Bert Cooper and the Golden Age of Darby Township Sports

I’m a few months older than Bert Cooper… We grew up in what is, in effect, “South Southwest” Philadelphia… Darby Township begins where Southwest Philadelphia ends. When 84th Street turns into Hook Road, you have entered Darby Township.

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A small two stop light town of about 3,000 nestled against the SW corner of a city with 1.5 million residents.

Sports was a way of life…  Bert Cooper grew up in the Golden Age of Darby Township sports. All he knew was winning… The town was blessed… He was destined to become one of the greatest boxers in the world. Like so many of my childhood friends, Bert was blessed with God-given athletic talent and gifts. His rise was preordained.

When we were about 10 years old in 1975, Darby Township won a state Championship in basketball. These were different times. There was no travel ball… There was no recruiting… I could stand in front of my house and hit damn near every player’s home with a rock. We knew everyone on the team… We knew their Moms, Dads and all their siblings.

I had just begun to think seriously about sports… Like most boys in Darby Township I was getting into basketball. But for the most part, I was into bikes. Poppin’ wheelies with David “Top Job” Crawford and Donald Barton was my primary preccupation. So was Bert Cooper. We had minibikes. We didn’t follow any of the established safety protocols… We rode on the streets… We rode on the sidewalks… We used to ride through the park at full throttle… No helmet… Shit… My minibike didn’t have working brakes…

Carroll Buter had a dirtbike… Clarence “Poochie” Wilson had a Binelli minibike… I had a “Cat” 3.5HP minibike… Bert and his brothers had dirtbikes, minibikes and motorcycles…

Life was good… Who knew what Bert would become?

Muhammad Ali was the Heavyweight Champion of the world… He had just knocked out the big, bad, invincible George Foreman to regain the belt. His challengers were Ken Norton, Jimmy Young, Ron Lyle, Ernie Shavers and Leon Spinks. These guys were bigger than life itself.

The notion that Bert would challenge for same title held by Ali was incomprehensible…

Little did we know that God had a plan for Lil’ Bert Cooper to enter the pantheon of great heavyweights… And… Bert did it from the muscle… Boxing wasn’t the sport of choice in the Darby Township.

When we were 12, the Darby Township HS basketball team was undefeated until losing in a Final Four game to Bob Stephenson and Elk Lake.

By the time we were 13, Darby Township High had an undefeated football team featuring Cardell Baskerville, Vincent Clark and Gary Gadsen. They were so good, that we believed we were HIGH MAJOR! These guys were so talented and performed so well, we didn’t realize we were the poor, little Black school… Seriously…

All we knew was that there was absolutely nothing you could do once Gadsen handed the rock to Baskerville or Clark. They were going to run through you, over you or around you. Unbelievable how much talent God packed into this tiny tight-knit community. Baskerville and Clark both rushed for over a thousand yard. They both imposed their will on opposing teams with a combination of quickness, speed and power at the point of contact.

Booooom! That first hit is not bringing either of them down… Now what?

As fall faded into winter, the balls started bouncing in the gym. After a season that saw Darby Township’s undefeated campaign thwarted by Elk Lake, Alton McCoullough was ready to lead the Eagles back to Hershey. Mission accomplished…

Just too much… Alton was just too much… With super sophomores Kevin Gale and Derick Loury on the wings, the Eagles trounced the competition and once again played for the state title.

This is what Lil’ Bert Cooper saw when he was 13… Winning… Domination… Little Darby Township held it’s own every time out…Why not him?

Track season came around… What else? State Championship…

The Eagle’s finest sprinter Ward Crump and running back Vincent Clark would be featured in Sports Illustrated a couple months apart from one another.

Darby Township… A Lil’ Louder Now…

By 1980, Kevin Gale is the best basketball player in Delaware County and the Eagles are once again in the State Championship game.

Bert fucked around on the court… But he wasn’t a basketball player… His little brother Jimmy was a magnificent player and his older brothers Monte and Jonah were both good players. But, Burt played basketball like he boxed. Nonetheless, he was usually not far from one of the courts…

When we were around 15 or 16… Bert started bringing boxing gloves to the basketball court. Lex Jones and Robert Bell would “spar” with Bert in the park. Lacking any real boxing skills and possessing an overabundance of heart, these guys used to beat the shit out of one another for hours.

Life was good…

They were just fucking around… Or, so we thought…

Little did we know, a spark was lit in Bert… He found his calling…

Knockin’ dudes out!

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He sought out the great Joe Frazier and embarked upon a pugilistic career would earn him respect across the globe.

It’s the fall 1984, Bert’s been under the tutelage of Frazier for a couple years, we get the call… Bert’s pro debut is in Atlantic City.

What?

Newt waxes the Grand Prix, shines the rims and we’re out…

Spurg, Geoff and about 3 car loads make our way to the AC expressway… Couldn’t be late…

Seriously, you couldn’t be late…

Bert knocked out his opponent in the 1st round in 7 of his first 10 fights… Another one ended with a 2nd knockout and yet another ended in the 3rd.

Of course… we had a ball!

We drank too much… We smoked too much… We ate too much… We’re from Darby Township!

It got to a point where Newt, a lil’ tipsy, challenged Joe Frazier in the hotel room. “I can knock you out,” he said to the former heavyweight champion of the world.

You can’t make this up…

Surrounded by his friends, fresh off a knockout… Bert was smiling ear to ear… He had “FAT” roll with a couple hundred dollar bills surrounding about a thousand ones bulging in pocket.

These were the first steps on a legendary journey… Henry Tillman? Got ‘em… Willie de Wit? Got ‘em…

Eventually in 1989, they put my man from round da’ corner in with Big George Foreman… That one didn’t end too well… Sensing Bert’s out of the ring issues probably impacted his training, Foreman punished the body… He landed several heavy hooks in round 1 that hurt Bert. In round 2, he continued to attack the body and landed a solid right hook that stung Bert. Bert was done for the night, he remained on his stool and did not answer the bell to begin the 3rd round.

A year later, Bert knowked out Orlin Norris… He was back in the mix…

His next fight was a historic 12 round slugfest with Ray Mercer… Both men stood there and traded blow after blow with neither retreating an inch… Mercer won on points… They spend the night with each other in the emergency room…

Bert, just two months later, jumps in the ring with Riddick Bowe… Bad move… Bert was not fully recovered from his war with Mercer. He was knocked out by Bowe in the 2nd round.

Imagine what a healthy Bert Cooper could have accomplished? Imagine if Bert had been able to conquer his demons?

Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World! From Burton Avenue…

After reeling off 4 straight wins, in November 1991 Bert finds himself fighting for the title. He’s agreed to face one of the greatest boxers ever to grace the planet. Evander Holyfield was at his peak.

Bert, from Burton Avenue, was fuckin’ around… You’d see him here… You’d run into him over there… You heard about this… You heard about that…

The demons… Those fuckin’ demons…

But on that night you were there… Glued to the television…

Yeah… Yeah… Yeah… Holyfield is the shit… Yeah I saw the Olympics… Yeah I saw the Qawi fight…

Matter of fact I watched it with Bob Welsh and Brian Bacon… We got fucked up that night… So what?

I liked Bert to knock Holyfield the fuck out!

Seriously… I liked Bert to whoop his ass…

Seriously… I liked Cardell to run over Mean Joe Green…

Seriously… I liked Alton to post up Bob Lanier…

Seriously… I liked Crump to outrun Carl Lewis…

I’m from Township!

Ding!

The bell sounds and “Boom” Holyfield catches him… Bert goes down in round 1…

That’s NOT the plan… Uh Ooooh… Bert won’t stay down though, he gets up and takes the battle to Howlyfield.

Then… It happened… In round 3 Bert caught him and Holyfield is down for the first time in his career.

At that moment… Everyone from Darby Township trying mightily to lift our champion to victory… We were all screaming at the screen… Send telepathic signals through the airwaves… We thought we had it…

Holyfield endured Bert’s onslaught of power shots that very few men could withstand. A true champion he finally recovered and vanquished Bert in round 7.

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Cooper vs Holyfield

As only Darby Township would… We had a fuckin’ parade anyway!

For our champion… Bert Cooper represented lil’ Darby Township on the world stage.

A warrior, a fighter an MAN!

He would continue to fight another 2 decades with varying degrees of success. His fight with Michael Moore has also been elevated to legendary status.

Rest well Champion… You put in a lifetime of work…

I Love Bert Cooper… God Bless the Cooper family.

 

 

A Lil’ Louder Now…

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Bill Zeits: Donofrio Preview, Triple Threat vs Hunting Park Markieff

By Bill Zeits

April 15, 2019

Philadelphia, PA: Triple Threat is led by Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, Jamil Riggins and Jameer Nelson Jr. Scott is the do it on both ends of the floor franchise player from Imhotep. Hart is one of the most prolific scorers in the area and is due for a huge game. Riggins has been Triple Threats best offense player in the tournament… He hit 8 treys and grabbed 14 boards in the quarters win..

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Jamil Riggins attacks the basket

Nelson Jr is a super athletic and the point guard… He dunked with different hands on 2 straight possessions in the quarters. The 5th starter is Shipley freshman, Khalil Farmer who had 10 points and a couple huge buckets in the quarters. The only sub I remember is Gettysburg commit, Shane Scott who put up 8 in the quarters

Hunting Park is the team I’ve called “The Pub” throughout the tournament… The Pub is led by 2 Mastery North seniors, Jamir Reed and Lakeem Mcailey and 2 MCS kids Nisine Poplar and Jihad Squid Watson. Reed is a big, physical and tough Philly guard who can score and defend on the other end of the court. McAiley is a lefty who put on a show in the first half in the quarters. He was dominant offensively.

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Lakeem McAliley

 

Poplar is the sophomore who is getting better every game and sky is the limit the next 2 years. Watson is the veteran guard who scored big buckets in the 2nd half as Raw sports tried to rally .Watson either scored the bucket or got the assist to put the game away. The 5th starter is Dahmir Fowlkes. I dont know a lot about Fowlkes other than he showed great energy and the ability to finish on the break. He’s only a sophomore like Poplar. The bench of Hunting Park has been among the best in the tournament. The headliner has been Tyrone Williams. Williams had 13 7 5 in the quarters and was all over the court. The 2 remaining players I remember were Taj Campbell and Aaron Harrison. Both players had 6 points in quarters and showed great energy on both ends of floor.

This should be a good one…

Let’s Talk About Ball in Philly: Black Cager Middle School Classic

This past Saturday and Sunday, Cardinal O’Hara hosted the third leg of the Black Cager Middle School Classic. The 4 month grassroots circuit features teams from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Locally, we had Gratz legend Jarett Kearse’s Philly Blue Magic in action. After three stops, Philly Blue Magic is undefeated at 10-0. Blue Magic will be the number #1 seed when the playoffs get underway two weeks. The reigning Baltimore Catholic League Champion, St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, MD) will host the the playoff and Championship Games.

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Jarett Kearse and Philly Blue Magic

There were three other Philadelphia area entrants for this session. Team Claude Gross featured sixth grader Olin Chamberlain, Jr. Chamberlain is the nephew of both Wilt Chamberlain and the legendary Claude Gross. A long athletic point guard, Chamberlain has a tight handle, excellent vision and range out to the 3 point line. He will contribute immediately at the varsity level in three years.

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Team Claude Gross

The Philly Mavericks played 4 competitive games. Haneef Hall is a big man with soft hands and a nice shooting stroke. Charles Cook is an athlete wing with very good change of pace moves. Dame Collins (below) does an excellent job with this program.

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Dame Collins, Philly Mavericks

James Nelson Stewart put together the Suburban All-Stars. They had a very good little guard. That team also has a lot of length. High School coaches at private and Catholic schools should contact James.

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James Nelson Stewart and Bonner Assistant Joe McGinn

Each team played four games against teams like Maryland Sting, Team Melo, Crusader Nation, Thrill Black, Team Dedication and Virginia Lightning.

The Philly teams paid between $0 and $300 to participate.

The games were held at Cardinal O’Hara High School, in Springfield, PA. The Cardinal O’Hara gymnasium features two full regulation length courts and two electronic scoreboards.

United Brothers Basketball Organization provided the referees. Six referees worked 4 games each. Referees were paid between $20.00 – $30.00 per game.

Donta Scott (Imhotep CHS) managed the games. He worked 1 pm – 7pm on Saturday and 12pm – 6pm Sunday. Donta managed the games, worked the clock, kept the scorebook and supervised a 13 year old boy that manned the other table. That boy was paid $10.00 per game. Donta made between $200-$250. Jalen Hudson (Ridley HS) and an assistant worked the entrance table. They were paid between $200-$250.

We need additional workers for upcoming events. Must be willing to learn and love youth basketball.

AAU/Grassroots teams can play in gyms similar to O’Hara in Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware for $200-$300, with a 4 game guarantee. We want additional teams from the Philadelphia region.

Black Cager Sports provides media coverage to participating teams.

Refereeing is locked up. Philadelphia-based United Brothers Basketball Organization (U.B.B.O.) provides referees for Black Cager Sport youth basketball events.

 

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U.B.B.O. Referee T. Younger

Coaches from O’Hara, Friends Central, Bonner, Roman Catholic, McDevitt, Springside-Chestnut Hill and a few other Delaware and Maryland power house programs were scouting players and meeting parents.

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Springside-Chestnut Hill Coach Hartwell McFadden

Black Cager Sports is seeking 12U, 13U and 14U teams for additional competitive events. Those interested in working AAU/Grassroots events are encouraged to submit their resume to blackcager@gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from interested parties.

 

A Hawk is a Hawk… Right?

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Actually… I am not friends with Lange. I do know and respect his wife from working at St. Joseph’s. I met her when she worked as an academic advisor for student-athletes at SJU… I was tutoring several players…

Arguably Lange is qualified.

His hiring would be perceived as a slap in the face by some that have supported and believed in the “Hawk Tradition” in the Philadelphia community.

Philly College Basketball fans in their 40’s and 50’s grew up on the Hawk. Even the Black guys. Since Blunt wants to have the “race” discussion…

We know about Ramsay, Lynam, McKinney, Boyle, Griffin, Martelli… These are Hawks…

We also know about Clark, Warrick, Costner, McFarlan, Williams, Martin, Arnold and Flint… These are Hawks…

For the younger set it was O’Connor, Bey, Bass, Myers, Davis, Crenshaw, West and Nelson… These are Hawks…

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The Hawk

A Hawk is a Hawk… Right?

Generally speaking, throughout Hawk basketball history, the “best” available Hawk has been given an opportunity to lead St. Joseph’s Basketball into battle.

This is how the position has been filled…

Flint, Baggett, Arnold, Bass and Nelson are Hawks. In varying ways, they are at least, as qualified as Lynam, Boyle, Griffin at the same points in their coaching careers.

Currently, the Men’s Head Coach position at St. Joseph’s is OPEN.

This job, almost always, has gone to the most qualified Hawk.

Jameer Nelson is also qualified.

Hardaway in Memphis, Mullin at St. John’s, McKie at Temple, Ewing at Georgetown are the appropriate comparisons for the Nelson candidacy.

More importantly…

Nelson, more than any other Hawk in my lifetime, has brought honor and glory to Saint Joseph’s. I was there… I saw firsthand…

Saint Joseph’s was at legitimate top 10-15 program for Jameer’s last 2 seasons and peaked with run to the top.

While at St. Joseph’s, Jameer Nelson was the finest player in College Basketball… The very best… I was there…

He has been an exemplary citizen.

Nearly 10,000 points and 4,508 assists in the NBA.

Graduated from Saint Joseph’s!

Committed his son to St. Joseph’s!

The St. Joseph’s University Men’s Basketball Coach position is open. This job has always gone to Hawks, with Phil Martelli being the notable exception. Phil did run point for St. Joseph’s Prep and Phil had been a ten year assistant. Notably, Bass has twice that and he’s a Hawk. Geoff has at least the same amount of experience and he’s a Hawk.

As an aside… I think the Hawk basketball community should include Terrell Myers in discussions about positioning the the “strategic asset”.

His AAU program has won the National 17U Championship on the Under Armour Circuit 3 out of the last 5 years. Over the past few years, players from his program have committed to Duke, Miami, Maryland, UNLV, Villanova and Providence… He is a Hawk… I was there with Terrell as well…

Something is amiss…

Everything that the “Hawk” stands for says that Nelson, Flint, Arnold or Baggett will be announced at the next head coach.

The job is open and they are Hawks…

Just like Ramsay, Lynam, McKinney, Boyle, Griffin, Martelli…

Would you ask Ramsay, Lynam, McKinney, Boyle or Griffin to work FOR Billy Lange at SAINT JOSEPH’S?

John Becker? Dane Fife? Billy Lange?

Huh?

The Hawk is on the clock…

 

 

 

St. Joseph’s… I know a guy…

I know a guy… You’re looking for a basketball coach… right now… You play in the A10…

My guy coached in the A10 from 1996 to 2001… His record in the A10 was 52-28… His last year, he was 11-5 in the A10 and his Athletic Director turned down an NIT Invitation. Overall, my guy won 65% of his A10 games.

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Bruiser Flint, St. Joseph’s Alum

 

From there, my guy went to the CAA… There he won 56% of his games… One year, his team beat St. Joseph’s, Temple, Villanova, Syracuse and Creighton ALL on the road…

Four times, he was CAA Coach of the Year…

For his career, he’s won 331 college basketball games and lost 289 (53.4%).

Please note that my guy has graduated 100% of his four year players and one of his players, Damion Lee, is in the NBA.

My guy is currently an assistant in one of the top 6-7 programs in college basketball… (Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Villanova, Indiana, Michigan St.)

Based of this resume, my guy would be, arguably,  the most qualified alum ever to apply for the basketball coach position at St. Joseph’s…

Jimmy Lynam was 93-90 at Fairfield and American when their alma mater hired him. Jim Boyle took over after Lynam.

Boyle was a St. Joseph’s player, assistant coach and head coach. Boyle had a connection with all of the SJU coaches over the past five, Boyle played for Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Ramsay and served as an assistant coach on the staffs of Jack McKinney, Harry Booth and Jim Lynam. Boyle also worked with John Griffin, when they were assistants to Lynam. Then during his tenure as head coach, Boyle hired Phil Martelli as an assistant coach.

Boyle also recruited my guy… My guy played for Boyle…

My guy would seem like a worthy candidate… His Hawk bonafides are in order…

But, one has to wonder how the National Search Firm weighs Hawk bonafides when ranking candidates? Indeed, one has to question if they matter at all… I don’t think they are part of the equation anymore…

The St. Joseph’s AD is from Notre Dame… Not Drexel Hill…

There was a distinct Hawk way of doing things… Local relationships mattered… Status as alum mattered… If you were gonna terminate the employment of a loyal, highly respected 35 year employee you would put significant thought into exactly how you would carry it out…

Increasingly, basketball at all levels has become a business first and foremost… This is especially the case at the NCAA Division 1 level. Administrators, presidents and athletic directors, have tough decisions to make. The other day St. Joseph’s AD made such a tough decision when she decided to move on from legendary Coach Martelli.

How the AD and the President carried out the decision raises the question is there still “a way of doing things”?

Phil Martelli deserved a far more dignified and respectful separation from the University. More forethought could have been applied. Just doesn’t look right… Maybe that doesn’t matter anymore…

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Phil Martelli, Winningest Coach in SJU History

The Hawk community at St. Joseph’s has always been like a family. Clearly, decisions have been made to take a “National” approach to the business of college basketball. I’m sure many are all too happy to discard what they consider “Mom and Pop” approaches.

But… Keep in mind… Ramsay, Lynam, Boyle and Martelli would NOT have made the national search firm short list at the time of their hiring. My guy’s resume is stronger than all of theirs at the time of their hiring and he probably won’t be considered.

Oh well…

All I ask is that you give him full and fair consideration… Don’t act like you can’t see that Hawk standing right there looking all “experienced and qualified.”

Come on with the bullshit… Treat him right during this “process.”

 

James Nelson Stewart: Did you see Jig score 52 against Chester?

By James Nelson Stewart

March 18, 2019

The answer for a lot of people standing outside of Spring-Ford High School in the chilly weather is a RESOUNDING NO!!! Two of the historically great PA High School Boys Basketball programs were playing for a right to represent their school in the PA 6A Final Four. Coatesville and Chester, are two teams with not only great and historical programs, they have two of the most passionate fan bases around. Now I’m not saying that Spring-Ford is a bad place to hold a basketball game, but this school is ill-equipped to hold a game of this magnitude at their gymnasium. A police officer from the Royersford Department said the real story was outside the game. He was standing outside as people, even those that had tickets were asked to leave because the Fire Marshal said no more people were allowed inside the gym. Media credentials didn’t matter either. Even worse than that, there were two Division 1 coaches that were NOT allowed inside to watch Superb Jr. Jhamir “Jig” Brickus (pictured below) put on a show that people will talk about for many years in this rivalry.

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Jhamir Brickus

Another Quarterfinal game was played at the brand new Plymouth Whitemarsh gym, which was poorly constructed for a basketball game of this magnitude. One side of the stands cannot be fully extended because it will extend out onto the court. Now with two programs (Pennridge and Methacton) that are both extending their season longer than ever before in their school’s history. Both teams have communities that have an excitement that was never enjoyed before this year. And over 400 fans were turned away from this gym and missed the excitement of Sean Yoder’s game-winning buzzer beating step back three point shot.

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Pennridge celebrates win over Methacton

So I ask the PIAA officials what can be done to rectify these types of situations and how can we utilize gyms that can hold school communities and their fan bases when they are traveling a good distance and spending their hard earned money to purchase tickets that they could not use. I was also informed that for the FIRST year ever the PIAA did not broadcast the PIAA PA State Wrestling Championships and sold the rights to flowrestling.org, which many people did not have a good viewership to enjoy the wrestling. Wrestling in PA is as big, if not more popular than basketball and again the PIAA has dropped the ball. Instead of celebrating these great events that lasts a lifetime in these student-athlete’s lives and communities that share the triumphs with these young athletes, we are talking about the short coming of the entity that has the most to gain from these successful events.

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Packed crowd for Coatesville/Chester playoff matchup

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE our Philadelphia Area High School Basketball Scene. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE our PA High School Basketball Scene. We are lucky to have seen Billy Owens at Carlisle High School win 4 straight State basketball titles. We were blessed to see Kobe Bryant finally get past Chester High School and win his District and State Title. I can go down the names of great players that made an impact on the High School Scene. So I want the PIAA to successfully fix some of the problems that can be easily remedied. We are the IMPASSIONED Basketball fan that want solutions because this season has BEEN incredible.

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Former Clipper, Moe Nelson watches Coatesville/Chester game

James Nelson Stewart’s PIAA Elite 8 Preview

By James Nelson Stewart

March 15, 2019

PIAA ELITE 8 Preview

Well we are down to the Elite 8 for all of the classification of the PIAA. There have been some major upsets along the way (Nationally Ranked Abington losing to Pennridge and Lower Moreland beating Lehigh Valley powerhouse Bethlehem Catholic). In saying that, most of the predictions have been right on as I have gotten 15 of the 16 teams correct in the 5A and 6A brackets (save Pennridge). But now the tournament has gotten to where every game will be closely contested and teams that are favored are not favored by much.

Another big storyline is the DOMINANCE of the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL). The PCL is 15-1 going into the Semifinal round (with Ryan losing a close battle out West to Moon Township). This round will change that narrative as we will have 3 PCL Battles this weekend (6A Roman-LaSalle, 4A Bonner-Carroll, 3A Neumann-McDevitt), so at least 3 less PCL teams will be eliminated from State Title hopes. So let’s go down the brackets and see the who moves on.

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Methacton’s Jeff Woodward & Dave Duda

6A
25-4 Pennridge vs 22-7 Methacton @Plymouth Whitemarsh 1PM Saturday 3/16
After 3 losses to Abington, Pennridge shocked the Nationally Ranked Abington Ghosts 55-51 on Wednesday. Sean Yoder and Company won this hard fought game by just out-willing their opponent. Now they face the well balanced Warriors of Methacton. Methacton has a great inside/out combination with Woodward (6-9 Jr) inside and David Duda (6-3 Sr) and Eric Timko (6-4 Jr) providing the outside punch. This should be another war. This is the farthest both teams have EVER gone in the State Tournament and neither seem ready to go home. Plus these are AAU teammates going Head to Head in Yoder and Duda (East Coast Power). This one goes down to the wire but I think Pennridge prevails 67-65.

24-4 Roman Catholic vs 25-3 LaSalle @Archbishop Ryan 2PM Saturday 3/16
It’s hard to beat a great team 3 times, but that’s what Roman is trying to accomplish in this game to move to the Final 4. The names haven’t changed (Hart, Lundy, Duren, Wild, Williams, Powell, Crisler, Kriska, Timby, Freyre, Beard) except Lynn Greer III is not playing in this contest. 2 of the best teams in the state with Division 1 talent all over the floor but this game may be decided by guys with the lower profile. Louie Wild will play a big part of this game for the Cahillites and sharp shooter Jake Timby will provide a clutch presence for the Explorers. But Hakim Hart has been arguably the best player in the City this year and seems to be on a mission. Roman 70-63

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Jhamir Brickus and Coatesville

28-2 Coatesville vs 22-6 Chester @Spring-Ford 1PM Saturday 3/16
Historically Great teams matchup again in this round. Chester just beat another great program in Harrisburg in the last round and Coatesville beat Highly-Recruited Ethan Morton and Butler their last time out. No need to hype this up. 2 teams with very passionate fan bases!!! This matchup is FIRE!!! Man-Man vs Jig WOW!!! But the difference maker is Dupree Bryant, arguably the most athletic young man in the state. As he says, Heart over Height!!! I’m taking Coatesville 78-75

24-3 Kennedy Catholic vs 24-3 Mt. Lebanon @Aliquippa 1:30PM Saturday 3/16
Key players: 6-10 Sr Oscar Tshiebwe (Kennedy Catholic) 6-6 Sr Maceo Austin (Kennedy Catholic) 5-11 Sr Michael Palmer (Mt. Lebanon) 6-3 Sr Sean Loughlin (Mt Lebanon)
Too much size as Kennedy Catholic moves on 68-58

5A
21-7 Sun Valley vs 26-2 Abington Heights @Liberty HS 6:00PM 3/15
The District 1 Champs are facing the Defending State Champs. The Senior Laden Sun Valley team led by Vinny DiAngelo and Marvin Freeman are going up against Binghamton signee 6-6 George Tinsley and Coach Ken Bianchi. The experience will play a factor in this game. Abington Heights 68-60

Archbishop Wood vs. Meadville PIAA Class 5A Championship

Julius Phillips, Archbishop Wood

18-8 Archbishop Wood vs 25-3 Pottsville @Geigle Complex 7:30PM 3/15
2 teams that have very good underclassmen (Pottsville Jr. 6-6 Kevin Schenk and Jr. 6-1 Mason Barnes and Wood’s So trio of 6-1 Rahsool Diggins, 5-10 Jaylen Stinson and 6-5 Super Athlete Daeshon Shepherd) that are leading these teams. But the difference here is 6-5 Sr Julius Ju-Ju Phillips and Championship Coach John Mosco. Those 2 have been under the bright lights before and shined very bright. Wood 62-53

Lower Dauphin 25-3 vs Moon 25-2
Key players: 5-10 Sr Luke Hedrick (Lower Dauphin) 6-7 Jr Donovan Johnson (Moon)
Moon 50-47

Mars 27-1 vs Meadville 20-6
Key players: 5-10 Sr Andrew Reechia (Mars) 6-7 Jr Michael Carmody (Mars) 6-8 Sr Lashon Lindsey (Meadville) 6-3 G Davyon Butler (Meadville)
Mars 62-60

4A
Bonner 20-5 vs Archbishop Carroll 17-10
Key Players 6-3 Sr Miami Signee Isaiah Wong (Bonner) 6-8 Sr Tariq Ingraham (Bonner) 6-5 Sr Luke House (Carroll) 6-7 Jr Tairi Ketner (Carroll)
Bonner 58-54

Lower Moreland 24-3 vs 24-3 Scranton Prep
Key Players: 6-3 Sr Forrest Keys (Lower Moreland) 5-10 SR Shane Cohen (Lower Moreland) 6-8 Lafayette Commit Leo O’Boyle (Scranton Prep) 6-8 JR Rhys Merritt (Scranton Prep)
Scranton Prep 62-56

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Donta Scott, Imhotep

Imhotep 23-6 vs Bishop McDevitt 24-3
Key Players: 6-7 Sr Maryland Commit Donta Scott (Imhotep) 6-4 Sr Xavier Commit Dhamir Bishop (Imhotep) 6-6 Sr Chereef Knox (Imhotep) 6-0 Sr Alin Jones (Bishop McDevitt) 6-3 Jr John Kelly (Bishop McDevitt)
Imhotep 65-40

New Castle 23-4 vs Hickory 26-1
Hickory 73-69

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Hakim Byrd, Neumann-Goretti

3A
Neumann Goretti 21-7 vs Bishop McDevitt 20-7
3rd matchup between the 2 teams, each team winning 1. This is the tiebreaker. This is the battle of guards NG is led Athletic Sr. 6-2 PG Rider Commit Chris Ings, 5-10 Jr Hakim Byrd and 6-6 Jr Jordan Hall. McDevitt is led by 6-0 Jr Robert “Man Man” Smith, 6-1 Jr Amir Harris and 6-4 Jr Jamil Manigo. Even better is the battle of wits between 7 time Champion and recent 500 game winner Carl Arrigale and Reigning Catholic Coach of the Year McDevitt’s Will Chavis. Expect a game where every possession is a war and every move is countered by an opposing move. It’s had to defeat a champion and that’s why I give the edge to Neumann 58-55