Leukemia diagnosis puts life into perspective for Penncrest’s Doyle

Photo by Delcohoops.com

By Matt DeGeorge

It started with a fall.On a normal day last October, a stumble at home brought Mike Doyle to the hospital for stitches … and a conversation that the Penncrest boys basketball coach would never have anticipated.

Something was off in his blood levels, his doctor said. The concern in her voice went far beyond the cut on his skull, and Doyle knew something was very wrong.

Five days later, he had a succinct and scary answer: Chronic myeloid (or myelogenous) leukemia.

“It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced,” Doyle said last week. “It’s a freight train.”

In one conversation, Doyle’s world turned upside down. He had a rare form of cancer that occurs in fewer than two in 100,000 individuals in the United States each year, a population that skews white, male and over age 50. The disease that floods the bloodstream with immature white blood cells after runaway cell division in the bone marrow has no cure but can be brought into remission with chemotherapeutic maintenance. Though he’d dodged the more serious, acute forms of the disease, it still required aggressive treatment, a wholesale overhaul of his rebelling immune system with a powerful daily pill he’ll take for the rest of his life. Though a ravaging dose of chemicals, it didn’t require what once would’ve been a lengthy hospital stay.

He had hope. But soon the question turned to one almost as important. Would he have basketball?

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All-Delco Boys Basketball: Haverford School’s Ray didn’t need a break to earn Player of Year honor

Haverford School’s Christian Ray is the 2018-19 Daily Times Boys Basketball Player of the Year. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

By Matthew DeGeorge

On each wrist, Christian Ray carries a reminder of Dec. 29. On his right wrist is a tattoo of the date, the birthday of his mother, Sharon. His left wrist sports the remnants of a game on that date — against Cherokee High School in a holiday tourney at Widener, when the Haverford School forward went up for a dunk and came down awkwardly on his arm.

He hoped the injury was merely a sprain, to be treated with rest and tight taping. Only after the season did Ray find out his wrist was broken, requiring surgery to insert a screw.

“I knew it hurt at first, and the next day I wasn’t able to dribble using the left hand, but I figured it was just a sprain,” he said last week. “It hurt, sometimes more than others, especially when I re-aggravated it. But I kind of just put tape around it because for the most part that worked throughout the year.”

It’s not easy to make Ray’s 2018-19 season seem any more impressive, but the injury does the trick. That Ray averaged 23.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, shooting 61 percent from the field and leading the Fords to a second straight Inter-Ac title, the PAISAA championship and a perfect 28-0 season … those numbers speak for themselves. But Ray did it with his wrist braced, for a team carrying a target on its back as the reigning Inter-Ac champs and the kind of unbeaten run that makes opponents salivate at the prospect of being the first to beat them.

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All-Delco Girls Basketball: McAteer made memories by sticking with Garnet Valley

The 2018-19 Girls Basketball Player of the Year is Garnet Valley’s Emily McAteer. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

By Matt Smith

There were high expectations for Emily McAteer from the beginning.

That’s what happens when you’re a freshman power forward who can shoot, dribble, defend and make everything look easy.

She was penciled into coach Joe Woods’ starting lineup in her first high school game, a key member of the 2019 class that would go on to set records and make history.

McAteer and her good friend Brianne Borcky were starters from day one. Together they were a fearsome one-two punch that won 103 games in four seasons.

McAteer will graduate in June as one of the most prolific scorers in county history, which is but one reason why she is the 2019 Daily Times Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

“She’s just a great person who comes from a great family, a great teammate and a great leader,” Woods said. “You can’t say enough good things about her. She really is the complete player and person you want on your team. Between her and Brianne, they were great. That whole senior class was awesome. Their leadership and the example they set for the underclassmen was tremendous. They set the bar.”

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One man’s ride through the Delco hoops postseason

The Jaguars, along with the Archbishop Carroll girls and Bonner & Prendergast boys took Delco basketball fans on a thrilling post-season ride. MARK PALCZEWSKI — FOR MEDIANEWS GROUP

By Bob Grotz

Somewhere between the horses and buggies dotting Rte. 30 and the Giant Center, where the Garnet Valley girls were playing for a state title, it occurred to us what a fascinating basketball season it was for Delaware County teams.

In addition to the Jaguars, the Catholic League champion Archbishop Carroll girls and Bonner & Prendergast boys also played for state titles.

Runners-up, all, but that doesn’t diminish their journeys or those of the other Delco teams leaving us with poignant memories of hard work, relentless play and sheer emotion.

• With all due respect to Chester High and its prolific postseason history, it was impossible to ignore what a 5-foot-6 guard did to them in the Class 6A state quarterfinals.

Coatesville guard Jhamir Brickus dropped 52 points on the Clippers from almost every conceivable angle. No one, not even Lower Merion’s Kobe Bryant, scored so many on the Clippers in the postseason.

After the game, coach Keith Taylor and the Clippers made no excuses for the loss while Brickus disappeared into the crowd. Hours later the scoring machine appeared in a video interview aired on Twitter that since has been deleted. The following week Coatesville was eliminated in the semis by eventual state champion Kennedy Catholic.

Taylor promised that Chester High would be back. He’s not the kind of man to break a promise.

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2018/19 Season Concluded

By Delcohoops.com Staff

It’s been another great year for high school basketball in Delaware County!  Over 400 games played among 23 high schools (and that’s just the boy’s).

No less than 14 teams (8 girls and 6 boys) qualified for the PIAA Championship playoffs and three made it to the final game in Hershey. We haven’t checked it out but we suspect no other county in Pennsylvania can make such a claim!

We broadcast 19 games on our Game-of-the-Week series.  Eight of those games were PIAA playoffs and two were Central League Championship games.  We had almost 2,000 listeners and our web page saw more than 140,000 hits. 

A special thank-you to our crew; Dave Burman, our play-by-play broadcaster who always calls a great game with enthusiasm and knowledge far exceeding anyone else we have ever met.  Pete Fulginiti, who handles certain stats to share with our listening audience during the broadcasts along with keen basketball observations. Andrew Kaufman, our newest member of the crew who collected game stats, prepared for game interviews, set-up and packed up our booth for every broadcast and created and operated our new Twitter account.  A special thank-you to Mark Jordan, who comes to us for playoffs, and is a tremendous addition to our color crew.  If somebody knows more about high school basketball we have yet to meet them!

Our annual budget is well over $3000 per season and all of our support comes from local businesses.  If you would like to “join in the fun” for the 2019/20 basketball season please drop us a note at delcohoops@aol.com

See you all in December 2019!

Even in defeat, Bonner & Prendergast’s growth is clear

Bonner & Prendergast seniors — from left, Tariq Ingraham, Isaiah Wong, Chris Haynes and Michael Perretta — accept the runner-up trophy after falling to Imhotep Charter, 67-56, in the PIAA Class 4A final at Giant Center in Hershey Thursday evening. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

By Matthew DeGeorge

Jack Concannon sat 12 rows up at the Giant Center, a vantage point that gave him the literal long view to accompany his metaphorical one.

He watched the team he coached until stepping down last spring struggle through foul trouble in a 67-56 loss to Imhotep Charter in the PIAA Class 4A boys basketball final. He saw four Bonner & Prendergast seniors that he’d brought into the once moribund program trudge stone-faced to midcourt to accept the silver trophy as runner-up.

Through it all, Concannon wore a grin, in part because he knew, by the time the fog of disappointment lifted for his former players, they would sport a similar appreciation.

“We’re all a little disappointed now,” Concannon said Thursday night, “but if you look at the big picture, it’s been a pretty good five-year run.”

Bonner & Prendie’s trip to the state final amid perennial powers — among them Imhotep, winners of three straight Class 4A crowns and seven titles since 2009 — was unique. Concannon inherited a two-win squad five seasons ago, in the aftermath of the school fighting off closure by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He handed off to protégé Kevin Funston a team that advanced to the PIAA Class 5A semifinals, losing in overtime to eventual champ Abington Heights, in the school’s first states berth. Funston took the group one game further this year, continuing the incremental growth Concannon stressed.

With that history, Thursday’s hurt faded quickly. And the silver trophy that will adorn a hallway display case started to be seen for what it was — not the second-choice trophy of Thursday night, but one of the most coveted mementos of the season.

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