Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)
Andrew Phillips laughed at the notion. The Malvern Prep 6-foot-3 junior supposedly can’t run very fast. He can’t shoot very well. He can’t jump very high. All he does is score.
Phillips can chuckle, since none of it is true—except the last remark. Though it is easy to fit a hard hat on his head, and easily image him carrying a lunch pail to practice, because that is the kind of worker bee mentality he radiates.
Andrew Phillips (above) exploded for 22 points in a big Inter-Ac win for the Patriots. (Photo: Joseph Santoliquito/CoBL)
Phillips erupted on Friday night in yet another quality performance, leading all scorers with 22 points in the Friars’ very important 54-48 victory over visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
The victory pushed the Friars to 10-6 overall and 3-1 in the demanding Inter-Academic League, while the Blue Devils, behind a team-high 21 from sharp-shooting sophomore Cam Burns, fell to 11-4 and 3-1.
There were four lead changes within the first three minutes of the game, when Phillips began lugging the Malvern offense on his considerable back to build a lead Malvern would never relinquish, though it was tested more than a few times the remainder of the game.
One thing is certain: Inter-Ac teams better beware of the Friars’ No. 20. He takes pride in not doing one thing great, or particularly flashy. And he isn’t going to overwhelm anyone with his chunky 6-3 frame.
He looks like a football player who plays basketball.
But he plays basketball very well.
Phillips has had a 29-point game, a 26-point game, a 23-point game and now a 22-point game.
It doesn’t have to be the most aesthetically pleasing layup or jump shot, but Phillips has a terrible knack for getting the job done.
Something has to be said for that.
“Andrew is a very smart basketball player, with a very high IQ who scores in a variety of ways,” Malvern coach Paul Romanczuk said. “The league knows about Andrew. We have good coaches in this league. That’s what makes him special. If you want to take Andrew away from scoring in the post, then we can pop him outside, and he plays outside with the ball, whether it’s driving by to the basketball, or knocking down threes.
“It didn’t look like he was a great shooter tonight, but he can shoot the basketball for us. His overall best skill is his versatility. He makes some fantastic plays that come naturally for him.”
Romanczuk defined the SCH victory as a “character win,” after the Friars came off an Inter-Ac loss to Penn Charter.
Malvern Prep did a great job against SCH’s formidable Alassane “Big Al” Amadou, the Blue Devils’ 6-9 junior who was held scoreless. Romanczuk stressed much of that credit belonged to 6-7 senior Tyler Lauder, with big help from Tyler Oschell and Tague Davis when Lauder got into foul trouble.
“This definitely was a nice win for us,” said Phillips, who plays defensive end for the Friars’ football team. “This is just me getting started again, getting my shots. My teammates get me going, starting down low. I’m still coming back from the collarbone injury this summer.
“I think my footwork and jump shot get underestimated, and I think I’ve obviously proved a lot of teams who underestimated me with four 20-point games. Coming off the Penn Charter loss, where I didn’t play too well, this was a great comeback. It means a lot.”
Against SCH, Malvern Prep held leads of 19-8 and 32-22, only to see its edge diminish with long Blue Devil runs—mostly from three-point shots and the working 30-second shot clock that’s been instituted in the Inter-Ac this year.
Burns was very effective, nailing three treys in the game, while Malvern Prep only hit one three for the game.
The teams entered the fourth quarter locked at 34-34, when the Friars went on a 7-0 run to take control. Phillips scored six of his game-high 22 in the last stanza.
Each time Springside Chestnut Hill crept closer, the Friars would spring another run to create some cushion.
“I think what we learned tonight is that the Inter-Ac is one of those leagues you sleep walk through,” Blue Devils’ coach Julian McFadden said. “The consistency isn’t there. Cam Burns has been consistent for us, but we’re turning the ball over at an alarming rate.
“The toughness of the Inter-Ac showed up today and we got bitten by it in the butt.”
Springside Chestnut Hill: 7 | 13 | 14 | 14 || 48
Malvern Prep: 17 | 10 | 7 | 20 || 54
Springside Chestnut Hill: Cam Burns 21, Darius Isaac 10, Ivan Thorpe 6, Jared Morten 5, Ron Brown 5, Mitchell Karp 1
Malvern Prep: Andrew Phillips 22, Ryan Williams 16, Joey Vandergeest 6, Chase Reardon 6, Tyler Lauder 4
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who began writing for CoBL in 2021 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.