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Plymouth Whitemarsh Spring League Notebook (Thurs., April 27)

04/28/2023, 12:30am EDT
By Andrew Robinson + Myles Berry

Andrew Robinson (@ADrobinson3) &
Myles Berry (@MABerry21)

The 2023 Plymouth Whitemarsh Spring League got underway on Thursday night, as all 11 participating teams took to the court, with the hosts playing a pair of games to ensure there were six contests. 

The league’s full schedule will be out shortly; here’s a notebook consisting of interviews and observations from its opening night, which saw many of the teams playing shorthanded due to tomorrow’s impending live recruiting period; quite a few star players were already en route to tournaments around the country:


PW’s Winterbottom returns to court

Luke Winterbottom was back where he was supposed to be on Thursday.

Luke Winterbottom (above) recently received a clean bill of health from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The Plymouth Whitemarsh junior was one of the best players on the Colonials’ SOL American champion and District 1 5A quarterfinal football team in the fall and expected to compete for a rotation spot this winter in basketball. Instead, Winterbottom spent the winter fighting when his body turned against him.

Winterbottom was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late November and declared cancer free on March 21, clearing the way for his return on Thursday.

“It felt good,” Winterbottom said. “My stamina’s a little low right now, but just great to be back out with the team and actually playing.

“It was pretty hard, treatment most days of the week but I’ve always been trying to get back in the gym when I felt up to it. Right now, I’m just trying to build back my stamina and get back in shape.”

Winterbottom only played in the first of PW’s two games Thursday and didn’t score, but the fact he was out there was more than enough. Even as he went through treatments that included rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, he was a constant presence around the Colonials this season and received a medal just the same as his teammates when PW won the District 1 6A basketball title.

All fall, he ran roughshod over the Colonials competition in football as a 6-foot, 185-pound running back that mixed patience, power and breakaway speed to earn All-SOL honors and establish himself as a college prospect. A bout of pneumonia that included a 104 degree fever sidelined him in PW’s season-ending playoff loss to Upper Dublin but it was a lingering problem that changed everything.

“Throughout the whole football season, I was having breathing issues, I had a terrible cough and got mis-diagnosed with asthma multiple times,” Winterbottom said. “They put me on an inhaler, it wasn’t doing anything so finally, we went to the ER and they found the lymphoma.”

It was an absolute shock for Winterbottom, who just turned 17 a few weeks ago, and his family. Immediately, he knew it would be a fight but one he was up for with a lot of support behind him.

“It was crazy, no one was expecting that, we thought it was something minor,” Winterbottom said. “Words can’t describe it.

“Me and my family always kept high hopes. I didn’t have to get any extended treatment, so we kept our hopes high and we got through it.”

Winterbottom believes the fact he was in good shape at the time he was diagnosed helped him fight the cancer off and withstand the draining treatments. He knows he still has a ways to go, but he stayed as active as he could.

“I had five rounds of what they called intensive chemo, so I’d go three days in a row, have a week off, then go another day,” Winterbottom said. “The next stage was 20 days of radiation, it’s every day except weekends -- I’m currently on Day 11, so I’m almost done.”

The chemotherapy required a port to be put in his chest, but once the five rounds of treatment were done, it could come out and he could resume physical activity.

He made his basketball return on Thursday and he’ll be back on a football field in due time as well, adding he’s cleared to play his top sport again next season. Winterbottom, who is also an outstanding student who takes high-level classes, wants to play at the next level and said he’s recently heard from Davidson, a Division I FCS program.

Winterbottom cited the outpouring of support he got from his football teammates, the basketball team, the PW community as a whole and even surrounding programs or players he’d competed against. On top of that, there was always one thing he went back to when he needed to.

“Envisioning myself back on the football field or basketball court,” Winterbottom said. “I just saw myself right back where I was.”


Kasmer prepping for much-expanded role with Lower Merion

Carson Kasmer has flown under the radar since he’s gotten to Lower Merion, but you couldn’t tell based off of how he played Thursday.

Carson Kasmer (above) hit six 3-pointers in LM's win on Thursday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

As a sophomore, he has hardly gotten any action on the varsity team but used Thursday’s spring league game against Penn Wood to showcase his talent. 

In a decisive 82-48 victory, Kasmer shined, showing that he could do just about everything on the offensive end. The 5-foot-11 guard tallied 20 points (six 3-pointers), a handful of assists, and a knack for getting to his spots on the floor through decent ball handling. 

Kasmer’s passing in transition and setting teammates up for easy baskets under the rim gave way to easy scoring, which in the second half helped Lower Merion blow the game wide open.

“I’ve been working on my deep three-ball, assisting, really getting my guys open, and efficient ball facilitating.”

He saw limited action on the court these last few seasons, but was a part of the 2021-2022 squad that captured the second of their back-to-back District 6A Championship titles. Even in his second year when Lower Merion lost to Plymouth Whitemarsh in the semifinals of the District Championship, ending their two-year title defense, Kasmer was able to see what it takes to be a champion. But with that championship experience he gained along with the tutelage of Penn commit Sam Brown, his all-around game is beginning to shape out pretty well. 

“It’s just been learning from a great player, Sam Brown, who I got to watch for two years,” Kasmer said. “It was just great to learn from him, he’s a guard, he’s a lefty just like me so I picked up a lot of stuff from his game.”

That’s great news for Lower Merion.

A team that is normally competing for a district title every year will definitely look to Kasmer for quality minutes in a more significant role than what he held the last few years. He’ll join a handful of returners for the Aces, including starting junior wing John Mobley and reserve guard Owen McCabe, but the majority of Gregg Downer’s rotation will be new to significant varsity minutes.

With that in mind, Kasmer decided to forgo playing in AAU this offseason, unlike last year when he played for Philly Pride, in order to focus more on his personal development as a player.

“I’ve been lifting, I recently didn’t lift and I started to get in the gym more and get bigger, [and] get stronger.”

With Lower Merion set to lose multiple seniors, they will most likely ask for more out of Kasmer if they want to maintain their high-level of competitiveness and continue vying for state bids. — Myles Berry

Imhotep junior Carnell Henderson (above) impressed with his shot-making on Thursday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Quick Thoughts
— Two prolonged state playoff runs haven’t seemed to drain the cupboard at Devon Prep. Sure, the Tide has graduated some terrific players following last year’s state title and this season’s quarterfinal run but there’s still a lot of talent poised to fill right in. Sophomore Zane Conlon was an energizer in Thursday’s win over a young Imhotep Charter squad, hitting the glass hard and igniting his teammates with his work rate. Classmates Reece Kraft and Shane Doyle did some nice work on both ends of the court and junior Ben Costello had a good turn, the quartet looking like potential cogs alongside point guard Ty Mishock.

— Haverford School freshman Manny Butts took advantage of an undersized Downingtown West squad to lead the Fords to a win. The 6-7 forward finished well around the bucket and rebounded at a high clip, giving the Fords’ guard a big target in the post time and time again; he also pushed the ball in transition and had a Eurostep finish, showing his continued development. Sophomore guard Duke Cloran was athletic and effective in transition, and eighth grader Silas Graham didn’t have his shot falling but continues to impress with his passing and playmaking ability.

— Central Bucks West’s senior core got the job done against a shorthanded West Catholic that’s going to have to get used to life without Budd Clark and Zion Stanford, among others. The Bucks got strong play from senior guard Matt Engle, senior wing Bowen Gugger and senior guard Julian Phillips, their top three scorers from a year ago; Engle, a 5-11 guard, was especially effective with the ball in his hands, where he got downhill and made things happen for his teammates. West Catholic got a big game from junior wing Tariq Jennings, the 6-5 slasher using his status as the tallest player on the court to grab a ton of rebounds and get to the hoop, but he also hit a couple outside shots.

— Imhotep Charter’s lineup had a lot of currently unknown names but that was more due to the fact they were a young group playing in line behind some remarkably talented teammates. Sophomore Carnell Henderson played like he could be a name to watch out for, the 6-foot-2 guard coming out strong with a few tough makes against Devon Prep then turned facilitator with several sharp passes on the money to teammates under the rim for easy looks.

Alex Hermann and Methacton had a nice win over PW to close the night. Hermann, a 6-foot-3 junior, and guard Sal Iemmello are the Warriors’ two projected starters returning next season with coach Pat Lockard bringing an otherwise young group around them on Thursday.

--- Although Downingtown West as a team couldn’t get much going on either end of the floor, junior Alex Neuhaus was a bright spot on that team. Throughout the game he displayed his ability to get to the rim, which isn’t the easiest task to do against Haverford and the height that they brought to the game. He also was able to crash the boards well on offense and defense against that group of guys. Neuhaus also displayed a nice shooting touch on his corner threes that could benefit his inside-out game.  He also did a good job of using his length to play good on-ball defense as well as closing out on shooters throughout the game. From the start he displayed a decent all-around game for a team that couldn’t generate much on offense until it was a blow out.

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