Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Here’s a notebook from the Northeast Basketball League (NEBL) action on Thursday, May 18:
Zach Schade (above) will be the man in the middle for Council Rock South this year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
C.R. South shows signs against Imhotep
With its entire starting lineup from this past season graduating and moving on from their high school days, this is a summer of learning for Council Rock South. And there was certainly plenty to take away from Thursday night’s game, against one of the area’s top programs in Imhotep Charter, the defending Public League and PIAA Class 4A champions.
The Golden Hawks aren’t going to see anybody in the Suburban One National with the combination of length, athleticism, talent and depth of the Panthers, and the final score of 65-31 certainly doesn’t come as a shock.
But it also doesn’t tell the full story: for the entirety of the first half and a good few minutes of the second, it was a close game; it was 30-24 before Imhotep went on a game-ending 33-4 run.
“We played well the first 24 minutes,” senior forward Zach Schade said. “I think we kind of broke down in the second half but I think if we stuck together it could have been such a better game.”
Schade was a major reason that CR South hung in there for so long, as the 6-foot-6, 175-pound forward had to play in the middle of Imhotep’s daunting zone defense. Though the Hawks had their share of turnovers, they generally handled the zone press well, keeping the ball moving and avoiding forced shots.
In the first half, Schade had seven of his 11 points, including a pair of 3-point play opportunities and a mid-range jumper, showing he could put the ball on the floor once or twice and made good passing decisions out of the high post.
“I’m just looking for the spacing, to get the ball around, get open shots, be patient on offense,” he said. “I feel like if we’re patient on offense, if we keep moving the ball around, we get good shots any time down the floor, we can stick with any team around here.”
Along with 6-4 rising sophomore Kevin McNamee, who wasn’t present on this particular evening, Schade represents most of the frontcourt size for the Golden Hawks. In the backcourt, Derek Wright’s squad will have a group of rising seniors including point guard Christian Jabbar, Trey Irwin, Simon Magidenko and Spencer Haun to rely on.
Schade, who played sparingly on the varsity roster during the 2016-17 season, leaned heavily on graduating seniors and 6-5 forwards Ryan Boyd and Ryan McNamee (Kevin’s brother) for guidance throughout his junior year.
“They taught me a lot, on and off the floor,” he said. “How to be a leader, how to play the post a lot better than I ever had before -- they taught me my whole game, basically.”
-- The class of 2021 are starting to make their high school picks and appearing with their future high school programs for the first time. Such was the case with Archbishop Wood’s Rahsool Diggins and Daeshon Shepard, who both look like impressive young prospects in their first Viking looks. Diggins, a lanky 5-10 point guard, ran the Wood offense for much of the second half and made some really confident passes, as well as knocking down a 3-point to end the first half; Shepard, a 6-3 wing, displayed good defensive tendencies and has a terrific frame. Certainly two to watch moving forward, and they’ll both be in the Jr. All-City event at the end of the month.
-- It looks like this year’s Math, Civics & Sciences squad is shaping up to be very balanced, now that leading scorer Malik Archer (Ranger College) and fellow 2017 seniors Maqi Watson/Ahmad Wimbush (Clarion), plus point guard Tymair Johnson (Paris College) have all moved on, leaving a dearth of scoring experience in the roster. But in a 66-61 win over Cherokee (N.J.), MCS got 10 scorers in the first half alone and held on for the win; seniors Kwazhere Ransom and Anthony McFall, two of the few varsity contributors returning, led the way.
--While the Mighty Elephants relied on balance, Cherokee was something of a two-man show, as a pair of 2019 guards impressed for the Chiefs. Anthony DiCaro and Jack Miller had the ball in their hands about 80 percent of the time for Cherokee, which was rather shorthanded without a pair of 6-6 forwards in 2018 Tymere Bennett and 2019 Owen McGlashan, and they did plenty with it. Miller did most of the scoring, dropping 19 points, but DiCaro made quite a bit of that happen; the 6-3 guard can get himself out of tight situations with his handles and made a number of terrific no-look passes on the nose.
--It’s been a strong offseason thus far for Imhotep senior Bernard Lightsey, who led the Panthers with 19 points in their win over Council Rock South. The 5-11 guard has always been a terrific 3-point shooter, earning his role as a freshman for that ability, but now he’s really improved his ability to take his man off the bounce and run an offense when he needs -- though he’s still at his best when he can play off the ball and knock down long-range shots, hitting five 3s on no more than seven attempts in Imhotep’s win.