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New-look Westtown, Payne-led Peddie prevail at Westtown Invitational

11/19/2022, 12:15am EST
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

Those who became familiar with last year’s Westtown boy basketball team may have not recognized many faces Friday night.

There was no 7-foot-1 Derick Lively (Duke) to play through and about 80 percent of last season’s rotation was gone as well. The way the new-look Moose, infused with a group of young talent, played was a bit different as well.

Westtown got up and down the floor and lit it it up from deep (14 threes) in an 84-61 win over West Nottingham (Md.) to officially open their season in the first round of the Westtown Invitational.

“It’s a lot different,” Westtown senior wing Matt Mayock said. “Last year, we liked to try and control the tempo and everything, but this year we want to get up and down as much as we can, shoot a lot of threes. We kind of wanted to play slow and work through our big and all that (last year).”

Westtown 2023 wing Matt Mayock scored 22 points on Friday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Senior guard Se’yphon Triplett (Stonehill) and Mayock (American) are the only holdovers from last season, both in the rotation in 2021-22 but complementary pieces.

Mayock poured in 22 points on Friday night, burying six threes in the victory. He said he had one or two 20-point efforts last season, but the Division I-bound sharpshooter can get the looks he was getting Friday night expect a few more before season’s end.

“This year I’m more of a first option,” Mayock said. “Last year, I was more of a fourth or fifth option. It’s a lot better just trying to lead the guys and show them how to do things.”

Mayock’s effort was matched by one of the newcomers, 2025 guard Jayden Forsythe. The 6-foot-4 combo guard from Brooklyn, N.Y. came off the bench and hit five threes in his 22-point outing.

“Me personally, I just do whatever it takes to win,” Forsythe said. “Some games it’s going to be playing defense, rebounding. Whatever I need to do to win, that’s what I’m going to do.”

West Nottingham post-grad guard T.J. Vaughn had the hot hand for his team, scoring 19 of his 25 points (six threes) in the first half to keep his team in the game. 

The two teams exchanged the leads a handful of times in the first half before Mayock and Forsythe got going from deep to give Westtown a 39-31 advantage after 20 minutes. 

Westtown 2025 wing Malik Rasul scored 11 second-half points in Friday's win. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Forsythe had another hot stretch during the second half, and 2025 wing Malik Rasul scored all 11 of his points after the break as Westtown pulled away. Triplett added 10.

“We’ve got multiple guys off the bench who can do that,” Mayock said of Forsythe’s big effort. “I know if I have a bad game I know there’s somebody off the bench who can pick me up. Or if another starter’s having a bad game, I know the guys on the bench got us.”

Even with 6-foot-11 junior forward Matt Gilhool on the floor, the Moose kept their foot on the gas throughout the contest, getting up and down the court. Rasul played a major role in turning defense into offense.

“We’re going to get it after it on offense, defense, push the ball up the court,” Forsythe said.

Westtown will get two more chances this weekend to see how it fares against external competition. The Moose play Peddie School in the semifinal on Saturday at 6 p.m. and then will either play Rocktop Academy or Compass Academy on Sunday.

“We’re just excited to play,” Mayock said. “We’ve been practicing since August. Just finally getting out here to show out like we did, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Peddie School 2024 guard Noah Payne had 40 points on Friday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Payne fits in quickly with Peddie

It didn’t take long for Noah Payne to fit in at the Peddie School.

The former Eastern (N.J.) made the move to the MAPL program this fall and he said new teammates Raja and Nyle Coleman helped him become part of the Peddie ‘family’ right away.

“The twins did a great job,” Payne said. “As soon as they brought me in first day, basically, they had me in the gym working out doing jump shots. A lot of credit to them.”

Along with the shared camaraderie with his new teammates, Payne also said the defense from the Coleman twins in practice everyday prepped him for his Peddie debut.

That showed on Friday night as the Falcons went to Payne again and again in a back-and-forth track meet with Tri-State Prep that ended in a 112-108 victory. The 6-foot-1 guard poured in 40 points. It was just short of his career-high, which he said is 41.

“I’m happy about the win to be honest,” Payne said. “That’s all I care about. I told us at halftime, ‘I could have two points in the second half. I don’t care.’ We came out with the dub. Our defense could have been a lot better, that’s something to improve on, but we got a win.”

Tri-State Prep postgrad E'saim Starchia goes up for a shot Friday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Nyle Coleman added 24 points and Zach Davis added 21 points, including a clutch and-one in the game’s final minute to help hold off Tri-State, which was led by a 36-point effort from postgrad Karell Watkins (Chester). 

“That was our first game,” Payne said. “I didn’t play in the summer,” Payne said. “I transferred kind of late, and that chemistry was still there.”

Payne re-classified to the Class of 2024 when he transferred to Peddie. He said he still hasn’t received the interest from college coaches he wants, but he’s ready for the challenge the higher level of hoops will present this season.

“It was an adjustment at first coming from Eastern,” Payne said. “The facilities were great. The weight lifting was tough. I knew I was going to have to get bigger, I was going to have to get stronger faster.”

“I’m living in the moment,” he added. “If I do what I have to do. I’m going to get as much as I can. … I’m looking forward to winning games, being a team. That’s all I’m worried about.”

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