Blogs > Gettin' Schooled

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


While covering the Villanova-La Salle game Sunday, I caught up with two Delco players who will be pivotal in La Salle's resurgence - Aaric Murray and Karon Burton.

Burton, the reigning Daily Times Player of the Year, is a redshirt freshman at La Salle who is working toward becoming academically eligible for the 2009-10 season. The Chester product's point guard skills are needed desperately by the Explorers, who had 15 turnovers to nine assists Sunday.

Daily Times: What are you up to right now?
Karon Burton: Nothing right now with the team, but it’s all individual workouts and weight training and everything. I’m just working on my grades right now and I’m getting good ones, too. I have to keep waiting. After next semester, I can start practicing with the team. I have to wait for the summertime to practice, but I’m getting stronger and quicker.

DT: Do you like what you see in this year’s team?
KB: Yeah, we just have to be more patient and capitalize I guess. We look good, but we’ve got to be patient.

DT: What’s the hardest part of college life?
KB: The hardest part? It’s being on your own. You’ve got to hold yourself accountable. It’s all about time management.

DT: What’s your workout plan like?
KB: I lift weights everyday and then I come in here (Tom Gola Arena) and shoot after I lift. Sometimes I come in here later on at night and shoot something like 1,000 shots a day. Some of the trainers, they have me on resistance ropes and have me working on my quickness like that.

DT: What does coach John Giannini say about all of this you’re doing?
KB: Well, I think he’s just excited to have me. He’s looking real forward to next year.

DT: Have you been back to Chester to see coach Larry Yarbray?
KB: I worked out there (Saturday). I went to their first game, too. I think people are underestimating them. We’re 3-0 right now and we’re beating people by 20.

DT: You’re saying ‘we’ as if you’re a part of the team.
KB: I’m an alumni now. I’m always going to be part of the team.

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Monday, December 15, 2008


While covering the Villanova-La Salle game Sunday, I caught up with two Delco players who will be pivotal in La Salle's resurgence - Aaric Murray and Karon Burton.

Murray, pictured, signed his National Letter of Intent last month. The 6-10 senior at Glen Mills is averaging 20.1 points per game along with nine rebounds and six blocks. Here's what the 2007-08 All Delco had to say:

Daily Times: Have you been to any other La Salle games this season?
Aaric Murray: Only one, when they played here against Morgan State. (A 65-61 La Salle win on Nov. 15)

DT: Can you see yourself in this uniform next year?
AM: Yeah, yeah. I can't wait. I think I can come in and make an immediate impact.

DT: It looks like they have a couple decent big guys who you can learn from.
AM: Yeah, I'd like to play with Vernon (Goodridge, a 6-9 junior). I think working with him would be like working with a coach in a way. I think it'll be fun.

To see what's going on with reigning Daily Times Player of the Year Karon Burton, a redshirt freshman at La Salle, check back with Gettin' Schooled on Tuesday.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Burton is All-Delco Player of the Year

I kept it a secret long enough: Chester High's Karon Burton is the 2008 All-Delco boys basketball Player of the Year.

Not only entertaining to watch with his high-flying moves and acrobatic passes, Burton led the Clippers in scoring, assists and steals en route to winning their sixth big-school state championship.

Chester coach Fred Pickett's team was littered with talent all over the floor, but it was Burton who tied it all together. Each of the Clippers' starters averaged in double figures on the year thanks to Burton, who incorporated everyone in the scoring on a nightly basis.

For the rest of the All-Delco First-Team and beyond, pick up a copy of Thursday's Daily Times.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chester wins, Pickett steps down

A long, arduous road carried the Chester Clippers into Saturday's PIAA Class AAAA title game.
In the end, they're state champs.
The Clippers beat Norristown, 81-77, yet somehow that was not the big news of the night.
Chester coach Fred Pickett announced he is stepping down after 13 seasons, 3 state titles and eight district titles. In addition to this story, Terry Toohey contributed a sights-and-sounds notebook. And Jack McCaffery wrote of how passionate Karon Burton is...even when his team is struggling. Even still, Burton never seems to stop smiling.
Long night tonight, even longer day ahead. Stay tuned for more.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

More coverage of the PIAA quarterfinals

Penn Wood's players anticipated the fourth time being a charm against Chester. The Clippers saw the Patriots as another obstacle standing in their way of a state title.
What came to be Saturday at Villanova's Pavilion was an entertaining showcase of two teams vying for something pretty special.
In the end, Chester called upon its postseason savvy to end Penn Wood's remarkable run with a 68-60 win in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals.
Karon Burton iced down his knee then lit up the scoreboard, netting 25 points in the win. Sports editor Rob Parent shed some light on Burton's return to the court after bruising his left knee and lower thigh during the game.
And despite their quarterfinal loss, Deputy Sports editor John Lohn foresees Penn Wood being the team to beat next season. It's very likely, considering they graduate only two players and return a bevy of underclass talent.
Said Penn Wood coach Clyde Jones: "Chester has all kinds of banners hanging up. It's time for a banner to hang somewhere else."

Penn Wood wasn't alone Saturday, as another Delaware County team's season came to an end. Ridley, trying to avenge its loss to Pennsbury in the District One quarterfinals, fell to the Falcons 45-40.
The Green Raiders were able to contain Pennsbury standout Dalton Pepper but could not come through with a timely basket toward the end. The Raiders graduate six seniors, including 1,000-point scorers Dan Robinson and Steve Egee.
Said Egee of his athletic career at Ridley coming to an end: "But now I'll never put on a Ridley uniform again. I'm just thankful for the memories and the good times that I had with these guys."

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Chester is Palestra-bound

Chester is headed back to the state semifinals.

The Clippers ended Penn Wood's season with a 68-60 win at Villanova's Pavilion Saturday. The second-best season in Penn Wood history ends at 23-9. In the process, the Clippers move on to Wednesday's semifinal at Penn's Palestra.

Chester got 25 points from Karon Burton, who played on despite a bad knee. Tyree Johnson netted 18 for the Patriots.

Who will join Chester at the Palestra? Pennsbury, which ended the season for Ridley with a 45-40 win, will take on the Clippers. Ridley's 1,000-point scoring duo of Steve Egee and Dan Robinson went out on high notes, scoring all but six of the Raiders' points. Egee notched 13 and Robinson netted 21.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ridley, Penn Wood, Chester all advance

Delaware County has three boys basketball teams still playing. And all three advanced with wins Saturday in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs.

Ridley 76, Frankford 37: Led by Dan Robinson (pictured) and his 25-point effort, Ridley dispatched Frankford.
Penn Wood 55, Elizabethtown 46: Duane Johnson's 23-point, 12-rebound outing paced Penn Wood.
Chester 67, Williamsport 59: Karon Burton scored 10 of his game-best 26 points in the fourth quarter of Chester's win.

That means all three play in Round 2. Times and sites have yet to be determined, but we do know who each of them will play. Here's what we're looking at for Wednesday night:
---Chester vs. Harrisburg
---Penn Wood vs. Pocono Mountain West
---Ridley vs. Central Dauphin East

Sunday's Daily Times has full coverage of every game with a complete schedule of the entire Class AAAA bracket.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

All-league teams unveiled

The Central and Del Val leagues announced their all-league honors Wednesday. Here's the rundown of the first-team nominees for each league:

Co-champions Lower Merion and Ridley were rewarded with two representatives each on the first team. For the Aces, Greg Robbins and Carl Johnson were honored, as were Steve Egee and Dan Robinson (named the league's most valuable player) for the Green Raiders.

Rounding out the Central League's First Team are Soutiri Sapnas of Marple Newtown and Jake Cohen of Conestoga.

PIAA Class AAAA tournament qualifiers Chester and Penn Wood each garnered two first-team nominations. The Clippers' Nasir Robinson and Karon Burton (pictured) got the nod, as did Duane Johnson and Tyree Johnson for the Patriots.

Also earning top honors in the league were Glen Mills' Aaric Murray and Academy Park's Anthony King.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chester defends district crown

The Chester Clippers successfully defended their string of District One Class AAAA championships Sunday to take home their seventh in a row.

The Clippers (28-1) handed Norristown (28-1) its first loss of the season in a 61-47 decision at Villanova's Pavilion.

Karon Burton finished with team highs of 20 points and 7 assists while Nasir Robinson (pictured) had 18 points and 12 rebounds. The senior duo connected on three alley-oop dunks in the win.

In the PIAA Class AAAA state playoff bracket, Chester will take on Williamsport (19-8), the second seed out of District Two, in the first round. That game will be played next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Norristown High School.

...pick up a copy of Monday's Daily Times. Included will be a game story; a sidebar on Burton's rebound from a sloppy first quarter; a column by Terry Toohey on Chester coach Fred Pickett; and another sidebar by Chuck Smith on Norristown's take on the Clippers.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chester marches toward title

There were plenty of juicy subplots to watch for in Tuesday's District One Class AAAA semifinal between Chester and Penn Wood:
  • Would the underclassmen of PW usurp the senior-laden Clippers?
  • Would Chester sweep a three-game set with the Patriots?
  • Would their familiarity play into the game's outcome?
In the end, none of that really mattered. It was simply a case of Chester being Chester in a 74-52 win at Norristown High School. Nasir Robinson and Karon Burton (pictured) were big as usual in the win.

Check out my game story as well as a column by Jack McCaffery on the head-scratching of Penn Wood coach Clyde Jones that went into preparing for Chester.

With the win, that makes 35 straight victories for Chester in the district tournament, which matches Lower Merion's 35 from 1930-46. The Clippers have won 35 in a row from 2002 to the present, while the Aces reeled off that many in a time when the district tournament was only three rounds.

***In other boys basketball news, Wednesday's Daily Times includes a profile story on Delco Christian's Jake Godino and Jon DeShields --- two great kids with great back stories who are leading the Knights into an all-important playoff game tonight. Check it out.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Update on Chester's Russell Johnson

Chester senior Russell Johnson participated in practice Tuesday and could be ready for Friday's playoff game, point guard Karon Burton said late Tuesday night.

Johnson, a forward, started all of the Clippers' games this season except the final four. He has been sidelined since twisting his ankle in a pick-up basketball game last month. Burton said Johnson "got some running in" Tuesday. Burton expects Johnson to be ready for Friday's District One Class AAAA first-round game against 32nd-seeded Methacton.

"He suited up for practice and he looked good," Burton said.

IN OTHER NEWS: The seedings for the District One Class AAA tournament will be released Thursday. Four Delco teams are in Class AAA (Marple Newtown, Radnor, Springfield and Sun Valley) so it looks like a few could land a spot in the tournament when the 12-team field is announced.

Also, I wanted to offer belated kudos to the Bucks County Courier Times, which organized a tournament two weeks ago for one of its sportwriters who passed away of cancer in December. The proceeds of the tournament - named the Jason Haslam Classic - benefited cancer research. Jason was one of my friends from Temple University and had a hand in my development in this business. Thanks to the BCCT for getting the tournament off the ground.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

The latest from the Primetime Shootout

The Primetime Shootout proved to be quite entertaining. In the first night of the four-night, two-weekend extravaganza, there were plenty of reasons for basketball fans to buy a ticket:

1. Jeannette forward Terrelle Pryor (pictured), the No. 1 football recruit in the country, scored 21 points and was named team MVP in their 80-70 loss to Chester.
2. Clippers guard Karon Burton never ceases to amaze me. Fighting the flu last week, he turned in a solid effort. Tonight, he won team MVP with a team-high 32 points.
3. American Christian's Tyreke Evans & Co. traveled from Aston to Villanova, drawing crowds and defensive attention against the formerly-top-ranked St. Benedict's.

For more on the Primetime Shootout, be sure to check out Saturday's Daily Times. Columnist extraordinaire Jack McCaffery and I tag-teamed the event, so pick up a copy today.

American Christian is back in action here Saturday against Academy of the New Church in the Kobe Bryant Classic. Also participating in that event are Lower Merion and Ridley, who go to battle with the Central League title on the line. Hold onto your seats.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

The latest from the hardwood

A TON of boys basketball material made the newspaper today. Be sure to check it out. Here's just a taste:

  • A feature story on J.J. Rapczynski and Tim Lang (pictured), the Garnet Valley seniors approaching the 1,000-point plateau.
  • A note on Springfield, which has fought through a tough season. The Cougars, plagued by injury, have been steadied by Lou Meindl, Paul Mooney and Sean Mulkeen.
  • No surprise here: Chester takes yet another leap in the USA Today rankings. Nasir Robinson and Karon Burton likely have something to do with that.
  • Sun Valley's Tom Brennan, only a junior, is closing in on 1,000 points. Keep an eye on him.
  • For the rest of the boys hoops notebook, check it out here.
Tonight I'll be out at game. Thursday night, though, I took a break from covering boys basketball, and got a chance to hang out with the boys track and field stars of Delaware County at the Indoor Championships. Be sure to check out my account from that meet.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sapnas unsatisfied with personal accolades

Scoring 20 points per game is not enough to make Marple Newtown sophomore Soutiri Sapnas smile. Sapnas is pretty darn competitive and wants to win.

His performance Friday night in a 61-58 loss to Upper Darby proved the fact that he does not like losing. After the game, Sapnas overlooked his own 32-point effort and instead chose to focus on improving the Tigers' chances of winning.

"Yeah it's great to lead the team (in scoring), but I'd rather do it in a win," said Sapnas, who scored a career-high 34 points last month against Friends Central. "We're staying in games and cutting down leads but we can't get it all together. ...We're close."

Sapnas is the only sophomore among the county's top 25 scorers, ranking fifth with a per-game average of 20.2 points. For more on Sapnas, read a profile story on him from earlier in the season.

And for more on Upper Darby's win Friday over Marple Newtown, pick up today's Daily Times.

On another note, basketball fans can rejoice! Eight games, including a nearly-full Del Val League slate, will be played Saturday -- including Karon Burton (pictured above) and Chester. What's my pick for game of the day? Garnet Valley at Academy Park, 3 p.m. GV's Tim Lang and J.J. Rapczynski are a fun duo to watch.

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