Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
WEST CHESTER — This season, for the first time, four of the top prep programs in the region — those from Westtown School, Perkiomen School, Phelps School and Hill School — set up a little in-season competition, a trio of doubleheaders known as the Pennsylvania Cup, three of the schools taking turns hosting over the course of the last week.
With all four teams stocked with future college talent, including a number of post-graduates and reclassified seniors, the PA Cup games were played with a 30-second shot clock and two 20-minute halves, a close simulation of what life will be like at the next level.
The conclusion took place Wednesday afternoon/evening at Westtown, a pair of ultra-competitive contests inside a gym that built in intensity as the day went on. Here’s a report featuring standout players from the afternoon and quick recaps/box scores of each contest.
Chas Kelley (above) flirted with a triple-double in leading Phelps to a big comeback win. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Phelps School 109, Hill School 101 (OT)
The Hill School took a 12-point lead at the break against Phelps, and built the advantage up to 20 early in the second, but they didn’t have an answer for Chas Kelley. The Boston College-bound guard made eight straight shots at one point, pulling his team ahead by seven late in the second half. Hill recovered, getting a game-tying 3-pointer from junior forward Augie Gerhart with 10 seconds left in regulation to send it to overtime. But the overtime was all Phelps, which got a 3-pointer from Neel Beniwal and two buckets from Malcolm Wrisby-Jefferson, plus some timely foul shooting, to hold on for the win.
Hill: 59 | 34 | 8 || 101
Phelps: 47 | 46 | 16 || 109
Hill: 34-75 FG (12-33 3PT), 21-29 FT
Phelps: 37-73 FG (14-36 3PT), 21-31 FT
Hill: Ethan Meuser 26, Augie Gerhart 17, Trey O’Neil 17, Anthony Wise 14, Graham Eilberg 11, Josh Cameron 8, Luke Rasmussen 1
Phelps: Chas Kelly 39, SJ Hutchinson 16, Jack Collins 13, Malcolm Wrisby-Jefferson 11, Saleem Payne 10, Neel Beniwal 7, Mitchell Holmes 6
Westtown School 70, Perkiomen School 61
Asea of Westtown students, all dressed in black to create a formidable presence along the gym’s back wall, had plenty to cheer about as Westtown spoiled Perkiomen’s bid for a perfect 3-0 Cup, with Duke-bound Dereck Lively II putting up a big double-double along the way. Though Perkiomen led by seven late in the first half and five at the break, Westtown hung tight, then surged down the stretch. Lively, the Moose’s 7-1 center, scored on post up after post up, going to a reliable right-hand hook, while junior Matt Mayock hit a pair of back-breaking 3-pointers. And the crowd went home happy.
Westtown: 32 | 38 || 70
Perkiomen: 37 | 24 || 61
Westtown: 22-65 FG (5-24 3PT), 21-27 FT
Perkiomen: 23-63 FG (9-29 3PT), 6-7 FT
Westtown: Dereck Lively II 30, Quin Berger 16, Seyphon Triplett 8, Jameel Brown 8, Matt Mayock 8
Perkiomen: Xaivian Lee 23, Ryan Dunn 10, Priest Ryan 9, Sam Pohlman 5, Thomas Haugh 5, Bobby Rosenberger 3, Jake Koretz 2, Brandon Legris 2, Ibra Bayu 2
Jack Collins (2022 | Phelps School)
One of a number of committed seniors who really showed their stuff on Wednesday was Collins, who won the ‘tough guy’ award (not a real award) for his play in the comeback win over Hill. The 6-5 wing out of Manasquan (N.J.), doing a fifth year at Phelps before heading off to Monmouth, was super-aggressive on the glass, grabbing nine rebounds (four offensive), not an easy feat against a terrific Hill frontcourt; he also had four steals, two assists and a big-time block on one of those Hill bigs. Collins’ normally-reliable 3-point shot wasn’t there tonight, as he was 1-of-6 from deep, but worked his way to 13 points with a couple mid-range jumpers and contested finishes.
Augie Gerhart (above) flashed his 3-point shooting as well as his inside scoring ability. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Augie Gerhart (2023 | Hill School)
The Cocalico (Pa.) native, who came to Hill this year and joined the 2023 class, has really come leaps and bounds over the last 8-12 months. The 6-9 forward excels as a pick-and-roll big man who loves to finish above the rim, throwing down several big dunks off pocket passes as Hill jumped out to an early lead on Phelps. Gerhardt finished with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including the game-tying 3-pointer late in regulation, while hitting 7-of-10 from the line; he also grabbed six rebounds, all on the defensive end, and had three assists to boot. Penn and Drexel are amongst his handful of mid-major suitors, with a number of other schools keeping track.
Chas Kelley (2022 | Phelps School)
One of two candidates for the day’s best overall player, Kelley had himself a second half and OT to remember against Hill. The 6-5 Boston College commit started the game off solid, with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, but he really took off after the break. Hitting eight straight shots at one point, Kelley was unguardable: pull-up 3-pointers, driving reverse layups, a couple buckets in the lane. And even when his shot was falling, he was still finding shooters, with kick-outs to multiple teammates for 3-pointers during that stretch alone. By the end, Kelley had 39 points on 14-19 shooting, including 5-of-7 from deep and 6-of-8 from the line, with eight rebounds, nine assists and three steals.
Xaivian Lee (2022 | Perkiomen School)
It was a good day for this Canadian import, who’s headed to Princeton in the fall, as Lee went for 23 points and eight rebounds in a losing effort against Westtown. Lee took a bit to find his rhythm but knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers late in the first half as the Panthers found their surge, then added another trey just after the halftime break. The 6-2 point guard finished shooting 8-of-17 overall and 4-of-10 from deep, plus 3-of-4 from the foul line, with eight rebounds and two assists; he did a good job of driving baseline and getting the defense moving, not able to attack the basket as much due to Lively’s presence but instead causing disruptions in the Westtown rotations, even if the assist totals don’t show it.
Dereck Lively II (above) had 30 points and 14 rebounds as Westtown beat Perkiomen. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Dereck Lively II (2022 | Westtown School)
The No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2022, Lively is more than just a long-term buy; his ability to impact a game at the high school level is second to none. The 7-1 forward made that clear within the first few minutes of Westtown’s win with a thunderous put-back slam, a couple blocks, a few steals, and a smooth-as-can-be catch-and-shoot 3-pointers that found nothing but net. That was the start to a 30-point, 14-rebound, six-steal, four-block outing from the future Duke Blue Devil, a one-man wrecking crew at both ends of the floor. His opening-game burst aside, Lively was most impressive in the stretch of the second half when Westtown pulled away, with post-up buckets on three straight possessions, including a few right-hand hooks followed by an off-hand take that was the perfect counter. Has all the tools to be successful at the highest level following his current trajectory.
Ethan Meuser (2022 | Hill School)
A transplant from Northeast Pennsylvania doing his prep year at Hill, Meuser is a 6-8 combo forward who’ll be playing his college ball in the Northeast-10 Conference, one of the best in Division II, at Stonehill College (Mass.). It certainly looks like the Wyoming Seminary product is making the most of his post-grad year, as he was effective inside and out in the Hill’s loss to Phelps. Meuser was 10-of-21 from the floor, ending up with the ball in his hands late in shot clock situations as he was forced into some awkward 3-point attempts (1-8 3PT). He was certainly effective from within 15 feet, with a couple turnaround jumpers, post-up scores and second-chance buckets, with three of his nine rebounds coming on the offensive end; he also had five assists and two steals.
Trey O’Neil (2024 | Hill School)
O’Neil’s smooth court abilities were on display, as the 6-3 lead guard played a confident game until fouling out in the final seconds. O’Neil scored 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-7 from downtown, but it was his passing that really earned him this standout mention. O’Neil had nine assists, leading a Hill attack that had 26 assists on 34 baskets, and also grabbed six rebounds. He was constantly getting into the lane and made terrific passes to Meuser and Gerhart for finishes, found shooters for spot-up opportunities, or put up contested layups at the rim knowing his bigs could finish things off.
Quin Berger (2022 | Westtown School), Jameel Brown (2022 | Westtown School), Josh Cameron (2023 | Hill School), Graham Eilberg (2022 | Hill School), SJ Hutchinson (2022 | Phelps School), Saleem Payne (2023 | Phelps School), Sam Pohlman (2022 | Perkiomen School), Seyphon Triplett (2023 | Westtown School), Anthony Wise (2022 | Hill School)