Haverford School stops GA, still in hunt for Inter-Ac title

Posted: February 06, 2014

ATHLETES CAN SAY all they want that they don't hear in-game taunts from the crowd, but they do have ears, don't they?

Haverford School junior Levan "Shawn" Alston's listening devices were burning midway through the fourth quarter yesterday against host Germantown Academy.

As the Fords broke the huddle nursing a slim advantage, a voice from the Patriots' student section cut through a rare quiet moment.

"You guys remember last game, don't you? You were up big and lost. We do!"

In fact, blown leads led to both Inter-Ac losses this season for a Fords squad picked by many to win the league. The first came against then-undefeated GA; the second was last week's loss to struggling Penn Charter (now 2-6).

So, was Alston, still a budding point guard and leader, rattled by the heckling?

"I heard it," he said, smiling. "It made me laugh a little. I like engaging with the fans. It's fun. They started talking a little trash, and I just showed them we weren't gonna lose again."

Behind Alston's 23 points, five rebounds and four assists, the Fords (16-5, 7-2) held off the Patriots, 73-60, to keep their faint championship hopes alive.

For his dad, Levan, a point guard at Simon Gratz and Temple, the most impressive part of Shawn's game wasn't the scoring ability that has already garnered collegiate attention.

"He's learned to score and get his teammates involved," said the elder Levan, now an assistant under Fords coach Henry Fairfax. "I see today, he finally picked up how to do the little things, like if you're not scoring, you're getting an offensive rebound or diving on the floor."

A late sprawl for a loose ball left some skin on the floor, which forced Alston to leave the court reluctantly so a trainer could bandage the wound.

"He told me I have to be more aggressive and control my team as a point guard," Shawn said. "He said when you're up 20, like we were against Penn Charter, the point guard should never let a team go on a 20-4 run."

"I love it," he said of his dad's coaching. "Me and him have a good connection, where we can just look at each other and I know what he's thinking, and I know what he's going to tell me. I love having him on the bench. He motivates me. Sometimes he yells, but that just gets me going."

A 6-4 slasher with quality court vision, Alston reports double-digit scholarship offers, with each Big 5 school in hot pursuit.

The loss for the Patriots (17-7, 8-1) momentarily denied Jim Fenerty's squad the distinction of being the first Inter-Ac team since 1966 to win an outright title without any all-league returnees (first or second team) in the previous season, according to TedSilary.com.

GA already has clinched at least a share of this year's crown, and faces Springside Chestnut Hill (6-15, 1-7) in Friday's season finale. Sophomore guard Devon Goodman led the Patriots with 16 points, while junior forwards Tim Guers and Sam Lindgren (seven rebounds) added 14. Freshman guard Kyle McCloskey finished with 10.

The Fords can share the title if they beat Episcopal (14-6, 5-3) and GA falters.

Senior forward Eric Anderson (Yale) was essential to yesterday's late surge that secured victory. He finished 8-for-8 from the field and 2-for-2 from three for 19 points and six rebounds. His only miss came at the foul line (1-for-2).

Soph forward Lamar Stevens had 17 points and nine rebounds.

For Alston, who lives in West Philadelphia near Overbrook High, the win was important, no matter how the season plays out.

"It was huge," he said. "I was 0-6 against GA in my high school career coming into this game. I don't think we've beaten GA since 1999, so this was a big win, a big win."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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