A quick glance at the Delco Christian roster reveals an oddity: The two tallest Knights are listed near the bottom of the roster, not because of their uniform numbers but because they’re a pair of freshmen.
In recent weeks, though, Obinna Nwobodo and Jackson Piotrowski haven’t played like rookies, an immense help to Knights coach Don Davis.
The imbalance on the Knights roster borne of age was clear going into the season. All of DC’s proven talents were in the backcourt, with 6-foot-6 junior center Tyler Smith the incumbent in the low blocks. In situations where Smith isn’t on the floor, Davis was forced to go small, with four guards lumping whatever matchup issues ensued. Plus Smith, for all his work on the boards, isn’t much of a scorer, averaging 2.5 points per game.
But the rapid maturation of the two 6-foot-4 freshmen have added depth and options to Davis’ arsenal, helping the Knights tote a four-game winning streak into Tuesday’s visit from Calvary Baptist.
Nwobodo, who is averaging 2.8 points per game, has earned a few starts. Piotrowski is averaging 3.2 points per game and boasts a floor-stretching perimeter game to complement Nwobodo’s post skills.
Davis entered the season with an idea of how to integrate both into the mix, hopefully incorporating them as regulars near the end of the regular season. But they’ve outpaced his timetable.
“It’s been a process,” Davis said. “We kind of had it planned out where they’ve gotten six or seven JV games and then sprinkled them into varsity games to get them up to speed. They continue to prove themselves in varsity games.
They’ve performed well and understand the game and they make us better. It’s been fun watching them grow and develop and soak it all in.
“They’ve made some mistakes, but it seems like they learn very quickly. They make a mistake, they learn from it and they rarely are making the same mistakes twice.”
The benefits trickle down the roster. Jacob Bronkema, for instance, was often forced to defend opponents’ fours. Piotrowski can do that job without giving up as much height as the 6-foot Bronkema while still offering perimeter offensive acumen. The result is that Bronkema, a sophomore, has gotten more regular rest during games and responded by averaging 7.0 points in his last three games, up from his season tally of 4.3.
It’s no surprise that wins have followed, as DC’s m.o. on consecutive trips to the PIAA tournament is a late-peaking squad.
Mike Webb didn’t exactly make a quiet first foray into the Springfield lineup, scoring 34 points across two games at the William Allen Holiday Classic.
The junior guard, who moved into the district and was granted eligibility following the Christmas break, attends cyber charter school. Coach Kevin McCormick is pleased with the early dividends he is paying for his team.
“His ability to put the ball on the floor and attack really complements what Kyle (Sullivan) and Alex (DeAngelis) do,” McCormick said. “It’s a matter of getting comfortable together, but he’s definitely in our top-8 rotation.”
Webb presents a novel dimension of scoring off the dribble for a team with a stable of catch-and-shoot experts. But it’s been tough going of late for the Cougars, who are 2-4 in their last six. With the bevy of weapons, it’s taken time to jell.
Injury and illnesses for reserve forward Zach Chevalier means McCormick hasn’t yet had the full complement (with Webb) available. But parts of the jigsaw puzzle are coming together.
Webb’s dribble-drive ability complements point guard Kyle Long, who’s more of a pass-first player. That’s a good thing with spot up shooters like Sullivan and DeAngelis, while big man Great Orjih is also adept at stretching the floor with jump shots. With Justin Collins and Ja’Den McKenzie providing inside-out options, the pieces are there. It’s just a matter of finding the correct balance.
“We’re waiting to see that lineup,” McCormick said. “We’re already 13 games in but we think our best is ahead of us.”
The first batch of unofficial District 1 boys basketball rankings were released Monday, and the balance among the Delco schools is clear (as it was for football in the fall). Where the top three seeds in Class 5A hail from Delco, only two county teams are in position to qualify for the 6A tournament.
Garnet Valley is the top 6A rep in 13th, while Penn Wood (17th) would also be in the 24-team field. Ridley, sitting 28th before Monday’s loss to 22nd Methacton, has work to do.
In 5A, Chester, Penncrest and Strath Haven occupy the top spots in order. Glen Mills is seventh, with Academy Park 11th and Springfield 12th. Radnor is just outside the 16-team field in 17th, while Marple Newtown (19th), Chichester (20th) and Sun Valley (21st) aren’t dead in the water yet.
Delco Christian ranks second in Class 2A’s four-team tournament. The Christian Academy is fifth in Class A, which admits six teams.
To contact Matthew De George, email email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @sportsdoctormd. For full stat leaders, visit papreplive.com.