Ahmed showed he has range to boost Chichester

Thanks to injuries, the second half of a bright-starting season hasn’t gone to plan for Chichester.

The Eagles can take solace in the fact that a plan breaking down last Tuesday in the waning seconds against Interboro still yielded the desired results.

With four seconds left in a tie game between teams seeking their first Del Val League win of the season, the play Chichester coach Buzz Wood drew up was designed to go to Jamai Womack in the paint.

Instead, the play ended with Shah Ahmed burying a 3-pointer from two steps inside the halfcourt line, sending Chi to a 57-54 win.

“It really wasn’t planned for me to get the ball,’ Ahmed said this week. “Coach drew up play to Jamai (who had 17 points that night), and I was supposed to throw it down to him. It didn’t work out, and I just went up the court with the ball. I knew if I got past halfcourt, I had a chance.’

The shot left Wood a little shocked, in a good way.

“I’ve seen him do it in practice a lot,’ Wood said, “but not where he shot it from.’

What surprised Wood most was the ease with which Ahmed drained the shot. It wasn’t a heave or a prayer, Wood said, but rather Ahmed retained the mechanics of a regular jumper.

Ahmed has nine 3-pointers this season, averaging 6.3 points per game despite often deferring to Chichester’s since-injured duo of Eric Montanez and Derrick Welles. Ahmed averaged 5.6 ppg last season and has been on varsity for three years. He even has experience at game-winning shots, burying a clinching 3-pointer last season against Strath Haven.

“Me and my teammates, we’re always doing shooting contests from all over the court, always trying to expand our range,’ Ahmed said. “So I’ve got a little bit of range. I tried to make it like a regular shot.’

The win over Interboro has added significance. It’s been tough sledding lately for Chi, which started the season at 5-3, but has just two wins in its last nine.

Contributing to the slide are the injuries to Welles (thumb) and Montanez (knee). That pair had been combining for 36.5 points per game, a massive share of Chi’s 60.2 ppg, before getting hurt.

The win over Interboro gives Chi a league win and the belief that it can rally toward a strong finish.

“It’s a big win for the program,’ Wood said. “They realize that if people get hurt, they can still step up and play. That’s what we did. We played hard.’

“Having Derrick and Eric out of the picture, it’s a hard transition because they’re two big pieces on our team,’ Ahmed said. “But we have a very strong team and we’re ready to pick up the slack.’

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Bonner-Prendergast has 10 wins (a year after just two) and three in the Catholic League (after being shut out last season). Yet perhaps the most amazing aspect of the turnaround is the revolving door of lineups the Friars have weathered.

There’s a good side and a bad side to the options first-year coach Jack Concannon has at his disposal. The drawback is provided by injuries, like the concussions suffered by Mike Mercanti that delayed the start to his season before bringing it to a premature end. But the positive side lies in the bevy of options for Concannon.

That’s mainly manifested in the frontcourt, where players like Joe Oquendo, Tyler Higgins, Dillon Haas and John Hargraves have carved out niches around leading scorer Marques Jackson. With a glut of players over 6-foot, different guys have asserted themselves game-to-game and week-to-week. In the backcourt, Keith Washington has shuttled through a number of partners, and the latest to shine is freshman Kwahzere Ransom, who has 22 points in three games.

“Pretty much everybody’s gotten an opportunity,’ Concannon said. “In a first year, that’s how it is. You’re coming in with a clean slate, and everyone getting opportunity. We’ve got nine, 10, 11 kids that can help us.’

The experience can also pay off down the road: Six players in the Friars’ rotation are seniors, so young players getting a chance this year have an idea where future opportunities are.

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The reminder wasn’t needed, but last Friday provided it anyway: This has been an absolutely explosive year for scoring in Delco.

With just two weeks left in the regular season, there have been 29 individual 30-point games. Last season, there were just 18.

Four times this season, a player has topped the 40-point mark (including three times last Friday alone) after no one reached that plateau in a game last season.

Malik Jackson of Penn Wood has scored 30 points in six games, including 45 last Friday. Marple Newtown’s Nick Giordano has five 30-pointers, including 42 last Friday to get to 1,000 career points. And Academy Park’s Jawan Collins has the other two 40-points efforts, notching a school-record 43 Jan. 6, plus 40 last Friday.

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On the other end of the spectrum, Haverford and Radnor are the only teams in the county who haven’t had a player score at least 20 points in a game. Radnor, which is averaging 44.3 ppg, has come close with Mason Ressler scoring 19 in each of his last two outings. The closest Haverford has gotten is 16 from Ryan Brown (twice). The Fords are averaging 38.1 ppg.

Sun Valley got its first 20-point game last week from an unlikely source in Sean Baron, who scored 20 in last Friday’s win over Chichester despite averaging 3.0 ppg his previous 12 games. The Christian Academy has just one 20-point game (via Ethan Dutton), while both of Bonner-Prendergast’s 20-point performances have come from Washington, who isn’t even the team’s leading scorer.

Perhaps most surprising is the team next on the list with just three individual 20-point performances: Chester. Despite averaging 59.6 ppg, the Clippers have spread the scoring evenly. The only three 20-point games have come from their only double-figures scorer on average, Keyonte Watkins.

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