Category: Latest News

Carroll girls, Bonner-Prendie boys forced to move up in 2020


Bonner & Prendergast’s run to the PIAA Class 4A boys basketball final in 2019 is one of the reasons the Friars are being moved up to Class 5A for the next two seasons under the PIAA’s recently instituted competitive classification formula. PETE BANNAN – MEDIANEWS GROUP

By Matt Smith

Archbishop Carroll’s girls and Bonner-Prendergast boys are among the 15 basketball teams that are being forced to move up one PIAA classification next season.

The reclassification is based on the PIAA’a competitive classification formula, which was introduced in 2018. In the previous two-year classification cycle, a team that gains success points as well as transfer students “that are equal to or exceeds the stated numbers, the school will move up one classification,” according to Carroll and Bonner-Prendie fit this description.

Carroll girls will play in Class 6A (the highest PIAA classification) and Bonner-Prendie will make the leap to Class 5A.

The PIAA’s controversial formula awards four success points to teams that advance to the state finals, which Carroll and Bonner-Prendie accomplished during the 2018-19 campaign. Three points are awarded to semifinalists, two to quarterfinalists and one for qualifying for the state tournament.

In essence, Carroll girls and Bonner-Prendie boys will be reclassified for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons because both programs accepted a minimum of one transfer athlete and accrued enough “success points” during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns.

(click on this link for the full story)

Ridley’s McCaughan quietly happy with college choice

Dakota McCaughan getting open in the 2019/20 season. Photo by MediaNews Group.

By Matt Smith

The recruiting process can be a burden for any high school athlete.

Ridley’s Dakota McCaughan was cognizant of the pressure surrounding her choice for a college destination. The All-Delco basketball player had offers before her senior season, her first at Ridley High after a three-year stint at Bonner-Prendergast, but she decided to wait and play the long game.

That was OK with McCaughan.

She never announced her up-to-the-minute college offers or invitations for official campus visits. A quiet, down to earth sort, McCaughan kept her business to herself.

Dakota McCaughan being interviewed post game on Photo by Mike Mayer,

Ultimately, McCaughan, who led Ridley to its first Central League championship in decades, kept coming back to one school in particular. In late April, she signed with the University of South Carolina-Upstate.

Her somewhat belated signing had nothing to do with her academic prowess. McCaughan is a model student taking three advanced placement courses during her final semester of high school – psychology,statistics and literature. She is handling the heavy workload while being forced to complete her schoolwork at home due to the conronavirus pandemic.

(click on this link for the full story)

Penncrest’s Marquis Tomlin commits to Cabrini


By Matthew DeGeorge

The connection between the basketball programs at Penncrest and Cabrini over the last few years has been forged by Mike Doyle, the Cabrini standout and son of Penncrest head coach Mike Doyle.

That bond offered Marquis Tomlin an entry point to get to know the Cavaliers. And when it came to choosing a college destination, Tomlin this week decided to commit to the Cavaliers.

Dave Burman interviews Tomlin after a game in the 2019/20 season.

“I like their coaching staff,” Tomlin said Wednesday. “Their coaching staff has always been close to me and my family, and they’re a big part of Penncrest with Mike Doyle going there. … It’s just a dream come true. I can’t really put it into words.”

Tomlin, a 5-9 senior guard, averaged 13.7 points per game this season, leading Penncrest to a 22-8 record, the semifinals of the District 1 Class 5A tournament and the PIAA tournament. Tomlin was a second-team All-Delco pick. Penncrest made the state tournament all three seasons that Tomlin played.

(click on this link for the full story)

With help from above, Watkins’ season of redemption (almost) complete for Chester

Chester’s Karell Watkins is the Delco Times player of the year. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

By Matthew DeGeorge

Neither Karell Watkins nor Chester High coach Keith Taylor shy away from the fact that the 2018-19 season ended on poor terms.

Watkins, a talented sophomore, helped the Clippers win 21 games. But his season ended prematurely, suspended for a violation of team rules for four games, one in the District 1 tournament and all of the Clippers’ run to the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals. In a basketball program that seeks to teach more than the game, the loss of Watkins’ 19.9 points per game wouldn’t supersede the rules.

Our Dave Burman interviews Chester’s Karell Watkins earlier in the season. Photo by: Delcohoops/Mike Mayer

It also meant that to move forward with a promising career, player and coach needed to clear the air once the season was over.

“He came to me,” Taylor said. “That shows his maturity. He came to me toward the end of the summertime saying that he wanted to be part of the team again. He knew that he had messed up, he knew the mistakes he made in the past, he knew he was wrong, and he wanted to come back and do anything he could do to help us win. And he did that.”

(click on this link for the full story)

Chester co-star Taylor earns nod for all-around leadership

Akeem Taylor, dunking on Simon Gratz in the PIAA Class 6A boys basketball second round, played his last game in a Clippers uniform. The PIAA canceled the remainder of the winter sports championships as well as the spring sports season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

By Matthew DeGeorge

In addition to player of the year Karell Watkins of Chester, the rest of the All-Delco team includes:

Akeem Taylor, Chester: The senior guard was the engine that drove the Clippers to the Del Val League title (part of a 31-game in-league winning streak) and the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 6A tournament before the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. Taylor was second on the Clippers to Watkins in averaging 14.4 points per game, but his contributions far exceeded his offensive output. Taylor averaged 7.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.7 steals and 3.9 blocks per game, an all-around statistical demon who filled roles as Chester’s most consistent offensive playmaker and its best defensive stopper. He scored in double figures in 24 of 28 games for the Clippers, who finished with a 24-4 record. Taylor topped out at 27 points in the regular-season finale against Christiana. He scored 24 on three occasions, including a win over South Philadelphia High in December in which Taylor hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force the game to overtime. He added 16 points in the District 1 Class 6A semifinal loss to Methacton and 21 in the win over Bensalem in the third-place game. Taylor, who spent his freshman year at the former Chester Charter School for the Arts, finished his career with 1,033 points, 15 fewer than his uncle and Chester High coach Keith Taylor. Akeem scored his 1,000th career point in the District 1 third-place game against Bensalem with a typically prodigious stat line: 21 points, 12 rebounds, seven blocks, five steals and two assists. Taylor recently committed to Kutztown University.

(click on this link for the the rest of the All-Delco first team)

All-Delco Girl’s Basketball Player of the Year – Erin Sweeney

Archbishop Carroll’s Erin Sweeney battled injuries this season but still had the Patriots on a deep run in the PIAA Class 5A tournament when the plug was pulled on the season. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

By Matthew DeGeorge

Erin Sweeney wanted to be a softball player.

“When I was younger, softball was the sport that I really liked,” the Archbishop Carroll senior said. “I played basketball, but softball was my favorite sport.”

In the sixth grade, everything changed for Sweeney. That’s when she decided to try out for the Comets, one of the best travel basketball organizations in the country, which has developed more than 600 college players since the mid-1980s.

“I made Comets, and after that first year, that’s when I decided basketball was what I wanted to play,” Sweeney said. “From that point on, basketball became my main thing and it’s because of the Comets. That’s when I pretty much decided, basketball is what I’m going to focus on.”

The Havertown resident was a standout player at St. Bernadette’s before joining Carroll, where she was coached all four years by ones of her Comets coaches, Renie Shields.

A four-year starter, Sweeney led Carroll to the Catholic League championship in 2019. She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark as a junior and committed to Drexel University prior to her senior campaign.

(click on this link for the full story)

Sophomores O’Neill, Scott, McErlane talented beyond their years

Sophomore guard Sydni Scott helped a well-balanced and youthful Cardinal O’Hara team advance to the quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class 6A tournament. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

By Matt Smith

In addition to Player of the Year Erin Sweeney of Archbishop Carroll, the rest of the All-Delco first team includes:

Grace O’Neill, Archbishop Carroll: A sophomore guard, O’Neill is a cerebral player and the best point guard in the county, someone who flourishes in every aspect of the game. O’Neill has been in coach Renie Shields’ starting lineup since the start of her freshman year. “Grace is so good and does so much for us,” Shields said. “She’s just a very good, very smart basketball player.” In what was an up-and-down season by Carroll’s lofty standards, O’Neill blossomed into one of the best all-around talents in the Philadelphia area. In Carroll’s two wins in the PIAA Class 5A tournament, O’Neill was excellent. In a 47-41 decision over Mount St. Joseph, she totaled a game-high 17 points and went 6-for-6 at the foul line in the fourth quarter. She tallied 15 points in the Patriots’ 55-34 rout of West Scranton in the second round. O’Neill, who earned All-Catholic League first-team honors, averaged 12.2 points and 2.6 assists per games for the Patriots.

(click on this link for the the rest of the All-Delco first team)

As far as local hoops legacies go, those of 2020 are sadly incomplete


Bonner-Prendergast’s Malik Edwards puts a shot up against Roman Catholic in a regular-season game. Photo by: Digital First Media/Pete Bannan

By Matthew DeGeorge

It wasn’t easy for Kevin Funston to address his Bonner-Prendergast boys basketball team last week.

The conversation was freighted with disappointments, so many of them frighteningly familiar to us all. Of a season ending prematurely. Of careers ending early. Of disruptions to routine and habit.

But Funston and his Friars carried something else, deep in their hearts.

“I’m sure every other team that was still playing thinks this,” Funston said Monday. “But I think this was our championship to win.”

Funston’s Friars had evidence on their side. The Friars had won their two PIAA Class 4A games by an average of 36 points. Ahead lay District 3’s Bishop McDevitt in a never-to-be-requited quarterfinal, then either Pope John Paul or Tamaqua. The state final could bring Imhotep Charter, which Bonner-Prendie  had beaten in the District 12 final, with a chance to avenge last year’s state-final loss against a Panthers team that had graduated three Division I players.

What-ifs abound in the time of coronavirus, but the one Bonner-Prendie harbors is among the most salient.

(click on this link for the full story)