Let’s not waste any time getting into things, right? Records through Thursday.
1. Chester (16-3, 8-0) Last week: No. 1.
3-0 week for the Clippers and while mashings of Academy Park and Chichester came pretty easily, Chester had to sweat a little bit against Penn Wood before ripping off a ridiculous fourth-quarter run to grab a tough road win. Richard Granberry was a big reason why the Clippers turned things around and he’s been consistent of late with double-digit scoring in six straight games. Khalil Williams dumped in a career-high 13 points against the Eagles and Darius Robinson tortured Chichester again with 21 points. Additionally, the details for the much-anticipated nonleague tilt against Neumann-Goretti were released. Sunday, Feb. 10 at Neumann University at 6 p.m. $12 to get in and tickets can be purchased at either school, while the game will be televised on ESPN2.
2. Archbishop Carroll (14-4, 6-3) Last week: No. 2.
Status quo for a darn good Patriots team. All-Delco point guard Yosef Yacob is going to get his 1,000th career point this weekend, whether it’s tonight against Cardinal O’Hara or Sunday against Archbishop Ryan. It’ll be a well-deserved honor for arguably the best point guard in the county – a guy on the No. 3 team has a convincing argument, too – and as nice a kid as you can ask for. Carroll dropped a close one to AAAA power St. Joseph’s Prep, but bounced back with a 62-34 rout of Lansdale Catholic. Yacob has at least 12 points in five straight games, while Nick Jones and Derrick Jones have been consistently good.
3. The Haverford School (15-6, 6-2) Last week: No. 3.
I toyed with the idea of dropping the Fords for a 52-48 loss to Penn Charter, but really, who’s got more impressive credentials? Can’t really think of anyone. In addition to the loss to the Quakers, Haverford School needed overtime to knock off Inter-Ac cellar dweller Malvern Prep, but the Friars have been improving of late, so give the Fords credit for hanging in tough. Shawn Alston, who’s the guy who could legitimately argue against Yacob for being the best point guard in the county, was stellar again, dropping 17 and 19 points for THS. Eric Anderson checked in with a pair of double-digit scoring games, too. Big showdown tonight against Germantown Academy. If you’re planning on heading out, @fordsphanatic has you covered on the theme.
4. Ridley (15-3, 10-3) Last week: No. 6.
The Green Raiders split a pair of games, downing Haverford but losing in a crucial overtime game against Upper Darby thanks to a Beni Toure putback. Big pair of games loom today and tomorrow as Ridley hosts Penncrest and Lower Merion on back-to-back nights. Depending on what others do, a win over the Lions would put the Green Raiders firmly in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 spot in the league. Mike Smoluk averaged nine points in those two games last week, well above his season average, while Jon McGill checked in at 14.5 per game. Zain Shaw dropped 19 points on the Fords.
5. Penncrest (15-5, 9-5) Last week: Not ranked.
Tough game for the Lions tonight at Ridley, especially if they’ll have to be without the services of promising soph0more forward Ben Casanova. Casanova sprained his ankle last week and coach Mike Doyle couldn’t/wouldn’t commit to a timeline as to when Casanova would be back. Penncrest comes in off of a pair of wins over Conestoga and Haverford, wins where Rahmi Halaby had 11 and 15 points and Kalvin Simpson had eight and 11. The Lions gave the Green Raiders trouble with their size last time en route to grabbing a 46-34 win. Will that be the case again, especially if Casanova can’t go?
6. Penn Wood (13-6, 5-3) Last week: No. 5.
The Patriots responded to the losses to Chester and Harrisburg (without Delco’s leading scorer in Tyree Bynum) by knocking off Interboro and Glen Mills. The win over the Battlin’ Bulls was particularly impressive considering Glen Mills took the opener between the two and the Patriots had to win this on the road. There’s really not much left to say about Secean Johnson at this point. He’s been getting better with every game to the point where it’s almost expected that he’s going to go off for 16 and 9 every night. He had 12 points against the Bucs and 21 against the Bulls, while Gemil Holbrook had a pair of clutch threes against Interboro.
7. Strath Haven (14-5, 9-4) Last week: Not ranked.
Debated hard about this one, especially between the Panthers, Upper Darby and Episcopal Academy. Ultimately, though, I felt that despite a loss to Harriton, Haven is the most balanced team of the three. The Panthers are in the mix for a league playoff spot and have a favorable schedule to get in, although nothing’s guaranteed in the Central League. John Fender‘s been great of late and Eric Trowery is a matchup problem for a lot of teams. Honestly, though, flip a three-sided coin between those teams and any one of them would be fine here.
– MATT CHANDIK