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Delco Madness: A Sweet 16 in the hunt for the greatest boys hoops team in Delco history

Chester's basketball team reacts for cameras as the team celebrates after defeating Norristown for the PIAA Class AAAA boys basketball championship game in State College, Pa., Saturday, March 15, 2008. Chester won by the score of 81-77 after having a lead of twenty points. (AP File)

The selection committee has spoken.

The Madness can begin.

Aware but staunchly unapolegetic that some of the finest high school teams in Delaware County boys basketball history did not make the cut, a panel of Daily Times sports writers, after consultation with various experts and fan email input through, has revealed its Delco Madness “Sweet 16” field.

With basketball fans denied the annual opportunity to successfully complete an NCAA Tournament office-pool sheet during the coronavirus shutdown, the Delco Madness event is designed to provide a similar challenge. So grab a felt-tip pen and try to fill out the perfect bracket.

Within the next two weeks, mythical “games” will be reported in the Daily Times as teams will advance to the Elite Eight and the Final Four.

Which one will be standing at the end? Will it be one of the six Chester PIAA championship teams that were awarded bids? Or has the real strength of Delaware County basketball secretly been stashed in the Catholic League for decades?

How will teams from earlier eras, such as the 1963 Darby-Colwyn state championship team, fare against some more modern-era outfits? Will D-C’s two-year winning streak finally come to an end?

Before making its choices, the committee consulted with, among others, Delco sports historian Rich Pagano, dedicated Chester High basketball record curator Dave Burman and former Daily Times sports writer and passionate Chester historian Rob Knox. It also enjoyed the support of legendary sports writer Ted Silary, whose research at proved immensely valuable.

Though the committee is staunchly confident in its selections, it remains aware that the 1-through-16 seeding carries with it potential for upsets.

In the tradition of the NCAA selections, the Daily Times will reveal its Delco Madness girls Sweet 16 one day later, on Selection Monday.

So, as former Daily Times sports correspondent and the world’s leading bracketologist, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, exclaimed when made aware of the bracket, “Let the upsets begin!”




1. Chester, 2012
Record: 32-0
Season results: The Clippers defeated Lower Merion, 59-33, at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center for the highest-level Class AAAA championship.
All-Delcos: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (POY), Erikk Wright, Darius Robinson (second team), Kareem Robinson (third team).
College players: Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona), Wright (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M), Robinson (DCCC).
Other information: Chester was coached by legend Larry Yarbray, who became the 2012 Daily Times Sports Figure of the Year.

2. Darby-Colwyn, 1963
Record: 25-0.
Season results: D-C thumped Mercer, 61-45, at Pitt Field House for Class B PIAA championship.
All-Delcos: Harold Booker, Charles Coleman, Adrian Harmon, David Kennard, James Realer.
College players: Booker (Cheyney), Coleman (Villanova), Kennard (Cheyney), Realer (Cheyney).
Other information: Coached by Hal Blitman, the Rams completed a second consecutive undefeated season, going 50-0 over a two-year span. A rare team to have all five of its starters picked on a then 10-person All-Delco team.

3. Chester, 2008
Record: 33-1
Season results: The Clippers capped a 10-0 postseason with an 81-77 triumph over Norristown, which it also defeated for the District One championship.
All-Delcos: Karon Burton (POY), Nasir Robinson, Russell Johnson (second team).
College players: Robinson (Pittsburgh), Johnson (Robert Morris), Burton (Odessa).
Other information: The only loss was to national power St. Benedict’s Prep of New Jersey, 68-55, in the ninth game of the season.

4. Chester, 1989
Record: 30-2
Season results: Defeated Pittsburgh Brashear, 72-55, in PIAA Class AAAA final in Hersheypark Arena.
All-Delcos: Keith Wood (POY), Mike Johnson, Wilbur “Zain” Shaw (second team), Lamar Dodson (second team).
College players: Wood (Rowan), Shaw (West Virginia), Galen Howard (Coppin State), Dodson (Alvernia), Johnson (Coppin State).
Other information: The Clippers’ state championship was the first of two coached by Alonzo Lewis.

5. Chester, 2005
Record: 27-6
Season results: The Clippers topped Lower Merion, 74-61, for the PIAA Class AAAA championship at the Giant Center in Hershey.
All-Delcos: Darrin Govens, Noel Wilmore, Devon McLendon, Ken Tribbett, Charlie Swigget (second team).
College players: Govens (Saint Joseph’s), Darrell Moseley (Lincoln), Tribbett (Drexel), Wilmore (George Washington).
Other information: Coached by the legendary Fred Pickett, who would become the 2008 Daily Times Sports Figure of the Year, the Clippers were challenged by a strong nonleague schedule and recovered from a 4-5 start to win 23 of their last 24, including a 63-48 victory over Cheltenham for the District 1 championship.

6. Penn Wood, 2009
Record: 28-4.
Season results: The Pats rolled past York, 72-53, for the PIAA Class AAAA championship at Penn State.
All-Delcos: Tyree Johnson (POY), Duane Johnson, Aaron Brown (second team).
College players: Brown (West Virginia/Saint Joseph’s), Tyree Johnson (San Jacinto, Calif.), Duane Johnson (East Stroudsburg), Darian Barnes (Neumann), Chris Brown (Widener), Will Brown (East Stroudsburg), Thomas White (West Chester).
Other information: Coached by Clyde Jones, the Patriots fell to Norristown in the District 1 final but rolled to the state championship, defeating their final two opponents by a combined 151-111.

7. Chester, 1983
Record: 32-5.
Season results: An 82-66 victory over McKeesport was good for the Class AAA (highest level) PIAA championship at Hersheypark Arena.
All-Delcos: Eric Jones, Steve Miller, Darryl Green, Darrin Pearsall (second team).
College players: Pearsall (Temple), Miller (Coppin State).
Other information: After losing in the first seven PIAA championship games it reached, Chester finally won its first of what would grow to state-record eight state championships.

8. Arch. Carroll, 2009
Record: 27-3
Season results: The Patriots lost in the semifinals of the Catholic League tournament but upset Neumann-Goretti in the PIAA semifinals and routed Greensburg-Salem in the final, 75-54.
All-Delcos: DJ Irving (first of two), Juan’ya Green (second team, eventually POY), Kasheef Festus (second team).
College players: Irving (Boston University), Juan’ya Green (Niagara), Festus (Lock Haven).
Other information: Ben Mingledough was also a starter for coach Paul Romanczuk’s Patriots, who became the first Catholic League team to win a PIAA championship in the first year the league competed.

9. Chester, 1967
Record: 27-1
Season results: A 93-61 loss to Ambridge in PIAA Class AAA final at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg ended what had been a perfect season.
All-Delcos: Ken Shamberger, Eddie Swain, Paul Williams, Harry McLaughlin (second team).
College players: Swain (Cheyney), Williams (Mt. St. Mary’s).
Other information: Coach Ray McLaughlin’s club dismissed Chichester, Coatesville and Plymouth-Whitemarsh to win the District 1 championship.

10. Haverford School, 2019
Record: 28-0
Season results: The Fords were the outright Inter-Ac champions and won PAISAA tournament as the top seed.
All-Delcos: Christian Ray (POY), Jameer Nelson Jr. (second).
College players: Ray (La Salle), Nelson Jr. (George Washington).
Other information: Coached by Bernie Rogers, the Fords beat Malvern Prep in overtime then clinched the outright title at Malvern in the season finale. Also in overtime, they defeated Westtown in final of the PAISAA tournament.

11. Haverford High, 1958
Record: 25-3
Season results: Haverford won the PIAA Class A (highest level) Class A championship with a 67-45 triumph over Altoona at the Palestra before a crowd of 7,318.
All-Delcos: pre-All-Delco.
College players: Al Kaemmerlen (Princeton), Danny George (Lafayette), Jack Juenger (West Chester), Ed “Reds” McIlmoyle (Kutztown).
Other information: The Fords were coached by Steve Juenger, later to have the gym at the school named in his honor. After falling twice to Chester in the regular season, the Fords topped the Clippers, 57-56, in the district playoffs.

12. Darby-Colwyn, 1972
Record: 28-1.
Season results: Won the PIAA Class B championship with a 64-54 victory over Monaca in Harrisburg.
All-Delcos: Arnold Coleman, Jim Childs.
College players: Coleman (Rice, Hofstra for football), Childs (Davis & Elkins).
Other information: The Rams won their third state championship since 1962.

13. Yeadon, 1953
Record: 22-2
Season results: The Eagles became Delaware County’s first state championship team with a 55-43 victory over Sharon at the Palestra.
All-Delcos: pre-All-Delco
College players: Jack Boyd (Duke), Jack Weissman (Villanova), Fred Cohen (Temple).
Other information: Despite being a school of Class B enrollment, coach John Naegeli’s Eagles elected to enter and thrive in the highest-level Class A tournament.

14. Darby Township, 1967
Record: 27-1
Season results: At the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg, the Eagles outscored Union, 51-44, for the PIAA Class C championship.
All-Delcos: Leroy Eldridge, Oliver Smith, Tony Williams (second team).
College players: Eldridge (Cheyney), Smith (Fairleigh-Dickinson).
Other information: The school only having opened in 1964, it had been playing only a junior varsity schedule two seasons prior. The Eagles were coached by former Harlem Globetrotter Charley Walker.

15. Msgr. Bonner, 1983
Record: 27-7
Season results: In an era when there were no city championships in Philadelphia and before the Catholic League had PIAA membership, Ed Stefanski’s Friars defeated Father Judge, 73-53, for Bonner’s second Catholic League championship.
All-Delcos: Rodney Blake (POY), Jack Concannon, Tom Gormley (second team).
College players: Blake (Saint Joseph’s), Concannon (Saint Joseph’s), Gormley (Loyola Md.)
Other information: The Friars survived a 43-42 victory over Roman at the Palestra in the semifinals. The Friars would win the Catholic League again in 1984.

16. Christian Academy, 1992
Record: 30-3
Season results: The Crusaders defeated Heritage Christian of Indiana, 68-55, in the championship game of the National Association of Christian Athletes Tournament Championship.
All-Delcos: Tyrone Fisher, Kevin Sareyka (second team).
College players: Fisher (Mansfield), Sareyka (Messiah).
Other information: TCA ended its season on a 26-game winning streak. The Crusaders lost to Cardinal O’Hara, which was led by future NBA pro Adonal Foyle, in the season opener. They fell, 60-56, to William Penn of the Philadelphia Public League when starters Bryan Eck and Sal DeBellis did not play.



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