The 2011-2012 basketball season is well under way. Among the city Catholic League boys’ teams that are off to a fine start are the Father Judge Crusaders, the Roman Catholic Cahillites and the Archbishop Ryan Raiders.
Father Judge officially opened their season Friday, Dec. 9, when it hosted and upset Strawberry Mansion, 71-61. The Crusaders then followed with victories over Math Civics & Sciences (63-62), Abraham Lincoln (72-51), Central Bucks South (60-53), Red Land (57-56) and St. Joseph in Hammonton, N.J. (65-46) to begin with an undefeated record of 6-0.
“We’re pretty athletic,” said Father Judge head coach Sean Tait. “We’ve been pretty good. We’ve played impressive teams.”
The tight win over Math Civics & Sciences proved to be one of Father Judge’s biggest games yet as that team was picked to be one of this year’s best in the Philadelphia Public League.
“They have three guys over 6-5 and they’re pretty athletic,” Tait said.
Some of Judge’s key players are senior forward Tim Milligan; senior guards Matthew Walker, Brian Hennessey and Connor Donohoe; junior center Joe Robinson and junior guards Steven Griffin Jr. and Jeff Seigafuse. As a sophomore, Griffin was selected All-Catholic.
The Cahillites are off to a 2-1 record. They began the season with a 78-75 win over Lower Merion. After upsetting Neshaminy (49-44), they suffered their first loss when they dropped a 59-51 decision to Paul VI in Haddonfield, NJ.
Roman Catholic starters include junior point guard Britton Lee, junior forward/shooting guard Shafeek Taylor, senior forward Raquan Brown-Johnson and sophomore shooting guard Shep Garner.
Archbishop Ryan (6-0) remains undefeated so far this year. Prior to the holiday break, the Raiders defeated North Penn, 58-46. Senior forwards Kyle Slawter and Nick Aughenberger, senior center Christian Rivera and junior guard Brian Okolo are all leading the way for Ryan.
“They’ve been playing consistently,” said Archbishop Ryan head coach Bernie Rogers. “We have balanced scoring from these guys.”
After weeks of non-league games, all three teams are ready to open up the Catholic League action this first week of January. Father Judge begins the new year Friday, Jan. 6, when it hosts West Catholic at 7 p.m. in a Catholic League game.
“We’re just hoping to be a playoff team and a home playoff team,” Tait said. “We finished fourth in the Catholic League last year. We were tied with Roman Catholic with 30 seconds to go in the quarterfinals but we fell and that was the end.”
Roman Catholic will start 2012 by hosting Bishop McDevitt Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 3:45 p.m.
Archbishop Ryan returns to action on the road against Archbishop Wood Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. While the Raiders managed to find a spot in the 2011 playoffs, they lost in the first round. Therefore, the goal is to get some victories in this year’s postseason, especially for the seniors.
“We squeaked into the playoffs,” Rogers said. “This year’s seniors are anxious. Hopefully, we’ll be able to pick up from last year and get some wins in the playoffs.”
The season continues for the West Catholic boys’ basketball team. Nearly one month in to the season, the Burrs currently hold a record of 3-4.
West Catholic brings back a wide array of starters including five seniors from last year’s squad. Among them are guard/forwards Jaleel Reed, Mark Perez, Isayas Habtu and Jalen McDonald as well as power forward/center Anthony Fleet.
The season began with the annual West Catholic Tip-off Classic on Dec. 9. The Burrs went 2-0 in the classic as they dominated Mastery Charter Lenfest, 65-35 on opening day followed by a 57-50 victory over Prep Charter. West Catholic then fell to Pennsbury (69-43),Germantown Academy(60-50) and Malvern Prep (58-42). It ended this losing streak, however, when it trounced Palmer Leadership, 90-56, prior to participating in the Coatesville Holiday Invitational.
West Catholic is now set to start its action in the competitive Catholic League. The league opener is slated for Friday, Jan. 6 at Father Judge.
The top four teams in the Catholic League will receive home court advantage in round one of the playoffs.
Next week: Preview of suburban Catholic League boys’ basketball teams.