Philadelphia Catholic League boys’ basketball has reached halftime. Rarely have the standings displayed such a small margin of error this late in the season.

Neumann-Goretti remains the only undefeated squad. At 6-0, Coach Carl Arrigale’s Saints await a significant challenge, with their next four opponents currently amassing a collective record of 23-5.

Echoing a common – but logical – refrain, N-G coach Carl Arrigale is less concerned about his team’s record and more cognizant about his players’ health and well being.

“It’s PCL basketball,” said Arrigale, who holds the record for most titles and victories in the Catholic League. “You have to play everybody. We are a little banged up right now, so my team is my main focus right now, not who we are playing.”

Tied for second place at 6-1 are St. Joseph’s Prep, Father Judge, and Roman Catholic. The result that galvanized the quad – Father Judge’s 76-62 win over Roman on Jan. 22 – catapulted the Crusaders to serious contender status.

Though pleased with the win, Judge coach Chris Roantree maintained perspective.

“It helps in terms of that every game matters,” said Roundtree. “It doesn’t matter who you play. You need to be up for it and prepared. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night, and it is a challenge.”

Unaccustomed to losing – as evidenced by its 38-5 regular-season record over the past four seasons – defending champion Roman Catholic plans to learn from its miscues and apply those lessons in the playoffs that begin in mid-February

“Definitely good to get the loss out of the way for the playoffs later down the line,” said Roman Catholic junior standout Shareef Jackson. “With how insanely impactful and important each game is, there are definitely points that can be taken away from the loss and overall make us better.”

Although social media expressed surprise following what many viewed as an upset defeat, Jackson focuses on the big picture.

“The loss doesn’t matter that much when it comes to being undefeated,” said Jackson. “This is the Philadelphia Catholic League, which is such a great and incredible league. Winning every game just isn’t likely, and while it is a little bit of a bummer to no longer have a ‘zero’ in our loss column, it’s not something that we’re insanely bummed out about.”

Archbishop Ryan and Archbishop Wood reside in fifth place with mutual 5-2 records. Since 10 teams make the playoffs – starting with pre-quarterfinal matchups (seed 10 at seed 7; seed 9 at 8) on Feb. 14 – it figures to be an entertaining venture watching Bonner-Prendergast (3-4), Archbishop Carroll (3-4), Conwell-Egan (2-5), Cardinal O’Hara (2-5), West Catholic (2-5), Devon Prep (1-5), Lansdale Catholic (0-6), and LaSalle (0-6) push each other en route to the postseason.

Quarterfinals commence Feb. 16 on the courts of the higher seeds. Semifinals take place Feb. 21 at the Palestra. The PCL championship, also at the Palestra, tips off Feb. 26.


John Knebels can be reached at or on “X”, formerly known as Twitter, @johnknebels.