Truman boys basketball outpaced by Abe Lincoln in Schott Tournament championship (VIDEOS)

Truman senior Danell Snelling, 4, left, is guarded by Lincoln junior Naseem Priester in Jack Schott Memorial Tournament championship Thursday, Dec. 29 at Holy Ghost Prep.    (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

CORNWELL HEIGHTS – In order to win in basketball, you have to box out, rebound, take care of the ball and most importantly, you have to make shots.

Harry S Truman didn’t do any of those things in a sloppily played battle with Philly Public League rival Abraham Lincoln (6-2) in the Jack Schott Memorial Tournament championship Thursday night, Dec. 29 at Holy Ghost Prep’s Chapman Gym.

After taking the tournament opener with Bishop McDevitt 58-56, the Tigers turned the ball over eight times in the first period and much more than that in the final three quarters combined, and were outpaced by the Railsplitters, 60-49, in the title game.

“Turnovers, not taking care of the ball and we probably left 20 points on the backboard,” said Truman head coach Byron Conover, of the loss to Lincoln.

“When you are playing a team that’s athletic and as big as that, you need every bucket and we left a lot of points on the board.”

Trailing 12-9 after the first quarter, Truman assembled its only real offensive attack in the game when it recorded an 11-7 scoring spurt in the second quarter. Capped by a layup tallied off the fast-break by senior Kelechi Ogbonna, it put the Tigers on top 20-19, its only lead in the contest.

With the score tied at 22-all, Lincoln lodged a 9-0 scoring spurt to finish the first half on top, 31-22, at the intermission. More than half of those points scored by the ‘splitters late in the second period were second-chance baskets.

“It was a 2-point game and the last two minutes and 40 seconds, it was all putbacks,” added Conover. “They didn’t beat us half-court, they beat us on the glass.”

Size mattered in this one. With 6-3 AL senior Aiezel Pichardo in the starting lineup, it wasn’t long before sixth-year ‘splitters head coach Al Brown unleashed Jahi Randall, a 6-6 junior forward, into the mix. After scoring 16 points in the tournament opener against Ghost, Randall added six points in this one and made it onto the All-Tournament team.

“As far as size is concerned, we were way bigger than them,” admitted Brown. “So we beat them up down low.

“This was going to be different style of game than yesterday because Holy Ghost, they are a more disciplined, fundamental team.

“This was more run and gun, up and down. At the end of the day, our size overwhelmed them on the glass.”

While Truman was able to cut the Lincoln lead to seven on Zierr Reid’s jumper early in the second half, the ‘splitters finished the period with a 14-7 scoring run to enter the final frame on top, 49-35.

Lincoln got a huge infusion of energy from Sahnei Day, a 5-8 junior guard who scored eight of his 11 points in the third quarter. And sophomore Emeuel Charleston added five of his nine points in the period.

Truman senior Z.J. Jackson hit a jump shot and a pair of free throws to cut the ‘splitters lead to nine with three minutes left and junior Jeff Nixon hit a 3-pointer and a layup to cut it to seven with a minute to go. However, the Tigers finished their last their last three possessions with a missed layup and a pair of turnovers.

Which is kind of how the whole game went for Truman.

“We’ve been kind of struggling shooting the ball but no excuses, we have to finish at the rim,” said Conover. “We had opportunities.”

After scoring five points in the second period, Ogbonna – usually a double-digit scorer for the Tigers – didn’t reach the scoring column again.

“Kelechi has been off the last couple games. We need to get him back on track,” admitted Conover.

“He’s one of our better shooters. For some strange reason in this tournament, the lid was on the basket.”

Truman received a burst of energy in the second half from senior Rasheid Newkirk, who came up with numerous steals in the last two quarters. Unfortunately, the Tigers could not convert many of those steals into points.

“In the first half when we started throwing the ball away, they were converting on our turnovers,” stated Conover.

“But we couldn’t convert on theirs. With a small team like we have, we need to get everything.”

In the end, Lincoln, who lost in the championship to Holy Ghost in last year’s tourney, just wore Truman down.

“Our strength is our numbers and we go 12 deep,” stated Brown. “We’re running guys in and out the entire game and we wear teams down after a while.”

On his team’s second trip to the tournament, Brown was happy that his Railsplitters, now 6-2, took the top prize back home to Philadelphia.

Now 5-2, Truman travels to Abington Jan. 3, Neshaminy Jan. 6 and hosts Pennsbury at home Jan. 10.

Making their way onto the All-Tournament team were Joe Calvin, for Holy Ghost and Beasley, for McDevitt. Truman senior Danell Snelling and classmate Z.J. Jackson were nominated for the Tigers and junior Jahi Randall made it for the Railsplitters. Lincoln senior Nassir Coleman – who registered 20 points in two wins, combined – was named the Tournament MVP.

NOTES: The tourney is named for Jack Schott, a volunteer at Holy Ghost who served as team scorekeeper from 1981 to 1997. Mr. Schott passed away suddenly in the summer of ’97 and the school’s annual holiday tournament was named in his memory in 1998. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of that dedication to Jack Schott, who never missed a game in 16 seasons.

Contact Steve Sherman at or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter

Abraham Lincoln 60, Harry S Truman 49

(Dec. 29 at Holy Ghost Prep)

Truman (5-2)   9 13 13 14 – 49

Lincoln (6-2) 12 19 18 11 – 60

LINCOLN — Aiezel Pichardo 4, Emeuel Charleston 9, Jahi Randall 6, Alex Smith 4, Saleh El 4, Marlon Sharpton 5, Darion Childs 2, Nassir Coleman 8, Sahnei Day 11, Shikeir Morrison 7; TOTALS — 21 16-31—60.

TRUMAN — Jeff Nixon 12, Kelechi Ogbonna 5, Danell Snelling 12, Zierr Reid 2, Z.J. Jackson 8, Gabe Gipli 5, Dwight Gursay 2, Rasheid Newkirk 3; TOTALS — 17 11-12—49.

3-POINT GOALS: AL — El, Charleston; HST — Nixon 2, Newkirk, Ogbonna.

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