Boys' Basketball Notebook: Vol. 8

By Scott Huff 

The invitations were sent out for the upcoming PIAA District One playoffs.
Souderton received one of those coveted invites, but the Indians were awarded a # 17 seed in the 32 seed field and will have to travel to Upper Darby – the # 16 seed - in the first round.
In all likelihood, Souderton has played its last game at its historic gym in the borough of Souderton. The Indians will play next season in a brand spanking new gym – in the brand spanking new Souderton High School - in Franconia Township.
“I’m a big fan of the Big Five,” said Souderton coach Perry Engard. “And I always thought that this place was the closest thing to the Palestra in our area.
“Before the (Pennridge) game I was looking around our locker room walls and saw all of the names of the seniors who have come through this program,” continued Engard. “And I got a little emotional thinking that this building will soon be gone.
“The new building will have a lot of shine, but we will all miss this place,” added Engard. “A full house here will only be half a house at the new place. I hope that our fans continue to come out and support us.”
Senior guard Jimmy Connolly is back in the lineup from an ankle injury and played well in the Big Red wins over Quakertown and Pennridge last week.
“I will have a lot of great memories about this gym,” said Connolly. “There were a lot of great games that we won here – some that we lost. I will miss it.”
The return of Connolly has been a super boost to the success of the team.
“With Jimmy back, it is a domino effect where we can play everyone back in their regular positions,” said Engard. “I’m proud of the way that the kids have pulled together, and this group of seniors have continued the legacy of our program.”
Souderton will have a solid week of practice to prepare for Upper Darby. And that’s a good thing.
“Right now I’m about 85 percent,” said Connolly. “I’ll have a full week to rest the ankle, and I should be 100 percent by Friday.
“When you get to the district playoffs, you have to be able to play your best game,” added Connolly. “We’ll be ready.”
If Souderton can defeat Upper Darby next Friday, the bracket is not kind to the Big Red. Barring a huge upset by North Penn, the Indians would travel to Chester to meet the # 1 seeded Clippers.
“Right now we are as healthy as we have been in a while,” said Engard. “We’ll work hard in practice this week and see what happens.” 
Who was invited to the PIAA District One Quad-A dance?
The Suburban One Continental Conference was the most competitive conference all season, and as a result six of the eight conference members earned playoff slots.
Central Bucks South is the # 5 seed and will host Avon Grove (#28). Central Bucks West (# 11) will host Radnor (# 22). Souderton (#17) is on the road against Upper Darby (#16). Central Bucks East (#25) will travel to West Chester Rustin (#8). Quakertown (#27) is on the road against Lower Merion (#4). And North Penn (#32) takes its show on the road against Chester (#1).
The Suburban One National Conference will send five of its eight teams to the postseason.
Pennsbury (#4) will host conference rival Council Rock South (#29) in a first round game. Bensalem (#14) earned a first round home game versus Great Valley (#19). Council Rock North (#21) will be on the road against Glen Mills (#12). And Neshaminy (#23) will travel to Penncrest (#10).
The Suburban One American Conference will send three of its teams to the District One Quad-A playoffs.
Plymouth Whitemarsh (#7) earned the highest seed and will host Methacton (#26). Norristown (#9) will have a first round home game as the Eagles host Spring-Ford (#24). Cheltenham (#31) will be on the road to play Conestoga (#2).
Happy 500th Win
North Penn coach Ron Hassler registered his 500th career coaching victory in a most extraordinary manner.
The Knights routed Pennridge 61-37 in their final SOL Continental Conference – but Hassler wasn’t even in the building.
“I guess you could say that it was a very unique situation,” said Hassler who attended his daughter’s senior night at Parkland High School. “There was some discussion on whether or not to count it, or not, but this team has worked so hard that I wanted them to be part of the 500 victories.
“My daughter (Kaila) had torn her ACL twice and really only got the play high school basketball her senior year,” added Hassler. “I have so much respect for the way that she came back from those injuries, I felt it was my place to honor her on her senior night.”
Hassler has been in the scholastic coaching business for 25 years now. He began at Catasauqua High School for two years, moved on to Whitehall High School for 13 years, and moved on to Allentown Central Catholic for nine years. This is his first year at North Penn.
Hassler credits, in addition to his players over the last quarter of a century, the dedication he receives from his veteran coaching staff.
“Both Jerry Radocha and Bob Gilbert have been with me from time to time over the years, and we share the same basketball philosophy,” said Hassler. “And Matt Scott is new to us, but not to the players. He has been a great addition.
“I am very proud of this team,” continued Hassler. “They had a giant change in philosophy, and they handled it extremely well.”
North Penn will open the PIAA District One playoffs as the # 32 seed and will travel to meet # 1 seed Chester.
“Now that would be a great way to win 501,” said Hassler.
Upset Special
Hatboro-Horsham stunned the SOL Continental Conference when the Hatters upset Central Bucks West by a 54-50 score in the regular season final for both teams.
By beating the Bucks, the Hatters denied West of a share of the conference title. CB South whipped CB East to earn the title outright.
“It was a real mob scene at West,” said Hatboro-Horsham coach Dennis Steinly. “The crowd was large and the crowd was loud. They anticipated a big celebration.
“I told the players before the game started that the only friends they had in the building were right in this huddle,” added Steinly. “And to be able to beat them was very exciting.”
The Hatters (9-13) will not make the postseason this year. And for the first time in Steinly’s 13-year coaching career at HH – both with the boys’ and girls’ programs – there will be no games to be played after the regular season.
“We won the last three games of the season, and that is something to build on,” said Steinly. “Both Mike Marvin and Connor Poston are back, and we hope we can get back to the playoffs.”
SOL Continental Conference
Central Bucks South (19-3, 12-2) earned the absolute conference championship with a pair of huge wins last week.
The Titans defeated North Penn [56-45] behind a 19-point scoring effort by Mike Doty and capped the regular season with the title-clinching win over CB East [58-36] as Will Barrett led all scorers with 23 points.
Central Bucks West (17-5, 11-3) split its conference games last week – and it cost them a share of the conference championship.
The Bucks opened the week with a nice win over CB East [51-35], but West was upset by Hatboro-Horsham [54-50] in the regular season finale. Joe Dilullo led the team in the win over East with 17 points, while Pat Furst scored a team-high 15 points in the setback to the Hatters.
Souderton (14-8, 10-4) took over sole possession of third place in the conference with a pair of victories.
Four players scored in double figures – led by Jimmy Connolly’s 19 points and A.J. Picard's 18 – as the Big Red opened the week with a 72-64 overtime win over Quakertown. Jake Metz scored 17 points as the Indians ended the regular season with a 71-51 win over Pennridge.
Central Bucks East (14-8, 8-6) lost two of three games last week and finished in sole possession of fourth place,
The Patriots lost to both sister schools – CB West [51-35] and CB South [58-36] – in conference play. CB East won a non-league game against Perkiomen Valley and was led in scoring by both Chris Harmon and Craiger Eshleman with 12 points.
North Penn (11-11, 5-9) was one of three conference teams to win five games this season.
The Knights opened the week with a 56-45 loss to CB South, and Adam Jones scored 23 points as North Penn ended the regular season with a 61-37 victory over Pennridge.
Quakertown (10-12, 5-9) had three conference games last week and went 1-2.
The Panthers – behind the 27-point scoring performance by Dalton Nice – defeated Pennridge, 75-44. Q-town then lost in overtime to Hatboro-Horsham [66-60] and lost in overtime to Souderton [72-64].
Hatboro-Horsham (9-13, 5-9) closed the books on its season with a pair of conference wins.
The Hatters topped Quakertown [66-60] behind a 22-point scoring effort by Dan Linsberger. And H-H closed its season with a huge 54-50 win over CB West as Mike Marvin paced the scoring with 13 points.
Pennridge (1-21, 0-14) concluded its season with a tortuous 21-game losing streak. The Rams had defeated New-Hope [60-36] to open the season.
The final three setbacks came against conference competition. The Rams lost to Quakertown [75-44], North Penn [61-37], and Souderton [71-51]. Ryan Connellan scored in double figures in all three losses.
SOL American Conference
Plymouth Whitemarsh (19-3, 13-1) took a share of the conference championship as the Colonials edged Norristown 53-48 behind a 14-point scoring performance by Whis Grant.
PW opened the week with a 54-40 win over Cheltenham and an 81-32 win over Springfield. C.J. Aiken led the team in scoring against the Panthers, while Jaylen Bond led the team against Springfield.
Norristown (17-5, 13-1) won two of three conference games last week, but that 53-48 loss to Plymouth Whitemarsh cost the Eagles an outright conference championship.
Khalif Wyatt – who scored 29 points in the loss to the Colonials – also led the team in scoring in wins over Upper Dublin [64-36] and Cheltenham [56-47]. Wyatt scored 15 against the Cardinals and managed 28 points against the Panthers.
Cheltenham (12-10, 10-4) once again proved it could beat every team in the conference – twice – and could not beat either PW or Norristown.
The Panthers opened the week with a 54-40 loss to PW and followed with a 56-47 defeat against Norristown. Christian Santos led CHS in scoring in both games with a pair of 19-point scoring performances.
Wissahickon (11-11, 6-8) finished as the fourth place team in conference standings.
The Trojans defeated Upper Merion [76-67] behind a 26-point scoring effort by Alec McClure. Wissy followed with a 48-41 win over Upper Moreland as Jordan Reed led the team with 18 points.
Upper Merion (7-15, 5-9) split its conference games last week to end the season with five conference wins.
The Vikings were defeated by Wissahickon [76-67] despite a 25-point scoring performance by Fran Rafferty. Upper Merion followed with a 61-51 win over Upper Dublin as Rafferty scored a team-high 20 points.
Upper Dublin (6-16, 5-9) did not recover from the loss of Jamil Brown to an ankle injury.
The Flying Cardinals were shot down by both Norristown [64-36] and Upper Merion [61-51]. James Newman led the team against the Eagles with 14 points, while Aaqil Bailey had a terrific 28-point outing against the Vikings.
Upper Moreland (8-13, 4-10) won one of the three games it played last week.
The Golden Bears were golden in a 60-32 win over Springfield as Ryan Burnick scored 17 and Dmitri Miller added 15. Upper Moreland then lost a conference game to Wissahickon [48-41] and a non-league game to Lansdale Catholic [56-48]. Miller scored 16 in the loss to Wissy and 17 in the setback to LC.
Springfield (1-21, 0-14) went into overtime in its non-league finale with Bristol, but the Spartans still came up short in a 46-45 loss.
Springfield lost conference games to both Upper Moreland [60-32] and Plymouth Whitemarsh [81-32]. Rich Acierno led the Spartans in scoring in both losses.
SOL National Conference
Pennsbury (19-3, 14-0) closed the books on yet another perfect SOL National Conference season. The Falcons – who also lost to highly touted St. Patrick’s [39-35] in a non-league game – won three conference games last week.
Pennsbury opened with a 78-34 victory over William Tennent, followed by a 59-49 win over Truman, and concluded the conference schedule with a 67-45 win over Neshaminy. Dalton Pepper scored 20-plus points in each of those wins.
Bensalem (17-5, 10-4) captured two of three conference games last week to end the season in sole possession of second place.
The Owls opened the week with a loss to Neshaminy [61-58], but followed with key wins over both Council Rock North [54-53 in overtime] and Abington [71-55]. Bensalem received balanced scoring from Rob Schreiber, Nick Christian, and Dyron Edwards.
Neshaminy (14-8, 9-5) was tied as a third place finisher in the conference this season and split a pair of games last week.
The Redskins opened the week with a 61-58 victory over Bensalem but closed the week with a 67-45 loss to conference champion Pennsbury. Ryan Arcidiacono scored 22 against the Owls and added 13 versus Pennsbury.
Council Rock North (13-9, 9-5) won two of three conference games to secure a third place tie in the standings with Neshaminy.
Rock North opened the week with a win over Abington [50-49], lost to Bensalem [54-53], and defeated rival Council Rock South [77-68]. Andrew Stress and Arron Goodman carried the scoring load in all three games.
Council Rock South (11-11, 6-8) broke a six-game losing streak with a 66-58 win over William Tennent. Tom Boyd led the Golden Hawks with a 21-point effort.
Rock South lost its final game of the season 77-68 to Rock North. Boyd once again led the Hawks in scoring with 15 points.
Abington (8-14, 5-9) lost its final two conference games last week.
The Ghosts dropped a tough 50-49 contest to CR North despite a 21-point effort by Ken Johnson. Bensalem closed out the Abington season, and the Ghosts lost 71-55. The high scorer against the Owls was Dan Rodriguez with 17 points.
Harry S Truman (6-16, 3-11) won one of three games last week to put the wraps on its season.
The win for the Tigers came against William Tennent [55-54] as Keith Jones scored 10 points. The losses came versus both Pennsbury [59-40] and Avon Grove [61-50]. Rekeem Boyd led the team in scoring in both losses.
William Tennent (1-21, 0-14) had a three-loss week to close out the record books.
The Panthers suffered a tough 55-54 loss to Truman, a 78-34 loss to Pennsbury, and a 66-58 loss to CR South. Jeff Pio scored 26 points against CR South, while Eugene Bell led the team in scoring against both Pennsbury and Truman.
’s Regular Season Top 24
1.       Pennsbury Falcons (19-3)
2.       Central Bucks South Titans (19-3)
3.       Plymouth Whitemarsh Colonials (19-3)
4.       Norristown Eagles (17-5)
5.       Bensalem Owls (17-5)
6.       Central Bucks West Bucks (17-5)
7.       Souderton Indians (14-8)
8.       Neshaminy Redskins (14-8)
9.       Central Bucks East Patriots (14-8)
10. Council Rock North Indians (13-9)
11. Cheltenham Panthers (12-10)
12. Council Rock South Golden Hawks (11-11)
13. North Penn Knights (11-11)
14. Wissahickon Trojans (11-11)
15. Quakertown Panthers (10-12)
16. Hatboro-Horsham Hatters (9-13)
17. Abington Ghosts (8-14)
18. Truman Tigers (6-16)
19. Upper Merion Vikings (7-15)
20. Upper Dublin Flying Cardinals (6-16)
21. Upper Moreland Golden Bears (8-14)
22. William Tennent Panthers (1-21)
23. Pennridge Rams (1-21)
24. Springfield Spartans (1-21)