Blogs > Gettin' Schooled

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

Saturday, February 28, 2009


The expression by Penn Wood senior Will Brown (pictured) should say everything. In case it doesn't here is what Brown felt immediately following the Patriots' 52-49 loss to Norristown in the District One Class AAAA championship game:
"It felt good," said Brown, whose potentially game-tying shot rimmed out at the buzzer. "It just didn't go in. It didn;t drop. I really wish it would have gone in."
The Patriots had tons of chances to secure their first district championship since 1992 - and only their second in school history. They had plenty of unforced errors in the game, however:
  • They committed 19 turnovers.
  • They committed 20 personal fouls.
  • They shot just 5-for-16 from the free-throw line.
Making matters worse was the exceptional play of Norristown senior Khalif Wyatt. The 6-3 guard, a Temple signee, did just about everything for the Eagles. He scored 19 of their first 20 points. He finished with a game-best 25 points and (deep breath) hauled in five rebounds, grabbed five steals, dished out two assists and even blocked a pair of shots to boot.
It didn't matter who the Patriots threw at him - and Penn Wood coach Clyde Jones tossed everything but the kitchen sink at Wyatt - there just was not stopping him. Wyatt got the upper hand, even if it looks like otherwise in these excellent photos by Daily Times photographer Bob Gurecki.
The win made the Eagles' return to the district-title game a memorable one. They lost to Chester last year, ending their undefeated season.
Wyatt was impressive throughout. He knocked down five 3-pointers. Two of them stick out:
1. On one right before halftime, he faded to his right and jumped off only his right foot. The shot, which looked offbalance, banked off the glass and in.
2. Chided by Penn Wood's fans all game for airing a layup in the paint, Wyatt drilled a 3 with Penn Wood junior DeQuan Pelzer draped all over him. After hitting the shot, Wyatt looked at the crowd and thumped his chest with a closed fist.
OK, enough about this game. After all, the only way these two will see each other again is in the PIAA Class AAAA championship. (One can dream.)

In the District One ninth-place game:
Glen Mills did it. The Bulls pulled off the impossible, improbable, unbelievable route to their first state-playoff berth since 2004: they beat Central Bucks West, 60-57, in double overtime to secure the district's ninth and final slot.

Reggie Miles was huge, stepping up with a team-best 23 points. Aaric Murray had 16 more, and Lavander Johns had nine in the win. It seems like a different player is stepping up each night for the Bulls this postseason.

What really bites about this whole process is that the Bulls - as a "reward" for winning three elimination games in a row - are required to play a play-in game this Tuesday just to get into the PIAA first round, which is held next Saturday. That's where the PIAA screwed up. This needs to be fixed, because the Bulls (or any team that follows them as the No. 9 seed) does not deserve that.

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Friday, February 27, 2009


Penn Wood has only ever made it to the District One Class AAAA championship game three times - and has won it only once.

The Patriots will go for No. 2 tonight against eighth-seeded Norristown at Villanova's Pavilion. Sophomore center Shawn Oakman (pictured) and senior forward Thomas White - both of whom measure to 6-8 - will be integral pieces to the Patriots' game tonight.

Check back to Gettin' Schooled later tonight for updates. I have to admit that the 9 p.m. tipoff kind of hampers my desire to do a live blog of the game. But I'll post a halftime score, a final and a detailed recap.

And, of course, buy Saturday's Daily Times. (Keep your favorite high school reporters working, you know?)

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Friday night at Villanova’s Pavilion, Penn Wood takes on Norristown for the District One Class AAAA championship.

Norristown senior Khalif Wyatt, who leads the Eagles in scoring with 20 points per game, felt comfortable Tuesday night. His Eagles knocked off Pennsbury in a district semifinal at Wyatt’s future home floor, at Temple’s Liacouras Center.

Focused mainly on Tuesday’s game, Wyatt addressed the team to which he is committed for the next four years.
Q: Do you like playing here?
A: It’s awesome. All the Temple Owls players were on the side of the court, all the guys I watch on TV – Dionte Christmas and all of them – it was cool. They were courtside. The court was great. The Cherry and White was real nice.

Q: Have you ever played a game here?
A: No, just a shootaround with the guys when they were practicing or something.

Q: Was Temple center Lavoy Allen pulling for his alma mater, Pennsbury, or for you?
A: I came when they played St. Bonaventure (last Sunday). I mentioned to him that we’d be playing here at Temple. He smiled.

Q: How did it feel here?
A: It feels nice. I really like how the court feels. I told myself, ‘I could have a lot of fun here the next four years.’

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


It's official: Penn Wood and Norristown will square off Friday night for the District One Class AAAA championship.

Penn Wood knocked off Conestoga, 62-53, in the opener of a district semifinal doubleheader at Temple's Liacouras Center. Norristown bested Pennsbury, 60-53, in the nightcap. They will play Friday night at Villanova's Pavilion in a 9 p.m. tipoff.

The Patriots are in the district final for the first time since 1992, when they won their first and only district title. The Eagles is back in the final after dropping last year's title game against Chester.

Jarrell Gardner (pictured) and Lorenzo Christmas were big for Norristown, combining for 16 points. Khalif Wyatt led the way with 17 more.

Pick up a copy of Wednesday's Daily Times for more on the games.

(Photo by the Daily Local News)

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Friday, February 20, 2009


Something happened Friday that hasn’t happened in seven years: the Chester Clippers lost a District One Class AAAA playoff game. A bit of Southeastern Pennsylvania royalty, the Clippers were dethroned by No. 8 Norristown.

The Clippers last dropped a district game February 2001, losing in the semifinals to eventual PIAA champion Coatesville.

Friday’s loss snapped a streak of 38 consecutive district playoff victories. On their way toward winning their school's sixth state championship last year (at right), the Clippers extended their own record to seven straight district championships.

Those numbers are flat-out unprecedented and it’s hard to believe any team will ever accomplish such a streak. To put it into further perspective, here’s a smattering of what has happened since the Clippers last lost a district playoff game:
  • A Philadelphia professional sports franchise won a championship (2008).
  • The Clippers won two state titles (2003-04, 2007-08).
  • There have been two presidential elections (2004, 2008).
  • The United States launched a war on Iraq (2003).
  • Facebook, the uber-popular networking site, is founded (2004).
  • Two U.S. presidents pass away (Reagan, 2004; Ford, 2006).
  • More than 959 million births have taken place globally.


Penn Wood 38, Lower Merion 35
: Duane Johnson (pictured) scored 10 of his team-best 12 points in the first half. The Patriots avenged a regular-season loss to the Aces by doing what Johnson told the Daily Times most people thought they couldn’t do: “We want to prove we can win a 40-point game.” They did. Tyree Johnson scored 11 more for the Pats.

Glen Mills 78, Owen J Roberts 65: Lavander Johns, who scored zero points in Tuesday’s second round, poured in a team-best 23 to keep the Bulls’ season alive in the ninth-place consolation bracket. Aaric Murray scored 20 more for The Mills, which led 22-5 after one quarter.


OK, here’s what we’re looking at for the Class AAAA semifinal pairings, which will be held next Tuesday at Temple University’s Liacouras Center:
  • No. 3 Penn Wood vs. No. 2 Conestoga, 6 p.m.
  • No. 8 Norristown vs. No. 4 Pennsbury, 8 p.m.

According to Kevin Cooney of the Bucks County Courier Times, fans should be warned to hit the MAC machines before going to the games. Reportedly, ticket prices are $10 and parking at Temple will be $12. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.)

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A couple interesting tidbits about the remaining teams in the District One Class AAAA bracket...

No. 1: The final eight are the top eight seeds overall.
  • 1 CHESTER vs. 8 Norristown
  • 2 Conestoga vs. 7 Plymouth-Whitemarsh
  • 3 PENN WOOD vs. 6 Lower Merion
  • 4 Pennsbury vs. 5 Central Bucks South

No. 2: Three of these games are rematches.
Chester knocked off Norristown, 58-47, Dec. 26 at the Jameer Nelson Classic. Penn Wood dropped one, 47-44, to Lower Merion Jan. 24 at the Kobe Bryant Classic. And Conestoga took down P-W, 50-43, Dec. 6.

No. 3: The Chester-Norristown game is a look into the future at Temple University.
Clippers forward Rahlir Jefferson (pictured) and Eagles combo Khalif Wyatt are headed to North Broad Street next fall. Said Jefferson last week of the potential playoff meeting: "I didn't look (at the bracket). Khalif called me and said, 'We both win two and we'll see each other."


As for that elusive ninth seed, here's how it'll be determined: The bracket reverses itself and plays the opposite way. There is no re-seeding. First-round games in the eight-team, single-elimination playback are as follows:
  • No. 17 Souderton at No. 9 W.C. Rustin
  • No. 13 O.J. Roberts at No. 12 GLEN MILLS
  • No. 23 Neshaminy at 18 W.C. Henderson
  • No. 14 Bensalem at No. 11 C.B. West

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Sunday, February 15, 2009


Delaware County basketball fans should be familiar with this face. It's that of Temple-bound Norristown senior Khalif Wyatt, whose Eagles fell to Chester (twice) in the playoffs a year ago.

If Norristown is going to vanquish ghosts of playoffs passed, it's through Wyatt ... and a glitch in the District One Class AAAA power-points system.

Turns out Wyatt and the Eagles are the district-playoff bracket's No. 8 seed - and not the ninth, as originally seeded. So for Tuesday's second-round tilt with West Chester Rustin (the initial No. 8 seed) will be played at Norristown's joint.

All of that make sense?

You'd think that a proven mathematical system would not fail a team, but this time it did. Fortunately, Norristown lived to joke about it. But, for a second, cater to the thought of No. 9 Norristown being upset by the 25 seed when, all along, they should have been playing the 24 seed. There would have been some hell to pay.

Here's the rest of the bracket, should there be any hang-ups.


There are no humongous modifications to this week's edition of the PIAA state polls.

Chester (No. 2) and Penn Wood (No. 3) are still top dogs in the Class AAAA poll, ranked by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. Glen Mills - in my opinion - has yet to get the credit it deserves, and comes in under the 'Honorable Mention' label.

In Class AAA, Archbishop Carroll holds steady at No. 5. A good showing in Wednesday's Catholic League semifinal - and subsequent championship game - could alter that.

The entire rankings can be found here.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009


Delaware County had a rough showing in Friday's opening round of the District One Class AAAA playoffs. Seven local teams made the bracket, and only three moved on to the next round:

  • At Upper Darby, Tre Davis (pictured) and the No. 16 Royals could not keep up with Souderton's A.J. Picard, who shot 8-for-11 from the floor. Harry Chaykun reports.
  • At Penn Wood, the No. 3 Patriots were on a mission to make quick work of No. 30 Chichester. Mission accomplished. Matt Smith reports. And Bob Gurecki chips in with video coverage.
  • At Chester, the No. 1 Clippers were able to regroup after a difficult week in which freshman point guard Kareem Robinson was shot twice. It was an emotional win. Your favorite blogger was on the scene.
  • ELSEWHERE: No. 12 Glen Mills advanced, No. 10 Penncrest was upset and No. 22 Radnor could not spring a road win. The roundup.


When the District One Class AAA and A brackets were unveiled, Strath Haven coach Steve Lewis was a little apprehensive. Reason being, his No. 6 Panthers have to do battle in the first-round with an 11th-seeded Upper Moreland team that "smacked us in the mouth," he said.

More on the brackets.


Coming Sunday: The Daily Times has you (and the Catholic League playoffs) covered. Sports editor Rob Parent was on hand for Archbishop Carroll's win over West Catholic. A Northeast Philadelphia guy - born and raised - I didn't have to travel too far for Monsignor Bonner's loss to North Catholic, which was held at Archbishop Ryan. We'll have the latest in Sunday's edition.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009


Chester freshman Kareem Robinson, recovering from two gunshot wounds suffered Wednesday, was released from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Thursday and plans on attending the Clippers' playoff game Friday.

Robinson, according to Chester coach Larry Yarbray and a report filed by Chester Police, was an innocent bystander and the victim of a random act of violence. He is extremely fortunate the two bullets did not pierce a major artery or major organ. The injuries were not life-threatening, though Robinson will not play again this season.

For more on Robinson, check out Friday's Daily Times.


ALSO IN FRIDAY'S NEWSPAPER: A full preview of the District One Class AAAA playoffs, featuring a little something on all seven Delco teams involved. The weekly feature story is on Chester's Rahlir Jefferson emerging not only as a scoring leader but as a vocal leader.


Something else to keep an eye on is the release of the District One Class AAA playoff bracket, which will be announced Friday. A safe guess is that Marple Newtown, Strath Haven and Springfield make the cut. Sun Valley could have an outside chance, too.

Check back to Gettin' Schooled Friday for the latest on the seedings.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009


In a day off Monday, I got some time for a better look at the District One Class AAAA bracket. Just a few observations:

AT THE TOP: If the results of the Central League tournament had been factored in, the top six seeds might have been different. Lower Merion would be at least two spots higher than the No. 6 seed, and second-seeded Conestoga would have slipped some.

AT THE BOTTOM: Chichester needed to win two of its final three games. Had they not, the Eagles (11-11) would have been left out of the bracket for sure. Two other .500 teams (Council Rock South and North Penn) made the cut, but one (Wissahickon) did not. No teams with losing records made it in.

LEAGUE LOVE: The Suburban One League got the most love in this year’s bracket, sending 14 teams in the playoffs among its three divisions. Here’s a breakdown:
SOL Continental (6): C.B. South, C.B. West, C.B. East, Souderton, Quakertown, North Penn.
Ches-Mont League (6): W.C. Rustin, Downingtown West, Coatesville, W.C. Henderson, Great Valley, Avon Grove.
SOL National (5): Pennsbury, Bensalem, C.R. North, C.R. South, Neshaminy.
Del Val League (4): Chester, Penn Wood, Glen Mills, Chichester.
Central League (4): Conestoga, Lower Merion, Penncrest, Radnor.
SOL American (3): Norristown, Plymouth-Whitemarsh, Cheltenham.
Pioneer Athletic Conference (3): Owen J Roberts, Spring-Ford, Methacton.

I heard from a dozen readers in response to District One’s 2000-point scorers. It turns out there are 13 of them, not eight (as one Daily Times blogger recently published – oops). Here’s the full list:
  • Kobe Bryant (Lower Merion, 1996) 2,883
  • Matt Carroll (Hatboro Horsham, 1999) 2,667
  • Dan Hargrove (Faith Christian, 2001) 2,378
  • John Allen (Coatesville, 2001) 2,372
  • Tyrone Lewis (Truman, 2006) 2,211
  • Tom Hauer (Sun Valley, 1995) 2,209
  • Chad Hopenwasser (New Hope, 1995) 2,172
  • Dan Geriot (Springfield, 2006) 2,157
  • Lamont Ferrell (Penn Wood, 1984) 2,114
  • Martin Salley (Neshaminy/Truman, 1984) 2,090
  • Wayne Keys (Bristol, 1986) 2,061
  • Mike Vreeswyk (Morrisville, 1985) 2,019
  • Dalton Pepper (Pennsbury) TBD

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Sunday, February 8, 2009


The results are in, amigos. The power points have been tabulated. The District One Class AAAA playoff-seeding meeting was held this morning at Council Rock South High School, in Holland. Here's where all the local teams ended up, with their first-round matchups:

(1) Chester vs. (32) North Penn
(3) Penn Wood vs. (30) Chichester
(10) Penncrest vs. (23) Neshaminy
(12) Glen Mills vs. (21) Council Rock North
(16) Upper Darby vs. (17) Souderton
(22) Radnor at (11) Central Bucks West

(2) Conestoga vs. (31) Cheltenham
(6) Lower Merion vs. (27) Quakertown
(Please note that higher seeds host opening-round games)

More to come in Monday's Daily Times...



Who would have thought it possible?

Lower Merion, winners of 15 straight and 19 of 20, did the impossible Saturday night. The Aces knocked off the heavy favorite Conestoga, 46-41, to claim the Central League championship.

Lower Merion thwarted Conestoga's bid for consecutive league championships. The Pioneers shared the 2007-08 title with Ridley a year ago.

The usual suspects - Richmond signee Greg Robbins (pictured) and Harley Williamson - combined to score 19 points and were largely outshined by teammate Alon Seltzer's 18 for the Aces (20-4). The Pioneers (22-2) were done in by the 2-spot they put up in the third quarter.

It's safe to say everyone expected Conestoga, which won its first 20 games of the year, to claim the title. But now the Pioneers back into the District One Class AAAA playoffs having lost two of their last four games --- both to the Aces.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009


So Friday night, two teams that spent all season hoping for a shot at the Central League title had those hopes dashed.

Top-seeded Conestoga dispatched No. 4 Upper Darby, 55-49, by erasing the seven-point lead the Royals carried into the fourth quarter. Sophomore Montrail Talford played beyond his years with 13 for UD.
No. 2 Lower Merion knocked out third-seeded Penncrest, 44-43, on a questionable 3-pointer in overtime. The Aces forced the OT and Harley Williamson converted a trey that was not as down-the-middle as believed.

It's not the All-Delco championship game everyone was hoping for, but Penncrest and Upper Darby have the District One Class AAAA playoffs to look forward to.


Coming Saturday morning: More with Archbishop Carroll's Kasheef Festus, from Friday's loss to Neumann-Goretti.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009


The District One basketball playoffs will be here in no time. Teams in Class AAAA have to wrap up their regular seasons by Saturday so the seedings can be announced Sunday.

Chester's Maurice Nelson and Penn Wood's Duane Johnson, pictured, figure to be big-time players in the AAAA bracket. Nelson has upped his scoring average from 11 ppg to 15 ppg in the last month as the Clippers seek their 8th straight district championship. Johnson leads a balanced team hoping to usurp Chester.

There could be as many as 12 teams from Delco playing postseason basketball:
CLASS AAAA LOCKS (6): Chester; Penn Wood; Glen Mills; Penncrest; Upper Darby; Radnor.
CLASS AAA LOCKS (3): Archbishop Carroll; Marple Newtown; Springfield.
CLASS A LOCK (1): Delco Christian.

Sunday, the AAAA bracket is released. We'll have to wait until the following week for the other brackets.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009


When Bob Ruoff takes calls from the media, it's usually to address one of three things:
1. The playoffs are around the corner.
2. Some news story recently broke.
3. He's asked to answer a variety of questions from an inquisitive reporter.

Tuesday, I fell into the third category. The District One Executive Secretary, Ruoff is a great resource in the Southeastern Pennsylvania high school sports scene. He was there for me last season, when snow canceled the Class AAAA boys basketball semifinals. He was there when I wrote about baseball pitchers taking line drives to the face.

And he was there for me Tuesday.

Daily Times: District One Class AAAA is getting another seed - its ninth - into the PIAA playoffs this March. How will it be determined which team goes?
Bob Ruoff: The eight teams that win their second-round games will make the state field and the ninth will be determined in an eight-team playoff between the teams that lost in the second round. The one that wins those three games gets the ninth (seed).

DT: Doesn't it seem funny that the eighth seed heads to states on a three-game losing streak but the ninth seed is on a three-game winning streak?
BR: I know. Who the heck wanted this ninth seed anyway? But if one team more than usual can go to states, that's what the whole thing is all about.

DT: Determining district-playoff seeding is based on a computerized system. Any chance I can get a look at where the teams are before they're announced Feb. 8?
BR: We can't do that.

DT: What do you mean?
BR: Well, (boys) basketball is not as easy as football, which has weekly power rankings on the Web site. We're constantly trying to get those scores. (With) football, it's once a week and you can get scores around the state. (With) basketball, you're trying like gangbusters to figure out what Conestoga did in a tournament in California. When we come out of the meeting at Council Rock-South that Sunday (Feb. 8), everyone will know.

DT: There's more to it than that, though.
BR: The whole thing is computerized, but those last seeds, things can be changed. People bring schedules from every team and their league and we compute it right away. When we leave there, we say to everyone, "Is everybody OK with is?" And that's it.


Pick up a copy of Wednesday's Daily Times for a feature story on Tom Brennan. The 6-3, 195-pound senior forward at Sun Valley is playing like normal - he's averaging 23 ppg this season, just like he did a year ago - but the Vanguards can't seem to find their way.

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