the season.

For starters, Chichester upended host Ridley, 50-39, behind 12 points and nine rebounds from Dan Clapp and 11 from Malik Carter (pictured).

The Eagles, who have just two wins in their last six openers, desperately needed to get off to a good start. In the always-competitive Del Val, their toughest tests are ahead of them.

Marple Newtown's Soutiri Sapnas scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter of a win at Harry S Truman.

Strath Haven's Calvin Newell dropped 28 on Carlisle, the hosts of a tipoff tournament and losers to the Panthers.

Glen Mills' Aaric Murray lived up to all the hype, tossing in 32 points.

And Archbishop Carroll escaped a three-overtime thriller over La Salle, 86-84, behind 21 from D.J. Irving and 19 from Juan'Ya Green.


Daily Times reporters are scattered about the East Coast today, covering some bigtime games. I'm taking a day off from the high school beat to visit Lincoln Financial Field and the 109th Army-Navy Game. A lifelong Philadelphian, it's hard to believe that I've never covered one of these games. In fact, I've never even attended one. Today should be a treat.

Terry Toohey is in Harrisonburg, Va., for Villanova's second-round FCS playoff game against top-seeded James Madison. And Anthony SanFilippo is down in Carolina for a Flyers-Hurricanes game.

It's a big day for sports, certainly, so pick up Sunday's Daily Times for all the latest.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Sapnas shatters school scoring record

Marple Newtown's Soutiri Sapnas brought to an end his incredible sophomore season with a record.

His Tigers fell in the first round of the District One Class AAA tournament, 65-55, but Sapnas became the single-season scoring champ in Marple Newtown history. Sapnas' 527 points in 25 games surpassed the 521 in 26 games posted by Greg Bishop.

Sapnas (pictured) has two seasons left at Marple Newtown and is sure to break even more records in his high school career.

All-Catholic Teams Announced: Six players from Delaware County schools were named to this year’s All-Catholic League Southern Division teams, which were announced Wednesday.

The only area player named to the First Team was Monsignor Bonner’s Lijah Thompson. The 6-7 junior forward averages 14 points per game for the Friars. He also leads the team in rebounds and blocked shots.

Bonner’s Jamal Melvin and Archbishop Carroll’s Kasheef Festus made the division’s Second Team. Selected to the Third Team were Carroll’s D.J. Irving and Ellis Rogers and Cardinal O’Hara’s Zach Tansey. Kudos to those guys.

Additional basketball coverage: Check out preview capsules for tonight's games and a feature story on Chester's Kevin Green-Germany, who has emerged as a consistent 3-point threat for the Clippers.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Observations from Kobe Bryant Classic

Just got back in from the Kobe Bryant Classic at Villanova's Pavilion. Here are a couple things I saw that I couldn't fit into my stories:
  • The Catholic League playoffs are right around the corner, so a couple role players from Delco's CL teams made sure they got one last look at Roman Catholic. Archbishop Carroll's D.J. Irving and Monsignor Bonner's Lijah Thompson and Henry Smith were on hand to watch the Cahillites.

  • American Christian's Tyreke Evans returned to the Pavilion following his afternoon game for one of the nightcaps - Roman vs. Chester. He tried to slip in a back door before a security guard tried to squelch that plan. That is, until she recognized who Evans was. No one likes to give out special treatment. But in this case, the security guard felt she had to oblige.

  • Chester's Russell Johnson sat out the Clippers' 83-73 win over Roman Catholic. Johnson was dressed in street clothes on the Chester bench for Friday's game, too. His status was not immediately known.

  • Congrats to Conestoga and Ridley, which clinched a co-championship in the Central League with wins Saturday. Both teams will enter the District One Class AAAA tournament with identical 20-4, 15-3 records.

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