Checking in on local basketball squads

Academy at Palumbo’s Terrell Tilghman scores a layup in a game at South Philadelphia High School earlier this season. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

The high school basketball season is already a month old and teams from South Philly are starting to find their rhythm as the temperatures continue to plummet.

This week, the South Philly Review takes a look at the area’s teams that are starting to make some noise on the hardwood, starting with the boys teams and finishing strong with the girls. All records are through Sunday, Jan. 16.

In boys basketball, Southern has piled up the wins behind a strong defensive system and transition scoring. The Rams were 9-3 through the weekend, led by junior Yassir Joyner, who has averaged north of 18 points per game, and senior Dayon Warren, who is chipping in 16 points per game. Senior Jabree Coleman is averaging double-digit rebounds. Southern started its season 7-1 before a tough stretch that included an overtime loss to Carver High School of Science and Engineering and an 86-77 loss to undefeated West Philadelphia.

Neumann-Goretti likely has a long season ahead of itself in the sense that many expect the talented Saints to be one of the final teams playing in the state. South Philly’s lone Catholic high school is 5-1, which includes a 1-0 start in the Philadelphia Catholic League, with a win over Bonner-Predergast. Neumann-Goretti experienced a pause in its season and will need to make up at least three PCL games.

The Saints are led by three double-digit scorers in sophomore Robert Wright (18.8 points per game), senior Masud Stewart (15.0) and junior Sultan Adewale (11.2). The Saints have tested their might against teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia already and their lone loss was a 64-58 defeat to Imhotep Charter in Philadelphia. Neumann-Goretti led by two heading into the fourth quarter of that game.

Audenried (0-3) started its season with three straight losses but hasn’t played a game since Dec. 16. Girard Academic Music Program also stands at 0-3 but has yet to play more than one game in a week. The Pioneers’ post recent setback was a 58-36 loss to Parkway West on Jan. 13. They have a busy schedule lined up for this week, barring any cancellations. Prep Charter has yet to play a game this season.

The Academy at Palumbo’s record has suffered due to a strong out-of-conference schedule that included matchups with Penn Charter, Germantown Academy, Friends Select, Radnor and Abington. The Griffins are 4-8 overall but hold a respectable 3-3 ledger in the Public League.

Palumbo has received strong contributions from senior Andrew Fagans, who is averaging 12.9 points per game. Junior Ayyub Noble is checking several boxes with 9.1 points per game, while averaging five rebounds, three assists and four steals a game.

String Theory has continued its impressive run while playing only two games at home at the Guerin Rec Center. The Knights are 5-0 in conference play and 8-3 overall. Mike Varallo and Jajuan Nelson are averaging double figures for the Knights.

In Girls Basketball action, Audenried took advantage of a heavy showcase schedule against a few premier east coast teams from New York, Virginia and Maryland. The Rockets’ record suffered because of it, but Audenried has won six of its last eight games and stood at 7-6 through the weekend, which included a loss to Germantown Friends at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday. Freshman Shayla Smith leads the way, nearly averaging a double-double with 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Maya Braxton-Young, a sophomore, is scoring at a 12.8-point pace while ZayAhni Neurell clocks in with 9.4 points per game. 

Neumann-Goretti’s pace has slowed after jumping out to a 4-3 record. The Saints played a heavy out-of-state schedule before defeating Penn Charter on Jan. 9, which was their last game before multiple cancellations. The Saints are the only team that has not played a game in the Catholic League after they were forced to postpone a pair of games last week.

Prep Charter has yet to play a game at all, and Southern’s season finally got underway as the calendar flipped to 2022. The Rams were healthy, but ran into an unlucky stretch of opponents who all had quarantine issues, pushing their season opener back several weeks. Southern was 0-3 through its first three games, which included conference losses to Northeast and Bartram.  

String Theory won its first two games, led by seniors Isabella Murtha and Lily Gebbia, and junior Talia Gallo, who each contributed a double-digit effort in those games. The Knights haven’t played since a 33-29 win over Parkway West on Dec. 20

GAMP suffered its first loss of the season on Jan. 14 via a 48-28 setback to Frankford. The Pioneers hadn’t allowed more than 22 points in a game before that. Zoe Hargrove is the team’s leading scorer and has two 20-point efforts under her belt already.

The Academy at Palumbo won a 36-34 nail-biter over Roxborough to finish its week strong. The Griffins are 4-2 and have won four of their last five, paced by Aisha Muibi (9.6 points per game), Tatianna Charles (8.5) and Mylan Marable (6.2).