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Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Boys Team of the Decade: PW’s Malone, Pennridge’s Yoder battle in 1st roun

Plymouth Whitemarsh's Xzavier Malone, right, drives around Chester's Dymon Colbert in the District 1-AAAA final. (Robert Gurecki/MediNews Group)

The wait is over. It’s time to decide the best boys basketball team in the Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media area from the 2010s.

Ever since No. 1 Virginia lost to No. 16 UMBC in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, basketball fans have known that no matchup can be taken for granted. That’s especially true in a best-of-the-decade field where even the lower seeds are 20-win teams with plenty of postseason experience.

The first two rounds will take place at neutral sites and higher seeds have the advantage of shorter travel when possible.

We urge readers to use these previews and their own knowledge to vote for which teams deserve to advance to the quarterfinals. Polls are posted on Twitter @ReporterSports. Voting ends Friday afternoon.

(1) Plymouth Whitemarsh 09-10 vs. (16) Lower Moreland 18-19 >> Top-seeded Plymouth Whitemarsh takes on No. 16 Lower Moreland in the first game of a doubleheader at Wissahickon High School.

The Colonials (30-2) enter this tournament after winning the 2010 PIAA-4A state championship, 58-51, over a Penn Wood team they lost to three weeks prior in the District 1 championship. Forwards CJ Aiken (6-foot-10) and Jaylen Bond (6-foot-7) led PW in scoring with 16.8 and 16.4 points per game, respectively. Marcus Badger, Brandon Dixon, Whis Grant, Sam Pygatt, Stephon Baker and Julian Bond gave the team plenty of options.

The Lions (28-4) might not have the size of PW with their tallest player standing 6-foot-1, but it’s a scenario they’re used to facing. The Bicentennial Athletic League and District 1-4A champions defined team basketball and fought their way to the state semifinals. Led by BAL MVP Shane Cohen, Lower Moreland mainly used a six-man rotation also featuring Joey Cerruti, Jordan Zoubroulis, Forrest Keys, Jake Himmelstein and Andrew Finnegan.

The winner will face the winner of (8) Germantown Academy 12-13 and (9) Plymouth Whitemarsh 17-18.

(8) Germantown Academy 12-13 vs. (9) Plymouth Whitemarsh 17-18 >> No. 8 Germantown Academy faces No. 9 Plymouth Whitemarsh in the second game of a doubleheader at Wissahickon High School.

The Patriots (23-6) won the Inter-Ac title and the first PAISAA championship in program history. Julian Moore was named the Inter-Ac co-MVP and teammates Greg Dotson and Nick Lindner joined him on the All-League first team. Moore went on to play at Penn State, Dotson LIU Post and Lindner Lafayette. James Drury was a second team All-League player and went on to play at Washington College.

The Colonials (28-2) flirted with perfection after winning their first 27 games, but losses to Abington in the District 1 final and Roman Catholic in the second round of states left the team with a feeling of disappointment. PW returned most of its key players from the prior year when they reached the district semifinals and state quarterfinals. Naheem McLeod averaged almost 19 points per game at center surrounded by electric guards Ish Horn, Ahmin Williams and Ahmad Williams and forward Alan Glover. A team with a college-like physicality made opposing guards work for 32 minutes and, if they got into the paint, 7-foot-4 McLeod was waiting as the rim protector.

The winner will face the winner of (1) Plymouth Whitemarsh 09-10 and (16) Lower Moreland 18-19.

(5) Abington 17-18 vs. (12) Archbishop Wood 18-19 >>No. 5 Abington will face No. 12 Archbishop Wood in the second game of a doubleheader at Cheltenham High School.

The Ghosts (27-6) won their second straight District 1 title in 2018 and their third in four years. This team featured senior Robbie Heath and juniors Eric Dixon and Lucas Monroe. The SOL National champs reached the state quarterfinals, which is the furthest Abington went since 2014. Heath just completed a dominant season at West Chester while Dixon took his talents to Villanova and Monroe is playing for Penn.

The Vikings (20-9) reached the Philadelphia Catholic League quarterfinals and PIAA-5A championship game. Rahsool Diggins was a first team All-PCL selection while Julius Phillips and Daeshon Shepherd earned second team honors. Diggins, who led the team with 17.6 points per game, and Shepherd returned to Wood in 2020 while Phillips graduated and went on to play at Chestnut Hill College.

The winner will face the winner of (4) Abington 13-14 and (13) La Salle 13-14.

(4) Abington 13-14 vs. (13) La Salle 13-14 >> No. 4 Abington will face No. 13 La Salle in the first game of a doubleheader at Cheltenham High School.

The Ghosts (25-6) won the SOL National title and reached the District 1 quarterfinals and state semifinals. The team featured two players now in the NBA G-League, Amir Hinton and Anthony Lee, and Matt Penecale, who put his stamp all over the record books at West Chester. Hinton and Penecale returned to win the district championship the following season while Lee went on to play collegiately at Kutztown.

The Explorers (23-7) reached the PCL semifinals and PIAA-4A title game. La Salle, led by second team All-PCL selections in Dave Krmpotich and Najee Walls and third-teamer Shawn Witherspoon, beat District 1 powers Lower Merion and Chester en route to the state final. Krmpotich played collegiately at Colgate, Walls at East Stroudsburg and Witherspoon at Nyack.

The winner will face the winner of (5) Abington 17-18 and (12) Archbishop Wood 18-19.

(3) Archbishop Carroll 14-15 vs. (14) Germantown Academy 15-16 >> No. 3 Archbishop Carroll takes on No. 14 Germantown Academy in the first game of a doubleheader at Norristown Area High School.

Carroll (23-7) reached the Philadelphia Catholic League semifinals and state championship game. Derrick Jones, the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner, led the Patriots with over 19 points per game. Jones was a first team All-PCL selection while Josh Sharkey and David Beatty were named to the second team. Beatty went on to play at South Carolina before transferring to La Salle, while Sharkey went to Samford.

GA (24-6) won the Inter-Ac and reached the PAISAA championship game. Kyle McCloskey, Evan-Eric Longino and Devon Goodman led the Patriots. Goodman, a senior, was named league MVP, while juniors McCloskey and Longino joined him on the All-Inter-Ac first team. Goodman, now at Penn, averaged almost 20 points per game while Longino (Kutztown) was over 16 points and McCloskey (Penn State) over 13.

The winner will face the winner of (6) Abington 18-19 and (11) La Salle 18-19.

(6) Abington 18-19 vs. (11) La Salle 18-19 >> No. 6 Abington faces No. 11 La Salle in the second game of a doubleheader at Norristown Area High School.

The Ghosts (28-2) won the SOL American title and their third straight District 1 championship and fourth in five years. Seniors Eric Dixon and Lucas Monroe earned first team All-SOL American honors while senior Darious Brown and junior Manir Waller were honorable mentions. The Ghosts opened the season with a win over Gonzaga at the Gonzaga DC Classic. They lost the championship game of that tournament on Dec. 9 and didn’t lose again until the second round of states against Pennridge, their fourth game against the Rams that season.

The Explorers (26-4) reached the Philadelphia Catholic League title game and state semifinals. Seniors Allen Powell and Konrad Kiszka were first team All-PCL selections and senior Zach Crisler earned second team honors. Kiszka at 6-foot-7 and Crisler at 6-foot-9 gave La Salle an advantage of having two bigs who could knockdown shots from anywhere on the floor. Powell led the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game. All three players are playing at the collegiate level – Kiszka at Princeton, Crisler at Rice and Powell at Rider. Titus Beard also contributed and is playing at Georgian Court University.

The winner will face the winner of (3) Archbishop Carroll 14-15 and (14) Germantown Academy 15-16.

(7) Plymouth Whitemarsh 15-16 vs. (10) Pennridge 18-19 >> No. 7 Plymouth Whitemarsh will face No. 10 Pennridge in the second game of a doubleheader at Bensalem High School.

The Colonials (28-3) won the SOL American title and District 1-4A championship before reaching the state semifinals. Senior Xzavier Malone, now playing at Fairleigh Dickinson, averaged over 19 points per game. The left-handed wing used a full arsenal of offensive moves to score 1,000 points in just two years at PW. Seniors Oakley Spencer and Mike Lotito also played key roles while sophomores Ahmin and Ahmad Williams brought energy off the bench.

The Rams (27-6) won the SOL Continental championship and reached the District 1-6A semifinals and PIAA-6A championship game. Senior and 1,000-point scorer Sean Yoder, now at the Naval Academy, averaged 20.3 points per game. Jonathan Post joined Yoder on the first team All-SOL Continental while John Dominic earned a spot on the third team.

The winner will face the winner of (2) Archbishop Wood 16-17 and (15) Archbishop Carroll 15-16.

(2) Archbishop Wood 16-17 vs. (15) Archbishop Carroll 15-16 >> No. 2 Archbishop Wood will face No. 15 Archbishop Carroll in the first game of a doubleheader at Bensalem High School.

The Vikings (29-3) won the Philadelphia Catholic League, District 12-5A and PIAA-5A championships. Collin Gillespie, who averaged 22 points per game, led the way as league MVP and was a first team All-PCL selection along with Tyree Pickron. Matt Cerruti and Seth Pinkney both earned second team honors. Gillespie is a key contributor for Villanova while Pickron and Pinkney are at Quinnipiac and Cerruti Lock Haven.

The Patriots (23-5) reached the PCL semifinals and second round of states. After losing Derrick Jones and David Beatty from the 2014-15 team, Ryan Daly took on a bigger role and was named the PCL MVP. Daly, who just completed his junior season at St. Joseph’s, averaged 21.7 points per game. Josh Sharkey, who’s re-writing the record books at Samford, joined Daly on the All-PCL first team.

The winner will face the winner of (7) Plymouth Whitemarsh 15-16 and (10) Pennridge 18-19 in the second round.

PCL and Inter-Ac scoring and all-league information found on legendary sports writer Ted Silary’s website, tedsilary.com.

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