Blogs > Gettin' Schooled

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

Friday, April 3, 2009


If you've never attended the Donofrio Classic, this week would be a great time to do so.

It's a long-running single-elimination tournament that features the best players and the best AAU teams from Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey (and sometimes even the North Jersey/NYC suburbs).

There's a nice twinbill this Wednesday, April 8:
  • I-3 All-Stars vs. Mainstreet, 7 p.m.
  • Sonny Hill Juniors vs. Positive Image, 8:30 p.m.

The early game featuring nine players from Delaware County and three members of this year's All-Delco team. There are two starters from Archbishop Carroll's PIAA Class AAA championship team and four starters from Penn Wood's Class AAAA title team:

Rahlir Jefferson, Sr. F, Chester *
Maurice Nelson, So. G, Chester
Tyree Johnson, Jr. G, Penn Wood * (pictured)
Duane Johnson, Sr. F, Penn Wood *
Shawn Oakman, So. C, Penn Wood
Thomas White, Sr. F, Penn Wood
Aaron Brown, So. F, Penn Wood

Andre Wilburn, Sr. F, Archbishop Carroll
Kasheef Festus, Sr. C, Archbishop Carroll (pictured)

The later game has just one county player – Episcopal Academy’s sophomore center Isaiah Baker, whose Sonny Hill Juniors take on Positive Image in an 8:30 p.m. tipoff.
Note: An asterisk (*) signifies All-Delco status.

# # #

Two Delco teams were shown some love in recent national basketball polls.

Archbishop Carroll is ranked fifth in the Northeast Region (Pa., N.Y., N.J. and New England) by The PIAA Class AAA champion Patriots are three spots ahead of league rival, eighth-ranked Neumann-Goretti.

In USA Today’s East Region poll, Penn Wood garnered a No. 7 ranking. Though inactive, the PIAA Class AAAA champion Patriots moved up from last week’s No. 8 rank

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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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Saturday, March 21, 2009


The basketball season is over, but not before three Delaware County teams brought home state championships.

Penn Wood, picked as favorites at season's outset, stepped up to that high praise and claimed the Class AAAA crown by topping William Penn-York, 72-53, at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center Saturday.

Senior All-Delco Duane Johnson and sophomore Aaron Brown chipped in with 20 points apiece, Tyree Johnson had 14 and Will Brown added 12 for the Patriots, who wrapped up their first state-title season with a 28-4 record.

The Archbishop Carroll boys did it Friday, then the girls followed suit by beating Lampeter-Strasburg for the Class AAA championship.

Erin Shields and Hollie Mershon each put in 13 points for the Patriots, who finished their season 30-1 with the 68-45 rout of the Pioneers. Kerri Shields tallied 12 in the last game of her fantastic Carroll career.

That's all there is to report from Happy Valley. Make sure to read it all in the Sunday Times and thanks for your readership through basketball season, both at Gettin' Schooled and Live at the PIAA Championships.

The spring sports season is here, but I need a blogging breather. I'll take a few days off from the blogosphere but keep reading the Daily Times until I get back.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009


At Villanova's Pavilion, two of Delaware County's remaining playoff basketball teams moved on to their respective brackets' semifinals. Here are some final scores:

Penn Wood 54,
Pennsbury 50
Notes: Duane Johnson scored 16, Aaron Brown had 13, and Tyree Johnson added 11 more for the Patriots, who advanced to the state semifinal round for only the second time in school history.

Archbishop Carroll 56,
Mount St. Joseph 35
Notes: Kerri Shields, who had only four points at halftime, struck for five 3-pointers after the break to lead the Patriots past the defending state champions.

# # # #

So here's what next week's schedule looks like. Sites and times have not been announced. For whatever reason, the PIAA site has not been updated with the same rapidity as in earlier rounds (Go figure. It should be easier. There are fewer teams to deal with.) In any case, a preliminary schedule:

  • Archbishop Carroll boys vs. York Suburban
  • Cardinal O'Hara girls vs. Downingtown West
  • Penn Wood boys vs. Mount Lebanon
  • Archbishop Carroll girls vs. Trinity

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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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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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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


By now, you probably know that Penn Wood pulled off the upset of Chester Tuesday night. (Junior point guard Tyree Johnson, pictured, was the hero. He scored 26 points, hauled in six rebounds and dished out six assists in the 53-52 win.)

But what you don't know is what else went down before, during and after the game. Here are some observations:

1. Chester's Laquan Robinson must like Beyonce, because he was singing the words to 'Single Ladies' in pregame warmups as the top-40 hit was being played in the gym.

2. The DJ manning the table slipped up, then made up for it. In bad taste, he let some expletive-laced songs play in a gym filled with children. Later on, though, he had the Penn Wood fan base in stitches as he played music over the Chester cheerleaders.

3. As Chester's Learon Pray lined up for the playing of the national anthem, there was one small problem: there was no flag in the gym. He mouthed to Chester coach Larry Yarbray, 'Which way do we face?'

4. According to a couple sources, only 250 presale tickets were made available to Chester fans. Which made for a mess at the front door, as a couple hundred more were turned away before the game.

5. I'm a big fan of high school mascots. Who isn't? But Penn Wood's version of the colonial patriot was weak. The person in the costume had rhythm and energy but the shabby suit was too big and the giant head kept falling off. Thumbs down to that.

The Daily Times was there Tuesday, with columnist Jack McCaffery turning in a great piece on the level of trust Penn Wood coach Clyde Jones has in Johnson. I handled the game story duties, and photographer Julia Wilkinson grabbed pictures and some video footage.

(Photo of Tyree Johnson by the Philadelphia Daily News)


Marple Newtown's Soutiri Sapnas needed 13 points Tuesday to break the 1,000-point plateau for his career. He scored that much in the first quarter.

Sapnas, on the fast track to becoming the school's all-time leading scorer, became the third player in Delaware County this season to crack 1,000 points. The others were Sun Valley's Tom Brennan and Strath Haven's Calvin Newell.


From the night's crazy-upset file, Harriton (6-13, 3-11) knocked off Penncrest (15-4, 10-4), 47-43. The loss to Harriton, a Class AAA team, does serious damage to Penncrest's hopes of attaining a top-10 seed in the District One Class AAAA bracket, which is announced Feb. 8.

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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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Sunday, January 4, 2009


Two of Delaware County's three undefeated boys basketball teams won again Saturday night, but their perfect seasons face serious threats this week.

Penncrest pushed around Unionville, 58-28, and Penn Wood subdued Central, 76-46. The challenges ahead will be covered by the Daily Times.

Tuesday: The Lions (10-0) take on fellow unbeaten Conestoga (12-0) Tuesday night in a game between the only loss-less Central League teams. Count on a solid low-block matchup with the Lions' Marvin Holman-Little (a physical 6-6 forward) and the Pioneers' Jake Cohen (a 6-10 Davidson commit).

Thursday: The Patriots (9-0) have to get past Chichester Tuesday before they can look ahead to an early-season game of the year candidate against Chester. In Thursday's meeting, look for the backcourt play of Penn Wood's Tyree Johnson and Aaron Brown to be on full display against the Clippers' talented duo in Kareem Robinson and Laquan Robinson.


AROUND THE CORNER: No Delaware County teams has Pennsbury on its schedule, but they should keep an eye on their foes to the North.

The Bucks County-based Falcons (6-2) are fresh off an impressive showing in the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Behind senior West Virginia commit Dalton Pepper (pictured), they beat two teams that recently fell out of's Southeast Region top 10.

They were drubbed by St. Patrick's (N.J.), the fourth-best team in the nation, and lost in a close one to an unranked Martin Luther King (Calif.) team.

Pennsbury resumed Suburban One play Saturday by whalloping Abington, 67-44. Look out.


BULLS KEEP ROLLING: Around this time of year, the students at Glen Mills get a lengthy break to go home and enjoy the holidays with their families. So you'd think a two-week layoff would hurt the Battlin' Bulls, right?

Wrong. The 14 days since beating Downingtown West Dec. 20 had no effect in the Bulls' 16-point win over Bensalem Saturday. Aaric Murray scored 23 points, and Reggie Miles contributed 10 points, 11 assists and a solid defensive showing.


MY RESOLUTION TO YOU: The infrequency with which I've posted lately is due to a couple things, namely though it was the holidays. Now that we're in the New Year (and I've resolved to not have another three-day week until July), I'll be posting with more regularity. So stay close to Gettin' Schooled.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008


The basketballs have been bouncing for two weeks now, since winter sports teams opened their practice schedule Nov. 17.

It's basketball season.

Most teams will christen their campaigns Friday, on opening night. That's also when the Daily Times' boys basketball preview will hit newsstands.

In the meantime, here's what you should know about the 2008-09 season:

***Chester, which lost all but one player (F Rahlir Jefferson) from their PIAA Class AAAA state-championship starting five, have a long way to go to get back. But you can never count out the Clippers (pictured).

***Penn Wood, which lost four meetings with Chester, looks to be the heir apparent to the Del Val League championship. The Patriots return their entire lineup - including All-Delco F Duane Johnson, So. PG Tyree Johnson, So. C Shawn Oakman and Sr. F Thomas White. They also have Roman Catholic transfer Aaron Brown, a 6-6 sophomore. Look out, District One.

***Ridley, co-Central League champion, is one of many teams vying for the title in a wide-open race. Conestoga and Lower Merion, the other co-champ, are early favorites. Penncrest, which doesn't have much of a hoops legacy, will surprise folks.

There's more to come on Friday. Stay tuned.

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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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