PHILADELPHIA -- Saint Joseph’s second team camp of the summer is of the overnight variety, as plenty of the 40-plus teams drove a couple hours (or more) to get six games in over the course of the weekend.
Here’s a notebook from Saturday’s action, focused mostly on teams from Central Pa. and Delaware:
Manheim Twp.'s Tyler Crespo (above) is poised to become one of the leading scorers in Central Pa. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Crespo leading the way at Manheim Twp.
After graduating four starters from his 2015-16 squad, Manheim Twp. head coach Matt Johns wasn’t sure exactly what the Blue Streaks would do last year. So he was pleased with a group that won 14 games, despite a first-round loss in the District 3 6A playoffs to Hempfield in overtime.
Now, despite a fairly young rotation, expectations are on the rise for 2017-18.
The Blue Streaks have a handful of seniors on the roster, but the focus will be on a strong junior class, led by Tyler Crespo and Brendan Mellott, the team’s first and third-leading scorers from a year ago.
In the span of one offseason, they’ll go from underclassmen to the pair who sets the tone.
“I don’t find it too difficult,” said Crespo, a starter since freshman year, of the jump in responsibility. “The only time I felt like, really pressured, was my freshman year coming in and playing. It’s not that difficult, I’m used to it, the whole setting.”
Crespo showed off his dynamic scoring ability on Saturday afternoon to help Manheim Twp. to a comeback win over West Chester Rustin. The 5-8 guard with the ball on a string got to the rim and scored with ease, and had no problem knocking down a few 3-pointers as well.
Mellott, a 6-1 wing guard, also chipped in handily, hitting a pair of corner 3-pointers, getting to the line and making several other shots as well.
“They went through the wars last year...so they’ve been through it,” Johns said. “They’re grinders in the gym, so they’re providing a lot of good leadership for us right now.”
Along with Crespo and Mellott, Manheim Twp. also started a third junior, Tyler Vicidomini, and sophomore wing Zach Oldac. Another junior and potential starter, Hilton Ridley, wasn’t able to be at the camp this weekend.
Senior David Engel, one of a few seniors expected to be on the roster, rounded out the starting lineup.
That group, along with a few other rising juniors and sophomores, give Johns and his staff a lot to look forward to for at least two years in Lancaster-Lebanon Section One and beyond. A late eight-game winning streak before the district tournament loss helps further that along.
“Knowing that not only do we have talent with us, we feel like we have guys to build around the next few years, it’s an exciting point right now,” Johns said. “We still have question marks coming off the bench, we’re looking for the right combination of guys, we have a lot of guys that all bring something.” -- Josh Verlin
Garden Spot energized by reclassification
Watching Garden Spot’s energetic backcourt tear up an opponent during a big win on Saturday afternoon, it was clear that it’s a team that’s going to be at the very least bothersome to game plan for this upcoming season. Seniors Jordan Shewbridge and Jacob Arndt and junior Keontae Nunn can put up points in a hurry, whether they’re burying threes or relentlessly attacking the rim.
That’s nothing new for Spartans head coach Ryan Trupe, who knows his team can score at quite the clip.
The other end of the court, well, that part’s a work in progress.
“The key for us is can we defend,” Trupe said. “We’ve played two games already at camp, last night and this morning; played well enough offensively, but just stank it up defensively.”
Garden Spot’s biggest issue is adjusting to the graduation of big man Kyle Gordon, one of five seniors on last year’s squad. But the 6-9 center, who will be playing at Alvernia this fall, represented by far the most size they had.
With Gordon gone, nobody on the current roster stands taller than versatile 6-3 wing forward Javi Westmoreland, who Trupe said could see time at all five positions this year.
This year’s Spartans are certainly going to be guard-reliant this year, and the trio of Shewbridge, Ardnt and Nunn showed in that dominant win over Donovan Catholic (N.J.) that they’ll put up some big numbers.
They’ll all look up to Shewbridge, a 5-11 guard and the only returning full-time starter from a year ago.
“I just want to be that energy guy, have a positive attitude for my teammates,” Shewbridge said, “because we have a lot of young kids, so I want to be an example of how I play and my attitude, and hope they translate that to the court.”
Previously a member of the old AAAA classification, Garden Spot hasn’t been known for district playoff runs, going four years without a postseason appearance. But with the change to six classifications this past year, the Spartans went 15-1 and got into the new District 3 5A playoffs, losing to Milton Hershey in the main bracket and Hershey in the play-backs, though not before beating Dover to taste a hint of postseason success.
Just knowing it’s something that’s within the program’s grasp has energized the Spartans, according to Shewbridge.
“It’s given us a lot of confidence,” he said. “We lost a lot of seniors but we’re getting a lot of confidence from it.” -- Josh Verlin
Randy Rickards (above) and Cape Henlopen figure to factor heavily into the DIAA title chase this year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Rickards, Cape Henlopen focused on big year ahead
Last season, Cape Henlopen was knocked out of the DIAA state playoffs by No. 1 overall seed Mount Pleasant in the second round. In spite of losing two starters to graduation, this year’s squad is looking well beyond that going into this season.
Steve Re’s team took the floor against a shorthanded Bishop Shanahan and through the first half, did not resemble a team that had aspirations of a Delaware state title. Then rising senior Randy Rickards took control of the game and there was no looking back.
“We really go as he goes, he’s unique,” Re said. “Sometimes he comes and goes, but when he’s locked in, there is nobody better.”
On that court, there was no player coming close to the level that Rickards played at. Adding nine rebounds to his 18 points en route to a 60-51 win was great, but Cape Henlopen’s leader is looking well beyond a camp game in August.
He has much bigger plans for he and his teammates in the upcoming season.
“Our goal every year is to win a state championship. We fight and we compete with everybody,” Rickards said. “We think we can win every game, we think we can win the state championship this year. Regardless of who we play against.”
With a schedule that will include Sanford, St. George’s Tech, Delcastle, and two games against the defending Delaware state champion Smyrna, the road to that potential state championship will be challenging from the start, but this is nothing new for Cape Henlopen. Re sees camps like the one at Saint Joseph’s as a way to sharpen his team’s skills in order to set his team apart from the others in their area.
“This (camp) always brings home the point I try to bring to my guys. If you want to be next level players, you got to learn how to defend, you have to learn how to help,” Re said. “Good high school teams help, they move the ball, they make good cuts, set good screens, you’ve got to be able to play all of that."
Re is excited to see the growth of the younger members of the team, especially the rising sophomore class. Headlining this group in Saturday’s action was Corey Barnes, who scored 15 points while dishing out four assists and grabbing six rebounds; fellow rising sophomores Sh’Kai Chandler and Kris Rushin also chipped in in the win.
“He's built like a brick house, just a big, tough kid who can play a lot of different positions. You can put the ball in his hand, you can slide him into the post,” Re said of Barnes. “He sees the floor really well, he's very unselfish, and he's working on his perimeter game...he's gonna be a guy to watch."
Along with Rickards, Henlopen has another college-level senior in 6-7 wing Ian Robertson, a tough 3-point and rebounding specialist.
All in all, the talent appears to be gelling together for Cape Henlopen as the end of the summer draws near. The question remains whether or not they will be able to put it all together to make a run at the state title they covet so dearly.
“It depends on how hard that we work. It’s on us, it’s not on who we play against, it’s on us cause frankly, we’re one of the best teams in the state,” Rickards said. “Our main problem is we get down on ourselves, we lose focus, it’s all on us.” -- Ray Dunne
-- Scranton Prep’s Leo O’Boyle is emerging as one of the top prospects in the Northeastern part of the state, and it’s clear why. The 6-7 wing forward with bright red hair can score from inside and out, which he showcased in a win over Central York; he’s got a solid 3-point stroke off the catch or pulling up, but he can also establish position in the paint when matched up against a smaller wing and finish a nifty hook shot or put the ball on the ground. He’s still waiting on his first offer, though Colgate, FDU, Loyola (Md.) and Penn have all been touch. Also playing well in the win was senior Wes Simons, a 6-5 space-eating forward who’s terrific on the glass; he had a good part of his 15 points and nine rebounds thanks to second-chance opportunities. High-level D-IIIs like Randolph-Macon, Hood, Union and more are in pursuit.
-- One of the tightest games of the day featured a narrow win for Downingtown West over Salesianum. Missing 6-7 forward Greg Barton, the Whippets trailed most of the way, including a 61-56 deficit with three minutes left, but were able to overcome it through the leadership of Will Howard and Matt Tremoglie. Onlookers were seeing double, with both sporting No. 37 on the back of the jersey, but regardless of who it was, they were not about to let the game slip away. They led a 14-3 run, capitalized by a clutch three from Tremoglie to seal the 70-64 victory. Both figure to be integral parts for a team coming off a state playoff appearance. With that in mind, Tremoglie emphasized the team’s desire to focus in on the tasks at hand, rather than focusing on games well down the line: “First game. That’s our first win, we got get our first win. We got to get our feet under us and go from there, see where it takes us. Maybe Ches-Mont championship, hopefully state playoffs, district playoffs, and see where it goes.”
For a team that lost two of its biggest pieces offensively to graduation, shooting guard Matt Carson (Carnegie Mellon) and forward George Gordon (Ursinus), head coach Stuart Ross sees the team operating just as efficiently, but in a different way in the upcoming season. Ross has been sure to take advantage of the summer to instill this, participating in the Harrisburg and West Chester summer leagues and attending Rider’s team camp as well as Saint. Joseph’s. After all that work, one thing has stuck at to Ross.
“Our mental toughness has come a long way,” Ross said. “We put our guys in a lot of adverse situations over the summer and what we believe is that if you put your team in adverse situations, it builds chemistry. That’s something that definitely showed out there.”
-- For the players on Montgomery (N.J.), their summer basketball takes the phrase “No Days Off” to a whole nother level. On Saturday, they handled Southern Regional 39-22 to continue a very busy two weeks for them. According to head coach Kris Grundy, “starting last week, we play 23, 22 teams in 13 days.” There was no sign of any slowing down for them with rising juniors Reilly Green, Kevin Fromelt, and Joe Elicone leading the charge in the afternoon set. Elicone doesn’t see the team’s heavy schedule having any affect on them: “You get used to it. Being tired is a mindset, it’s really not physical. If you get over the hump, it’s really not that big of a deal.” He, Green, and Fromelt played solid minutes on last year’s squad that went 10-14 and are expected to fill the void left behind by Matt Summers, Danny Engels, and three-year starting point guard and Arcadia-bound Matt Remsen.
-- Coming into the summer, Salesianum head coach Brendan Haley knew he had to fill the hole left behind by last season’s leader and Susquehanna-bound guard Mike Kempski. When it comes to leadership, Haley sees rising senior Paul Brown as the next man in line. The 6-7 forward has been a four year starter and now looks to continue the great run that this program has been. Luckily for Brown, he was able to see what it takes to be a leader on a championship team and plans on emulating the type of leadership he watched current Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo succeed with back on the 2014-2015 team which won the state title. On the court, however, still seems to be a work in progress as displayed by the beating they took at the hands of Manheim Twp. Some of the issues they faced likely stemmed from the fact that they can’t work with their coach in the offseason, as per Delaware rules.
One of the things that Haley is consistently stressing with his team is their mental and physical toughness: “I thought we made strides last year in terms of toughness," he said. "From mid-season on we were, but we look a little bit soft and not mentally tough right now. We just really got it handed to us pretty good and we’re very disappointed in the way our body language was.”