Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
The high school calendar is about to turn to full-time conference play, the rare non-league game still dotting the landscape but the vast majority of contests getting much more meaningful. Half of the area’s leagues, like the Suburban One, Central, and Bicentennial, have already started; others, like the Catholic League, Friends’ Schools, Inter-Ac boys and the Del-Val, have only had non-league games thus far.
Based on how things have shaken out in the non-league, here’s a brief look at just a few of the leagues on the boys’ side and and what we’ve learned so far, as well as which games are going to be crucial down the stretch:
Dock's Tony Washington goes up for a shot against Spring-Ford earlier this season. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Dock Mennonite (9-1, 4-0) and Calvary Christian (4-6, 4-0) are the only two teams to win their first four league games; Bristol (5-5, 3-1), Church Farm (4-2, 3-1), Delco Christian (4-3, 3-1) and MaST Charter (4-1, 2-1) are all one game back in the loss column. Dock, which has non-league wins over teams from the Suburban One (Souderton, Upper Dublin) and Pioneer Athletic (OJR, Phoenixville), in addition to a 28-point win at Delco Christian, certainly looks like the favorite, led by recent 1,000-point scorer Nathan Lapp. The Pioneers play MaST at home on Jan. 3, followed by trips to Bristol (Jan. 6) and Calvary (Jan. 10), and we’ll certainly know after that stretch if there’s a clear league front-runner or if it’ll come down to who plays best in the league’s playoffs.
There’s no doubt about it — Radnor’s the squad to beat. The Raptors are 9-0 (5-0 Central), with an impressive 15-point win over Archbishop Ryan, though they haven’t played any of their top league competition just yet. They’ll play a bunch of tough road games in January, including at Garnet Valley (8-2, 4-1) on Jan. 7, and at Lower Merion (8-1, 3-1) on Jan. 24. Win those two, and it’ll be tough for anyone else to catch them in the regular season, though they’ll still have to win a couple playoff games to take home the title. (Lower Merion and Garnet Valley play once more, Jan. 31 at Lower Merion; the Aces took the first matchup, 68-40 at Garnet). Both Lower Merino and Garnet have been strong this season, with Haverford (6-3, 3-2) beating LM earlier this season, so the league’s playoffs should be intense.
The American’s a little early into its league slate, as the six teams in the division have played either two or three games — except for Sun Valley (3-2, 2-2), which has played four. The leader and best team so far has been Unionville (8-1, 2-0), which has just a slight lead on Great Valley (5-4, 2-1), though the Longhorns beat the Patriots 55-40 in their only meeting, at Unionville last week. The return game is Jan. 26 at Great Valley; Rustin (3-6, 1-1), the only other one-loss team in the division, hosts Unionville on Jan. 24, but their overall record suggests they have some work to do. Unionville seems highly likely to be at least in the Ches-Mont semifinals come February, but who joins them is still very much up in the air. Rustin plays at Great Valley on Jan. 5 and hosts them on Jan. 31, and those games should matter quite a bit in that regard.
Jose Ramos, above, and West Chester East are in what appears to be a four-team race for the National Division. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The Ches-Mont’s national division is one of the most competitive leagues around, with three teams — Downingtown West (8-2), West Chester East (8-2) and Coatesville (6-4) — sitting at 3-1 in league play, with West Chester Henderson (6-2, 2-1) right there with them. Henderson’s only loss is to East, whose only loss is to Coatesville, whose only loss is to Downingtown West — whose only loss is to Henderson. Downingtown West was the only one of the four whose loss didn’t come on its home court, and while it has a road win over Coatesville under its belt, it still has to play East twice, at home (Jan. 10) and on the road (Feb. 2), with home games against Henderson (Jan. 17) and Coatesville (Jan. 19) in back-to-back games. Only two of these teams are going to make it to the Ches-Mont playoffs, though all four seem like locks to be in the District 1 5A/6A fields; right now, it’s too close (and early) to call. (East’s K.J. Cochran and Downingtown West’s Donovan Fromhartz are two of the best sophomores around; it’s going to be fun watching them go head-to-head for a couple more years.)
It’s going to be Imhotep. The No. 2 team in the country per MaxPreps, the Panthers shouldn’t be touched in Public League play.
Three teams — Boys’ Latin (8-2, 4-0), Eng. & Sciences (4-5, 3-0) and Robeson (5-6, 3-0) have yet to take a loss in league play, while Frankford (4-6, 3-1) and Palumbo (4-7, 3-1) are just behind them. Boys’ Latin, which is on a six-game winning streak, hosts Robeson on Jan. 5 and travels to E&S on Jan. 10; a win in both would make the Warriors’ the clear leader in the division. E&S plays Robeson at home on Jan. 12, the third of five straight at home which begins with Boys’ Latin and also includes some quality non-league games (Vaux, GA, SLA Beeber).
Matt Roman, above, and Olney are one of two 'C' Division teams unbeaten in league play. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Two teams are unbeaten through three league games: Olney (6-2) and Dobbins (8-1), which are both having strong overall seasons, as are Roxborough (6-3, 4-1) and Vaux (5-3, 3-1)...and SLA Beeber (8-2, 3-2), though those two losses have come to Olney and Dobbins. Speaking of Olney and Dobbins, those two meet at Dobbins on Jan. 24, the beginning of a tough closing stretch for Olney as they finish with Vaux (Jan. 30) and Roxborough (Feb. 2). Dobbins at Roxborough on Jan. 19 is another big one; Dobbins plays 10 of its final 13 games on the road.
The only division in the Pub with only one unbeaten team. Maritime (7-3, 5-0) already has beaten Bodine (5-4, 4-1), Kensington (4-3, 4-1) and Franklin Learning Center (7-2, 4-1), three of the four one-loss teams in the division; only Fels (9-2, 4-1), which it travels to on Jan. 5, is left; that might be the final serious barrier towards an unbeaten run through the rest of the division. The Seadogs have been putting up some big scoring numbers, including 81 at Overbrook, 82 at Hardy-Willams and 78 at Kensington. Someone will need to slow them down to stop them from finishing on top.
Two unbeatens left: Science Leadership Academy (5-3, 5-0) and Ben Franklin (5-1, 4-0), with Franklin Towne Charter (5-2, 4-1), TECH Freire (6-2, 4-1) and KIPP DuBois (4-2, 3-1) only with one loss. Franklin and SLA meet at Ben Franklin on Jan. 26, one of six straight road games for SLA to close out the year; SLA also has to travel to Franklin Towne on Jan. 19. Ben Franklin also has to survive a road game at TECH Freire (Jan. 12) and a visit from Franklin Towne (Feb. 2), one of four straight home games to finish the year.
Suburban One League
Jake Cummiskey, above, and CB East look like the favorites in the SOL Colonial. (Photo: Jack Verdeur/CoBL)
This certainly looks like CB East’s division to lose, as the Patriots (10-1, 5-0) have three games on everybody in the division besides North Penn (4-3, 3-2), which they beat by seven at East on Dec. 22. That return game won’t come until the season finale, on Feb. 7 at North Penn, but unless a couple other teams knock off CB East — the crossover games at Neshaminy (Jan. 6) and Council Rock North (Jan. 10) are two tough ones — the division crown might already be in hand by then.
The best race in the Suburban One on the boys’ side is in the Freedom, where Cheltenham (5-3), Upper Moreland (10-1) and William Tennent (7-2) are all 4-1, two games ahead of Lower Moreland (3-7); it would be highly surprising if anybody other than one of those trio takes the division. Whichever can go 2-1 against the likes of PW, Abington and Upper Dublin in their Liberty crossover games will be in good position, as they’ve all held serve on their home court thus far, and each have one home game and one road game remaining against the other two. Upper Moreland at Cheltenham on Feb. 3 is the last matchup between the three on the calendar, and could be for the title.
Plymouth Whitemarsh (7-2, 5-0) already has a two-game lead on the rest of the league, with Abington (3-5, 3-2) and Upper Dublin (6-4, 3-2) closest behind. If those two are still within striking distance after the Freedom crossover games, Abington gets PW at home on Jan. 24 and Upper Dublin has to travel to PW on Feb. 2. This looks like the Colonials’ division to lose.
Bensalem and Neshaminy’s first meeting of the season took a couple free throws (on a questionable foul call) with 0.0s left on the clock for Neshaminy to squeeze by at Bensalem, so expect the return game — the season finale, Feb. 7 at Bensalem — to be quite the atmosphere, especially if the standings are still the same as they are at the current point, which has Bensalem (7-2, 4-1) and Neshaminy (7-3, 4-1) tied atop the Patriot standings, Council Rock North (6-3, 3-2) and Pennsbury (6-3, 3-2) right behind. Those matchups against the Colonial, with what should be a high number of 50/50 games, will likely be critical in the Patriot race.
Tag(s): Home Contributors Josh Verlin High School Boys HS Bicentennial League (B) Bristol Dock Mennonite Delco Christian MaST Charter Central League (B) Garnet Valley Haverford High Lower Merion Radnor Ches-Mont (B) Ches-Mont American (B) Great Valley Sun Valley Unionville West Chester Rustin Ches-Mont National (B) Coatesville Downingtown West West Chester East West Chester Henderson Public League (B) Public League A (B) Imhotep Olney Public League B (B) Boys' Latin Eng. & Sciences Robeson Vaux Public League C (B) Dobbins Fels Freire Charter Roxborough SLA Beeber Public League D (B) Ben Franklin Franklin LC Kensington KIPP DuBois Maritime Public League E (B) Bodine Science Leadership Tech Friere Suburban One (B) SOL Colonial (B) Central Bucks East North Penn SOL Freedom (B) Cheltenham Lower Moreland Upper Moreland William Tennent SOL Liberty (B) Abington Plymouth Whitemarsh Upper Dublin SOL Patriot (B) Bensalem Council Rock N. Neshaminy Pennsbury