Common denominator for Chesco’s best hoops teams: gritty toughness

Penncrest (5) Justin Heidig fights off the defense of (10) Bishop Shanahan Kevin Dodd at the Liacouras Center, Temple University Saturday. (Pete Bannan – Digital First Media)


By Christopher Vito

Don’t take this the wrong way. But if we’re being honest, there isn’t generally a plethora of elite high school hoops talent in Chester County. A bunch of good, solid players, but Rip Hamiltons and Tina Nicholsons are a once in a lifetime revelations in these parts.

And yet on Saturday at Temple’s Liacouras Center, three of the four Class 5A finalists in the girls and boys District 1 Championship hail from Chesco. How can that be?

Well, all three of the local teams have something in common: a gritty toughness that just isn’t commonplace, and a dedication to teamwork that is fast becoming nearly instinct at the upper echelons of the sport. The West Chester Henderson and Villa Maria girls, and Bishop Shanahan boys, have rosters populated with fundamentally sound players who meld into a five-piece unit on the court working as one.

“We’re not fortunate to walk around with Division I players in our schools, so we have to make the most with what we have,” said Shanahan coach Ken Doyle, after his team took it on the chin, 50-28, to a Penncrest squad that played terrific and has a star in guard Tyler Norwood.

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