Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
The first part of the 2022-23 Division III basketball season is nearly over, most schools wrapping up their non-league slates and getting into conference play, or are just a couple games away from doing so. With most of the area’s teams taking a couple weeks off due to finals and holidays, we figured this was a good time to update our area rankings.
Considering the general lack of games over the next few weeks, our next update will be in four weeks: Jan. 9, 2023.
(Ed. Note: A reminder that CoBL's Division III coverage area includes from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, up to State College and over to the Lehigh Valley).
Others to watch
Bryn Athyn (4-3, 0-0 CSAC), Cairn (5-4, 0-0 CSAC), Delaware Valley (5-5, 2-2 MAC Freedom), Franklin & Marshall (5-3, 2-1 Centennial), Gettysburg (4-4, 1-2 Centennial), Lycoming (6-4, 2-1 MAC Freedom), PSU-Harrisburg (4-4, 1-0 United East)
10. Lancaster Bible Chargers (Last Week: 10)
Record: 4-3, 1-0 United East
Last Two Weeks: vs. Neumann (W, 63-59), vs. Penn College (W, 88-66), vs. Albright (L, 88-72), vs. Cabrini (W, 87-76)
The Chargers are hanging onto their spot in the rankings by a thread, but their win over Neumann was good enough to keep them around for two more weeks, with No. 5 Randolph-Macon next up between the holidays. Eight different players have started at least one game for the Chargers, as only two have started all seven: Christian Academy alum Grant Sareyka (16.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Adam Stolzfus (11.3 ppg, 11.0 rpg), who had a 24-point,, seven-rebound game against Cabrini, the first time this season he didn’t grab double-digit boards. Coming on strong of late has been 6-7 junior Andrew Zentner, averaging 16.3 ppg over his last four, with a 19-point, 11-rebound outing against Cabrini.
Next Up: @ Randolph-Macon (Dec. 29), neutral vs. Rowan/Maryville (Dec. 30), @ Elizabethtown (Jan. 4), vs. PSU-Berks (Jan. 7)
Darrion Harris (above) missed the last four games with an injury, but PSU-Abington has continued to win. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
9. PSU-Abington Nittany Lions (LW.: OTW)
Record: 7-3, 2-0 United East
Last Two Weeks: @ Immaculata (W, 61-55), vs. Morrisville State (W, 64-58), vs. St. Mary’s (Md.) (W, 71-62), vs. Salisbury (L, 86-71), @ Bryn Athyn (W, 54-42)
It’s Ryan Van Zelst’s first appearance in the rankings, as his Lions are winners of six of their last seven, including four of five since our last update and their first two conference games, both at home. They’ve continued to win even without leading scorer Darrion Harris (20.3 ppg), who went down with an foot sprain three minutes into the game against Immaculata, interrupting a breakout season; he’s expected to be back by the time they resume play. Chester alum Brian Randolph III (13.0 ppg) has scored in double figures in each of the last three, and Boyertown alum Alex Salata III (12.5 ppg) has scored 18 points in two of the last four. They’ve got almost a month off now before a trip to Cairn ends non-league play.
Next Up: Cairn (Jan. 2), @ PSU-Berks (Jan. 6), @ PSU-Harrisburg (Jan. 7)
8. Widener Pride (LW: 5)
Record: 6-4 overall, 2-2 MAC Commonwealth
Last Two Weeks: @ Alvernia (W, 78-76), vs. Messiah (W, 66-58), vs. Stevenson (L, 63-48), @ Eastern (L, 87-80)
The Pride hath fallen a few spots after taking a couple losses this week, shooting only 31% from the floor in a loss to Stevenson and then giving up 52 second-half points to Eastern; they’re now 3-4 over their last seven, though all of those losses were to good teams. Susquehanna grad transfer Dominic Dunn has stepped right in as their best player (17.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg), leading them in multiple categories, while four others (Pat Holden, Kevin Schenk, Steven Matlack, Kenny Lewis) are averaging between 8.6 and 12.0 ppg. They’re doing a great job defensively, holding opponents to shooting 38.8% overall and 28.1% from the 3-point arc, with a +3.7 advantage on the boards. Two winnable non-league games are on tap before a long break through the New Year, after which MAC Commonwealth play resumes in full.
Next Up: vs. Centenary (N.J.) (Dec. 12), @ Marywood (Dec. 15), @ Hood (Jan. 7)
7. Neumann Knights (LW: 7)
Record: 9-3 overall, 0-0 Atlantic East
Last Two Weeks: @ Lancaster Bible (L, 63-59), vs. Salisbury (W, 71-66), vs. Rosemont (W, 86-64), vs. Washington College (W, 89-64), @ Susquehanna (W, 76-68)
Neumann had a busy last couple weeks, losing at LBC but bouncing back nicely with four straight wins, capping off an opening month of the season that’s rarely seen them get more than a couple days between games, though the Knights have weathered it well. Now they get nearly four weeks off before one final non-league game and then the start of Atlantic East play, where they’re set up as conference favorites based on the non-league. One of the area’s top players, Jalen Vaughns (23.9 ppg, 9.9 rpg), is on a tear and shooting more than 60% from the floor, while Friends’ Central product T.J. Lewis (11.7 ppg) is also in double figures. Vaughns has scored 20+ in eight straight and all but two games this year, with a 34-point, 11-rebound effort on 16-19 shooting against Washington College.
Next Up: vs. Penn State-Lehigh Valley (Jan. 5), vs. Marywood (Jan. 7)
Malik Green (above) and Alvernia have a busy few weeks coming up. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
6. Alvernia Golden Wolves (LW: 4)
Record: 5-2 overall, 1-1 MAC Commonwealth
Last Two Weeks: vs. Widener (L, 78-76 OT), @ Stevenson (W, 82-65)
While many of the area’s teams will be largely resting up the next few weeks, Alvernia stays plenty busy, which makes sense considering they’ll only play four games from Nov. 12 until Dec. 14. The win over Stevenson saw both Malik Green (Simon Gratz) and Nigel Cooke (Spring-Ford) go for 20 points on a total of 23 shots, while it was freshman Jalil Schenck who led the way with 24 points off the bench in the OT loss to Widener, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:37 left for their final points. Alvernia’s doing a great job in the turnover department this season, forcing their opponents into 3.6 more turnovers per game (15.9) than they’re committing (12.3).
Next Up: @ York (Dec. 14), vs. Albright (Dec. 17), vs. Marywood (Dec. 19), neutral vs. Montclair State (Dec. 29), @ DeSales/vs. Ursinus (Dec. 30), vs. Eastern (Jan. 4), @ Lebanon Valley (Jan. 7)
5. DeSales Bulldogs (LW: OTW)
Record: 7-2, 4-0 MAC Freedom
Last Two Weeks: vs. King’s College (78-66), @ FDU-Florham (W, 74-49), vs. Wilkes (W, 71-67), vs. Misericordia (W, 77-58)
We had DeSales on the edge of being included last week, as they were 3-2 but the two losses were against ranked teams in Stockton and Swarthmore by a total of six points. But there’s no denying they belong well up the rankings after winning their last four, all league games, by an average of 15 points, hence the Bulldogs’ jump right into the top five. Scott Coval’s 30th team at DeSales is led by junior forward Elijah Eberly (14.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg), through four others are averaging more than 9.1 ppg: Jordan Holmqvist, Nate Ellis, Mason Barnes and Ryan Boylan, with Pennridge alum Christian Guildin (7.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg) their sixth man. Tough slate ahead for the Bulldogs, and we’ll know by early January if they truly deserve this spot.
Next Up: vs. Muhlenberg (Dec. 19), vs. Ursinus (Dec. 29), vs. Montclair State/Alvernia (Dec. 30), @ Lycoming (Jan. 4)
4. Eastern Eagles (LW: 3)
Record: 10-2 overall, 3-0 MAC Commonwealth
Last Two Weeks: @ Scranton (L, 88-82), vs. York (W, 76-59), @ Hood (W, 79-65), vs. Widener (W, 87-80)
The Eagles have played a whole lotta hoops in the first month of the season, their 12 contests tied with Neumann as more than any other program around, so it’s little wonder they’re taking nearly a month off before getting back to action as MAC Commonwealth play continues. There’s no shame in losing by six to Scranton, which is 8-0 on the season, and they picked up three good wins after that, including the big win over Widener, behind 24 points from Jaron Fairweather plus 18 each from Eljay Morris and O’Hara alum Kevin Reeves, a career-best effort from him in 22 minutes off the bench. They’ll be tested when they resume; four of their first six out of the break are on the road.
Next Up: @ Alvernia (Jan. 4), vs. Messiah (Jan. 7)
3. Ursinus Bears (LW: 1)
Record: 7-1 overall, 2-1 Centennial
Last Two Weeks: @ Muhlenberg (L, 69-65), @ McDaniel (W, 67-57), vs. Immaculata (W, 73-49)
The loss at Muhlenberg was enough to knock Ursinus from the top spot, a poor shooting day from deep (3-17) and the foul line (14-22) costing the Bears, who didn’t hit a shot in the final 3:17. But they bounced back nicely with the two wins, forcing 23 turnovers and grabbing 10 offensive rebounds at Immaculata to turn a five-point halftime lead into a blowout win. They’ve got three weeks to get ready for what will be a challenging pair of games at DeSales at the end of the month no matter who they play on the second day, and then it’s right onto league play. Sophomore forward Cole Grubbs (8.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg) has scored in double figures in four straight, and just had his first double-double of the season with 10 & 10 against Immaculata.
Next Up: @ DeSales (Dec. 29), neutral vs. Montclair State/Alvernia (Dec. 30), vs. Washington College (Jan. 4), vs. Gettysburg (Jan. 7)
Dan Gaines (above) and Muhlenberg are off to a 6-1 start this season. (Photo courtesy Muhlenberg Athletics)
2. Muhlenberg Mules (LW: 6)
Record: 6-1 overall, 2-1 Centennial
Last Two Weeks: vs. Ursinus (W, 69-65), @ Johns Hopkins (W, 84-77), vs. Drew (W, 84-61)
A five-point overtime loss to Swarthmore on Nov. 22 is what’s keeping the Mules out of the top spot, as they’re off to a terrific start, giving Ursinus its first loss and then beating a top-25 Hopkins team on the road. They’re being led by the duo of Dan Gaines (18.6 ppg) and Giovanni Rubino (17.9 ppg), who have also combined for 41 assists and only 30 turnovers. As a team, Muhlenberg’s shooting 39.5% from the 3-point arc, hitting more than nine 3’s per game, and went 12-of-26 from deep in the win over Drew. Senior forward Tommy McGuire (8.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg) also had his best game of the season in that one, with 14 points and 7 rebounds on 7-8 shooting. The two games in Washington before the New Year will be a challenge, with a quick turnaround before league play starts.
Next Up: @ DeSales (Dec. 19), @ Whitman (Dec. 29), @ Whitworth (Dec. 31), vs. Franklin & Marshall (Jan. 4), vs. McDaniel (Jan. 7)
1. Swarthmore Garnet (LW: 2)
Record: 8-1 overall, 1-0 Centennial
Last Two Weeks: vs. Haverford (W, 63-58), @ Dickinson (W, 84-47), vs. Susquehanna (W, 84-65)
The Garnet are on a five-game win streak following their only loss of the year, which combined with that Ursinus loss bumps them back up into the top spot, where they’ve spent plenty of time in recent memory. George Visconti, who our Ty Daubert profiled this week, put together a 24-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist performance in the win over Susquehanna, leaving him at 14.6 ppg and 5.6 rpg on the season, while shooting 51.1% overall and 43.3% from 3-point range. The next major test won’t come until Jan. 10 against Hopkins, but F&M is solid.
Next Up: vs. Immaculata (Dec. 30), @ McDaniel (Jan. 4), @ Franklin & Marshall (Jan. 7)