A regular schedule of basketball notebooks won’t start until next week, but before everyone breaks for the holiday season and all the tournaments that entails, it’s worth a look at where we stand on the Delco hoops scene. There are a few changes in the rankings and a new face as we look back on the first two weeks of the season. Plus, the first installment of scoring, 3-point shooting and free throw shooting leaders is up on the blog. (All records based on games reported to the Daily Times through Thursday, Dec. 18).
1. Archbishop Carroll (2-2) Last Week: No. 1
The Patriots have been hit hard with injuries and illness this season. They were without Ryan Daly for three games due to a bout of mono, and Samir Taylor injured his ankle three days before the season started. Plus knee surgery has Ernest Aflakpui on the shelf for an undetermined stretch of time. The first big date on the calendar in the Catholic League is Roman Catholic Jan. 11, which gives them almost a month to recuperate.
2. Chester (3-1) Last Week: No. 3
The depth on display by the Clippers earns them a bump up. Marquis Collins has turned into a solid main scoring threat, but the Clippers have five players averaging at least 7.5 points per game. This has the makings of one of those Chester teams that doesn’t have a star, just a lot of really good players who make each other better and present so many options that it’s tough for opponents to decide which to stop.
3. Haverford School (5-3) Last Week: No. 2
The losses – to Hill School, Roman Catholic and Calvert Hall – are nothing to be ashamed of. The supporting cast seems to be coming around a little more, which could be attributable to Derek Mountain and Micah Sims adjusting from the football season. We all know that the record in the nonleague schedule is meaningless; it’s what the Fords take away from it, beyond wins and losses, that will best prepare them for the Inter-Ac
4. Penn Wood (3-1) Last Week: No. 5
The one loss for the Patriots carries a heavy asterisk, coming in a game that Malik Jackson was suspended against Bartram (and yes, he’s worth the 17-point spread in that game). Jackson and Addison Scott are doing what was expected of them in the preseason, and the supporting cast is coming along. Calvin Melton has been a constant double-double threat, and 22 points from Javon Lindsay against Bartram in the absence of Jackson is a promising sign.
5. Episcopal Academy (4-3) Last Week: No. 4
Back-to-back losses in overtime to Shipley and Hill School were hard to move on from, but the Churchmen have managed to do that. Getting increased point production from Mike Jolaoso, who’s averaging 21.3 points per game the last four outings, is a boon. There’s a balance there, though: Jolaoso’s increased offense has coincided with Mike Hinckley (5.0 ppg the last two) and Matt Woods (shutout against Shipley) being quieted. The treat of Jolaoso freeing others to produce might be the more prosperous path.
6. Ridley (2-1) Last Week: No. 6
The class of the Central League, through three league rounds, has been Lower Merion and Conestoga, illustrated plainly by the Pioneers’ 53-34 win over Ridley last week. But the best of the Delco lot is still to be determined. Until proven otherwise, the Green Raiders get the benefit of the doubt. The only concern as the holidays roll around is the schedule crunch. Coupled with the absence of a tip-off tournament and the cancellation of last Friday’s game with Upper Darby, Ridley will be playing schedule catchup on a lot of teams.
7. Academy Park (5-0) Last Week: NR
The last remaining undefeated in Delco deserves a little recognition. The schedule hasn’t been the stiffest, but there’s a thrashing of Strath Haven and an OT win over Penncrest in there (the latter of which gets the Knights in ahead of the Lions). They have a dynamic backcourt in Jawan Collins and Travis Smith that is as explosive as any in Delco, and their pressing style is a great equalizer to cover up some of their halfcourt shortcomings. They’ve got the wins (if not the bonus points yet) for the District One reckoning, and they can pick up those bonus points if they hold their own in the Del Val.
Dropped out: Springfield (3-2)
Honorable mention: Penncrest (4-2; the nominal No. 8 has been impressive in winning three straight, including suffocating a high-powered Marple Newtown team to just 29 points, all without the injured A.J. Taylor); Springfield (3-2; The ability of Marple to turn its game with Springfield into an up-and-down affair after being put in a stranglehold by Penncrest is an interesting commentary on the stylistic push-and-pull that’s prevalent in the Central); Glen Mills (3-2; The Battlin’ Bulls have two losses by a combined three points, one in a game where they were missing injured point guard Kysheem Brown. Anthony Johnson has the physical ability to be a game-changing matchup problem against the four Del Val teams that aren’t Chester, all of which lack height); Marple Newtown (4-1; We know that Nick Giordano can take over games, but Jake McGee might be just as important in determining the Tigers’ fate. He scores two points against Penncrest as his team tallies 29; he pours in 28 against Springfield in a 75-55 win); Upper Darby (2-2; A seven-point second half against previously-winless Haverford reflects poorly, but it’s indicative of the feast-or-famine potential of the Royals’ long-range shooting); Garnet Valley (1-4; look past the record, past the fact that those losses came to Marple, Conestoga, Lower Merion and Downingtown West, and realize that this is an offensively-explosive team that is finding its balance and has winnable league games in the offing).