Sunday, March 28, 2010

Plymouth-Whitemarsh Takes State Title

Last night, at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State, the Plymouth-Whitemarsh Colonials defeated the Penn Wood Patriots 58-51 to take home the Pennsylvania AAAA title. The win avenged an overtime loss to Penn Wood in the District 1 Final at Villanova. The Colonials were led by senior forward CJ Aiken's 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. Senior guard Whis Grant had yet another strong performance as well, dropping 17 points and really controlling the game's tempo. On the other side, Penn Wood got 15 points from both Aaron Brown and Tyree Johnson. Shawn Oakman, the junior center for Penn Wood, was held to only 4 points. He was not nearly the factor that he was when the teams met in the district final.

CJ Aiken's last high school game of his career was certainly one to remember. Plymouth-Whitemarsh trailed by 4 at the half and Aiken was kept relatively in check. He had the Colonials' first 4 points in the game on dunks, but was quiet after that, only hitting a pair of free throws. CJ was a force in the second half though, providing a number of highlight-reel plays. He had two blocks on Penn Wood's Aaron Brown as well as a put-back one-handed dunk that had the Plymouth-Whitemarsh faithful happy they traveled west to Happy Valley.

The first time the teams met, in the district final, the turning point was Aaron Brown's dunk that had Aiken running for cover. In this game, the turning point was a rejection of Brown by Aiken. Aaron's dunk attempt was swatted away by Aiken this time, and Plymouth-Whitemarsh didn't look back from there.

Brown did have a solid game for the Patriots still, especially in the first half. Aaron and Tyree Johnson sparked Penn Wood to an early lead, but it was closed to 30-26 at the half.

Saint Joseph's coaches Phil Martelli and Geoff Arnold were on hand for the game, as was Temple's Fran Dunphy. Both schools are recruiting Penn Wood's Aaron Brown. During the TV telecast, the announcers stated that Shawn Oakman was at Penn State a day early, on a visit for the Nittany Lions football team. Temple is also heavily recruiting Plymouth-Whitemarsh's junior forward Jaylen Bond, who was limited to only 5 points in this game after having a career game in the semi-finals with Pitt coach Jaime Dixon in the house.

A number of links to recaps, video, and pictures from the game are below:

Inquirer Article by Rick O'Brien

Times Herald Article and Video from State Final

Chris Vito Article from Delco Times

The picture above of CJ Aiken's block on Aaron Brown is from the Times Herald article linked above.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Darrun Hilliard Picks up SJU Offer

I was on hand for Wednesday night's Penn Wood-Liberty game, won easily by the Patriots of Penn Wood. Two names on Penn Wood, Shawn Oakman and Aaron Brown, have long been on the radar of the Saint Joseph's coaches and fans. Liberty High, out of Bethlehem, PA, has a star of their own in 6'5 junior guard Darrun Hilliard. Following his 26-point outburst in the game, Hilliard picked up an offer from the Hawks according to the article linked below. Darrun was on Hawk Hill, and seated behind the SJU bench, for the Dayton game earlier this year. Coincidentally, Neshaminy sophomore guard Ryan Arcidiacono was also at the Dayton game. Ryan was also in the stands at Council Rock, as a spectator, on Wednesday night.

In the game on Wednesday, Darrun got off to a slow start before really taking the game over in the third quarter. Darrun showed an ability to shoot the ball from deep, burying a few shots from well beyond the 3-point line. He also took the ball strong to the basket, finishing at the rim with both hands. In this particular game, Darrun was the best player on the court for either team. It will be interesting to follow Darrun's recruitment over the coming months. Article on Hilliard Offer

Image of Hilliard above from

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Penn Wood and Plymouth-Whitemarsh Rematch Set

Both Penn Wood and Plymouth-Whitemarsh won big tonight, setting the stage for a Saturday rematch of the District Final game won in overtime by Penn Wood. This time the stakes are even higher: a state title. Penn Wood is the reigning AAAA state champ and looking to repeat while Plymouth-Whitemarsh is looking to avenge the heart-breaking loss in the district title game.

I was on hand for Penn Wood's win tonight against Bethlehem's Liberty High School. A full recap of the game will be posted tomorrow. Tonight was my first time seeing Liberty's Darrun Hilliard and I came away impressed. He led Liberty with 26 points in a losing effort while Tyree Johnson had 19 for Penn Wood in the win. Saint Joseph's Phil Martelli and Geoff Arnold were in the house as was Temple's Fran Dunphy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ron Roberts Still Committed to Saint John's

In the past couple of days, since Saint John's head men's basketball coach Norm Roberts was fired, there has been some speculation about the commitment of Saint Peter's Prep senior forward Ronald Roberts. I was able to get some answers about Ron's commitment to Saint John's earlier today.

As of Monday afternoon, Ron still had a signed Letter of Intent with Saint John's, according to Saint Peter's Prep head coach Mike Kelly. Roberts had not asked to be released from the LOI and Roberts' camp had not yet made any decisions. Coach Kelly also added that he planned to speak with the AD at Saint John's on Monday about Ron's direction moving forward. If Roberts is released from his Letter of Intent by Saint John's, he would be eligible to play next year without having to sit out, provided Saint John's approved of the school. They are unlikely to grant Roberts a release to a fellow Big East school.

Kelly also added that Ron participated in the New Jersey North-South All-Star game yesterday, playing a solid game and winning the halftime slam dunk contest.

This is a story that could be worth following in the coming days and weeks as the coaching situation at Saint John's gets sorted out. Roberts narrowed his college choices to Saint Joseph's and Saint John's in the fall before ultimately choosing Saint John's. Should Ron open his recruitment back up, the Hawks would likely be a team in the picture.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Penn Wood and Plymouth-Whitemarsh Roll On

On Saturday afternoon, both Penn Wood and Plymouth-Whitemarsh won their respective games in the PIAA state playoffs, setting up a potential rematch of the Distict Finals.

Penn Wood defeated Scranton 66-55 in a 2:30 tilt in Bethlehem, PA. In attendance were Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli as well as Temple head man Fran Dunphy. Both coaches were there to watch Penn Wood junior Aaron Brown, who did not disappoint in the winning effort. According to the article by Chris Vito linked below, Brown had 22 points and 9 rebounds. Scranton features a talented sophomore, Terry Turner, who was limited to only 9 points in the game, roughly 10 below his season average.

Also linked below is an article on the game by Pat Leonard. In the article, Leonard mentions that Martelli was there scouting the Scranton sophomore.

At Villanova, Plymouth-Whitemarsh got 22 points from CJ Aiken in a 54-46 win over Roman Catholic High School. Roman Catholic got 22 points from Roc Brookins, a senior guard headed to Tulane next year. An article on the game by Rick O'Brien is linked below.

With the wins, both teams advance to the state semi-finals. Penn Wood will play Liberty and Plymouth-Whitemarsh will take on North Allegheny, with both games taking place on Wednesday. With a win Wednesday, Penn Wood will get a chance to repeat as state champs. With a win, Plymouth-Whitemarsh will have a chance to redeem themselves for their district finals loss to Penn Wood.

Rick O'Brien Article on Plymouth-Whitemarsh Win

Chris Vito Article on Penn Wood Win

Pat Leonard Article on Penn Wood Win

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pictures from Christian Life Academy's State Title Win

Bobby Sibley, from Louisiana Basketball Report, sent me a few pictures of Christian Life Academy following yesterday's state title win. 2010 Saint Joseph's commit Langston Galloway is in the pictures wearing number 11. State title game MVP McCall Tomeny is in number 24. Tomeny is an unsigned senior looking at a few D1 colleges as well as some prep schools, according to Sibley.

Check out Sibley's site at the link below:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Video of Christian Life Academy's Title Win

I was sent a video link to the game's highlights by Larry Galloway, father of senior guard and 2010 SJU commit Langston Galloway. Langston wears number 11 for Christian Life in the video.

CLA State Title Game Video Highlights

Trenton Catholic Tops Saint Anthony for Non-Public B Title

On Wednesday, Bob Hurley's Saint Anthony team upset one of the top ten high school teams in America, Paterson Catholic. The upsets continued on Saturday, when Trenton Catholic defeated Saint Anthony in overtime 57-56 in the New Jersey Non-Public B championship game in Toms Rivers. Trenton Catholic got 19 points from senior guard, and Drexel commit, Frantz Massenat. They also got a 15-point, 5-reboound performance from junior wing guard Khalid Lewis-El. A recap of the game from The Star Ledger is linked below.

Trenton Catholic Upsets Saint Anthony

Galloway, Christian Life Win Another State Title

Senior guard, and Saint Joseph's-signee, Langston Galloway and his Christian Life Academy team captured the Louisiana 1A title on Saturday afternoon. CLA defeated Country Day 49-42 for the title. A recap of the game, courtesy of The Advocate and WBRZ News 2 Louisiana, is linked below.

Christian Life Takes Title

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Big Night of Hoops at Rutgers Tonight

Although Rutgers' season came to a close earlier this week, there is still basketball to be played on campus. Tonight, the New Jersey state playoffs continue, and Rutgers is the host of two highly-anticipated match-ups. At 6, Seton Hall Prep and Saint Peter's Prep will face off. Saint Peter's Prep is led by junior guard Myles Davis and senior forward Ron Roberts. In an article on earlier this week, Davis continued to list Saint Joseph's as a school of interest, alongside Pitt, UConn, Georgetown, Providence, La Salle, and George Mason. Ron Roberts chose Saint John's, another school on Davis' list, over the Hawks in the fall.

The second game of the double-header features Bob Hurley's Saint Anthony team and one of the top-ranked high school teams in America, Paterson Catholic. Saint Anthony is a veteran team, led by seniors going to Richmond (Derrick Williams), Saint Bonaventure (Eli Carter), and Oregon State (Devon Collier). Paterson Catholic's senior star is Seton Hall-bound forward Fuquan Edwin. Derrick Randall, a junior bigman on Paterson Catholic, is an SJU recruiting target in the class of 2011.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Penn Wood- Plymouth Whitemarsh Recap

Friday night, for the second time in four days, I went over to Villanova to watch both Penn Wood and Plymouth-Whitemarsh, arguably the two best teams in all of Pennsylvania. Friday night's game, for the district title, is the game that people, myself included, have been waiting for all season long. There were stars on the court and a number of coaches in the stands. Saint Joseph's was represented with both Phil Martelli and Geoff Arnold in the stands. Temple's Fran Dunphy, Penn State's Ed DeChellis, and West Virginia assistant coach Billy Hahn were all among the nearly sell-out crowd.

The game, eventually won 54-49 in overtime by Penn Wood, was a tale of two halves, a number of sub-plots, and a great atmosphere. Going into the game, I was really interested in how the match-up down low between SJU commit CJ Aiken and Penn Wood junior center Shawn Oakman would go. In the first half, we saw very little of that match-up since Oakman went to the bench with two fouls only a few minutes into the first quarter. He sat out the rest of the half, which opened things up in the middle. At the half, CJ was well on his way to a double-double. On one particular sequence, he made a perfectly timed block on the defensive end, sprinted the court, and had an alley-oop way above the rim. It was my fourth time this season seeing Aiken play, and each time out, I am more and more impressed by his timing on the defensive end and his ability to catch anything thrown in his direction on the offensive side of the ball. Despite Oakman's benching, Plymouth-Whitemarsh only held a 5 point lead going into the break. Aiken had a great first half for PW and Tyree Johnson played very well for Penn Wood in half one. The play of the half, and probably the game came in the second quarter. With Penn Wood down just about double digits, Penn Wood junior wing Aaron Brown received the ball on the left elbow and took it hard to the rim, jamming it with home left-handed. After the jam, Brown ran down the court, arms motioning for the Penn Wood faithful to make some noise. They did, Brown took his game to another level, and Penn Wood went to the locker room only down 5.

While CJ Aiken was the most impressive player on the court in the first half, that award easily goes to Aaron Brown for the second half and over-time. Most of that is due to Aaron's great play, but it's also due to Plymouth-Whitemarsh's inability to get the ball to Aiken in the second half. I counted only two or three occasions all half where Aiken got a touch. Part of that is due to Oakman's presence, but it was almost like there was a reluctance by PW's guards to get the ball to their big-man. Jaylen Bond, the junior PW forward, really struggled in the second half, especially from the free throw line. I lost track, but according to the article linked below, Bond shot 3-12 from the line, with the bulk of that coming in the second half. Aside from the momentum-changing dunk in the first half, Aaron Brown was quiet up until intermission. That changed in the fourth quarter, when he demanded the ball every time down the court. On one particular play, Brown took the ball hard to the basket and was fouled by Jaylen Bond. After hitting his first free throw, Brown took a step toward Bond and said to him, "You can't guard me. Ever." In this game, that was true. Brown absolutely took over, hitting crucial free throws in overtime for Penn Wood. In this game, he scored on a great variety of dunks, drives, pull-up jumpers, and free throws.

For the game, according to, Brown finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds. For Plymouth-Whitemarsh, CJ Aiken had 10 points, 7 boards, and 6 blocks. Those numbers would have probably been a lot higher had CJ gotten more touches on the offensive end.

Both teams now advance to the state playoffs, which begin this coming week.

The day after winning the district title, Aaron Brown took in the Saint Joseph's - La Salle game at SJU along with his father and Penn Wood head coach Clyde Jones. It's clear that Brown is one of SJU's top targets in the junior class, and his performance Friday night should have all SJU fans hoping that he decides to come to Hawk Hill.

The link directly below from the Times Herald, gives a nice recap and video highlights from the game. Aaron Brown's dunk is in the video, and he is number 2 in blue.

The picture above of CJ Aiken is also from the Times Herald article.

Times Herald Video Highlights Recap of PW-PW Game

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

PIAA Semi-Finals Recap

Last night I made my way over to Villanova for the two 4A district semifinal games. While neither game was especially close or competitive, the stage is now set for a game that many people have been waiting for since December. At 9:00 on Friday night at Nova, Penn Wood and Plymouth-Whitemarsh will take the court for the district title. I have a write-up on some of the standout players in both games below. Keep in mind, while reading, that I don't keep stats myself at games. Some of the numbers may not be perfect, but most are from articles that are linked below.

Penn Wood is loaded with Division 1 talent. This was my second time this week seeing them play, and it's amazing how roles on the team can change. When I saw Penn Wood beat Bensalem last Tuesday night, it was the Aaron Brown show. Brown was dominant while senior Hartford-bound guard Tyree Johnson had a rough outing. Last night it was Tyree Johnson and Shawn Oakman with the most impressive performances. Tyree had 15 points and more than half a dozen assists while really controlling the game's tempo. Penn Wood's size was just too much for Souderton. Shawn Oakman played as well as I've ever seen him play. What really impresses you about Oakman is his great feel around the basket and great hands. He is as physically imposing a force as you'll find in high school basketball, but he also possesses great hands that allow him to catch just about any ball in his direction. Shawn also showed good shooting touch on a jumper from the right wing. For the most part, his points will come in the paint, but that's not a bad thing. Someone with his size and feel around the bucket shouldn't worry about spending much time away from it.

When I looked at the box score linked below after the game last night, I shook my head when I saw Aaron Brown's line. He finished the game with 15 points and 9 rebounds, which is very solid. And he did that while playing the least impressive game I've seen from him this year. Early in the game, Aaron's jumper was not falling the way that it was last week. In the first quarter, he went up strong for a two-handed dunk, was hit, but the whistles remained silent. There was definitely some frustration evident in his demeanor the rest of the half. Penn Wood won the game going away and did not need anything more from Aaron last night. Despite it being an off game for Brown, he still showed some real flashes. He displayed his athleticism on a monster fast-break dunk. Aaron also buried a 3 in the 4th quarter from the right wing. Brown is one of SJU's top targets in the 2011 recruiting class. That was evident in assistant coach Geoff Arnold's presence in the crowd at Nova.

Game 2 featured top-seeded Plymouth-Whitemarsh and a talented West Chester Rustin team. Unfortunately for W.C. Rustin fans, this one was over shortly after it began. PW won the game going away, 79-47. PW's bigmen, senior CJ Aiken and junior Jaylen Bond, were too much for West Chester. Aiken had a triple-double (12 pts, 12 boards, and 12 blocks) in the win while Bond had 17 points and 17 boards. Aiken's uncanny ability to block shots was on full display last night. In the first quarter, West Chester players continued to drive the lane past Aiken, and time and again, their shots were swatted away. CJ's points were almost all right around the bucket on a flurry of acrobatic dunks and layups. On one particular play, Aiken followed up a Jaylen Bond miss and dunked the ball home with both arms elevated way above the rim. He is a human pogo stick around the basket. Aiken has the talent to be a real difference-maker on Hawk Hill. At first, it may be mostly on the defensive side of the ball, but CJ is not nearly as raw offensively as most high school bigs.

This was one of the best outings I've seen from junior Jaylen Bond. Bond has an interesting decision ahead of him. He could be an all-league player for 2 or 3 years in a conference like the A10 or work his way into a rotation on a Big East or ACC school. That is not a knock on Bond. Not in the least. He is an absolute force around the basket. While he is undersized for a college 4, standing around 6'6, he has the strength and athleticism to play that position in college. It would be an adjustment for him to play the 4 in the Big East due to his height. Can Jaylen turn into a college 3? Possibly. What I saw last night, however, was a player who is a force around the basket. Temple is recruiting Bond hard, and he would be a great get for Fran Dunphy. On the flipside, a top program in the A10 is probably a great fit for Bond. He is an incredible talent who impressed me again last night.

Plymouth-Whitemarsh's bigs get all the attention, but, as I've said before on here, Whis Grant is very underrated in the area. Whis, along with the other PW guards, is a terrific on-ball defender. He also plays a terrific floor game, which was evident again last night. I don't know what schools are looking at Grant, but he looks like a player that should have a terrific career at the right program. I'm really interested and curious to see where Whis plays his college ball next year.

I am planning on attending the title game Friday night, so check back here for a recap on Saturday.

Penn Wood Recap from

Delco Times Article on Plymouth-Whitemarsh Win

Picture above of Penn Wood's Shawn Oakman from Rick O'Brien's article linked above.

Penn Wood and Plymouth Whitemarsh to Face Off for the District Friday

The match-up that players and fans (Plymouth-Whitemarsh fans last night were chanting "We want Penn Wood" in the first half) have been awaiting all season long will finally take place on Friday night at Villanova. Both Penn Wood and Plymouth-Whitemarsh cruised to easy victories last night in the district semi-finals. There was no drama. No need for a late rally. After giving up some early easy buckets, Penn Wood tightened things up defensively and continued to feed the ball to junior center Shawn Oakman en route to victory over Souderton. In the night's second game, Plymouth-Whitemarsh never allowed West Chester Rustin to even feel like they belonged on the same court. SJU commit CJ Aiken notched a triple-double with 12 points, 12 boards, and 12 blocks while junior forward Jaylen Bond also had a monster game and double-double. Senior guard Whis Grant also had another impressive outing. I will have a more detailed recap up on the site later today.