By Eric Dixon
Archbishop Carroll is long. Both literally and figuratively. The 13-man roster has just one player standing under 6’0. They have 6 players measuring in at 6’4” of better. The Patriots are also long on tradition. Coach Francis Bowe, in his first season at the Radnor, PA high school, is leading the program out of the lengthy shadow of his predecessor, Paul Romanczuk.
Coach Romanczuk helmed the program the past 16 seasons after being an assistant for four years. His passionate, detail-oriented leadership spurred the program to 10 consecutive 20 win seasons and 9 berths in the Philadelphia Catholic League final four at the iconic Palestra. In short, Coach Bowe, an 8th grade math teacher, has some long shoes to fill.
“I’ve been talking to Paul and he’s been an open book”, says Coach Bowe, after a recent road win at Cheltenham HS. He went on to describe how Romanczuk has been invaluable in helping him learn the ins and outs of managing the team. He is also grateful for inheriting a “great nucleus of kids.” Coach Bowe adds, “the cupboard wasn’t bare.”
The main contributors so far this season are senior Luke House, junior Tairi Ketner and newcomer, sophomore John Camden. The team also has burgeoning talents sophomore Anquan Hill, a wiry strong interior player, sharpshooting junior Amiri Stewart and guards senior Kiyl Mack and junior Ny’Mire Little.
House’s perimeter abilities were well known to Coach Bowe from day 1, but he was pleasantly surprised by the senior’s leadership skills and has dubbed him his “coach on the floor”. He has also invested time in improving his body. His rebounding and overall strength have improved as one of the more underrated wings in the PCL looks to draw more attention to his game.
House, 6-4, has certainly helped with rebounding (he collected an impressive 13 against Cheltenham) but he isn’t the only Patriot roughing opponents up inside. Junior Tairi Ketner, 6-7, son of the late Lari Ketner, a Philadelphia native and former UMass standout, brings quite a bit of physicality to the team.
“My job is to bring toughness and get us extra possessions,” says the burly Ketner. He made several nice power post moves against the Panthers. He was also able to wall up and make life difficult for Cheltenham in the paint on the defensive end. Ketner said he is currently being recruited by several D2 programs, most notably Georgian Court University (NJ) and Caldwell University (NJ), who offered Ketner a scholarship following the Cheltenham win.
Anquan Hill, 6-8, is another Patriot that has contributed a strong interior presence. Surprisingly strong given his slight frame, Hill showed a penchant for blocking or altering shots and garnering some tough rebounds.
“I love defense,” says Coach Bowe, who noted that that is what he hung his hat on when he led Valley Forge Military Academy to the best 5 year stretch in the school’s history. His love of defense is being imparted to his Carroll players. That was evident during a 5 minute stretch that spanned the 1st and 2nd qtrs of the game that saw 10 straight Panther possessions end in miss shots or turnovers. The first quarter ended with Carroll having surrendered a mere 3 points to their hosts.
Adding to the talent and length of the team is Westtown transfer, 6-7 John Camden. He is an athletic, talented shooter who is adept at making shots off the catch and bounce. His arsenal also includes an impressive mid range fade. Camden is currently a 3-star prospect according to 247Sports who holds offers from Miami (Fl), Penn State, Xavier, Temple and Syracuse, amongst others.
Camden, who only recently transferred to Carroll last month, has been impressed with the “big school feel” on the Montgomery county campus. That was one of the non-basketball influences on his decision to change schools. As far as basketball, the allure of playing in the vaunted PCL was the biggest reason he’s rapidly become a Patriot.. “It was a quick turn around, like two days,” says the easy-going wing forward.
Coach Bowe’s squad is 6-5 and has used the lessons learned during a challenging non-conference schedule, that included a close loss to Wildwood Catholic and a game versus Boys Latin of Baltimore (MD), to run to a 4-1 record in the PCL.
“We want to look at the record and judge it based on the level of the competition,” according to Coach Bowe. “Who did we play?” Well, they will be playing some tough teams over the next few weeks and we will see how far their length can carry them.