We hear about the top players in the area every day.
Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Naheem McLeod regularly puts up 20 points and 10 rebounds, La Salle’s Sean Simon scored his 1,000th point early this season and Wissahickon’s Max Rapoport can make three-pointers like layups.
These players — rightfully so — get recognized for their abilities after every game they play.
This is a moment to recognize the other guys. The players who come off the bench to play aggressive, full-court defense. The big-bodied forwards who set picks to get the guards open. The seniors who show the younger, more-talented players what it takes to be a varsity basketball player.
First-year starter Darius Brown does a lot for the Ghosts. He gives the team a third ball-handler to take the pressure off Robbie Heath and Lucas Monroe. Brown is a scrappy defender and a capable outside shooter who can make teams pay for collapsing in the lane.
Freshman point guard Rahsool Diggins has started all year for the defending Catholic League, District 12 and state champs. He can handle pressure well, which opens up opportunities for Andrew Funk and Tyree Pickron. Diggins is a solid passer and holds his own on defense. He has the ability to impact games without scoring.
Sophomore Zahree Harrison is playing a big role for the Panthers. With standout wing Jack Clark sidelines for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, someone needs to step up. Harrison has the ability to do that. He can drive to the basket, score from the outside and is reliable at the free-throw line. He also can handle the ball to take some pressure off of point guard Ahmad Bickley.
The Pioneers are having a great season, sitting at 16-4. They wouldn’t be where they are without their Swiss army knife, Nolan Bolton. He leads the team in assists with four per game to go along with his 7.7 points. He leads Dock in charges drawn and is second in steals and rebounds, despite standing at just 6-foot-1. What really separates Bolton is his versatility. He always guards the opposing team’s best player and has played every position on the court.
The Drakes lost 15 seniors the last two years. Thanks to Trevor Brockwell, they are still in position to make the district playoffs. Brockwell, a junior, stands at 6-foot-4 and is the Drakes primary ball-handler. He’s played every minute in 11 of the 20 games this season and leads Jenkintown in scoring, assists, blocks, three-pointers and free-throw shooting.
Seniors Nick Hoffman and Isaiah Snead have been crucial to La Salle’s success. They are both leaders in the locker room who work hard in practice to make the team better. Hoffman, from Huntington Valley, and Snead, from Northeast Philadelphia, both could have played a lot more if they went to their local public schools but wanted the challenge of attending a prep school and playing in the Philadelphia Catholic League. The Explorers wouldn’t be where they are at without their leadership.
Noah Kitaw is in his third varsity season for the Warriors and has played every position on the court. When the team needs him to score, he can do it — netting 18 points against Spring-Ford when Jeff Woodward was hurt or scoring 21 against Perk Valley when David Duda was injured. He can shut down the opponent’s best player — like when he held PV’s Tyler Stretchay to four points. He leads Methacton in three-point percentage, is second in assists and free-throw percentage and is third in rebound, scoring, steals and deflections.
The Eagles sit atop the Pioneer Athletic Conference with a 16-6 overall record and 8-2 record in league play and are ranked No. 7 in the latest District 1 Class-6A power rankings. Vernon Tubbs and Mikeel Allen deserve a lot of the spotlight, but so does Darius Hopewell. Hopewell, a senior, is the tallest player on the team, standing at 6-foot-6. He’s a presence in the paint on both ends of the floor. He also has good passing vision for a center.
AJ Catanzaro does a lot for the Knights that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. He hustles, dives for loose balls, wins 50/50 balls and leads by example. He’s embraced his role as a defensive specialist and is always up for the task of defending the opponent’s top player.
Plumstead Christian is sitting at 12-7 getting ready to make a run in the Bicentennial Athletic League playoffs and districts. Connor Seelig is the player behind the scenes allowing it all to happen. Seelig has drawn 12 charges this season, including five in the last three games. He’s the type of player always willing to set screens and dive for loose balls. A lifelong baseball player who has committed to basketball in the last few years, Seelig averages almost five rebounds per game, four points and is shooting just under 50%.
Senior guard Danny Cooper is the first guy off the bench for the 20-0 Colonials. He’s the most natural point guard on the team and allows Ahmad Williams and Ish Horn to play more off-ball when he comes into the game. Cooper is also an excellent on-ball defender that fits perfectly into Plymouth Whitemarsh’s pressure defense.
The Golden Bears’ unsung hero is Darius Bostwick. Bostwick is a special needs player who has been an inspiration to the school and the boys basketball team, which is currently fighting for a spot in the District 1 Class-5A playoffs. Bostwick will start and score during Upper Moreland’s senior night Tuesday, Feb. 7, against Wissahickon at 7 p.m.
Anthony Lawrence is the Draymond Green for the Trojans. He does all the dirty work, especially on defense, and gives up offensive opportunities for a higher quality shot for a teammate. Wiss couldn’t do what it’s doing without Lawrence’s sacrifices and unselfishness. He was the ninth or 10th guy for Wiss last year behind some very talented offensive bigs and the team has gotten better this year with Lawrence in the starting lineup.
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