Neumann-Goretti: Same Shit, Different Year…

We live in trying times…

Damn near every day… young men are pumping 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 or even as many as 20 bullets into the bodies of fellow Philadelphians. Damn near every day… unsuspecting and innocent drivers are forced to surrender vehicles to murderous carjackers wielding semiautomatic pistols… Shit is bad ’round the way… real bad…

It’s even worse at the international level… after seven decades of relative peace, the European continent is dealing with murderous, naked aggression and a resurgence of Russian imperialist ambitions. A modern day Czar, Russian self-appointed “President for life” Vladimir Putin has decided that he and he alone should determine who gets what, when, where and how in neighboring Ukraine… Fuck democracy! Dis muthafucka…

At the national level, many disaffected, angry and anxious white American men line up with #45 and Fucker Carlson of Fox News. Apparently, their position holds that abandoning America’s longstanding commitment to expansion of democratic forms of government across the globe is the proper policy shift. The former president of the United States of America described Putin’s brutal incursion into Ukraine as “genius.”

Carlson initially described the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a “border dispute.” He asked, “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?” A recent American president and the most popular American news/opinion personality openly praising, and expressing admiration for a Russian autocrat bent on reclaiming the Russian empire…

How? When did this shit become acceptable in the United States? What the fuck is goin’ on?

If only for a few hours, I need an escape… You need an escape… We all need an escape…

Last night for a few hours, the Philadelphia Catholic League provided the City of Brotherly Love and it’s residents a much needed respite…

The storyline was familiar.

A tough, gritty, well-coached and ultra-competitive group of Saints left South Philly and came marching into the fabled Palestra. Last week, Carl Arrigale coached Neumann-Goretti to victory over a very talented Roman Catholic team to reach the finals… again.

One thing for sure… One thing for certain…

Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale checks the scoreboard.

Arrigale knows what the fuck he’s doing. When he brought his team to the Palestra yesterday, he was seeking his 12th Philadelphia Catholic League Championship in 24 years. That’s some prime, on the juice Barry Bonds type shit… That’s some Tiger Woods (2000-2010) type shit… Over the past quarter century, if you bet Arrigale against the field, you would have won 50% of the time… Dominance…

Arrigale and Neumann-Goretti have dominated Big BOY basketball in Philadelphia.

Last night, Joe Zeglinski took his best shot. But he missed… again… This was Zeglinski’s 5th trip to the PCL Final Four in 7 years. It’s pretty clear that Zeglinski also knows what the fuck he’s doing. Last night he came to lay claim to the title. Ryan has been knocking on the door for a while now.

Zeglinski’s program has emerged as one of the finest in the region. He has produced numerous All-Catholic performers that have gone onto college. Most notably, Izaiah Brockington ’17, who may be named Big 12 Player of the Year. Matiss Kulackovskis ‘17 is finishing a fine career at Bowling Green. Ja’ Quill Stone ’19 played at JUCO power Grayson College in Denison, Texas. Gediminas Mokseckas ’20 is at Campbell. Aaron Lemon-Warren ’21 is at Mt. Zion, a powerhouse prep located in Prince George’s County, Maryland. All of these guys played for Zeglinski. All of these guys played in the PCL Final 4 at the Palestra. None of them have cut down the nets.

Like I said earlier… On some Bill Belichick type shit… Carl Arrigale wins this thing half the time.

Half… What Da fuck?

Last night, The question was: Would this year be different?

Thomas Sorber ’24, Archbishop Ryan (r), Sultan Adewale ’23, Neumann-Goretti (l)

Zeglinski has a strong 7 man rotation. His centerpiece is 6’9” center Thomas Sorber ’24 from Trenton, New Jersey. Sorber, only 16, is a fundamentally sound and highly skilled big with soft hands. He thinks the game. Last night, Sorber played with great awareness and and utilized his excellent length. He exhibited outstanding footwork and vision. Sorber blocked and contested shots, gathered weak-side boards and shot over opponents for 17 points. He also made clean passes over and around defenders.

Sorber played a cerebral game. He displayed a keen sense of his surroundings on the floor. He understands when plays are developing and knows where his teammates are in relation to the defense. Consequently, he was able to find teammates and convert easy buckets as a cutter.

Right now, Sorber is a good basketball player… As he grows into his body and gains strength, he has an opportunity to play at a high major college level and beyond. But tonight, in the quest for the Catholic League chip, the talented young fella was not enough.

Luke Boyd ’22, Archbishop Ryan

As usual, the Ryan attack also featured Luke Boyd ‘22. Boyd is essentially a shooting specialist in the Ryan scheme. Boyd got most of his touches in catch and shoot situations, with jump shots accounting for the lion’s share of his offensive contributions. He is a very capable shooter when left open from the perimeter. His percentage dips, with a hand in his face. Boyd is always moving around the arc looking for daylight. Neumann-Goretti defenders made sure a hand was in Boyd’s face on every possession. Boyd would accumulate a hard fought 15 points.

But last night… that wasn’t enough.

Jalen Snead ’22, Archbishop Ryan

Jalen Snead ’22 played his role well. He was very good at anticipating and making plays at both ends. Snead displayed strong defensive instincts. He was able guard both wing spots as well as point guard at times. Darren Williams ’24, a very promising young wing exhibited an ability to score from all three levels. He found opportunities from spot ups, fast breaks, and one-on-one situations as well as two missed 3 point shots with seconds remaining in the game.

Darren Williams ’24, Archbishop Ryan

Michael Paris ’23 has emerged as backcourt stalwart for Zeglinski. Paris displays a lot of confidence, good court vision and the ability to put his teammates in positions to score, especially in transition. He optimizes his quickness by changing speeds effectively which allows him to get around most defenders and attack the paint. David Wise ’22 is a steady veteran that is capable of providing minutes at both the 1 and 2 position. Zeglinski rounded out his rotation with 6’7” Jaden Murray ‘24. Murray was an active interior presence for Ryan. He played with good energy, effort and consistency.

I took the field against Arrigale… I had Ryan winning by 2.

Neumann-Goretti point guard Khaafiq Myers takes counsel from Temple point guard Hysier Miller ’21

Khaafiq Myers ’24 saw it very differently… The quick and wiry South Philly PG showed off his crafty ball handling and ability get defenders off balance. Myers was in his bag. He displayed a repertoire of crossover moves and pull ups that kept the Ryan defense guessing all night. The latest representative of the both the South Philly point guard tradition and his family’s basketball legacy, Myers is what they call a “dawg” on the court. Last night, he was barking, bitin’ and defending.

Myers displayed outstanding quickness in the open court and the ability to smoothly navigate traffic while going full speed. His most profound impact on the game, however, came at the defensive end. Each and every trip down the floor, Myers put in a good effort defensively. He enjoyed being aggressive and pressuring ball handlers. He disrupted the Ryan guards ability to initiate offense cleanly and comfortably play through Sorber. On several occasions he stole the ball directly. On every defensive possession, Myers forced Ryan to be aware of and account for his presence..

While playing on-ball defense, Myers made Ryan’s guard very uncomfortable.

Myers was the MVP of the game because he controlled the pace most of the night on both ends of the floor.


Robert Wright, III ’24 was Myers running mate. Over the past 2 seasons, Wright has put together a proven track record of being able to put pressure on opposing defenses with his ability to score from all over the court. Last night, Wright displayed the ability to get into the paint using changes of speed and direction. He’s a crafty shot creator with a high skill level and basketball IQ. Wright shows good court vision, but is not a natural facilitator for the Saints, nor is he asked to be one. Wright’s current job is to get big buckets… He’s damn good at his job… The Delaware native makes very good decisions pushing the ball in the open floor, and has impressive ball-handling skills, leaving plenty of room for optimism that he could fill a role that calls for both scoring and distributing as a high major point guard in a couple years.

On the wing, Masud Stewart ’22 demonstrated once again that he is an explosive athlete that exerts exceptional effort on the defensive end of the court.

Neumann-Goretti PF/C Sultan Adewale ’23 and Ryan C Thomas Sorber ’24

But in this particular game, the Saints were gonna need a strong effort from Sultan Adewale ’23 in the paint. Adewale was able to counter Sorber’s production in the post. Adewale delivered in a big way. In addition to 7 points, he had 9 rebounds and 4 blocks in the first half as the Saints set the tone. Adewale is as a very good athlete and as he demonstrated last night, he isn’t afraid of physical contact. Adewale also can really run the floor and found a few dunks in transition. His help defense on penetrating Ryan guards was impactful.

Led by Myers and Wright, Neumann-Goretti outplayed a tough, smart Archbishop Ryan team. As a result, for the 12th time in the last 24 years, Carl Arrigale and the Neumann-Goretti Saints are champions of the Philadelphia Catholic League.

Same shit, different year… This year, it was much needed…

I believe that sport have the ability to pull people into a hopeful, albeit brief, escape from real world problems. Rather than dealing with the intense struggles prevailing in the real world, people are able to engage in or consume competitive sports in a way that shuts out everything else. The Philadelphia Catholic League championship, for a few hours last night, was all that mattered…

I needed that… You needed that… We all needed that…

It was a wonderful sporting event. Local high school basketball playoffs are an underrated and underappreciated live sporting event. The in-person game experience is in many instances is memorable. For instance, last night’s Catholic League Championship played out in front of about 9,000 passionate basketball fans in the cozy confines of the the historic Palestra. It was a great night of basketball. Two evenly matched, well coached and fiercely competitive high school programs met in one of the great basketball venues to determine a champion.

The battle was intense. Tempers came close to flaring. About half of the crowd left the Palestra disappointed and dejected. These folk from the Northeast came close. Entering the game, they sensed a real opportunity this year.

Zeglinski had a shot… Right?

Archbishop Ryan was battle tested, peaking and hungry.

Maybe…

St. Joseph’s guard Jordan Hall ’20 returned to support his alma mater.

Naaaaah…

Khaafiq Myers and them boys the from South Philly refused to lose. Within the Neumann-Goretti program, the Philadelphia Catholic League Boys Basketball Championship is a birthright. In 2020, they won… Last night Hakim Byrd ’20, Jordan Hall ‘20 and Hysier Miller ‘21 positioned themselves on the Neumann-Goretti bench as the Saints laid claim to yet another championship.

I’m telling you Carl Arrigale is on some Phil Jackson type shit...

Unfortunately, the respite had to conclude. By ten o’clock I was in my car headed home. By 4:30 am Philadelphia police were investigating a murder in North Philly after finding a woman dead on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound to the head.

Hello real world…

As the day went on, Russian armed forces continued to bombard civilian sites in Ukraine. A TV tower in the capital was hit. Local media reported that there were several explosions and that Ukrainian TV channels stopped broadcasting shortly afterward. Simultaneously, a 40-mile convoy of hundreds of Russian tanks and other armored military vehicles advanced on Kyiv determined to unseat Ukraine’s democratically elected government and install a Kremlin-friendly regime.
Huh? What?

It’s getting dark in Europe… Again.

I truly appreciated the respite the Catholic League provided…

Arrigale… Legendary shit…

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