Finalists for states in for changes

Posted: March 29, 2010

All four boys' basketball teams that represented Southeastern Pennsylvania in the state championships at Penn State this weekend will lose key players.

Of the four, the team most likely to reach the Bryce Jordan Center next season is Penn Wood, which returns its best all-around player, 6-foot-5 junior swingman Aaron Brown.

"I see us right back in the position we're in now: in the state final," Brown said after the Patriots' 58-51 loss to Plymouth Whitemarsh in the Class AAAA final Saturday. "I see us winning, though."

Penn Wood loses its floor leader, point guard Tyree Johnson (heading for Hartford), along with shooting guard Will Brown and sixth man Dequan Pelzer. But its starting frontcourt returns, including 6-9, 250-pound forward/center Shawn Oakman and 6-8 forward Darian Barnes, both juniors.

Juniors Jeff Kyem, a 6-4 forward, and guard Kali Smith could see more significant minutes, as well.

Aaron Brown said speedy guard Jerry Price is a candidate to take over at the point. Asked to compare Price's game with Johnson's, Brown shook his head: "I can't. I love Tyree."

State champion Plymouth Whitemarsh, on the other hand, will lose 6-10 center C.J. Aiken (heading for St. Joseph's) and combo guard Whis Grant from the starting lineup, along with reserves Julian Bond and T.J. Clancy.

PW's starting lineup next season should include five seniors, led by 6-7 forward Jaylen Bond, who like Aaron Brown of Penn Wood is attracting major Division I interest. Point guard Brandon Dixon, guard/forward Sam Pygatt, and guards Marcus Badger and Stephon Baker also will return.

"You've got the guards and a big [man] who's pretty darn good," Colonials coach Jim Donofrio said. "What we had this year obviously is very special to have - an Aiken and a Bond. There's not a whole lot of that in high school in the country."

Sophomores who could step in include speedy guard Kenny Williams and 6-6 forward Jake Silvers.

The Class AAA state champion, Neumann-Goretti, will lose Tony Chennault (Wake Forest), Tyreek Duren (La Salle), Danny Stewart (Rider), and Mustafaa Jones (Hartford) from the starting lineup.

Junior guard Lamin Fulton will be the Saints' only returning starter, with sophomores Derrick Stewart, a 6-5 forward, and guard Billy Shank stepping in to fill large shoes.

Like Neumann-Goretti, Strawberry Mansion will hardly recognize itself in the mirror next season.

The Knights, who fell in Saturday's Class AA final to South Fayette, 49-47, lose four of five senior starters and head coach Gerald Hendricks to retirement after 28 seasons.

Athletic 6-2 sophomore swingman Khyree Wooten is the only returning starter. Gone are leading scorer Devonte' "D.J." Newbill (Marquette), 6-4 forward Jamal Jones, starting guards Khalil Meadows and Cedrick Powell, and bench contributors Marque Griffin and Saadiq Berry.

The only returning sub who saw significant minutes this season is 6-4 junior forward Eric Jefferson.

Expect at least one team that did not make the trip to Penn State this season to play at the Bryce Jordan Center next March.

Class AA Imhotep Charter of the Public League, which won District 12 and fell to Mansion by two points in the state semifinals, returns all five junior starters and two top junior reserves - Ameen Tanksley, David Appolon, Erik Copes, Terrell Johnson, Tyhiem Perrin, and off the bench Earl Brown and Bakari White.

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