CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The first weekend of Philly Live 2022 took over the area's grassroots scene, with more than 100 teams participating between Friday, Saturday and Sunday action at Jefferson University and Saturday's games at St. Joseph's Prep.
The CoBL staff was on hand all weekend long 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 four short “featurettes” on local high school teams who were in action on Saturday and Sunday:
Devon Prep retooling after state title run
Last season, Devon Prep captured the first state title in program history when they defeated Aliquippa 76-58 in late March. While key starters IV Pettit (Phelps School) and Allen Cieslak (Susquehanna) depart the program due to graduation, Jason Fisher’s squad brings back plenty of talent.
Devon Prep's Jacen Holloway is one of the top returners from last season's PIAA Class 3A title team. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Returning rising seniors Lucas Orchard and Jacen Holloway, as well as rising junior and two-year starting point guard Ty Mishock will return to the starting lineup for Devon Prep and will carry over that experience from last year’s state title team.
“We have a lot of guys back, we return a lot of production, coming off a state championship we want to just be able to keep that going,” Orchard said.
While Roman Catholic, Archbishop Wood, and Neumann-Gorretti might still be viewed as the perennial favorites in the league, Devon Prep put the league on notice, finishing fourth in the PCL two years ago and making that Class 3A state championship run in 2022 after a seventh-place finish in the PCL. Orchard, along with his teammates and coaches, know they have the attention of the rest of the league after being an afterthought upon their arrival four years ago.
“Last year, nobody thought outside of our team that Devon Prep was going to be good, but we were able to surprise people,” Orchard said. “But, nobody is going to be surprised anymore — so we have to be ready to get everyone's best shot.”
In Saturday’s 68-51 victory over Episcopal (Fl.), Orchard led the way, dropping an efficient 35 points, including hitting four shots behind the arc. Mishock controlled the tempo, took care of the ball, and executed the offense; Holloway, who recently picked up an offer from Division II Chestnut Hill, did a lot of the dirty work inside and finished around the bucket a few times en route to 11 points. With Pettit and Cieslak gone, 6-4 rising sophomore wing Zane Conlon will step into a much-expanded role, as will senior guard Tyler Scarpulla and sophomore wing Reece Craft, who’s got good upside as well at 6-5.
The Tide don’t have the top end talent or athleticism as some of the other schools in the PCL, but they play super-unselfish basketball and do all the little things right to find ways to stack wins on wins.
“It is never about just one person,” Orchard said. Everyone is really unselfish and makes the extra pass and is looking to get their teammates going. We just try to do whatever it takes to win and that is what is so great about playing with this team.”
With Orchard, Holloway, and Mishock leading the way, the Tide have their eyes on making a run to the Palestra and continuing to build on the successful program they have established in their time at the Main Line school. — Ryan Coyle
Cheltenham ready to roll with new(ish) cast once again
Reloading and retooling has been no problem for Cheltenham and fifth-year coach Pat Fleury. Whether to graduation or transfer, Fleury has typically had turnover on his roster. The results, however, have maintained the same.
Cheltenham 2025 guard Josiah Hutson is ready to lead a new-look Panthers' group in 2022-23. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Fleury has one of his toughest tasks to date this offseason after graduating eight players.
If early results are any sign, 2022-23 should be no different for the Panthers, who rolled to wins over Unionville and Sanford (De.) this weekend at Philly Live I.
“They all go through it,” Fleury said. “JV, we keep the same expectation with all our groups. We should be good again.
“We’ll be younger this year, but we have the same expectation for sure.”
That expectation is to compete for a District 1 championship and beyond — something the Panthers have done since Fleury took over.
Cheltenham lost a state play-in game in triple overtime during Fleury’s first season in 2019. Since then they’ve been a No. 3 seed or higher in the District 1 tournament in all three seasons, reaching the championship, quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Rising sophomore guard Josiah Hutson (5-9) was the star in Sunday’s win over Sanford (De.) and Fleury has high hopes for his career. 2023 Brandon Bush, 2024 Kevin Addison and 2024 Kamani Healey — whose older brother Kyin also starred in a Cheltenham uniform — are other returners who impressed this weekend.
Like always, the Panthers will have a handful of others ready to contribute to a playoff run by the time the start of the season and postseason roll around.
“It’s going to be a grind for sure,” Fleury said. “We don’t bring in any kids or anything like that, so it’s just going to be getting back to grit and grind.”
“We usually get a lot of kids who don’t have (recognized) names who step in and play hard and then they start making names,” he added. “We’re more about development more than anything. For us, it’s going to be a lot about the cohesion, a lot about the sacrificing.” — Owen McCue
New faces impress for Roman
Last year Roman Catholic relied heavily on Daniel Skillings (Cincinnati) and Khalil Farmer (Hofstra) en route to capturing the PIAA 6A championship. But now, those two are gearing up for the first season of collegiate basketball, which means the Cahillities will have to field a new crop of talent in 2022-23 — a lengthy crop at that.
Anthony Finkley leads the new frontcourt group. The 6-foot-7 Saint Joseph’s commit transferred to Roman from West Catholic by way of Huntington Prep (W.Va.) last season but was not granted eligibility, so this will be his first year playing with the Cahillites. Finkley's point-forward style makes the Cahillites extremely dangerous in the front court, especially when you consider he has another 6-7 wing in Nelson Lamizana running the break with him.
Lamizana, a rising junior, is transferring in from West Chester Henderson and has battled injuries during his high school career. First, he was sidelined during his whole freshman year due to a knee injury, and then he had to overcome an ankle injury at the tail end of his sophomore season. But when he is on the floor, he’s a versatile scoring option, evidenced by his 10-point outing on Sunday against Don Bosco, which saw him score from both inside and out.
“I’m getting more confident,” Lamizana said of gelling with his new teammates. “We’re all still getting to know each other, so the collab is only going to get better.”
Those two will join rising sophomore Shareef Jackson, one of the more promising underclassmen around, in a frontcourt that’s going to give opponents fits.
In the backcourt, senior Xzayvier Brown still leads the Cahillites, and junior Toby Ojukwu flanks him. But now that backcourt has more firepower, thanks to incoming transfer Jermai Stewart-Herring. Herring played at St. Elizabeth’s in Delaware last year, where he was named second-team all-state as a junior.
The new influx of talent combined with Roman’s returners should once again make Roman a top contender in the always competitive PCL. — Jerome Taylor
St. Joe's Prep's rising sophomore Jaron McKie shoots the ball Sunday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Young Prep team still maturing
Last year’s St. Joseph’s Prep team finished 2-11 in PCL play, and this year’s team intends to show they’ve grown up since then. Even though there isn’t a senior on the roster, the young group is showing signs that they’re growing up.
On Sunday against Downingtown West, rising sophomore Jaron McKie dropped 17 points and got some assistance from rising junior big man Tristen Guillouette who added ten points. But ultimately, the Hawks fell short thanks to a buzzer-beater by senior Dylan Blair.
As a freshman, McKie scored the most points on the team last year (237), and Guillouette thinks it was just the beginning for the 6-3 guard.
“He’s only a sophomore, and he’s doing some things I don’t think some seniors could do,” Guillouette said. “He’s really mature for his age, and he’s taking some people by surprise.”
Despite the result on Sunday, Hawks head coach Jason Harrigan sees improvement coming from his youthful squad.
“Collectively, I think they’re all growing as a unit,” Harrigan said. “They’re still young, so there’s still some things they have to do better, get a little tougher, rebound the ball better, but they’re playing the right way, and it’s good to see that.” — Jerome Taylor