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…

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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

Eric Dixon on Robeson Star Walter Hester!

By Eric Dixon

PHILADELPHIA, PennsylvaniaWalter Hester of Paul Robeson High School (Philadelphia, Pa.) is a “bucket”. The 5-11 combo guard can “flat out score the ball” as was evidenced in a recent win over Eastern University Academy where he scored an impressive 47 points to help get his team into tonight’s Class A championship game against Sankofa Academy.

Hester has started all but a handful of games in a four year varsity career that has seen him amass more than 1500 points from all three levels. The senior is averaging 27 ppg game, which represents a 8 point improvement over his junior season scoring average. He attributes the increase to a number of factors, including his ability to improve his pull up jump shot and “be more aggressive going to the rim” to draw fouls at a higher rate than in previous years.

It didn’t take long for the staff at Robeson to see Hester was special. He began his freshman year on the bench the first 3 or 4 games before one of the starters was slowed by an injury. “We tried it in practice it in practice and then they just kept it like that,” according to Hester.

His ascent to neighborhood folk and family hero began in middle school, says Joslyn Hester-Parham. “I wasn’t too into at first. I mean knew he played ball, but I didn’t know he play play.” She went on to say how it was around his eighth grade year when people from their southwest Philadelphia community would come up to her and tell “your brother play ball real nice.”

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Joslyn Hester-Parham and Walter Hester

Unfortunately, it’s taken college scouts a little longer to recognize his worth as his recruitment has been “slower than you might expect for a guy with his numbers,” says Robeson’s head coach, Robert Powlen. He insists if given the opportunity “Walt”, as he is affectionately known by family and friends, would be a great addition to a college program.

“On the next level, he can play either guard position and will continue to get stronger and will adjust to the college game. I truly expect him to have a great college career. His character, talent and will to win will never let him down” says Powlen.

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Coach Powlen and Walter Hester

Hester, a Philadelphia All public performer who is the 6th of 9 siblings, credits his brothers Khalil, Tyrefe, Nigel and Julius with helping him hone his game at the playground at 51st and Kingsessing. Hester is not being very tall in scholastic basketball terms but for pick up games he grew up having a to “play down low” and guard bigger players. The experience has helped him develop confidence in playing against taller players. Other influences are his mentor and trainer Rafiq Strand.

The Achieve More AAU basketball program allowed Hester to do just that by taking him to out of state tournaments and giving him free rein to explore and develop his creative shot making abilities against unfamiliar competition. “It was a good experience, they gave me more freedom. I didn’t do any thinking, I just played my game.”

Tonight against Sankofa, Hester will look to continue to do just that. He’s going to give it all he’s got, as he always does. “We are going to take what they give us. We are going to be scrappy and get the 50-50 balls and just go after it.” Sounds like something he’s used to doing.

Check Rock… Dad

Andre Brown has a playoff game today… He leads his John Bartram Braves into battle with everything on the line… It’s do or die…

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James Brown (far left) and Andre Brown (2nd from left)

His opponent… His Pops…

James Brown’s Science Leadership Academy at Beeber Rockets come in with a gaudy 18-4 record. To build upon his outstanding regular season, Coach Brown will have to knock off his son. The same son he introduced to the game.

Great Matchup

John Bartram HS

3:15 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pops Martelli, My Ol’ Head

I’ve been blessed with some wonderful Ol’ Heads throughout my 5 plus decades on this planet. Yesterday… I learned that one of them is no longer with us…

Immediately, I thought of a day maybe 2 or 3 years ago… I got to Hagan Arena early for an evening St. Joseph’s game… Grabbed a pretzel and a coke and headed for the “friends and family” section directly behind the St. Joe’s bench… Figured I’d just chill for a while, maybe make a few calls…

Sitting there, as usual, was Pops Martelli… This was at least an hour or so before the game… He was there by himself. I always enjoyed talking St. Joe’s hoops with Pops, so I  sat down right beside him…he smiled and held out his hand…

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Pops Martelli

“What up Pops?”

Usually, our discussions centered on the current St. Joe’s team… Unabashed SJU homers, we frequently bounced thoughts and ideas off one another… What could this kid do to improve? What do the next few games look like? Can we win tonight?

This time, however, I mentioned to Pops that I was working on a Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame project. His eyes lit up… For the next hour or so, he talked in depth about almost EVERY great player that came through Philadelphia’s scholastic and collegiate ranks… Ernie Beck, Tom Gola, John Chaney, Guy Rodgers, Ray Scott, Tee Parham, Hal Lear, Cliff Anderson and scores of others.

My Ol’ Head was very well-versed in Philly Hoops…

Pops shared how he used to go to the Palestra and “figure out” a way to gain entrance. Pops said he HAD to see the greats play. He saw Cousy, he saw Oscar, he saw Jerry, he saw Russell, he saw Wilt hundreds of times. He saw them all. Pops watched the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and the 10’s.

For the last thirty years his view was right over the shoulder of his son… Pops watched Mark Bass chase an NIT in the Garden… He was right there when Rashid Bey led SJU into a Sweet 16 battle with Kentucky… Pops saw Jameer and Delonte beat EVERYONE… Highest of the highs and lowest of the lows…

Pops Marteli was there…

My Ol’ Head saw EVERY one of the greats. A TRUE Philly hoop head in the purest sense. Our basketball community is worse off today.

Gonna miss watching and talking Hoops with Pops…

The Hawk Will Never Die