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Thursday, December 11, 2008 5:44 AM EST

By Christopher A. Vito, cvito@delcotimes.com

UPPER DARBY — Life. Love. Loyalty.

Those three words, tattooed to the left side of Lijah Thompson’s neck, embody what the 6-7 senior forward is all about on a basketball court.

He lives the game, loves the game and wanted to stay loyal to his Monsignor Bonner teammates.

A series of disciplinary pitfalls led Thompson away from the game and, eventually, away from Monsignor Bonner. He transferred from Bonner at the end of last week and enrolled at Communications Tech High School in Southwest Philadelphia, where he is in his first week of studies.

If Thompson could replay the start of his senior year at Bonner, he admits that he would do a few things differently. But his transfer from the school where he scored 639 career points has provided him a fresh start both on the court and in the classroom.

“Some of the stuff I got in trouble for, some of it wasn’t in the rule book,” Thompson said Tuesday while watching his former teammates beat Academy Park, 59-50. “I don’t want to badmouth Monsignor Bonner. I just wanted to get out of the environment.

“This whole thing was affecting my mom, too. She doesn’t need it because she’s a single parent working hard for us,” added Thompson, who is the youngest of three children. “I wanted to get out of that and make the situation better for my mom.”

Thompson was suspended indefinitely by Monsignor Bonner in October for failing the conduct portion of his report card. The 10-week suspension, of which he served four weeks, limited his after-school activities and prohibited him from practicing with the Friars.

His Nov. 26 appeal of the suspension was denied, which meant the soonest Thompson could rejoin the team he led to last season’s Catholic League semifinals would be in the last week of January.

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By Christopher A. Vito cvito@delcotimes.com

UPPER DARBY — Jamal Melvin spent last weekend reflecting on his play.

He did not skimp on his duties at home or his schooworkl, but the Monsignor Bonner point guard devoted plenty of time to pondering what he brings to the basketball court.

“There’s no one that thinks higher of his game than Jamal Melvin,” Friars coach Brian Daly said following Bonner’s 59-50 nonleague win Tuesday against Academy Park. “I think both he and I knew he wasn’t playing the way he should be playing.”

Melvin completed a 180-degree turn between the Friars’ season-opening loss last Friday and their first win of the season.
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In degrees of richness, Communications Tech’s basketball program yesterday advanced from regular to filthy.

Arriving by transfer from Monsignor Bonner was Lijah Thompson, a 6-7 forward/center, and Robert Morris signee, who was considered the Catholic League’s No. 2 senior behind Roman Catholic guard Maalik Wayns (Villanova).

It didn’t take Thompson long to travel to CT, located in deep Southwest Philly. He lives within footsteps.

“I almost went there out of eighth grade. Everybody wanted me to,” he said. “I know all their players and coaches, and I’ve followed them through the years.”

Thompson said he was experiencing ongoing problems at Bonner over a personal issue.

“It was hard for me to deal with, and I didn’t want to put my mom through it anymore, either,” he said. “It was just time to go. Switching to a school real close to home just made the most sense. I talked with the Robert Morris coaches, and they were in favor of this, too.”

Thompson will be immediately eligible. CT, the defending champ, opens Pub play tomorrow at fellow toughie Prep Charter.

“I appreciate that Bonner signed my [eligibility] paperwork, and that I’ll be allowed to play,” he said. “I have a lot of friends at that school and it’s hard from that point; leaving them behind. I’m still going to go to a lot of their games and cheer them on.”

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