WEST CHESTER — A couple dozen local high school boys’ basketball teams gathered at West Chester University’s South Campus on Tuesday evening as the WCU Summer League began its playoffs with everybody in action. CoBL was on site to take in the competitive offseason action.
Below is a notebook with information on a few of the teams and players that participated in the first and second round of the league’s playoffs.
Kapp, chemistry charging the Bears
Coming off a disappointing 2-8 record in the PAC’s Liberty division, Boyertown is using this summer to help prepare for their championship quest in 2022-23. In the first round of the West Chester University Summer League playoffs, Boyertown beat Pope John Paul II on the back of some strong play from a crop of seniors. Led by an 11-point second-half from Jake Kapp, the Bears pulled out a 53-46 victory.
Jake Kapp (above) leads a strong group of seniors on Boyertown. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Kapp is one of several rising seniors on this Boyertown team, many of whom have been playing together since elementary school; now they have their eyes set on a league title.
“We definitely have the talent for [to win a league championship], and we definitely have the chemistry for it,” Kapp said, “These guys, I’ve been playing with them forever, since I started playing basketball, and we all have been close friends for a while now.”
Outside of Kapp, this Bears team brings back Zach Ward, Dylan Klass and Ryan Tinney, all rising seniors and will be significant contributors to the 2022-23 Bears team. But Kapp’s ability to score will be vital to Boyertown’s success next season, just as it was on Tuesday night.
“I mean, he’s always been able to score,” Ward, who also plays AAU with Kapp, said, “But over the years, he’s gotten better playmaking and defending, and now he’s one of the best defenders in the league and scorer too.”
In Tuesday night’s game, Kapp showcased his improved game inside the arc, as he found a lot of success with his back to the basket or finishing in traffic. When he was posted up, the 6-2 Kapp could get enough space from his defender spinning right and knocking down fadeaways or jump hooks.
Kapp plays with Eastern PA Elite during the AAU season and has been using the summer to become a more versatile player off-the-dribble. While also dedicating time to improving as a defender because that’s a skill he needs to improve on if he wants to play at the next level.
Kapp has received some interest from Penn State Harrisburg and DeSales, but he has plenty of time over the summer and during the school year to generate more buzz around his name. But the next step for the Bears and him is Wednesday when they take on Downingtown West in the quarterfinals of the summer league playoffs. — Jerome Taylor
Price brings multi-sport effort for WC East
Moments after West Chester East held off Upper Merion for a 42-39 victory in the opening round, rising junior Ryan Price dashed to his car and headed to his school’s baseball field.
His travel baseball team, PA Rebels, held a practice in the evening, and Price made sure not to miss it — at least not the whole thing — before his next basketball game only an hour later.
“It’s always hard to balance both sports,” Price said. “I do the best I can to make everything I can. I just love to compete. Whenever I can come play, I always do and I play hard while I do it.”
His competitive spirit comes through at all times for Price, whether it’s on the basketball court, in the outfield or in the right-handed batter’s box. His effort level maximizes his performance in both sports, and his toughness endears him to teammates while helping his teams on the margins during games.
“I think it’s just my heart,” he said. “I just love to try to outplay other people.”
That showed as Price made his way back to WCU for the Vikings’ second playoff game of the day. Although WC East ultimately fell 64-44 to Salesianum, Price displayed how effective he could be as a key role player this upcoming season.
In addition to seeking out and knocking down 3-point shots on the perimeter, he made it a point to track down loose balls and outmuscle others for rebounds on the offensive and defensive ends. Those two skillsets — outside shooting and securing extra possessions — make Price a complementary fit around the more focal points of this Vikings squad, rising sophomore guard K.J. Cochran, who missed the game due to football practice himself, and rising seniors Jack Kushner and Jack Gallagher as they look to repeat as Ches-Mont League champions for the fourth straight season.
“Whenever the ball goes up,” Price said, “I always have the mindset that I’m going to be the one to get that board. In baseball, it definitely helps having physical strength, too. I just try to push my way through, just be rough.”
Now that WC East is eliminated from the WCU summer league playoffs, Price will have a break from basketball for a couple weeks. His time will be occupied with his other passion as he heads down to Georgia for a travel baseball tournament hosted by Prep Baseball Report at LakePoint Sports.
But that doesn’t mean hoops won’t cross his mind.
“It’s always like, ‘Man, I love to play basketball,’” Price said. “And then, ‘Man, I love to play baseball.’ It’s just always back and forth.” — Ty Daubert
Harriton picks up some momentum at West Chester
After a 7-1 record clinched the one seed in the West Chester Summer League playoffs, Harriton got out to a slow start against Unionville, falling behind 17-2 in the first half. The Rams would eventually tighten the score but couldn’t overcome the deficit as they lost 37-42.
(Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The Rams did show promise, however, specifically from rising senior Aiden Abrams and rising junior Marquis Kubish (above).
“I think we have a new culture,” Abrams said. “We’re a lot grittier than last year.”
Abrams’ quickness allows him to get downhill, and he has a strong frame that helps him absorb contact and finish well around the rim. The 5-10 guard also uses his athleticism on the defensive end, where he skied to block a jump shot in Tuesday’s matchup against Unionville. Last summer, he played AAU with K-Low Elite, but this summer, he’s heading to Israel to represent the USA in the Maccabi 3-on-3 games.
And once the season starts back up, he’s hoping to showcase more of his playmaking ability, as he’ll be heading up the point guard position for Harriton in 22-23, where he’ll be looking to get the ball to Kubish, fellow senior Jack Chadcowski and others.
Unquestionably, a lot of those plays will be finished by Kubish. The rising junior will have plenty of opportunities to finish plays, whether off of cuts or transition opportunities he creates for himself with his defense. In the comeback effort on Tuesday, he had three second-half steals.
The 6-2 guard is using his summer with Gibbs Elite to develop shooting, to pair with his off-ball cutting instincts.
The Rams will only have four returning players this upcoming season: Kubish, Abrams, Chadcowski, and rising junior Jadyn Gaskins. Those four and Harriton’s newcomers will have to step up if they want to fulfill their district champion aspirations.
“Our core four we all have experience now,” Abrams said. “We all know what to do to end the games and what to do in certain situations… and I think that’s really going to help us this year.” — Jerome Taylor
— After Julian Sadler was a crucial member of Perkiomen Valley’s rotation as a sophomore this past season, the Vikings believe the guard can take a step up as a junior.
Sadler’s older brother, Vance, was a senior leader on Perk Valley’s team this past year. Julian Sadler credited the opportunity to play and learn alongside his brother as a reason he can handle a bigger leadership role in the future.
“Me and him having that chemistry definitely helped us,” he said. “And having that chemistry is going to be able to help me pick up a new role.”
His on-court development was apparent on Tuesday as well as he led a 55-53 comeback win over Downingtown East, taking defenders off the dribble and setting up teammates for jumpers. Perk Valley later fell to Chester 56-49.
— Downingtown East’s Connor Shanahan is always looking to get others the ball. The rising senior point guard is a creative passer, fitting the ball through tight windows to hit rollers, firing it to cutters with just his left hand and finding shooters off the bounce.
However, sharing the ball the way Shanahan does is even more important when trying to work in new players, which is what the Cougars are doing this summer. Shanahan and Micah Hill are the only returning starters for D-town East. For now, the team is cycling younger players around the two, with the engine of its offense looking to get everyone acclimated.
“I like to get people involved because it opens up the floor,” Shanahan said. “Getting guys open shots, it’ll be good because during the season I’ll have the ball a lot, and getting them open looks will be good.”
— Having lost six seniors to graduation, Bishop Shanahan coach John Dougherty is searching for the right blend players to plug into his system.
“Our program is based on fundamentals and sharing the ball,” he said. “That’s what we have to do. We have really good players, we have great young guys, we have role players and they’ll continue to get better. We’re laying the foundation for the winter season.”
Dougherty described his offense as mostly positionless with many players being able to shoot from the outside or penetrate off the dribble. Finding a rotation of players who can keep things rolling, stretching the floor while staying effective on the drive, will be one of the big developments of the summer.
Although Bishop Shanahan lost to William Penn 50-37 at West Chester, Dougherty was pleased with the progress of his team. Once the season comes around, the coach believes a core of Charley Federico and Ben Rodner-Tims, Roman Alexander and Ben Snyder, all rising seniors, can provide what’s needed on the perimeter to surround point guard Logan Kapczynski and big man Kevin Scaggs.
“Our team’s coming together,” Dougherty said. “The more we can learn as a group, the more comfortable they’ll be out on the court.” — Ty Daubert