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Torre Harrison hoping to build new legacy at Lansdale Catholic

06/04/2024, 3:45pm EDT
By Josh Verlin

By Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

Lansdale Catholic’s boys are hoping to start a new legacy within the Philadelphia Catholic League.

Torre Harrison hopes to be the one to start it.

Since joining the PCL in 2008 ahead of the league’s entrance into the PIAA, the Crusaders’ boys basketball team has struggled to make much ground. The 14-team league has had a number of upstarts challenging its established powerhouses over the years — take a look at Devon Prep’s semifinal appearance a few years back, or Father Judge’s surge the last few years — but Lansdale Catholic hasn’t been able to break through.

Torre Harrison (above) is Lansdale Catholic's new boys basketball coach. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

While its girls team has found success, celebrating Catholic League and PIAA state championships in 2023, the boys have finished in the basement more often than not. The program’s best season since joining the PCL was a five-win league campaign in 2013-14.

Hired earlier this month, Harrison isn’t going to settle for being at the bottom any longer. 

“Just trying to change and build a culture, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “There hasn’t been too much success there in recent history here, so it’s just trying to change that whole mindset, change the whole culture as far as having some winning basketball.”

Lansdale Catholic’s leadership changed last year. Alum Meghan Callen took over as the school’s president, and she hired B.J. Hogan away from O’Hara as the school’s athletics director in August.

When former head coach Joe Corbett submitted his resignation after the 2023-24 season, the new leadership saw it as an opportunity to try and follow in the footsteps of other programs in the PCL who have flipped the script of late. Judge, which had a breakthrough season under third-year head coach Chris Roantree and made it to the Palestra for the first time in a quarter-century, showed that teams can make the transition from parochial schools to bringing in talent from a wider area.

Hogan wants to follow that blueprint. 

“We want to be relevant in the Catholic League and we know what the expectation is,” he said. “We know it’s not going to happen overnight, but hiring a new coach and giving him the ability to build this with us, attracting the right student-athletes, I think it’s very important to our administration at Lansdale. We want to be relevant in the Catholic League and we know what the expectation is.”

“From everything up top, the president to the principal, [everybody] feels that it’s time for the boys basketball team to be successful,” Harrison said. “They just seemed [like] they were really committed to making this team turn the corner.”

Harrison comes to Lansdale Catholic after spending the last two years as an assistant athletic director at Cheltenham High School. He was previously in the Catholic League as an assistant coach with Archbishop Carroll under Paul Romanczuk from 2005-06 to 2014-15, helping the Patriots make a run to the Palestra in 2009, the same year the program won a PIAA state championship.

Through his years coaching with K-Low Elite, Harrison knows the grassroots landscape, knows how to make connections to improve his program from the ground up.

“The task that coach Paul gave me was to develop the young talent and bring the young talent in,” Harrison said. “That’s what we did, and it’s more or less knowing how to do those things.”

Though he’s just taking over at LC, Harrison’s already bringing in the young talent. 

That was apparent at the Jr. All-City Classic last week at Imhotep Charter, when no fewer than four participants in the two boys’ games said they were going to Lansdale Catholic as freshmen. That’s likely as many incoming LC freshmen as have been in the event the last decade combined. 

One of those four is Harrison’s son, TJ Harrison, a 5-11 left-hander who’s going to try to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Zahree Harrison (Coppin State) onto a Division I roster.

“It’s always a challenge when you’re coaching your kid, and the other challenge of it is when you have an older brother that everyone expects him to be in that mold as well, and just getting him to understand that he is who he is,” Torre Harrison said. “I’m going to ease him along, he’s going to get everything that he earns. It was his decision to come to Lansdale, and he understands it’s not going to be easy.”

Harrison is realistic about his initial expectations for his Crusaders. Lansdale Catholic didn’t have a single double-digit scorer last year; leading scorers Rowan Romero (9.7 ppg) and Anthony Wack (7.0 ppg) will both be back as seniors, and third-leading scorer James Webb (6.2 ppg) was only a sophomore.

In going winless in the Catholic League a year ago, Lansdale Catholic lost all of its games by double-digits. Only three games were closer than 20 points. Competitiveness is the first goal. Wins come later.

“We want to change that and make everyone understand that Lansdale Catholic is not a night off anymore,” Harrison said. “That’s the first step, to show that we’re here to compete and show that we want to be taken seriously.”

“Right now, my benchmark now is just for us to get wins in the Catholic League. I look at it as yes, we’re not going to go overnight that we’re sitting here competing for a PCL title, but I want to be competitive [in] year one, and making playoff pushes [in] year two or three.”

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