skip navigation

2024 Philly Live II: High School Notebook (Pt. 2)

07/03/2024, 10:15am EDT
By Andrew Robinson + Caleb Shapiro

By Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) &
Caleb Shapiro (@hooplove215)

The second session of Philly Live 2024 brought over 220 boys teams to the City of Brotherly Love from all over the region — Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware were well-represented, but teams from all over the Eastern seaboard came up to play in front of hundreds of college coaches.

CoBL’s writers spent the weekend at both Jefferson University and the Philadelphia Youth Basketball ‘6th Man’ Center catching up with local teams and prospects of note. Here’s a notebook featuring team updates on several local squads:

~~~

(Ed. Note: Links to all of our 2024 Philly Live I content can be found at the bottom of this article)

~~~

New-look Cardinal O’Hara impresses over two weekends

Location, location, location.


Cardinal O'Hara head coach Ryan Krawczeniuk looks on during a Philly Live game. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

After spending the spring and the early portion of the summer in the gym, new look Cardinal O’Hara made its debut across both Philly Live weekends. This was the only action for first-year coach Ryan Krawczeniuk’s crew until school is back in session but it offered a pretty clear look at what the Lions’ identity will be.

If O’Hara’s general tenacity and energy seemed familiar, that’s because it was by design.

“The thing I told these kids when I first got here is that our school is in the middle of Delaware County,” Krawczeniuk said. “We need to play like we’re from Delaware County. That’s what we represent.”

Krawczeniuk had a deep bench both weekends, a reward for a group he said has been extremely committed in the team’s voluntary workouts, with an average of 20 guys showing up per session. 

“I want these kids to feel like it’s a family and so far, so good,” Krawczeniuk said. “We’re looking at a lot of bright spots.

“We coach them probably harder than they’ve ever been coached but I think they understand we truly care about them and I see a lot of potential in this school and these kids.”

O’Hara had two really good showings at Philly Live, going a combined 5-0, and that came with no shortage of standout efforts. Krawczeniuk highlighted the efforts of Milak Myatt on the offensive end, the rangy 6-foot-3 junior wing looking very much like a go-to guy.

Tygee Clark’s playmaking and scoring at point guard were steady, while Jack Quinn, Lymir Green, Matt Cervellero and Edwin Ujor were all solid for a balanced team. Krawczeniuk add that Ujor, a 6-foot-3 senior, has been a relentless rebounder since the team first started workouts.

“We’re very detail-oriented, we’re probably throwing a lot of things at these kids they’ve never seen before but they’re picking up on it,” Krawczeniuk said. “They’re starting to see their success a little bit and everything’s starting to come together.”

With players finishing up their travel seasons over the next month, Krawczeniuk said the Lions will scale back their workouts a little bit but still get together for some team conditioning and lifting. He’s open to putting the team in a fall event but once they ramp back up, it’s going to be all about the grind until the games start to count.

“We’re trending in the right direction,” Krawczeniuk said. “I’m pleased with how we look and that’s because we guard and we play really hard.” — Andrew Robinson

~~~

Lower Merion reloading after surprising year

Carson Kasmer saw what an unheralded group could do and he sees potential for a repeat effort.


Carson Kasmer (above) is the only returning starter for Lower Merion. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The Lower Merion senior was a starter on last year’s District 1 6A champion Aces team, one that went 28-2 and added a Central League title. While Lower Merion winning and winning in bulk is not a new occurrence, last year’s team didn’t have the big name players that some of longtime coach Gregg Downer’s other championship teams were powered by.

This summer has offered some striking similarities.

“We’re unique,” Kasmer said. “We don’t have that one big guy but we can all handle the ball, we can shoot, we’re all tough and we crash the boards. We all play together.”

Kasmer was one of five seniors playing with the Aces during Philly Live, with three juniors and two sophomores rounding out the group. They may not have all gotten extensive minutes last year but going on the ride with last year’s team was a front row look at how to win as a team.

As Kasmer noted, they were around last year’s starters every day and practiced against them, so now it’s their time to try and replicate it.

“Everyone who wasn’t playing is ready for the moment,” Kasmer said. “All of them are ready to play and eager for the moment.”

In an overtime win over District 11 contender Liberty on Friday, it was rising junior Tate Perkins carrying the offense early while rising senior Lamont Grier made some key plays late. Kasmer, who freely admitted he didn’t have his best game shooting the ball, found his ways to impact the game.

The senior guard also pointed to contributions from Rashyne Patterson and Sam’i Singletary to highlight the unselfish nature this group is developing.

“Anyone on any given night,” Kasmer said. “The mentality and work ethic those guys had last year, they’d be in the gym every day and building chemistry together so if we can take that and replicate it, it’s the recipe for success.”

The upperclassmen on this year’s team go back a few years, so they bring a well-honed competitive edge with them. They know there may be some who overlook them because they haven’t proven themselves yet.

They also know putting on a uniform that says Lower Merion on it means they expect to win, so that’s what they intend to do.

“Every year I’ve been here, we’ve won,” Kasmer said. “That’s just what’s expected of us and we don’t really know any different.” — Andrew Robinson

~~~

Sankofa Freedom returning everybody with hopes high

With a dynamic hierarchical shift coming for squads in Public League ‘A,’ Sankofa Freedom is hoping to take advantage.


Asim Hardy (above) and Sankofa aren't happy about MCS' closure. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Thanks to the void that is the closure of Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School (MCS) following the 23-24 season, teams will enter a season of pecking order reevaluation. For promising teams like Sankofa, however, the change comes with mixed emotions.

“It hurts more than help,” Warriors coach Isaiah Thomas said following a Philly Live Session I game. “I don’t see it as a positive, we like quality teams in our league, iron sharpens iron and disappointing to see they’re not there.”

For Thomas and many others, gaining a competitive edge while sacrificing a storied program is a bad bargain; Warriors’ captain Asim Hardy shares the same sentiment.

“I want them here,” said the senior guard. “I’ve been playing varsity since ninth grade so I remember playing them when they had the old team.”

Sankofa comes off a mediocre season with a disappointing end, yet the team’s future hasn’t looked this bright since 2019 when their squad secured a PIAA Class A championship.

“We feel really good, I feel optimistic,” Thomas said. “We get to coach a lot of basketball this year instead of doing a lot of teaching and behavior management.”

In short, everybody’s returning for the 15-year head coach. This includes five rising seniors and four rising juniors. Freshman and sophomore depth continues to get deeper as well.

“I can play small, I can play tall, I got a mixture of young guys and old guys,” Thomas said.

“We can go 10 deep now,” Hardy said. “In the playoffs, when we lost, we could only go six.”

It’s been just over three months since the Warriors fell to Dock Mennonite in the second round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs, 48-45.

This weekend, Sankofa debuted a promising lineup which likely rivals any team in Pub ‘A’ with the reasonable exception of Andre Noble’s seasoned Imhotep Charter squad.

Alongside the departure of MCS, who placed 3rd this past season, players such as co-captain Nasir Williams— Sankofa’s leading scorer last season at 16.4 points per game — Jameel Brown, Nafise Dubose and Hardy give the Warriors’ solid odds to rise up from their 7th place finish in 2024 for a successful run.

“At the end of the day, when we talk about public league playoffs, we want as many tough matchups as possible,” said Thomas.

So, while Sankofa’s 2024-2025 road may not see as many speed-bumps, the squad's current attitude points in the direction of earned-not-given. 

“I think we’re going to go far next season,” Hardy said. — Caleb Shapiro

~~~

Neumann-Goretti aiming for bounce-back after title-less season

For many programs around the state, an appearance in the PIAA quarterfinals would qualify as a successful season.


DeShawn Yates (above) and Neumann-Goretti have some retooling to do. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

At Neumann-Goretti, it’s considered not good enough. The Saints enter every season with the two main goals of winning the PCL and winning a state title.

Neither came to fruition last year and be sure, the Saints know it.

“We’re trying to pick up where we left off,” guard DeShawn Yates said. “We’ve got more to do.”

There will be some notable changes as longtime coach Carl Arrigale takes his talented, guard-laden roster into the 2024-25 season. The PIAA’s success formula, which accounts for state playoff wins and transfers, has bumped Neumann-Goretti to Class 5A after spending the previous two cycles in Class 4A.

As far as the roster, juniors Yates and Stephon “Munchie” Ashley-Wright and senior Keon Long-Mtume headline a returning group that grew into its own after a midseason injury to Khaafiq Myers. Myers, off to St. Joe’s; Amir Williams, off to Hofstra; and Larenzo Jenkins, off to West Chester, graduated, while Torrey Brooks Jr departed for Camden. 

The Saints have added two rising juniors in 6-foot-5 wing Alassan N’Diaye and 5-foot-10 guard Kody Colson to bolster the returning core. A crop of young, up-and-coming guards also look poised to make their mark on a program that’s produced plenty of top-flight backcourt players.

“It’s really starting to come together,” Ashley-Wright said. “We’ve got some young guys we’re going to count on, so it’s about helping them, becoming a leader and making sure they follow us and stay focused every day.”

Ashley-Wright added the young guards, like incoming freshmen Ayden Lewis and Ernest Stanton Jr, have been eager to get in the gym and work. Yates added they’ve also taken to heart the idea of playing their role on the court.

Neumann-Goretti will likely be on the smaller side this coming season, instead relying on depth at guard and wing to establish its style. 

“It starts on defense,” Ashley-Wright said. “The offense will roll off of that.”

“Our defense carries us in a lot of ways,” Yates, a terrific rebounder at 5-foot-10, said. “We get scrappy on defense and that turns it up on offense.”

Last year, the Saints finished tied for the best regular season record in the PCL, went into the playoffs as the second seed and played in the semifinals at the Palestra. Even with some big names gone around the league, the Catholic League is always as tough as it gets but the Saints are confident they’ll be in the mix for at least one, if not two, trips to the Palestra.

“Stay tuned,” Yates said. “Right now, this was just a little preview.” — Andrew Robinson

~~~~


D-I Coverage:

HS Coverage:

Recruiting News:

Tag(s): Home  High School  Andrew Robinson  Boys HS  Catholic League (B)  Cardinal O'Hara  Neumann-Goretti  Central League (B)  Lower Merion  Public League (B)  Public League A (B)  Sankofa