I took advantage of the opportunity to check out two of Philadelphia's best junior basketball prospects last night. Both players' teams were playing in the 1st round of the PIAA playoffs at the same site (New Oxford High School). Roberts Vaux, featuring consensus Top-50 guard Rysheed Jordan, took on York Catholic in the first game. Imhotep Charter, featuring Penn State commit Brandon Austin, took on Delone Catholic in the second game.
I only saw the second half of Jordan's game. When I got there, Vaux was up comfortably by 10 near the start of the 3rd quarter. They stretched the lead to 15 before York Catholic made a run. One of their players caught fire from behind the arc and hit at least 4 three-pointers. Eventually Vaux adjusted by sticking Jordan, who has been heralded for his defense, on their hot shooter with about 4 minutes to go. The shooter didn't get a clean look the rest of the game, although he did get a shooting foul called on Jordan that was iffy at best. Still, though, YC cut the lead all the way down to three with under a minute to play. That is when Rysheed forced two consecutive steals to seal the game (the first one led to a breakaway layup).
Jordan didn't particularly 'wow' me with his game, but I only saw 15 minutes of game time. He made plenty of plays on defense that won the game for Vaux (56-51 final). Offensively, he made a big three-pointer and made a few nice drives but didn't finish well near the rim. He also missed a few free throws that kept YC in the game.
Jay Wright, Phil Martelli, John Giannini, and Temple's Dave Duke were all there. After the first game, the coaches chatted it up with each other before they all left. It was pretty cool to see the entire Philly college scene go home. The one guy who stayed, of course? Eugene Burroughs, PSU's representation.
The Imhotep game went pretty much the same way. They got up big (14-3 after the 1st quarter), but let Delone Catholic get back in the game behind this one shooter who kept getting free. Austin scored 7 points early, including a three, then made 5-6 foul shots in the 4th quarter. His free throws were big down the stretch that kept Imhotep in control (60-52 final). His team's offense goes through Khyree Wooten, an unsigned senior guard. Austin did a great job setting up Wooten during the game. I was also really impressed with Austin's handle. He really is all of 6'6" and 170 pounds, but is great with the ball in his hands. His wiry frame also allowed him to get blocks and steals on defense, but I wouldn't call him a defensive stopper yet. Philly.com reported he finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists.
I was pleased with Austin's composure and toughness. He didn't whine or complain to the officials nearly as much as Jordan did, nor did he take himself out after getting blindsided by a shoulder to the face. Chambers has reeled in a big-time player. I look forward to getting the chance to see him in action again.
Both teams advance to the second round of state playoffs (round of 16). Imhotep Charter plays Meyers (featuring PSU footballer Eugene Lewis) at Liberty HS in Bethlehem, while Vaux plays Pine Grove at the Geigle Complex in Reading. Both games will be played on Wednesday. You can see the AA bracket here.
AROUND THE STATE - Geno Thorpe scored 20 points as Shaler won their first-round game against Taylor-Allderdice, 57-51. Shaler now faces Gateway on Wednesday in the second round. Sheldon Jeter's Beaver Falls squad rolled to a 69-37 first round win over Lakeview. Jeter's statline - 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots, but he wasn't pleased with his performance. They now face Conemaugh Twp from District 5. Williamsport got a nice opening round win over Souderton, 65-51. PSU was there to watch Isaiah Washington score 20 points, dish 5 assists, and grab 4 rebounds. Williamsport now faces Harrisburg at Shamokin HS Wednesday night.