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Donofrio Classic Report: Mon., April 1, 2024

04/02/2024, 9:45am EDT
By CoBL Staff

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

CONSHOHOCKEN — The 2024 Donofrio Classic continued Monday night with the last of five opening-round nights, Tuesday night beginning the second round of the 26-team tournament, whose conclusion will come on April 15 at the Fellowship House. 

CoBL will be there for coverage every night as we get our recruiting coverage started this offseason; CLICK HERE to access our 2024 Donofrio hub. Read ahead for game recaps and a notebook featuring several of the players who took the court Monday night:


Temple commit Aiden Tobiason scored 25 points in a win on Monday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Game One: Difference Makers 128, Old School Cavaliers 84

What was a dead-even contest through 16 minutes quickly became a blowout, as Difference Makers closed the first half on a 16-2 run to sprint away to a big win. The clock was running just five minutes into the second half, and Difference Makers didn’t let Old School back into it in the slightest down the stretch. Temple commit Aiden Tobiason (2024 | St. Elizabeth’s, Del.) went off for 25 points, though he got plenty of help — from George School freshman Tyler Sutton (22 points), Peddie School (N.J.) senior Noah Payne (22 points), Penn Charter junior Matt Gilhool (18 points), Life Center (N.J.) junior Elijah Brown (16 points), and more. An Old School Cavs group that was heavy on Camden Eastside (N.J.) talent was led by Eastside seniors Jalen Long (14 points) and Adrian Smith (10 points) plus junior Mahdee McNair (22 points). 

Game Two: Friends of Dave Oldfield 133, Yellow Jackets 111

While it looked like it was going to be all Yellow Jackets at the start, Friends of Dave Oldfield erased an early 16-point deficit to grab a 65-61 lead at the break. Brandon Russell (2025 | Archbishop Ryan) helped Friends of Dave break things open in the second half as he scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half. Deacon Baratta (2025 | Phoenixville) made some big shots to hold off the Yellow jackets down the stretch. He had 16 of his 19 points in the second half, including four of his five threes.

The senior Lower Merion duo of John Mobley and Owen McCabe sparked the Friends of Dave comeback in the first half, combining for 42 points in the game, including 29 before the break.. Mobley ended his day with 22 points (four 3s), eight assists and nine rebounds. McCabe scored 20 points and added three assists and three steals, hitting four of his six 3-point makes in the first half. The team had 14 3-point makes in the first half and 23 in the game. 

Led by Archbishop Carroll coach Francis Bowe and five members of the Patriots state runner-up rotation, the Yellow Jackets made some runs before Friends of Dave’s multiple hot stretches from deep. Nasir Ralls (2026 | Archbishop Carroll) had 18 of his 27 in the first half. Luca Foster (2026 | Archbishop Carroll) scored 24 points. Ian Williams (2026 | Archbishop Carroll (2026 | Archbishop Carroll) also had a big game with 18 points and six assists.


Penn Charter’s Matt Gilhool resets recruitment

Penn Charter junior forward Matt Gilhool has had a few curveballs thrown at him already this spring.

Two of Gilhool’s top three schools had changes to their coaching staffs, forcing him to hit somewhat of a reset button on his recruitment as he enters his final grassroots season.

Penn Charter junior Matt Gilhool will play for Team Final this summer. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“Instinctually, I’m thinking what am I going to do, but I’m going to believe in myself, at the end of the day,” Gilhool said. “I’m definitely not worried, I’ll hopefully have a good spring and summer and I think I should be okay.”

Gilhool is a 6-foot-11 forward from Elizabethtown, Pa. He spent what was supposed to be his junior season locally at the Westtown School then reclassified to the Class of 2025 before this past season and attending Penn Charter, where he played for former Philly Pride coach Brandon Williams.

The move proved fruitful as Gilhool won Inter-Ac MVP and helped the Quakers win their first league championship since 2004 despite a rough start to the 2023-2024 campaign. 

“It was good, I think we finished off really well, we started off the season really rough, really shaky, but I think as the season went on we clicked and I think we played pretty well,” Gilhool said. “The transition was good. Definitely was easy coming from another private school like Westtown, knowing the work and knowing how it’s going to be like made it easy.”

Gilhool has piled up quite a few offers throughout his high school career with Penn State, Syracuse and Washington looking like three of his top options until recently. However, his lead recruiter at Syracuse, Gerry McNamara, recently left to become the head coach at Siena, and Washington fired head coach Mike Hopkins three weeks ago.

As of late Alabama and Iowa, which offered in February, are the two he’s talked to most. He doesn’t have an offer from the Crimson Tide, who are set to play in the Final Four this weekend, but player development coordinator Christian Pino has been talking to win and he is hoping for an offer soon.

“It’s wide open,” Gilhool said.

Gilhool should have plenty of opportunity to play his way into more offers this summer. He will play on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit on Team Final’s 17U team along with Penn Charter teammate Jake West, former Westtown teammate Jayden Forsythe and other high-profile recruits like Jerry Easter (La Lumiere, Ind.) and Nas Hart (College Achieve Prep, N.J.).

 “I’m excited to see what Nike has to offer, seeing faster-paced, quicker, 24 seconds on the shot clock,” Gilhool said.

“Playing against tougher guys, playing against better guys, I think the platform definitely will help,” he added.

Gilhool helped a talented Difference Makers squad earn a victory at the Donofrio Classic on Monday. He’ll be back in Conshohocken next Tuesday night as his team takes on M-Sport.

He’s got some things he’s working on until he next plays n front of Division I coaches during the May session of EYBL (Indianapolis, May 17-19).

“I’ve been trying to keep my handle tighter, that’s the one thing, if I get my handle down, it’ll be really hard to guard me,” Gilhool said. “I’ve been working on my shot a lot, that’s been coming together, and if I can shoot at a higher clip this summer, it should be good.” 


Prep career not quite over for Lower Merion’s Mobley

Lower Merion senior John Mobley transformed his game last offseason.

Every summer morning included 5 a.m. workouts and 500 shots with his trainer Jared Armstrong, a Philadelphai native who is currently playing professionally in Israel.

Mobley’s work helped turn him from an undersized 6-foot-2 forward during his junior campaign to a standout guard during his senior season for the Aces this past winter, earning first team All-Central League honors on a squad that won a Central League and District 1 championship.

Lower Merion senior John Mobley is considering a postgrad year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“We knew what we could accomplish and I’ve known these guys for my whole life. It's always been fun being a basketball player but it’s even better when I get to do it with my friends, that was always the best part.”

“Personally, being able to get the recognition I deserve, it feels really good.”

Mobley doesn’t think the work is done.

The senior has offers from Albright, Immaculata, and a couple more Division III schools, however, he thinks another offseason with Armstrong and a postgrad year can help him continue to develop into a low Division I or high Division II prospect by next spring.

He hasn’t made any decisions yet, but after visiting Fork Union Military Academy (Va.) he knows he has at least one program to play for. The team plays a schedule that includes a little less than 40 games and they play all throughout the country. 

“The goal is to get a high DII or low Division I school out of the post-grad year,” Mobley said. “I’m capable of that and I’m gonna be putting in a lot of work. I'm gonna be in Virginia if I decide to go post-grad. I’ll be sleeping over there, take one class every seven weeks and just take that class and play basketball.”

Mobley anticipates being ready to make his decision for next season in about two weeks. For the time being, he’s taking advantage of the little bit of this season he has left. 

His Friends of Dave Oldfield team's win on Monday gave him at least one more chance to suit up with Lower Merion teammate Owen McCabe.

“Right before the game I was like, Owen, let's not make it our last (game) together, luckily, we’ll be back next week doing the same thing again,” Mobley said. “It’s always been fun being a basketball player but it’s even better when I get to do it with my friends. That was always the best part.”


Malvern Prep’s Nick Harken ready for next challenge

Nick Harken did a lot of learning on the fly at Malvern Prep this past winter.

Harken was thrust into the starting lineup for the Friars this season against peers three or four years his senior. 

The 6-foot-4 wing responded well, averaging about 10 ppg and 8 rpg for coach Paul Romanczuk

Malvern Prep freshman Nick Harken is coming off a strong debut campaign. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“We play with a shot clock, so I learned how to play through a system and under a coach because I haven’t really done that before,” Harken said. “I learned a lot of discipline, learned how to play with others.”

After being the young guy in a talented Inter-Ac this winter, Harken is excited to test himself against his peers during the grassroots season. He will get the chance to square off some of the very best in the Class of 2027 as he suits up for Team Final’s 15U EYBL squad.

Malvern Prep teammate Marvin Reed is one of the other standout locals on the roster along with Friends’ Central’s Patrese Feamster, Archbishop Wood’s Jaden Jenkins and others.

“I’m excited to play against the best of the best and keep getting better, hopefully make it to college eventually,” Harken said. “It feels good being able to play against people my age, just to see how I am against the rest of the crowd. I’m looking forward to it.”

Harken is strong for his age and a player with impressive leaping ability as well. He used his natural athleticism to do a lot of scoring inside and grab rebounds for an undersized Malvern Prep team this season, playing one of the complementary roles to star Ryan Williams, a Northeastern commit. 

Without Williams next season, Harken and Reed will be two of the players the Friars will look upon to lead the way. This offseason, Harken is preparing to have the ball in his hands more — something he knows will help the Friars next year and his development as a college prospect as well. 

He will have older brother Jakob, who is a junior at Perkiomen Valley, as a workout partner challenging him all summer long.

“I don’t know how much I have left to grow,” Harken said. “I’m not going to be a 6-4 power forward, so I just gotta keep working on being a guard.”

“In order to do that, I need to have a better handle and be able to shoot more consistently. I just gotta keep working on that.”


Quick Hits

Emeer Coombs (2024 | Neshaminy) is excited to bring his shooting, IQ and defense to the next level. While he still has a few visits to take, it appears the 5-foot-8 guard has a solid list to choose from.

Out-of-state Verdonia (N.Y.) and Gordon (Mass.) are both interested in the All-SOL point guard along with local programs Alvernia and Penn State-Abington.

“It’s kind of exciting and stressful at the same time. I’m just trying to make the best decision possible for me and my family,” Coombs said. “It’s definitely more exciting. Any time new beginnings start, I’d say it’s pretty exciting.”

Playing for the Old School Cavaliers on Monday night, Coombs shared the backcourt with Neshaminy teammate Nate Townsend, a Penn State-Harrisburg commit, one last time. The duo has been teaming up in school and travel ball since they were young.

However, they did square off a few times in their CYO days when Coombs was at Our Lady of Grace and Townsend played for St. Mark’s. That’s something they have discussed happening again as PSU-Harrisburg just played Alvernia this past season.

“That’s really my guy for real, so I’m going to miss him a lot,” Townsend said of Coombs. “We’ve been a duo since seventh grade, so it’s definitely going to be different, but we’re both going out separate ways and both going our good ways.”

Noah Payne (2024 | Peddie School, N.J.) is right on the borderline of Division I and Division II as he closes in on a recruiting decision, one which is likely to happen in the coming weeks. The 2,000-point scorer, a 6-3 combo guard, has an offer from D-II Goldey-Beacom (Del.) but has a list of Division I programs (and a few other D-IIs) talking to him as they figure out their scholarship situations through the annual transfer portal. 

Payne named UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire, Stonehill, Coastal Carolina, Furman and Le Moyne all as schools that had been in touch, along with D-IIs Holy Family and American International. His hope is to have it settled by the end of the month, though that’s not a hard deadline; he did say he’s done playing grassroots basketball, his appearance in Donofrio and the is8 tournament in New York his last two competitions before he heads off to college. 

He looked good in his Donofrio debut, scoring 22 points as his Difference Makers squad handled business with a big opening-round win. The big guard knocked down one triple but otherwise took advantage of a transition-heavy game to get to the bucket over and over again.

“Still becoming a point guard, a real floor general,” he said of his main focal point of his game. “In AAU I got to experience that a lot, and I think I did really really well at it, but still, to get to a college level is still a jump I have to (make). I think I’m ready right now, though.”

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