Flux seems to be the order of the season for the Super 7. Teams rise, then fall, meet adversity, then respond. Early in the league slates, the evenly-matched teams at or near the top of the Inter-Ac and the Del Val have already met to sort themselves out, but the cross-league comparisons remain a moving target. Here’s how we arrived at this week’s super 7, which accompanied my notebook on Radnor’s climb back up the ladder. (Records through Jan. 7)
1. Archbishop Carroll (7-3) Last Week: No. 1
The Patriots’ first big test of the Catholic League slate comes Sunday when they host Roman Catholic (2:30 at Cabrini). The depth of the Catholic League this year is notable even by the league’s lofty standards, which affords a team like the Patriots few off nights. Stat-wise, there are some numbers trending in Carroll’s favor. Derrick Jones has averaged 20 points per game over the last three, David Beatty has scored in double figures in each of his last five and John Rigsby has been in double figures in two of the last three games.
2. Haverford School (8-7) Last Week: No. 4
The Fords passed their opening test in the Inter-Ac with flying colors thanks to a great performance by Lamar Stevens against Episcopal Academy. Their Big 3 is well established, but their complementary players took some steps forward in Tuesday’s win over Springside Chestnut Hill. Eight Fords scored, including 10 points from Derek Mountain and eight from Micah Sims. Establishing them as secondary threats to take some of the attention off Stevens, Shawn Alston and Cameron Reddish is vital.
3. Chester (6-3) Last Week: No. 2
The distance between the Clippers and the Fords is narrow. The differences are slight – each team has aspects to its game that would make the other uncomfortable, and a meeting between the two would be entertaining. The Fords get the edge because of the certainty factor. There’s no shortage of talent in the Chester backcourt, but until Ahrod Carter, Stanley Davis, Jahmi Bailey or someone else picks up the slack for Khaleeq Campbell (torn ACL) over a larger sample size than Tuesday’s win over Penn Wood, the question mark will linger.
4. Penn Wood (7-3) Last Week: No. 3
The Patriots just didn’t have an answer for the Clippers’ varied and assertive perimeter defense, which prevented Malik Jackson and Addison Scott from imposing their wills on the game Tuesday. The offense stagnated with those two left to look for shots almost exclusively for themselves, and combined with the Patriots’ frontcourt thinness and lack of height, they had no answer for Chester’s myriad drives to the hoop. Scott and Jackson by themselves are enough to win seven or eight games out of 10, but Chester at the Fred Pickett Jr. Memorial Clip Joint isn’t one of those.
5. Episcopal Academy (10-5) Last Week: No. 5
The loss to Haverford School was a tough one, but one that looks much different if Mike Jolaoso doesn’t have an uncharacteristically futile 3-for-16 game from the field. The fact that he responded with 28 points in a win against Malvern Prep Tuesday is notable. In fact, Nick Alikakos (from 12 points vs. the Fords to 28 against Malvern) and Matt Woods (just six points, but the game-winning 3-pointer in overtime) both rebounded in a big way that speaks volumes about the Churchmen’s resilience.
6. Academy Park (10-1) Last Week: No. 6
I think it requires another mention that Jawan Collins scored 43 points against Chichester in an 81-70 win Tuesday. 43! He scored more points than four of the Central League teams that played that night. He scored more points from the line (27-for-33) than either Haverford or Springfield. At a time when Travis Smith has been in a prolonged scoring lull (just 10.6 ppg over the last five for a player who averaged 15.4 last year), Collins’ contributions are even more vital.
7. Ridley (8-2) Last Week: NR
The Green Raiders make an appearance this week, though no fault of Penncrest, winners of eight of nine. Ridley has won six straight, including topping Marple Newtown last time out. That game showed what Ridley can do to teams that want to get up and down the floor, something that can make them dangerous to Conestoga and Lower Merion (their earlier loss to the Pioneers notwithstanding). Nick Czechowicz scored a season-high 23 points against the Tigers, while Ryan Bollinger added 19. If those guys can knock down shots to complement Brett Foster and Ameer Staggs, then this offense can really hum.
Honorable Mention: Penncrest (9-3, dropping the Lions wasn’t easy this week, especially given how the emergence of Nick Ladd and Chandler Henry has helped shore up their shortcomings in the post); Glen Mills (6-3, the Battlin’ Bulls three losses have come by a combined 10 points); Marple Newtown (6-6, losers of five of six, the Tigers are in a tenuous position in the honorable mention category (as was Springfield last week) despite the scoring numbers posted by Nick Giordano); Haverford (5-6, the Fords may be scoring just 36.0 points per game, but they have the defensive tenacity to keep gutting out Central League wins, four in total); Bonner-Prendergast (8-3, why not throw the Friars in here? They’ve won five straight, including a Catholic League tilt, and even if their win total is inflated by some so-so city teams, what other team in Delco is going to quadruple their win total from last year?)