Greg Vlassopoulos (above) will have to step up for Garnet Valley will the graduations of Austin Laughlin and Connor O'Brien. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Garnet Valley hopes to stay near top of Central League
The past few seasons have been pretty special at Garnet Valley as the Jaguars have turned into one of the tougher teams in the Central League and a mainstay in the district playoffs.
In 2015-16, the Jaguars made their first district playoff appearance in school history. In 2016-17, they won the first district playoff game in school history.
Last season, Garnet Valley won 16 games. The Jaguars qualified for the Central League playoffs and earned the No. 9 seed in the District 1 Class 6A tournament before an upset ended their season earlier than expected.
This year’s group hopes to continue what those before it have started.
“We definitely want to keep going in the Central League and maintain ourselves as one of the best teams in the league,” 2019 forward Cade Brennan said. “We’re going to try to continue to do that this year.”
It won’t be an easy task.
Next season, the Jaguars will be without two players who had a huge hand in getting the program to new heights. Garnet Valley graduated guards Connor O’Brien and Austin Laughlin, who were two of the team’s top scorers last season.
Laughlin, who is headed to Kutztown next season, left the program as the all-time scoring leader.
“We lost a lot of scoring, so we’re going to have to make that up,” Brennan said. “We’re going to have to continue to play tough D and get stops and plays some more low scoring games. Try to win defensively.”
Brennan and 2019 guard Greg Vlassopoulos are the likely leaders for next year’s Jaguars squad. Brennan is a tough post player who can score inside or pop out for a midrange jumpshot.
Vlassopoulos is 6-foot-3 combo guard who on Saturday knocked down some shots from deep and showed some crafty moves in the lane to get to the basket.
“I feel like I’m going to have good season,” Vlassopoulos said. “I’m gonna step in for Austin and Connor who both graduated, and I feel like me and Cade are going to do some big things this year with some other guys stepping in and helping out.”
Brennan has already been impressed by the growth in Vlassopoulos game since the end of last season.
Vlassopoulos said he has currently been contacted by New York University, Grove City, Hood College and Cabrini.
“Definitely Greg has gotten so much better from last year, and he’s been working on his game a lot,” Brennan said. “Greg’s definitely been stepping up this summer a lot, and we need to get a lot of guys to continue to step up and make shots.”
Perretta expanding game for Bonner
As Mike Perretta drove by a defender and to the basket for a layup on Saturday afternoon, the Bonner-Prendergast bench rose to its feet in excitement.
“Is that Mike taking it to the rack?” one of the Friars exclaimed.
Perretta played a lot of minutes for the Friars last season as they advanced to the Philadelphia Catholic League championship game and PIAA Class 5A semifinals.
However, the Class of 2019 guard’s role on the offensive end was mostly limited to a catch-and-shoot 3-point threat.
Perretta had some pretty big games—19 points against Archbishop Wood, 15 against Lansdale Catholic and Father Judge and 12 against West Catholic—but Bonner played through Catholic League MVP Isaiah Wong and sometimes forwards Ajiri Johnson and Tariq Ingraham in the post.
Johnson is headed to Rider next season and on Saturday, Wong was in street clothes while Ingraham was playing in an AAU event. Perretta had a chance to show he’s much more than a shooter. He did just that as he shared the lead guard duties with 2020 guard Tyrese Watson.
“My coaches told me over the summer I have to work on ball handling and being able to get my own shot,” Perretta said. “Last year, I was just a spot up shooter. Now, I have to do more off the dribble.”
“When Isaiah’s in the game, he’s going to do his thing, and I have to play off him,” he added. “But when he’s not in the game, I get to do everything I can do, show off what I can do.”
Friars’ head coach Jack Concannon resigned last month, and he was replaced by former assistant Kevin Funston.
Perretta said Funston has encouraged Bonner to get out and run. They grab the rebound and go. He compared the new offensive system to the Golden State Warriors: play fast and shoot threes.
Though Funston has had just one official practice with the team to install the offense, Perretta has already enjoyed the benefits of the new style of play.
“I love it,” Perretta said of the coaching hire. “The new offense, that’s how I’m able to create so many of these shots, playing fast. It’s a new style I like it.”
Perretta said he’s been contacted by several Division II and Division III programs. He specifically mentioned Cabrini, Moravian, Hood College and Delaware Valley.
As he continues to round out his game, more interest is likely to follow.
“He’s gotten so much better and the summer’s not even over yet,” Watson said. -- Owen McCue
-- Bonner 2020 guard Tyreese Watson missed the Friars’ last 16 games after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Watson said he is nearing 100 percent and looked the part on Saturday. He also said he has his first unofficial visit planned. He will take a trip to Rider on June 16.
-- Downingtown East 2019 guard Tariq Kalim said he has recently drawn interest from a handful of Division II schools. Kalim said the University of the Sciences, Bloomsburg and LIU Post have recently reached out to him. He also has interest from about 10-15 Division III programs including Moravian, Arcadia, Wilkes and York.
-- Conestoga 2019 guard Zach Lezanic did a lot of playmaking for the Pioneers on Saturday, whether it was knocking down shots from deep or driving and dishing. Lezanic said he currently has interest from Lafayette, West Chester and East Stroudsburg. West Chester assistant coach Dane Watts is a Conestoga alum.
-- Sun Valley 2019 guard Vinny DeAngelo sat out Saturday’s event with tendonitis in his right knee. DeAngelo said he will test out how it feels in about a week. DeAngelo, who already scored 1,000 points by the end of his junior year, is a 6-1 guard with a sweet-looking stroke. He said he currently has interest from Haverford, Hood College and Franklin & Marshall.
-- Pennridge 2019 guard Sean Yoder currently has two Division I offers from Colgate and Marist. He visited Marist this past week and spoke highly of both schools. Yoder said he has also been receiving texts and calls from other coaches in the Patriot League.