Basketball Notebook: Week 15

By Scott Huff 

A 24-2 record – precious.
 
A Suburban One League American Conference championship – prized.
 
But a PIAA District One Quad-A title – priceless.
 
The cost of not winning the district title was painfully etched on the face on Plymouth Whitemarsh head coach Jim Donofrio moments after his Colonials lost a 54-49 overtime game to Penn Wood at Villanova University. 
 
“I will admit, I am selfish and wanted to win the trophy,” said Donofrio. “Sometimes you don’t comprehend this time – we may never get back to this game again.”
 
Plymouth Whitemarsh does have five District One trophies in its trophy case. The Colonials won back-to-back in 1963 and 1964; back-to-back again in 1974 and 1975; and as recently as 1998.
 
PW was the PIAA state champion in both 1963 and 1997.
 
The Colonials – as District One runner-ups – will still have a shot at the coveted 2010 state title and only has to look back a single season to see the road to be traveled.
 
Penn Wood – the defending state champion – was the PIAA District One Quad-A runner-up last season.
 
The talented Patriots were upset by upstart Norristown – 52-49 – in the District One title game played at the Pavilion on the campus of Villanova University.
 
Norristown began the district playoffs as a number eight seed and battled through no less than three key upsets on its mission for the district title.
 
“We really weren’t favored to win much the whole season,” remembered Norristown head coach Michael Evans who played on the 1990 Norristown district title team and was the head coach for the 2009 Eagle title squad. “But we had a bunch of kids that worked hard and thought they could compete with anyone.
 
“It was a special team, and other than Khalif (Wyatt), we didn’t have great talent,” added Evans. “But those kids thought they could win – and in the end they won.”
 
The road to that 2009 title run was loaded with potential district playoff potholes. The Eagles flew by athletic Chester (61-59), talented Pennsbury (60-53), and finally eventual state champion Penn Wood (52-49) to earn the district title.
 
“My senior year we really didn’t have high expectations at the beginning of the year,” remembered Wyatt – a member of Temple University’s Top 25 Owl team this year. “We were a surprise to a lot of teams, and really we were a surprise to ourselves.
 
“We probably had more talent my junior year (when the Eagles lost to Chester in both the district and state finals),” added Wyatt. “But winning a district championship the way we did is something I will always remember.
 
“When the (high school) recruits come to (Temple’s) practice, and I talk to them afterward, I think back to playing at Norristown,” continued Wyatt. “I can always tell people I was a district champion.”
 
Priceless.
 
The Khalif Wyatt update file
 
Wyatt – who was a second team all-state selection as a senior at Norristown Area High School – has spent most of his freshman season seated on the Temple U. bench – and he doesn’t regret it one little bit.
 
“When Coach (Fran) Dunphy recruited me, I knew that he didn’t really play freshman guards,” said Wyatt of the Temple head coach that was recently selected as Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year. “I knew that going into the program.
 
“We have two great senior guards in Ryan Brooks and Luis Guzman,” added Wyatt. “I get to practice against them and Juan Fernandez a lot, and it has to make me a better player.
 
“Lavoy Allen (Pennsbury grad) is a special player – a great competitor,” said Wyatt of the Owl junior. “It seems like he grabs almost every rebound.
 
“I see some of the other players I played against in high school getting playing time with some other college teams,” continued Wyatt. “But that isn’t where I want to be. Temple is a Top 25 team, and if we could win our conference championship, we could get a good seed in the national playoffs.
 
“My time will come, I believe that,” added Wyatt. “And we get some great food on the road games.
 
 “Life is good.”
 
Suburban One League PIAA Quad-A road map
 
Council Rock North (21-6) will play a ‘pigtail’ game to enter the field of 32 that competes for the PIAA Quad-A state title. The Indians will host Hazelton (19-5) Tuesday night at Rock North – game time 7 pm.
 
“We have fought hard to get where we are,” said CR North head coach Derek Wright. “We have had to win three straight to get here, and we have to feel good about ourselves.
 
“I put it right out there that if we want to feel the atmosphere of states, we had to win this game,” added Wright as the Indians would face powerful Reading (27-2) on Saturday at 5:30 pm with a win over the Cougars. “We know what we have to do to get there, now we have to go out and do it.”
 
The remaining Suburban One League teams will have Saturday matinees in their respective quests for that state banner.
 
Neshaminy (19-8) is the number six seed from District One and will face the number two seed from District 12 –John Bartrum (19-9).
 
The game will be played at 2 pm at SouthPhiladelphiaHigh School.
 
Souderton (23-4) is the number four seed from District One and will play the number three seed from District 12 – Roman Catholic (16-8).
 
The game will be played at 2 pm at NorristownAreaHigh School.
 
Plymouth Whitemarsh (24-2) is the number two seed from District One and will play the number five seed from District 3 – RedLand (25-4).
 
The game will be played at WissahickonHigh School at 3:30 pm.
 
Pennsbury (17-10) is the number five seed from District One and will meet the number three seed from District 3 – Wilson (24-4).
 
The game will be played at 4 pm at the Hershey Park Arena.
 
SuburbanOneSports.com Fab Five
 
1. Plymouth Whitemarsh Colonials (24-2)
2. Souderton Indians (23-4)
3. Pennsbury Falcons (17-10)
4. Neshaminy Redskins (19-8)
5. Council Rock North Indians (21-6)