By Amauro Austin Sr
We’re back after a week hiatus. Last week was a light week as we only saw 2 or 3 high school games and I had the big piece on the Public League playoffs so I decided to take a break from the notes.. But we’re back on the grind this week after being in the gyms almost every night.. It’s playoff season so we always try to catch as many games as we can this time of year.. So I’ll be around at a gym near you over the course of the next 5 weeks..
Two impactful events I must note happened last weekend.. I spent last Saturday & Sunday at sold out college basketball events.. First on Saturday up in Newark, NJ at the Invesco QQQ HBCU Classic powered by Michael B. Jordan and broadcasted on TNT.. This event warmed my heart as it sold out an NHL/NBA arena with 2 HBCU games. I had a great time, brought back so many fond memories. For as long as this event takes place, I don’t plan to miss it. Events like this have to be used strategically to host recruits as they’ll get the full grasp of the HBCU experience. Shout out to Michael B and his team for painting a masterpiece with this event..
On Sunday, we went “down Norf” Philly to Temple University’s Liacouras Center to see the Owls take on the #3 ranked Houston Cougars, a team TU had upset a few weeks prior in Houston. Again a sellout of over 10K were in the building. The Owls appeared to be on track for another upset for a half but the Cougars kicked into another gear in the 2nd half particularly on defense in showing why they are one of the premier programs in the Nation under venerable Coach Kelvin Sampson..
On Monday it was back on the high school hoops trail and back down Norf Philly.. This time to 17th & Girard check out a Big Catholic League showdown between Wood & St Joseph’s Prep that had big implications in the Catholic League standings.. It was only fitting that a game like this would be nip & tuck and have to be decided with the extra 4 minutes that Overtime provides.. The Vikings went in the road and earned a hard fought W.. Jr 2G Jalil Bethea went off for 40 points on nowhere near as many shots as most need to take to get 40 (14-20, 6 for 7 from 3, 6-8 FTs).. He was as efficient as it gets while making some difficult shots that most can’t make. Big Time performance by one of the best prospects Nationwide in the Class of 2024. Support came from Soph SF Milan Dean (17p, 9r, 6a & 4s) & Sr C Carson Howard (East Stroudsburg) with 16 manly Rebounds.. Prep played great for 4 quarters but went cold in the OT period losing 16-2.. Jr Big Man Tristan Guillouette (12p, 9r & 7b) was again impressive..
On Wednesday, we trekked out to Royersford, PA to Spring Ford HS to check out the 1st round of the PAC 12 (Pioneer Athletic Conference) playoffs. I was excited to see this one cause I hadn’t seen 3 of the 4 competing programs yet this season. First things first, I always love making the trip to Spring Ford. The schools Sports complex is immaculate. It’s one of the better basketball jobs in the state in my opinion because talent seems to find its way into the district to go along with the awesome facilities. Coach Joe Dempsey is sitting on a budding powerhouse hence the Rams current #1 ranking in the District 1 6A power rankings.. On to the action we saw.. In Game 1 it was the PAC gold standard Methacton taking on the always tough Perkiomen Valley. Methacton has dominated the league over the last half a decade at least with the names Woodward (Colgate) & Timko (Jefferson) & Hargrove (Drexel) among others.. This years edition isn’t as talented but plays with the same mix of grit & acumen that those prior have so they are still a tough out. And down to the wire the game went with a late iso bucket from impressive Jr G Julian Sadler. The 6-1 Sadler is a lefty whose both a sniper from behind the line and explosive off the bounce. He epitomizes today’s new age scoring lead guard. I had heard respected voices say that he was the best player in the league and now I’d have to agree after seeing him perform for myself. He had the look of a D1 prospect which isn’t rare coming from PV as 2017 grad Justin Jaworski became an all-time great when his career was done at Lafayette and now is a very well-respected overseas Pro.. Can’t wait to get another look at Sadler though after leaving this night rather impressed.. PV also sported a tough inside presence in 6-4 210lb sr C Morgan McKinney who pulled down double figure boards and played plus defense. Basketball is his off-season hobby as Baseball is his main squeeze. He’ll be headed to Ursinus College with his bat & glove next year. Methacton Sr G Cam Chilson is a fun player to watch in his own right. He’d be a priority recruit for D3s is he chose to play in college..
Game 2 pitted Pottstown vs Norristown in a game of two similar small city/towns in Montgomery County. The two schools are almost like 1st cousins so it was sure to be a tough, physical game.. I’d seen Norristown twice earlier in the season so I knew what they brought to the court. This was my first look at “P-Town” and I was happy I got my chance to check them out. The Trojans pulled out a tough, gritty win to advance to a matchup against Spring Ford. They have an interesting mix of players that could cause a problem for anyone in the 5A field even Radnor on a given night. The highlighted player for Pottstown all year has been Jr wing guard Sadeeq Jackson. I can see why cause Jackson simply gets to it. The strong 6-3 G plays equally hard at both ends of the floor constantly putting pressure on defenses with his attacking down hill style and putting pressure on offenses with his physical “inner city type” pressure defense. I also love the fire that he plays with and his vocal leadership. He’ll be one to watch going forward. His twin brother Abdul Jackson, also 6-3 has a total different, yet necessary demeanor. He’s more of the ice to Sadeeq’s fire as a big, smooth lead guard. Sr Combo Guard Ty Elliot-Moore is the team X-Factor as the dagger throwing sniper from deep. He went off for 20 with 4 deep treys mixed in. He showed great IQ on offense too cause when the defense adjusted by running him off the line with hard close outs, he’d pump fake take a dribble or two and shoot the mid range or move the ball to an open teammate.. Really good player, Small College special.. The Eagles helter-skelter defense and offense was what got them back in the game and almost got them to the finish line with a dub. First year coach Rick Bell has done a decent job taking over for Binky Johnson as “Town” will be playoff dancing next week. Definitely something to build upon and hey if you can win a game or two, they’ll play in the states too.. Small Colleges should take a look at Norristown 6-5 sr F/C Jonathan Brooks. Every D3 roster has 2 or 3 guys just like him..
We ended the week on both Friday and Saturday at home base at Plymouth Whitemarsh HS with two boy-girl double headers as part of the Suburban One League playoffs. Quarters on Friday & Semis on Saturday. PW boys & Girls had earned home games throughout the tournament by both being the highest seed from the SOL and both being champs of their league divisions.. That’s a big deal cause neither team has lost a home game all year and in the Girls case, they haven’t lost a home game in over 3 years.. February 1st 2020 to be exact against neighboring rival Upper Dublin.. The current group of seniors were just freshman then.. PW boys played lethargic like for a whole game on Friday night in a win over Neshaminy & that spilled over into another half of a game Saturday vs North Penn.. The 2nd half vs North Penn they were back to being themselves in running NP out of the gym. Junior PG Jaden Colzie whose been up and down this season has been mostly up down the stretch playing his best basketball over the last month. He’s the key to the Colonials success as the head of the snake. As he goes, they go. Putting my scouts hat on, I’d like to see him vocally lead more cause with his experience, his teammates will respect him enough to listen. I say all the time, a good point guard has many roles and one of them is to be a shrink. He/She has to know all the personalities of all teammates and be able to know what buttons to push and not to push.. Being handed ball by your coach comes with great responsibility.. Sr F Qudire Bennett is continuing to put together and all-state caliber season with consistent performances night after night. Always good to see a guy improve from year to year. “Q” has done that every year making his biggest jump from junior to senior year. Another senior 6-6 C Lincoln Sharpe is quite the teammate. All he seems to care about is defense and rebounding.. It was my first look at Neshaminy and North Penn.. Both are playoff caliber teams who’ll compete in the district tournament. Both schools are known local football powers so it’s no surprise they play a physical brand of basketball. Both squads have Junior point guards around 5-7 give or take in Neshaminy’s Emeer Coombs & North Penn’s Norman Gee who I’d love to see in a foot race. I’d probably pick Gee in photo finish.
As for the girls, they are defending their SOL Title from last season and because of last years big successes they seem to get everyone’s best shot. CR South Friday night got that memo and coach Blair Klumpp had his very dangerous squad prepared. The Colonials prevailed cause sr wing guard Abby Sharpe wasn’t having it. She scored some big buckets en route to 23 of 49 points for the winners.. A pair of Freshman guards A.J. Avery & Kenna Winland both had big moments as well especially down the stretch. This win set up another big match vs Abington. The two teams split their regular season matchups with both winning on their home floor, Abington by 2 & PW by 1. So you had to think this night wouldn’t be any different. And of course it wasn’t. Whenever these teams meet it’s always a battle. Abington looked like they were gonna pull away with a barrage of treys to end the first half to take a 23-14 lead going into half. On top of that star senior F Erin Daley was scoreless in the half after missing the entire 2nd quarter with 2 fouls.. The 2nd half was a different story as Daley impacted the game on both ends scoring all 17 of her points and captaining a stingy defense. Abby Sharpe once again put her high end offensive package on display with 22 points. PW looked like they would close things out in regulation but a 3-ball with under a minute left by Lady Ghost All Timer Cire Worley (15pts) tied things up at 39 sending it to OT after neither team could close the show.. The Lady Colonials again found a way in OT and finding a way is just something that the best teams do.. At 22-2 going into Tuesday’s SOL title game vs the Casey Harter (Northwestern) led Souderton team I’d have to say no matter what happens going forward that the Lady Colonials have had an awesome season..
Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone!!! And again please like, share & subscribe.. GO BIRDS!!! 🦅🏈