New Malvern coach getting acclimated

Malvern Prep's Joey Fitzpatrick, a junior guard, is one of the spark plugs for new coach John Harmatuk. The Friars are 5-6 so far this season. ROBERT COLAMECO
Malvern Prep's Joey Fitzpatrick, a junior guard, is one of the spark plugs for new coach John Harmatuk. The Friars are 5-6 so far this season. ROBERT COLAMECO
Posted: January 05, 2014

The timing couldn't have been better for John Harmatuk.

Last summer, when Harmatuk's wife accepted a new position with a pharmaceutical company and the family was moving to the area from suburban Houston, Malvern Prep happened to be looking for a new basketball coach.

"I interviewed for the job the first day I got here," said Harmatuk, who previously coached for 12 years at Cypress Springs High in Cypress, Texas. He replaced Jim Rullo, who stepped down after seven seasons to take the top spot at Neumann University.

Harmatuk and the Friars will take a 5-6 record into Saturday's Inter-Ac League opener against Penn Charter. The contest, part of a tripleheader at Philadelphia University, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

"We're trying to figure out who we are while we're playing in games," the coach said. "That's not easy to do."

Harmatuk, who last season guided Cypress Springs to the regional semifinals of the state's Class 5A playoff tournament, prefers an up-tempo style of offense.

"I want the guys to push the ball, take the first good shot they get," he said.

Malvern opened with wins over Friends' Central and Bonner-Prendergast. Down by 24-20 at halftime against Bonner-Prendie, the Friars rallied with 33 fourth-quarter points for a 69-56 triumph.

Harmatuk, also an assistant athletic director at Malvern, believes his squad was toughened in losses against Notre Dame (N.Y.), St. Joseph's Prep, St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.), Salesianum (Del.), Phelps, and La Salle.

"We've played some of the better teams in the area, which is what we wanted to do," he said. "We want to play the best teams out there."

The young Friars are sparked by junior guard Joey Fitzpatrick (11.2 ppg.), sophomore guard Will Powers (8.1 ppg., 23 three-pointers), and junior floor leader Chris Anderson (6.9 ppg.).

Brent Greeley, a 6-foot-3 sophomore forward, and junior guard Jack Doherty round out the starting lineup.

Three junior reserve forwards - Hayden Mahoney, Ryan O'Neill, and Nick Zarkoski - joined the team after the football season.

Saturday's other Inter-Ac openers are Episcopal Academy vs. Haverford School (4 p.m.) and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy vs. defending champ Germantown Academy (7 p.m.).

"I've seen every team play twice," Harmatuk said. "I think we can compete with any of them. We just have to believe we can."

Top competition. The first annual Battle of the Keystone State, featuring three out-of-the-area powers, will be played Saturday at Imhotep Charter.

Constitution (7-2) will face Elmer L. Meyers, of District 2, at 2 p.m.; Imhotep (6-3) will host District 3's Susquehanna Township at 3:45; and Martin Luther King (7-0) will play District 4's Williamsport at 5:30.

Imhotep coach Andre Noble says he hopes to add a few high-profile squads from the state's western region in the future.

Here and there. Holy Ghost Prep's Matt England, a senior forward, is averaging 17 points. . . . Senior guard Jordan Logan has drained 23 three-pointers in 10 games for Oxford. . . . Brett Foster, a sophomore guard for Ridley, is averaging 17 points. . . . The leading scorers for Pennsbury (6-1) are juniors Cameron Jones (22.3 ppg., 30 treys) and Mekhi Bryant (17.9, 16).

Wissahickon senior guard Chase Wilson is averaging 15.9 points and has hit 20 threes. . . . Senior Rahmi Halaby and junior Ben Casanova are averaging 15.2 and 13.1 points, respectively, for Penncrest. . . . Archbishop Wood's Pat Smith, a senior swingman and Cornell recruit, is averaging 19.4 points. . . . Penn Wood junior guard Malik Jackson is averaging 24.4 points and has buried 30 threes.

Haverford School's Shawn Alston, a junior guard, is averaging 17 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. . . . Junior guard Zach Muredda (16.2 ppg.), junior forward Joe Molettiere (14.8), and sophomore guard Dan Long (12.2) have spurred Pennridge to a 7-2 start. . . . For St. Joseph's Prep, junior Chris Clover is averaging 22.1 points and 6.7 boards.


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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