This afternoon, pending an unexpected winter storm, two undefeated teams will meet to determine Public League Division C’s first place. Two-time defending Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association AA state champ Prep Charter (9-0 league, 15-5 overall) will host Imhotep Charter (8-0, 19-2) at 3:15 at 24th and McKean streets. The schools are once again considered two of the top basketball programs in the state; In last week’s Patriot-News AA Top-10 poll, Prep Charter and Imhotep were ranked first and second, respectively.
As it happened in 2007, there is a chance this could be the first of three meetings between the squads. Along the road to last season’s city and state titles, the Huskies defeated Imhotep during the regular season, in the District 12 AA finals and in the state semifinals. No matter the outcome this afternoon, they will both open the playoffs Feb. 12 at home. The next possible meeting between the two would be the Feb. 19 District 12 AA championship game. Strawberry Mansion (8-0, 14-4) — No. 3 in the Patriot-News poll — and Bracetti (8-0, 12-4), both of Division D, are other contenders in the AA race.
In other Public League action, the Southern boys’ basketball team is ready to make some noise in the city’s AAAA bracket as it’s third in the Division A standings (12-2 league, 17-5 overall), which includes Tuesday’s 80-44 victory over Bok. Bartram and Simon Gratz, who both defeated the Rams in back-to-back regular-season meetings, are holding down the top two spots. Coach George Anderson said the results provided a mid-season wake-up call for his team.
"It shook them up and made them more open to listening to what we had to say," the coach said of his players.
He added, should the Rams meet either of those teams again, his squad needs to be intense on defense at all times and play aggressively on offense. "If we do those two things correctly we should be all right," Anderson said.
The development of junior Furnell Doster, who is averaging 17 points per game over his previous five league contests, will help come playoff time.
"He is a very, very good player," Anderson said. "He didn’t get a lot of playing time in the beginning of the season because he was learning the system. Now he is a starter and takes some pressure off [the other players]."
Before Southern can start talking playoffs, it needs to worry about getting past Furness (3-10 league, 4-13 overall) this afternoon at 3 at Murphy Rec Center.
"Those are like Philadelphia Big 5 games," Anderson said. "You can’t come in and expect things to go your way because they want it as bad as you do."
As far as that coveted Public League title goes, "I think we have a good chance of making a run for the crown," the coach said.
Bok (7-7 league, 14-8 overall) is looking like it could open the AAA playoffs at home Tuesday afternoon against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. The Wildcats are led by senior Chris Parks and his 26.8 points per game.
Saturday afternoon turned into a rewarding homecoming for Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine. The Neumann-Goretti grads’ Syracuse University men’s basketball team defeated Villanova 87-73 at the Wachovia Center Feb. 2. Neither rookie started, but both saw action in front of family, former teammates and coaches. Jardine played three minutes after returning from a two-game suspension related to an off-court incident. Coming off the bench, Jackson played 17 minutes and tallied two points, seven rebounds and a block.
"Rick might have been a little nervous and then he settled down and did a nice job," Neumann-Goretti boys’ basketball coach Carl Arrigale, who watched from the stands, said.
The coach also visited Jardine Friday night, and spoke with Jackson following Saturday’s matinee.
"It was good to see them and see them doing well," Arrigale said.
He knows in due time his two former All-Catholic and All-City standouts will be playing bigger roles for the Orange.
"They’re coming along, they just have to understand it’s a process," Arrigale said.
Saturday night, the Saints made the trek to Villanova where they lost, 69-46, to nationally ranked Gonzaga of Washington, D.C., as part of the Kobe Bryant Classic.
The bigger concern is the upcoming Catholic League playoffs. At 8-4, which includes Monday’s 72-65 victory over West Catholic, the Saints are holding down second place in the Southern Division. Bonner, who the South Philly squad swept this season, is third at 7-4. Defending champ Roman Catholic has clinched the No. 1 seed with an 11-0 league mark.
Neumann-Goretti closes out the regular season with a Feb. 8 contest at Archbishop Carroll and a Feb. 10 home meeting with St. Joe’s Prep.
"We are in control of our own destiny, so if we don’t make it, it’s our own fault," Arrigale said.