CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The first weekend of Philly Live 2022 tipped off Friday at Jefferson University, with all four courts going from 12 PM until well into the evening. The CoBL staff was on hand for every set, checking out a mix of some of the area’s local talent as well as some teams from the Mid-Atlantic and beyond who came to town to show off their stuff in front of dozens upon dozens of college coaches, from Division I through Division III and more.
Here’s a notebook featuring team coverage of some local high school squads from Friday’s action; we’ll also have a recruiting notebook and standouts on site this evening:
Seidman, Wiener stepping up for Haverford
There’s a much different expectation for Haverford High School this offseason, one built off the success of years before, but with a different twist this time around. The Fords have been making noise in the Central League for the last few seasons — first when current Franklin & Marshall standout John Seidman helped them get over the hump and into a winning mindset just ahead of the pandemic, and then again last year, Nick Colucci (Scranton) and J.R. Newman leading the way to a state tournament berth.
But even though all three are gone, and the Fords are going to be the least-proven they’ve been in quite some time, there’s no sense on the Haverford roster that their turn as a Central League contender has passed.
“I think we’re going to try to win the district finals and try to make states again and make a run,” rising senior Alex ‘Googie’ Seidman said after the Fords began Philly Live with a win over Mastery North. “It was really awesome last year. Coach [Keith] Heinerichs told us, let’s try to play in March.”
Seidman, John’s younger brother, has been a contributor to the Fords’ varsity roster when he was a 5-foot-6 freshman, a baby-faced 3-point specialist who wasn’t afraid to launch from deep. Now a solid 6-1 and certainly no longer looking like a middle schooler in a varsity uniform, he’s playing the best hoops of his life, picking up an offer from D-II West Chester this past week.
Still a strong outside shooter, Seidman has turned into a much more well-rounded guard, but he’s not a ball-dominant scorer, content to be a piece in Heinerichs’ team concept and stand out only when necessary.
“We’re just really trying to make a better team chemistry and really build a culture like we always have,” Seidman said. “I talked to my brother a lot [about leadership], because I know he had to do that pretty much all four years. He gave me a good feel of what it’s going to be like.”
Seidman’s one of two seniors returning to the starting lineup, along with 6-3 senior Tommy Wright, the team’s starting quarterback on the football field. Two more seniors, Brian Wiener and Kevin Gannon, will slide from reserve roles into the starting lineup; Wiener had 17 points with at least four rebounds and four assists against Mastery North, edging out Seidman’s 15 with similar auxiliary stats. Senior guard Gorman Bright and junior wing Jack Reach both look ready to play large varsity roles after JV experiences a year ago.
Not a team blessed with tons of size or outrageous athleticism, the Fords’ coaching staff knows that details matter, needing a team full of unselfish guards who are willing to dive on the floor for loose balls, make the extra pass, the right defensive shift. That’s how they won 19 games last year (13-3 Central), falling to Roman Catholic in the first round of the PIAA 6A Tournament.
“We’ve been working on it,” Wiener said. “We’ve got a lot of [offseason] games, so it’s easy to get those moments where I’m telling the guys to keep their heads up and stuff [...] [we still need to work on] moving without the ball, making winning plays, getting on the floor, especially the younger guys. They hesitate sometimes, and we’ve got to get that out of them.”
Bonner adjusting to new regime
Coming off a 10-11 season, including a 5-8 record in the PCL, Bonner-Prendergast is adjusting to new leadership under first-time head coach Billy Cassidy. After being named the new boss of the Friars in April to replace Kevin Funston, it has been a quick adjustment period for Cassidy and his team.
“It was a quick turn around once I got the job, because then we started playing games so it has been tough to get everything that we want,” Cassidy said. “But, for right now the focus is just getting the kids to constantly play hard and understanding other teams strategies and how we can attack that.”
The Friars have been buying into their new coach’s preachings, holding Central Bucks West to only 34 points in the Friars’ 15-point win on Friday afternoon. Bonner’s guards used their speed and quickness to pressure the ball in the halfcourt, making CB West’s guards uncomfortable at times and forcing turnovers.
Bonner is headlined by rising junior Touri “Deuce” Ketner, a 6-6 forward with Division I offers from Drexel, Albany, and Robert Morris. The athletic wing with tremendous upside likes what the new coaching staff has done to start this new era of Friars basketball.
“He came out and got our respect right away and you can tell he knows what he is doing,” Ketner said. “He immediately clicked with all the guys and has been getting us a lot better.”
Outside of Ketner, there isn’t another current Division I offeree on the roster, but guys like rising senior forward Brady Eagan, rising junior guard Jamal Hicks, and rising sophomore point guard Saiid Lee are strong players in their own right who will have a lot to do with how much success Bonner ultimately has during the 2022-23 season. Rising seniors Randy Cooper-Mukuro and Zach Coneys also figure to be key pieces in Cassidy’s rotation.
The experience these players were able to pick up last season served as a major learning point and Ketner, along with his teammates know what to expect in the always competitive PCL this upcoming season.
“If you come out slow and let some of these teams punch you in the mouth it’s over for you,” Ketner said. “You have to be ready to go right away.”
While the Friars might not have as much top end talent like Roman Catholic and Neumann-Goretti, the arrow appears pointing up for the program and Cassidy knows they will have to stake their claim on the defensive end of the floor to compete in the PCL this year and beyond.
“We hope to be able to have a strong defensive identity,” Cassidy said. “We want to be able to pressure the ball and make it tough for the opposing team to feel comfortable when we are on the defensive end of the floor. We have to be able to communicate, get through screens, and just play tough night in and night out.” — Ryan Coyle
— After securing their first trip to the PIAA state playoffs, Chichester is aiming to build on that success again next season. The Eagles will go as far as their core four takes them, in rising seniors Ahkir Keys, Zaiyin Keys, Mazen Sayed, and Vince Wildrick. All four played a major role in Chichester’s success last season, as well as their 80-70 victory over North Penn during the noon set on Friday afternoon.
A 6-2 forward, Wildrick led the Eagles in scoring dropping 23 points, knocking down three shots from beyond the arc. Zaiyin Keys set the tone defensively for Chichester, playing strong on the ball defense and helping the Eagles fast break offense get out and go off of turnovers. Ahkir Keys chipped in 17 points and Sayed had 18 points as well as a few nifty assists both in the halfcourt and transition.
Head coach Clyde Jones likes what he has seen out of his team this offseason and is hoping the experience of making the state playoffs last year carries over to help his veteran led squad this upcoming year.
“Anytime you can play in that type of game, that type of environment, it is really special and meaningful to get that experience,” Jones said. “You see that the game is taken to another level intensity wise. I hope it lit a fire under them and they have that hunger to get back again this year.” — Ryan Coyle
— Bensalem is coming off a strong season this past year where they earned a trip to the state playoffs and went 17-5 during the regular season. That resume also includes a 13-3 record in the Suburban One Patriot division en route to a league title. The Owls earned the No. 4 seed in the PIAA District One 6A playoff and advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Norristown. While Bensalem had a ton of success, they will now be without a large chunk of their offensive production due to graduation including first team all-league members Aaron Sanders and Jermery Rodriguez, as well as second-team member Allen Myers.
Leading the way for Ron Morris’ squad this year is his son, rising junior guard Antonio Morris, and rising senior guard Eric Gonzalez in the backcourt. Rising junior wing, Micah White provides athleticism and strong defense to the rotation as well. In a 67-48 win over Delcastle Tech (Del.) on Friday afternoon, Morris had at least 20 points, showing the ability to get to the rim and finish in traffic, while also knocking down a few outside shots.
With nobody on the roster listed taller than 6-3, the Owls’ biggest hurdle this year will be on the glass. They do a very good job of sharing the ball, spacing the floor, and playing unselfish team basketball which makes them a tough cover. It will be interesting to track the progress of this team after graduating their core group of players from their state playoff team last season. — Ryan Coyle
— SLA Beeber’s final game of Philly Live I ended in an epic comeback fashion against Neshaminy, coming away with a 48-47 victory in the closing seconds. Maurice Davis’s squad was down by multiple possessions late in the second half but made some key steals and stops late, leading to buckets and the eventual victory. The Rockets — who went 9-8 (6-3 Public League C) — were led by Sa’d Jamaladdior on Friday, a 5-10 rising junior guard who scored 15 points. Joining him with double figures was Amadou Dia with 10 points.
— This year’s Neshaminy team will look slightly different than last year’s squad that went 14-10 overall and 10-6 in the SOL Patriot, but there is still a lot of continuity. Two starters graduated (Evan Esposito and Kade Benjamin), leaving three returning starters in rising senior Sean Curley and rising juniors Nate Townsend and Emeer Coombs. Last year’s backup big man Joey Zack, who is now a 6-foot-4 rising senior, will move to a starting role next season with the fifth starting spot still to be determined. In Neshaminy’s first game of Philly Live, it was led by Curley, who had 18 points and did a terrific job getting to his spot near the freethrow line, Townsend, who had 12 points. Both Curley and Townsend did a terrific job facilitating as well. — Matthew Ryan
— Watched Conestoga put down a 59-17 drubbing of Phil-Mont Christian in the 1:10 PM set, playing under somewhat unusual circumstances this weekend. Longtime ‘Stoga head coach Mike Troy stepped down this past week after 16 years on the sidelines, so parent-coach Michael Scott, whose sons played for Conestoga several years back, was guiding the Pioneers this weekend. Rising sophomore guard Ben Robinson made a great first impression with a 14-point outing, making strong decisions with the ball, while seniors Aden Kim (9 points), Abe Dembele (11) and Niru Vikayakrishnan (12) all had their moments. It’ll be interesting to see who the Conestoga administration brings in to replace Troy, but it’s clear whoever it is will have some pieces to work with immediately upon arrival.
— Central Bucks East looked good in a 58-47 win over Timber Creek (N.J.), with a pair of seniors leading the way. Guard Joe Giordano dropped 19 points and Kyle Berndt added 11, and the two will be counted on to do a lot of heavy lifting this winter. The 6-5 Berndt is a long wing with outside-in scoring ability, but he’s a better rebounder and more physical than his lanky frame would suggest. Giordano, a 6-0 guard, has a terrific outside shot and showcased a floater and pull-up jumper as well, and he was also a pest on the defensive end. They’ve also got size in 6-5 sophomore Caleb Lyzinski and 6-3 junior Dhruv Mukund, plus 6-1 lefty Tyler Dandrea, who plays bigger than his frame and chipped in a solid eight points off the bench.
— Chester and Constitution were tight in the first half, but the Clippers found their rhythm after the break and dominated the second en route to a 86-64 win. Junior guard Kevin Rucker poured in 29 points to lead all scorers, getting a mix of mid-range jumpers, slashing layups and second-chance buckets, as well as a few alley-oop layups, typically from the hands of classmate Kyree Womack (14 points); senior guards Terrence Cobb (11 points) and Breilynd White (13 points) entered into double figures as well. Constitution got 14 points from junior Kyree Latimer, plus 13 points from junior wing and Cardinal O’Hara transfer Amir Speights, and 11 points (including three 3s) from senior guard Kervin Similien.
— Imhotep Charter and Bergen Catholic played the first big game of the weekend, coaches and fans ringing Court 3 for the powerhouse clash between the two national-level programs. And it certainly didn’t disappoint, with the ‘host’ Panthers coming away with a hard-fought, 45-43 win that’s exactly the kind Andre Noble likes to put his team through in preparation for another gauntlet of a season. Justin Edwards, the top-five rising senior wing, had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, missing a few shots he’d certainly like to make for a truly stellar outing but otherwise impressing with his ease and efficiency, including a few big-time dunks. Fellow rising senior Rahmir Barno had a strong game with 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Yahmir Satterfield battled well at both ends. Bergen had a big advantage in both size and length — rising freshman Chidi Nwigwe, a 6-7 wing, is certainly a name to know — but Imhotep toughed this one out, with its experience playing a big factor. — Josh Verlin
Tag(s): Home High School Scores + Standings Catholic League Bonner-Prendergast Central League Conestoga Haverford High Delaware Valley Chester Chichester Public League Public League A Constitution Imhotep Public League C SLA Beeber Suburban One SOL Colonial Central Bucks East SOL Patriot Bensalem Neshaminy