For the last 10 years I’ve ventured to the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware on a Thursday night about 6 times for the DIAA State Semi-Finals.. Twice during this time frame I came down on a Saturday to the Bob when they used to have two separate Quarter-Final doubleheaders.. That was great cause it allowed me to cover the State of Delaware’s best all in one day. These days I have a 3-game max limit anyway but I always enjoyed the DIAA production. And the 1st State always has some under the radar talent.. Also this event is always a Sold Out Show so it’s a fun night at work for AA.. Case in point: In 2017, I came to support one of my aau players in Kyson Rawls and his coach Rod Griffin both of St George’s Tech, a long time friend. That day I also noticed a skinny, I mean really skinny but flashy, confident sophomore guard named “Bones” Hyland. Fast forward now 6 years later and Mr Hyland of the Los Angeles Clippers is a certified BMF (Bad Mutha Father) and also the Pride and joy of the state of Delaware.
This year’s Semi-Final Doubleheader pitted the unlikely #7 seed William Penn of New Castle taking on #3 Howard Vo-Tech of Wilmington in Game 1 & in Game 2 #5 Salesianum took on #1 Middletown..
Game 1: William Penn surprisingly runs away from Howard, 55-39.. I went into the doubleheader with very little info on either team. I saw Howard play Neumann-Goretti last season at an event and liked their talent along with their toughness. They hung tough that day so I was familiar with their program. I hadn’t seen much from William Penn since my own era in the mid 90s and then I heard the PA announcer say William Penn is coached by Gary Lumpkin.. Ooooooooooh!!! Now we talking!! Lumpkin was a gritty point guard in his day and a heluva player at Xavier University along with his high school backcourt mate Lenny Brown. They were one of my favorite college backcourts ever.. Them boys got to it during their run in Cincinnati from 95-99 along with fellow classmate and future NBA player James Posey.. They also recruited the highest rated DE prospect in my memory Lloyd Price (this guy had the “IT” factor) of Hodgson Vo-Tech (Oak Hill sr year) to join the party during their senior years.. Needless to say seeing Lumpkin patrolling the sideline brought back fond memories.. The Colonial team defense was suffocating as Howard could never get into the rhythm. Sr PG Jaiden Guy displayed masterful point guard play controlling the game on both ends of the floor.. This was my first and only look at him but Mr Guy definitely has the look of a scholarship level talent.. Great size (6-2 175), total command of the floor and in lock-step with his coach.. Howard boasts one of the better backcourts in the state in junior classmates: RJ Matthews & Jameer Deshields.. Deshields had a solid outing while Matthews could never get going. He’s clearly a talented kid so he’ll have better days..
Game 2: Salesianum clips #1 Middletown late in a high drama affair, 51-49.. Even though Middletown was considered the consensus top team in the State during the duration of the season, this can’t be considered an upset cause one of their prior two losses was handed to them by the Salles.. And honestly, Salles 7 losses are deceiving as they played an ambitious schedule with 5 of their top 6 being underclassmen.. This was one of the better high school games I’ve seen all season. Competitive from beginning to end with two evenly matched teams.. Middletown, the senior-laden old against the young bucks from Salesianum. The young guys prevailed behind the late-game heroics of its best basketball player Jr lefty combo guard Isaiah Hynson (18 points). With the game tied at 49 late in the 4th holding for one, Hynson got into an iso situation. The southpaw went hard right got to his spot and went back to his left with a crafty lefty floater from 8 feet.. 4.2 secs remained and the Salles took a 51-49 lead.. Big Boy move in a big balls situation by the junior D1 prospect.. What’s interesting about the personnel of the prestigious Wilmington private, Catholic school is that for my money Hynson is their clear best player cause he’s their best scorer but you could argue that his two junior classmates are as good or better college prospects in 6-5 Combo Guard Kareem Thomas (12pts) & 6-6 SF Justin Hinds (11pts). Both are long, athletic and skilled. Thomas is really good with the ball and shows a decent IQ.. Hinds has rockets in his shoes while also having a good looking shooting stroke.. Add in burly 6-5 Soph inside workhorse Robbie Johnson and next year’s Salles should be looking for even smoke even on the National scene.. They have AAs blessing.. This one must sting for Middletown.. 6 of their top 7 were seniors and 3 of those guys are amongst the best in the state.. 6-5 Sr SF Jaiden McGee (12 points) is the best of the group and should be 1st team all-state per my research.. 5-10 sr quick-ster Amir Hite (10pts) is one of the better generals in the state.. 6-4 sr wing Jaden Rogers is capable of scoring 20+ on a given night. Both 6-3 sr G Marcus Edmond (defensive stopper) & inside/outside hustler 6-5 sr Amir Cunningham lend high value. Very fun team to watch.. Just couldn’t get by Salles this year..
Quick Hits: Salles went on to win the State Title 2 days later.. Congrats to those young men!!! I spent a lot of time in the late 90s/early 2000s riding through DE on 13 & 113 on my way to and from VA and I remember when the town of Middletown was barely a thought. But it’s now thriving and it’s first high school, Middletown HS has a rabid fanbase and the SD now has 3 high schools.. I do have a HATE-HATE relationship with its neighboring town Odessa, the speed trap capital of the world.. Seriously Salles could get their shot on the National scene next Winter.. I’m a fan.. Stay tuned.. Back on my own turf I saw the season end for my home SD team, the Plymouth Whitemarsh Colonials. They hadn’t had this bad a night in two and a half months and it happened in the 1st round of the states against visiting Chambersburg in front of the sellout home crowd.. Chambersburg has a unique athlete on their roster in 6-5 Soph F J.J. Kelly, the best pure athlete I’ve seen all season. He’s already a 3-sport star who won a state title in the triple jump last spring and is projected to do so again while possibly taking gold in the long & high jumps as well.. I’ve even read some articles online that state he is on the 2028 Olympic radar for his jumping prowess as last year’s freshman National Champion in both the triple & high jumps.. He was unguardable on the basketball court and made it look like the PW players were running in quick sand while chasing him.. No BS Mr Kelly looked like a Marvel Comic Superhero out there.. Great season to the boys from PW. I enjoyed watching their games, very exciting team.. Now let’s swing back to Delaware.. Seeing Gary Lumpkin on the sidelines brought me back to the golden era of Delaware basketball, the mid to late 90s.. Here is a list of Delaware’s finest during that day:
Delaware Super 7 (My Memory)
Lenny Brown 6-2 G William Penn 1994 (Xavier)
Gary Lumpkin 6-2 G William Penn 1995 (Xavier)
LaRon Profit 6-5 G Caesar Rodney 1995 (Maryland)
LaRon Cephas 6-8 F Sanford School 1997 (Maryland) RIP
Lloyd Price 6-5 G/F Hodgson Vo-Tech 1998 (Xavier)
Andre Matthews 6-6 F Seaford HS 1999 (Del State)
Brian Polk 6-5 G Sussex Tech 2000 (Temple)
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