Great Valley, Kennett set to tip off at Wells Fargo Center

For many high school basketball players, it’s a dream to one day make it to the next level and play in a professional basketball arena.

Great Valley and Kennett are getting that opportunity as both teams will tip off in a Ches-Mont American Division battle Friday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Truly, the opportunity is once-in-a-lifetime.

“The girls are really looking forward to it,’ said Kennett head coach Vince Cattano. “It’s a good atomosphere for us. We’ve been talking about it for weeks. We’ll get to play a good high school game and watch the Sixers afterwards. We’re excited.’

Great Valley head coach Alex Venarchik assembled the plan over the summer. Last year was the first installment of girls’ high school basketball played at the Wells Fargo Center and Venarchik wanted his team to have that same opportunity.

“There was a big turnout at last year’s game,’ Venarchik said. “I asked Matt Backel in the Sixers ticket office to put us on the list as possible candidates for this year. Once the NBA released its schedule, he handed me a list of some possible dates. Soon after, we were selected.’

Venarchik immediately know the team he wanted to face for the unique experience.

“Knew it was going to be Kennett,’ Venarchik said. “Vinny (Cattano) and I have been friends for a long time. I thought it would be a lot of fun to have someone sit down and enjoy the experience with us.’

While the experience will be one to remember, playing on the Sixers home floor provides some obsticles for the Patriots and Blue Demons.

The court is much bigger than the high school gyms the girls are used to playing in on a nightly basis. Also, playing in a 20,328 seat arena provides a challenge with the spectacle of suiting up in an enormous venue.

Finally, there will be the issue of a much farther 3-point line on the court than the one accustomed with high school basketball. Even though the scholastic 3-point line will be visible, the temptation will be there to make a shot from 23 feet, 9 inches opposed to the standard 19 feet, 9 inch mark.

Both Venarchik and Cattano plan to prepare their teams for the NBA on-court experience.

“We’ll talk about the adjustment of playing in an NBA arena,’ Venarchik said. “With the bigger court, we’re actually trying to be there at 2 p.m. which is the time we’re allowed to enter the arena. We’ll have a quick walkthrough just to make things as comfy as possible for the girls.’

“It will be interesting to see how we can adjust to the floor size,’ Cattano said. “I’m hoping we won’t get the high school 3-point line confused with the NBA 3-point line. We’ll be tempted to shoot.’

No matter the score, the game will conclude by 5 p.m. (3 p.m. start). Per NBA rules, both teams will have to be off the court for the Sixers’ shootaround. Philadelphia hosts the Charlotte Hornets immediately following the game at 7 p.m.

Both teams will be in attendance for the game. Venarchik hopes the girls will get an opportunity to meet some Sixers players and head coach Brett Brown.

“I’m hoping Coach Brown can give them a pep talk,’ Venarchik said. “Despite our 2-3 start, the girls are putting in the work, but the results haven’t shown thus far. Look at the Sixers, they are 2-22 and they show up and come to play every night. They are a good team to look up to for a high school athlete.’


As Downingtown East got back on track with a 39-36 win over Downingtown West Tuesday night, Paige Warfel has been heating up. Warfel had 24 points in the win over West, 22 of which came in the first three quarters. She had 17 in the Cougars’ loss to Bishop Shanahan last Thursday. Over the last two games, Warfel has averaged 20.5 points and has upped her scoring average to 15.3 points per game.

While the strength of Downingtown East will be its defense, Warfel has taken it upon herself to provide some much-needed offense for her team in the early part of the season.

“Paige has been getting good opportunites and got some baskets to fall,’ said Downingtown East head coach Bob Schnure. “She’s made some things happen. We’ve had some good teamwork in our offense. She’s got some nice passes inside and once she’s getting the ball, she’s taking advantage of it.’


West Chester Henderson has one of the younger teams in the Ches-Mont, but they are proving to be a tough out every game.

Just ask Bishop Shanahan.

The Warriors led 39-35 at the end of three quarters against the undefeated Eagles, taking them to the final whistle. Head coach Greta Neff has some talented young scorers in Emma Bertrando (10.8 ppg) and Maddie DePrisco (8.3 ppg) that are giving opposing teams defenses fits.

The Warriors also have depth off the bench and are one of the more well-conditioned teams in the National Division. Morgan Maturani (7.2 ppg), Julie Gawrylowicz (7.0 ppg) and Jenna Maratea (5.8 ppg) are also threats to score 10-plus points on any given night.

Maturani and Vikki Kneis provide sound defense in the paint to complement the scoring.

Henderson will be tested against Downingtown West Thursday and West Chester East Tuesday. Going 1-1 in that stretch will have the Warriors at 4-4 heading into Christmas, a huge step for the program.


FREE THROWS – Jess Hussey has been battling injuries throughout the year for Kennett and has missed some action over the past week. She played just six minutes against Unionville and hasn’t been seen since. Without Hussey’s presence, the Blue Demons have dropped three straight games and fell to an 0-2 start in the American Division…Rustin has rebounded from an 0-3 start, but earned a huge win against Mount St. Joseph’s Saturday. Noelle Powell had 15 points, including the game-winning steal and Emily Walls added 13. The Golden Knights have four players averaging over seven points a game (Powell, Walls, Courtney Warley and Katie O’Hare)…Kelly Basile continued her strong play off the bench for Bishop Shanahan, scong eight of her 13 points in the fourth quarter in a win over Downingtown East. In Shanahan’s 50-45 win over Henderson, Grace Phllips had a season high 17 points. The Eagles are the lone unbeaten team in the Ches-Mont and also have four players averaging over seven points a game (Forde, Basile, Phillips and Devon Adams).


KEY GAMES THIS WEEK – Villa Maria at Mount St. Joseph’s (today, 3:45 p.m.); Coatesville at Bishop Shanahan (today, 7:15 p.m.); Kennett vs, Great Valley (Fri., 3:00 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center); West Chester East at Unionville (Sat., 1:15 p.m.), Upper Dublin at West Chester Rustin (Sat., 2:30 p.m.); West Chester Henderson at West Chester East (Tues., 4:45 p.m.), Downingtown West at Coatesville (Tues., 7:15 p.m.)


ON THE COURT – On the court is a weekly segment where one area hoops player is profiled. This week, the Daily Local News takes a look at Downingtown East guard Kaelyn Johns.

What is your favorite high school basketball memory?

This is a tough one. I have two. My game-winning shot against Coatesville last year and winning the Ches-Mont National Division.

Most athletes seem to have a pregame ritual. What’s yours?

I’m always listening to music before the games.

If you had to pick one song to listen to before a game, what would it be?

“Let’s Go’ by Trick Daddy.

Same question, but pick a movie.

Have to go with “The Hunger Games’ series. Catching Fire is my favorite.

Chipotle or Qdoba?

Chipotle, obviously. Come on now.

Favorite part about high school?

Seeing everyone in the halls that you play on a team with. I’ll see someone like Paige (Warfel) in the hallway and yell ‘ What’s up!’ It’s a fun time.

Least favorite part about high school.

Definitely the school part, but it’s more of waking up early. It’s not too bad now as a senior because you can leave earlier. Obviously, we all like to sleep.

Jeff Kerr’s Top-10 Rankings (Week 2)

1. Bishop Shanahan (5-0): Forde had 15 in big win over Downingtown East to take early lead in division. Survived a second-half deficit to West Chester Henderson. Big test with Coatesville tonight.

2. West Chester Rustin (3-3): Golden Knights’ back on track after 0-3 start. Powell averaging 17.0 points during win streak.

3. Coatesville (5-1); Four game winning streak for Red Raiders after overtime loss to Unionville, including tough three point win over Crossland (Md.). Travel to Shanahan tonight.

4. Downingtown East (2-2): Warfel averaging 20.5 a game as Cougars back in Ches-Mont National Division race. Statement win over good Downingtown West team Tuesday.

5. Downingtown West (3-2): Tough loss to Downingtown East despite strong defense from Hannah Supplee and Holly Schnack. Whippets look to get back on track against Henderson tonight.

6. Conestoga (2-1): Jill Mascioli netted 20 as Pioneers earned huge Central League win over Ridley. Host Lower Merion tonight.

7. Unionville (3-2): Want 1-1 in American Division showdowns with Kennett and Sun Valley over week. Have chance to gain ground in American Division race with Octorara tonight.

8. Villa Maria (2-2): Kate Mooney scored 14 points in big nonleague win over Archmire. Avenged loss to St. Basil earlier in week.

9. West Chester Henderson (3-3): Defeated Avon Grove and Octorara handily before leading in second half over Shanahan. Tough out for Ches-Mont National teams.

10. Great Valley (2-3): Rebounded to win two straight after 0-3 start. Have chance to control second spot in American with big games against Kennett and Sun Valley this week.

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