It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these, partially because so little has changed in the last few weeks. The hierarchy, with subtle fluctuations in texture, has more or less held once January dawned. The emergence of favorites in their leagues has been clear and held sway. About the only change I toyed with was the idea of leapfrogging Haverford School past Archbishop Carroll, and if Jameer Nelson Jr. was healthy, I would’ve. But as such, the order holds as we wrap up the District 1 and Inter-Ac schedules that week.
A scheduling note – this will likely be the last Super 7 post until states starts; look for statistical leaders next week in the downtime before districts and as I catch up on games I’ve missed. Here’s the latest Super 7. (Records through Wednesday, Feb. 7.)
1. Bonner & Prendergast (17-3)
The Friars have beaten Roman Catholic and Neumann-Goretti this season, which makes for a great campaign under any circumstances. I do have a concern, though: The Friars are occasionally prone to playing down to opposition. La Salle ambushed them at home. The St. Joseph’s Prep game is excusable given an emotional win over Archbishop Wood and a Sunday afternoon trap. But needing overtime vs. Archbishop Ryan and a one-point win over West Catholic? That’s concerning, especially since the Catholic League system means the Friars haven’t sealed a states berth. The flipside is that Bonner is able to win close games in crunch time, carrying a 6-1 record in games decided by five points or fewer.
2. Archbishop Carroll (14-5)
The loss to Roman stings, as Carroll just didn’t have enough to get the job done late, particularly on the defensive end. I see this Carroll team as one big win away from really hitting its stride – and it has the chance against District 12 class 5A states hopefuls Bonner & Prendergast Friday and Wood Monday.
3. Haverford School (19-5)
The drought is over. The Fords have toppled 18 years of title-free futility (any other Philly teams do that lately?) and did so with a certain degree of ease, even without third-leading scorer Nelson for the last nine games. Only one of their Inter-Ac games was decided by a single-digit margin, an eight-point win at Malvern Prep. Last year’s squad didn’t get the job done after a fast start; this year’s left no doubt.
4. Penncrest (19-2)
If Chester and Penncrest played now, would it be the same result as Penncrest’s 57-48 win on Dec. 30? I’m not so sure, and I hope the District 1 Class 5A tournament will provide an answer. The Lions’ ability to consistently collect wins across a wide range of point outputs from Tyler Norwood bodes well in the effort to defend its district title.
5. Chester (15-6)
Winning 13 of 14 isn’t bad in 2018. Michael Smith and Brian Randolph are consistently playing like the difference-makers that Keith Taylor was counting on from the start. Watch for the emergence of Karell Watkins: I saw him drop 40 points on Penn Wood’s JV team three weeks ago. In four varsity contests since, he’s scored 28 points and supplanted two regulars in a tighter rotation by Taylor.
6. Garnet Valley (15-6)
Note to be outdone by Upper Darby’s loss to Glen Mills last Friday, Garnet Valley decided to drop one to Haverford Monday (good signs of progress from the Fords this year, but I digress). One sign of concern for the Jags: Connor O’Brien has struggled with just 12 points total in the last three games after tallying double-digits in each of the first 18 games. Great shooters – of which O’Brien is one – shoot their way out of funks. Garnet Valley’s states aspirations depend on that occurring sooner rather than later.
7. Upper Darby (16-6)
The slip up to Glen Mills was unexpected. But the Royals have bossed Conestoga twice to heartily earn a spot in the Central League semis. The Royals have been prone to lapses this season, losing games to teams like Glen Mills and Ridley that (objectively) they shouldn’t. The perimeter focus, bolstered by some big recent games from Diby Keita, might make them a little one-dimensional, though they have position-less players who can score a bunch of ways.
Honorable mention: Marple Newtown (13-8, the Tigers have won eight straight to bull their way into the playoffs. Mike May has been massive in recent weeks with his ability to score and create for others. Sean Spratt is a coach of the year candidate in his second year at the helm); Chichester (14-7, the Eagles have an up-and-down tendency, evidenced by two struggles with Glen Mills and a loss to Academy Park. They appear to be healthy, with Calvin Church and James Hendricks back in the fold, as the postseason arrives); Penn Wood (12-8, the Patriots can’t slip up against Glen Mills to ensure their playoff status. If they want to pull an upset or two in the District 1 Class 6A field, it’ll take someone other than Chris Nash and Vatangoe Donzo scoring in double-figures); Sun Valley (14-6, it’ll likely be a home game for the Vanguards, who are on a four-game winning streak. I wrote about Vinny DeAngelo in my latest notebook, and seeing Marvin Freeman return from a three-game absence with 29 points is huge).
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