skip navigation

District 1 6A: Shorthanded Henderson sinks CB East in quarterfinal round

02/24/2024, 2:15am EST
By Joey Morozin

Joey Morozin (@JoeyMorozin2)

WEST CHESTER — After losing two key pieces, it was fair to wonder how West Chester Henderson would respond. 

The Warriors already knew they were going to be without Nelson Lamizana for the postseason, the transfer from Bonner-Prendergast not getting his waiver from the PIAA for district and state playoffs. But then senior Jack Bell went down with a knee injury against Downingtown West, and Jason Ritter’s squad was even more shorthanded than it was expecting going into a District 1 6A quarterfinal game with Central Bucks East.

“He’s such a warrior,” Ritter said of Bell, a 5-foot-9 senior guard. “He tore his ACL with two minutes to go [...] he stays in the game and finishes it out.”

Without Bell and Lamizana, plus senior Danny Surowiec — who tore his ACL on the first day of the preseason — Henderson needed its role players to step up alongside stars Connor Fleet and Nyle Ralph-Beyer. And though Fleet and Ralph-Beyer did much of the heavy lifting, the likes of Ryan Ranalli, Dylan Delucia, Evan Kearney, and Aaron Nelson stepped up and made big plays as Henderson kept on chugging with a 68-63 win on Friday night.

Dylan DeLucia is one of the players Henderson will need to step up with two members of the rotation out. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL File)

“I don’t think we’ve ever been here before and we’ve been through a lot this season, so we just gotta soak it in,” Ralph-Beyer said. “We have had a lot of injuries, two of our guys have a torn ACL and one of our guys cant play according to the rules so we’ve been through a lot but we stayed together and other guys have stepped up.”

The dangerous backcourt of Ralph-Beyer and Fleet combined for 50 points, 26 for Fleet and 24 for Ralph-Beyer. Ralph-Beyer hit the most important shots of the game including three consecutive threes right out of halftime along with two game-sealing free throws to put the game out of reach. Fleet was just as heroic as he knocked down seven second half-free throws and made key defensive plays down the stretch. 

“Nyle is the best player in District 1,” Ritter said. “There’s a lot of good players including CB East’s (Jake Cummiskey), fantastic player, but Nyle is the best player. He has a wingman in Connor that’s very, very good, and he’s got his role players that let him shine in the moment and on his home court, Nyle’s shots eventually are gonna go in. It’s just a matter of time and then when they start going in, heaven help them.” 

The role players combined for twelve points, none bigger than Delucia’s layup to extend their lead to 7 with just over a minute to play in regulation. Ranalli, a junior big man, also hit three clutch free throws in the second half to help fuel the comeback. Nelson chipped in nine points to follow Ralph-Beyer and Fleet in the scoring column.

The Warriors' furious third-quarter comeback was capped off by senior guard Jesse Smith’s and-one at the end of the third quarter, stretching the lead from four to six.

“These are guys who did not play a lot in season,” Ritter said. “We had two other main guys playing and now they are stepping up when they get their number called and that's just a testament to those kids.”

Henderson needed contributions from everyone Friday in order to stay in the game after CB East came out firing, hitting four of their first five 3-pointers, forcing a timeout from Ritter. East led 24-14 after one quarter and 35-27 at half before Ralph-Beyer swung the momentum to start the second half.

Senior Justin DiRoberto scored 15 and classmate Jake Cummiskey added 11 for CB East.

“We got off to a great start,” East coach Erik Henrysen said. “The ball went through. We got open shots. I thought one of the keys for us was going to be ball movement and making the extra pass and early on we did a great job with that.” 

Although not the result CB East had hoped for, their season is still alive as they have already qualified for the PIAA Class 6A tournament. Their next matchup will be against sixth seeded Methacton in the District 1 6A playbacks. 

“There’s definitely let down tonight,” Henrysen said. “We will turn the page and have to look to find our matchup through the playbacks and get the boys ready to try and make a little bit of noise in the state tournament.”

Henderson moves on to face fourteenth seed Garnet Valley on Tuesday, who upset sixth seeded Methacton on Friday. Henderson is in uncharted territory as they have never made an appearance in the district semifinal tournament. Ritter wants his team focused on strictly the obstacle right in front of them.

“I always tell the kids, let's just win the next game,” Ritter said. “We’ll talk about the next team when the next team comes. Let’s win the next game, all we’re focused on right now is Garnet Valley.” 


By Quarter
Henderson: 14 | 13 | 23 | 18 || 68

CB East:  24 | 11 | 9 | 19 || 63


CB East: Justin Diroberto 15 Jake Cummiskey 11, Dhruv Mukund 10, Tyler Dandrea 9, Nolan Behm 5, Bryce Lolas 3, Caleb Lyzinski 3, Miles Demby 1

Henderson: Connor Fleet 26, Nyle Ralph-Beyer 24, Aaron Nelson 9, Ryan Rannali 4, Jesse Smith 2, Dylan Delucia 2 

Story story story story story story story story


District 1 6A Boys

Quarterfinals (Fri., Feb. 23)
1) Lower Merion 66, 24) Springfield (Delco.) 51
4) Chester 67, 5) Coatesville 64
2) West Chester Henderson 68, 7) CB East 63
14) Garnet Valley 64, 6) Methacton 53

Playbacks (Fri., Feb. 23)
8) Bensalem 69, 16) Conestoga 51
13) Plymouth Whitemarsh 69, 12) Cheltenham 45
15) Downingtown West 53, 10) Perkiomen Valley 48
3) Spring-Ford 51, 11) Central Bucks West 43

Semifinals (Tue., Feb. 27)
1) Lower Merion vs. 4) Chester
2) West Chester Henderson vs. 14) Garnet Valley

Third-place playbacks (Tue., Feb. 27)
5) Coatesville vs. 24) Springfield (Delco.)
6) Methacton vs. 7) CB East

Playbacks (Tue., Feb. 27)
8) Bensalem vs. 13) Plymouth Whitemarsh
3) Spring-Ford 51 vs. 15) Downingtown West

D-I Coverage:

HS Coverage:

Small-College News:

Recruiting News:

Tag(s): Home  High School  Boys HS  West Chester Henderson  Central Bucks East