Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
When Clyde Jones started working with Mazen Sayed six years ago, he knew he was working with his future point guard. It wasn’t long after Jones had resigned from his position at Girard College and took the head job at Chichester that he met Sayed, whose older brother Adam was on Jones’ first Chi squads, and it was clear that the younger brother was one to watch.
“We always knew,” the Eagles’ sixth-year coach said. “He’s been our point guard since freshman year — I didn’t give it to him, I wanted him to earn it, I wanted to see him dominate the JV level and so it took him some time, but once he got it…”
Mazen Sayed (above) and Chichester beat Council Rock North on Monday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Now Mazen Sayed is leading the way for a senior-laden Chichester, which has eyes on a successful season after achieving something of a breakthrough a year ago. He’s their leading scorer and leads the team in minutes, steals and assists, and their no-doubt most valuable player, traits he all showed during a 50-39 win over Council Rock North on Monday night.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound point guard finished with a team-high 13 points and four assists, with four rebounds and a steal, as the Eagles moved to 3-2 on the season, above .500 for the first time since the abbreviated 2021 season.
“It’s our last year, so we’ve got to play like it’s our last game, every game,” he said. “Just have to, in tight games, relax on offense and take our time, get the shot we want.”
Chichester played frontrunner most of the way, leading slightly at the end of the first (17-13), second (28-25) and third (40-37) quarters before putting it away in the fourth. Sayed had a couple of the biggest plays down the stretch, including threading the needle to classmate Vince Wildrick for a layup to make it a nine-point game with five minutes left, and both ends of a 1-and-1 with 32 seconds left to keep the edge at nine, effectively sealing the win.
All game long, he was getting into the teeth of the Council Rock North (2-1) defense, finishing with perhaps not his most efficient night from the floor (3-12 FG), but hitting all seven of his foul shots, making a few impressive moves with the ball in his hands.
“He sees the floor extremely well,” Jones said. “He makes passes that we don’t even see — sometimes it goes off the kids’ hands because of that — but his vision, he’s savvy, he competes on both ends.
Sayed (above) leads the Eagles in points, assists, steals and minutes. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“He’s really, really the key to us continuing to play as well [as we are],” he continued. “When he’s out of the game, you notice there’s a shift. We’re still trying to develop someone to spell him at the point for a few minutes, so I can get him off the ball some and so I can get him some rest.”
Sayed is the youngest of three children of Heytham and Jackie Sayed, his father an Egyptian immigrant who Mazen said played for the Egypt U-17 team some time ago but emigrated to America, where he eventually met his wife; the two have a restaurant and ice cream parlor in Delaware County.
While it was the elder Sayed who got his sons into the sport, Mazen’s love of the game came from watching his older brother, going to Adam’s middle school practices when he was only eight years old.
“I knew I wanted to (play basketball after high school),” he said. “I loved basketball all my life.”
It was clear from Sayed’s outing on Monday why the head coaches from Immaculata and Penn State-Abington were there to see Sayed; those two and Alvernia are the three schools Sayed mentioned as being most involved in his recruitment.
“Me and my coaches’ relationship are the biggest priority,” he said. “Those three have really been talking to me, contacting me every day, seeing how I’m doing.”
Immaculata and PSU-Abington weren’t the only coaches there that night, Arcadia and Albright were also in the building, a number of college prospects on both rosters. That includes Sayed’s classmates, twins Akhir Keys (10 points) and Zaiyin Keys (8 points) and Wildrick (5 points), while reserve forward Eyan Thomas (3 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals) is a scholarship-level football recruit.
All of them are back from a year ago, a senior class (including starting forward DJ Anderson) that’s been the core of Chichester since the end of their sophomore seasons, all of them starters a year ago, Thomas and Anderson splitting starts up front.
Sayed (above, middle) goes up for a shot against Council Rock North. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The Eagles won only nine regular-season games in 2021-22, but they qualified for the District 1 5A tournament as the 12th (and final) seed, then upset Penncrest in the first round and Sun Valley in play-backs to sneak into the state tournament as the sixth (and final) team from the district; it was the program’s first-ever state tournament appearance.
Finishing 11-15 (4-4 Del-Val League) with a 27-point loss to Imhotep in the opening round of the PIAA Class 5A tournament was a step forward, but not exactly a banner-worthy season.
With all those pieces back, Chichester’s aiming for the top of the Del-Val, which has typically belonged to either Chester or Penn Wood, the latter of which Jones guided to a state title in 2009. And a successful Del-Val and regular season means a good spot in the district tournament, a chance to win a few more games and not have to face Imhotep in the opening round again.
There’s also no doubt that the Eagles want to finally give the school a reason to change that banner, but they’re also not going into league play — which doesn’t start until mid-January — thinking they’re just going to walk to a title. Both powerhouses have plenty back in the fold, Chester returning three starters from its District 1 5A champs and Penn Wood adding Nasir Washington to Mekhi Shillingsford and Sadiq Fountain.
“We shouldn’t be league favorites until we earn a league championship outright,” Jones said, which would be quite an accomplishment on its own, the league championship banner in Chichester’s gym not updated since 1993. “You look at Chester and Penn Wood, they’re both back with super-talented teams, they play with a hunger and thirst that we’re trying to get there.
“We’re not the favorites, and we want to keep it that way. When it’s that time, they’ll earn whether or not they’re Del-Val favorites.”
“Just watch out for Chichester,” Sayed said. “That’s all I’m saying.”
Chichester: 17 | 11 | 12 | 10 || 50
CR North: 13 | 12 | 12 | 2 || 39
Chichester: 16-50 FG (7-22 3PT), 11-13 FT
CR North: 13-42 FG (6-28 3PT), 7-8 FT
Chichester: Sayed 13, A. Keys 10, Z. Keys 8, Gordy 6, Wildrick 5, Thomas 3, Clay 2, Anderson 1
CR North: Mahtat 14, J. Blum 6, Schaefer 6, Rodowicz 5, Oxley 5, L. Blum 3