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Jesse Morgan makes a dunk for the City boys´ team.
RAHUL COUTINHO / Staff photographer
Jesse Morgan makes a dunk for the City boys’ team.
By Ted Silary

PHILLY’S PUBLIC schools are off this week, and so is Jesse Morgan’s body.

Don’t believe him? In his own words, here are his plans: “I’m gonna rest, rest and rest. That’s it.” He almost started a day too early.

The occasion yesterday at 4 p.m. in La Salle University’s Tom Gola Arena was the boys’ contest in the All-Star Labor Classic. The guy with droopy eyelids through the first half? That was Morgan, the star guard from Olney High who mostly goes by “Booge” – rhymes with scrooge.

“I didn’t get up until 2 o’clock,” Morgan said. “I was sluggish. Took me a while to get going.”

Don’t worry. We asked the obvious questions.

“I didn’t go to bed until about 2 in the morning,” he said. “Our spring break is just starting. I want to take advantage of it. I want to get used to not having to go to sleep so early.

“How’d I sleep that long? My bed’s real comfortable. It was easy. Didn’t even wake up once. Slept straight through.”

Morgan, a 6-4, 175-pound senior guard, earned first-team honors on the Daily News’ recently released All-City squad. Once he got rolling yesterday, he bobbed and weaved – and exploded – his way to 16 points, though the result for City was a 109-99 loss to Suburbs.

Morgan hit only one of three shots in the first half; all attempts were treys. He made all five of his shots from the floor thereafter, with a three and dunk mixed in, while going an uncharacteristic 2-for-5 at the line.

He added three rebounds, along with one assist and a steal.

Through his first 3 years of high school ball while at Prep Charter, Morgan mostly was pigeonholed as a zone-buster. This past season, he did everything imaginable while pacing Olney to the Division A regular-season title.

“I knew I had more in me,” he said. “Maybe not everything I wound up showing, but that came as I went through the season. I really picked up my defense and rebounding. I kind of surprised myself in those two areas.

“I’m proud of how things went. I blossomed into a good all-around player and raised my stock a lot higher.”

Right about now, rumors about Morgan’s future are as plentiful as Easter candy next to drug-store cash registers.

Schools from around the country are at least inquiring – Final Four participant Connecticut is among them – and offers, Jesse said, have come from Nebraska and Baylor, in addition to Temple and La Salle. No official visits have been made. He has checked out the locals on unofficials.

So, he’s not ready to sign, as some are saying?… Read Entire Article Here

By TED SILARY
Philadelphia Daily News

silaryt@phillynews.com
NOT ONLY the greedy start asking for presents barely a week after Christmas.

Then again, the basketball squad of Ss. Neumann-Goretti High was merely requesting something it had been promised, and deserved. Namely, a tour bus that actually worked.

You know how transporation miseries are considered a Public League staple? Well, N-G’s players and coaches can now relate and, even though the school’s nickname is Saints, no one will mind if they let loose with a blue word or three.

It was allllllll figured out.

The Saints would board the tour bus in South Philly, travel to Warminster to meet Archbishop Wood in a Catholic Blue game, then head from there to Wheeling, W.Va., where today at 2:45 they’re scheduled to meet St. Vincent-St. Mary, of Akron, Ohio – LeBron James’ alma mater – in a showcase event that also features Catholic League squads North Catholic, St. Joseph’s Prep, Roman Catholic.

One problem: Once the bus arrived at N-G, a broken fuel line was discovered.

“That really messed up our minds,” Tony Chennault said. “Instead of worrying about this game, it was, ‘Are we even going to be able to go to West Virginia?’ ”

In time, after piling into three cars and rushing to Wood, Chennault and his teammates learned a lesson. Even when vast disappointment could be on the horizon, full attention must be paid to current tasks.

N-G survived, 60-46, as Chennault, a 6-2, 180-pound junior wing guard already committed to Wake Forest, collected 22 points, six rebounds and three assists. Read the rest of this entry »

By TED SILARY
Philadelphia Daily News

silaryt@phillynews.com

ALL’S WELL in Wayns’ World.
Really, how it could not be?

Not only is Maalik Wayns, a 6-1, 192-pound senior point guard at Roman Catholic High, considered the city’s top scholastic basketball player.

His name also can be found in lofty locations on national rankings lists and he is signed to play college ball for a program (Villanova) that pretty much owns the local spotlight.

Is there pressure? Of course. Does Wayns realize that some people this season will attend Roman’s games mostly (only?) because of his presence? He’s no dummy.

He also knows this: The best stars are those who keep evvvvvvverything in perspective.

In the midst of the holiday season, at an out-of-the-way college (Gwynedd-Mercy) 21 miles from Roman, an overflow crowd last night turned out to watch Wayns and the Cahillites battle North Catholic, the defending Catholic League champion, in a Red Division contest.

Playingwise, Wayns satisfied the fans by totaling 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds in a 58-55 win that wound up being hairy.

Though Roman led by 50-39 with 4:47 remaining, a partial stall did not produce the desired results. There were turnovers and missed shots at one end. At the other, among other things, Jaleel Mack buried a trio of treys.

His last, with 4.4 seconds remaining, moved North within 56-55. But on the inbound play, following a timeout at 3.8, the Falcons allowed Andre Horne to break free downcourt unattended and Kevin Regan, the football quarterback, hit him with a pass for an easy, buzzer-beating layup.

For those who paid attention, Wayns also provided assurance that, yes, he’s enjoying himself and that his head is not even close to basketball-sized.

Fourth quarter. Wayns got way ahead of the field. The chance to uncork a bring-the-house down dunk was there. He motored to the hoop. Left his feet and began to soar . . .

Oops. Clang. The ball slammed hard against the rim. Baskets are still 10 feet high. Not 9 1/2.

“I could tell as I jumped that it wasn’t gonna work,” Wayns said.

Luckily for Wayns, Roman maintained possession and there was a stoppage in play. As the house buzzed and he peeled toward the sideline opposite Roman’s bench, Maalik smiled broadly.

Other stars might have mumbled curse words under their breath. Might have done something – wiped supposedly sweaty hands on pants, for instance – to steer the fault someplace else. Not Maalik Wayns. Not the city’s newest megastar. He smiled.

Because? Read the rest of this entry »

By TED SILARY
Philadelphia Daily News

silaryt@phillynews.com
Instant replay has come to Public League basketball!

For amusement purposes only.

In retrospect, all on hand yesterday at Pepper Middle School in deep Southwest Philly, hard by the airport, should not have been surprised when a game that was no walk in the park was decided in controversial fashion: by a jumper that appeared to follow a walk in the lane.

The situation: Communications Tech and Strawberry Mansion were tied in a wild Division C contest that featured a little bit of everything and lots of some things, namely intensity and memory-making plays.

As the clock wound down, CT senior point guard Antonio “Gee” Monroe had the ball and, although the general plans called for dish first, launch second, his teammates had little prayer of seeing it.

“As a senior leader, in a situation like that, it’s my job to put the team on my back,” the 6-foot, 180-pound Monroe said. “I wanted to take the shot. Wanted to get my team the ‘W’ . . . I wasn’t passin’. Well, if two guys were on me I would have, but otherwise that last play was mine.”

Monroe made hard penetration into the lane, slightly to the left. He cut loose a flip shot from about 10 feet . . . gooooooood!

CT 59, Mansion 57. No more time on the clock. Many minutes of controversy remaining.

The big question: Had Monroe traveled?

“I think he was fouled first,” CT coach Lou Biester said.

“That was a walk. The game should have gone to overtime,” Mansion boss Gerald Hendricks said.

“Walk? Nah, I got pushed,” Monroe said. “Did it look like I walked?”

“He might have walked,” said Monroe’s father, Charles, a spirited spectator and long a coach/organizer in city hoops.

“I was just hoping he’d pass it,” cracked CT’s center, Lijah Thompson. Read the rest of this entry »

CHESTNUT HILL ACADEMY
Coach: Bill Dooley, 2nd year (also Germantown Friends, 2006-07); Education: Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.), Richmond. Career: 44-29.

Last year: 8-2, 22-6.

Savvy seven: Gary Lawrence, 6-6, F; Todd Cramer, 6-4, F; Pat Connaghan, 6-4, G; Andrew Kraft, 6-1, F; Kevin Maguire, 5-9, G; Ryan Duffy, 5-9, G; George Smith, 5-10, G.

Dooley’s comment: “December has shown that the Inter-Ac is going to be extremely competitive. Our thought is that we could win or lose any of the 10 league games, so we absolutely have to be ready to go each and every time we play.”

EPISCOPAL ACADEMY

Coach: Dan Dougherty, 9th year (also St. Pius X, 1959-61; Malvern, 1962-66; Penncrest, 1976; Episcopal, 1977-97). Education: St. Joseph’s Prep, Saint Joseph’s. Career: 657-294; 525-226 at Episcopal.

Last year: 4-6, 14-13.

Savvy seven: Cory Goodman, 6-foot, G; Omari Grier, 6-3, G; Sean Toner, 6-foot, G; Isaiah Baker, 6-7, C; Allen Heggs, 6-5, F; Rich Rosati, 5-11, G; Paul Ramagano, 6-2, F.

Dougherty’s comment: “The rest of us will do our best to be competitive with GA and CHA, the preseason favorites.”

GERMANTOWN ACADEMY

Coach: Jim Fenerty, 20th year (also Egan, 1982-89). Education: Dougherty, La Salle. Career: 426-288; 365-150 at GA.

Last year: 8-2, 18-11.

Savvy seven: Jeff Holton, 6-6, F; Cameron Ayers, 6-4, G; Dean Melchionni, 6-5, F; Jimmy Fenerty, 6-foot, G; Austin Curry, 6-1, G; Jack McDonnell, 6-4, G; Pete Haines, 6-3, F.

Fenerty’s comment: “We could be good. We should be good. But we’re not there yet.”

Read the rest of this entry »

by Ted Silary
Philadelphia Daily News

Before the games are played, the games are REALLY played.
There’s a wonderful basketball tradition in the tightly knit Inter-Ac League. No coach wants his team to be labeled the favorite, and all coaches playfully bust each others’ chops in an attempt to increase/decrease the pressure, depending upon where they sit.

On paper (and computer screens), the clubhouse leader would appear to be Germantown Academy.

After all, the Patriots do return a pair of first-team all-league honorees in senior frontcourter Jeff Holton (American U. commit) and junior wing man Cameron Ayers, son of the former Sixers coach (Randy) and brother of the current Notre Dame star (Ryan).

Plus, if you’re the coach, as is Jim Fenerty, it has to feel good to entrust the squad’s success, in part, to a kid who lives under your very same roof (son Jimmy, bound for Dickinson.)

OK, get ready. Here it comes . . . Read the rest of this entry »

By TED SILARY
Philadelphia Daily News
silaryt@phillynews.com

YEARS FROM now, 10,000 people will claim they were there.
As for the star of the show . . . good luck getting him to admit he was even on the premises.

Some athletes can talk about themselves for hours, days, weeks, forever. In response to each question tossed his way last night, Rakeem Christmas barely broke the 5-second mark.

Hey, the kid has been through a lot in just under 3 years.

Not bad things. Merely head-spinning developments.

As a seventh-grader, Christmas was living on the Caribbean Island of St. Croix and mostly staying in the house, he said, “because it was just too hot.”

Now, if you search for his name on the good, ol’ Internet, you’ll find him mentioned on lists of the nation’s very best sophomore basketball prospects.

“Yes, it’s exciting. Kinda,” he said, smiling.

In his first Catholic League start for the defending champion, North Catholic, and with the holiday 6 days away, the 6-9, 225-pound Christmas gave the spectators in the Falcons’ impressively refurbished Pit an impressive present.

Not only did he record a triple-double, he achieved that accomplishment with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Scott Slade, a sophomore forward for Monsignor Bonner, attempted a right-baseline jumper. Christmas sent it back to Thanksgiving. It was his 10th block and by that juncture, he also owned 10 rebounds and 14 points.

As the Falcons stormed to victory, 67-52, in the Red Division opener, Christmas finished with 16 points, 13 boards and the 10 rejections. He shot 8-for-10 from the floor. Read the rest of this entry »

By TED SILARY
Philadelphia Daily News

silaryt@phillynews.com

Be more aggressive!
Danny Walker used to hear those three words so often, he thought they’d become his name.

During each basketball practice at John Bartram High, coach James Brown yelled that phrase in Walker’s direction, oh, about 47 times. There was no relief on game days. Not even before the contests were played.

“I’d hear it in the lunchroom. Hear it walking the hallways. Hear it even during class,” he said, laughing. “There was no letup.”

Then, Walker even detailed some other words of encouragement fired his way during his first two seasons of varsity basketball. For fun, he even imitated the voices of his buddies.

Walker, who goes 6-5, 190 pounds, is now a senior. Know what else he is?

The word that starts with an A.

“That was always what I kept hearing, and what I kept telling myself, that I had to be more aggressive,” Walker said. “That’s my goal at all times now – to play as hard as I can.” Read the rest of this entry »

The standings in Public D basketball are now officially unbalanced – two more losses than wins.

District 12 chairman Robert Coleman said yesterday that A. Philip Randolph and Science Leadership, first-year Pub members, have been hit with a double-forfeit for playing their first game Dec. 4, a league affair, 1 day before the official PIAA starting date.

According to workers at the Delaware Valley Score Service, which supplies high-school results and box scores to the Daily News, as many as 20 nonleague games involving PL schools were played Dec. 1 through 4.

Coleman said he is currently “combing through schedules” and trying to be determine exactly which schools committed violations. Possible penalties will meted out after a regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 7, he said.

“A to Z. One end of the spectrum to the other,” Coleman said. “They could go from wrist slaps to probation.”

– Ted Silary

By TED SILARY
Philadelphia Daily News
silaryt@phillynews.com

It almost reached the point where Ferg Myrick was afraid to show up for school.

Not because he’d neglected to study for tests, or because someone was trying to bully him, or because he couldn’t take 1 more day of wicked cafeteria food.

The transfer winds were the problem. And they were blowin’ hard in the wrong direction.

In a 1-week span last spring, Prep Charter’s elite basketball program lost one . . . two . . . three starters.

The way Myrick remembers the sequence, the first to depart was guard Parrish Grant. He’s now at Imhotep Charter. Following in quick order were two more guards, shooter Jesse “Boog” Morgan (Olney) and ballhandler Willis Nicholson (Cherokee, of New Jersey).

“I couldn’t believe it,” Myrick said. “That was some drastic stuff.

“It was like, ‘What’s going on here? Will anybody still be around? How much is this going to mess up our team? Will we even be good anymore?’ ”

Welcome to modern-day high-school basketball. Comings and goings are a constant, and Myrick can relate.

Read the rest of this entry »

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