Kennedy Catholic plays for state title today
Golden Eagles face Girard College
By Brian Dzenis
The Kennedy Catholic boys basketball team is challenging conventional wisdom that Philadelphia is the only place in Pennsylvania to find elite high school basketball.
The City of Brotherly Love is represented in five of this week’s six boys basketball state finals and can claim nine of the last 11 4A titles, eight 3A titles in a row and four of seven 2A championships.
“The west has good basketball too,” Kennedy Catholic coach Rick Mancino said Wednesday of his side of the state. “When Philadelphia first came into [the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association in 2004], everyone was all, ‘We know who is going to win’ and they do have some good teams and players, but the west is holding its own.”
Mancino’s Golden Eagles — out of Hermitage — stopped Philly-area teams from claiming their third 1A title in four years last year and today, they can keep their foothold by defeating Girard College at 2 p.m. today in the PIAA 1A championship in Hershey.
Girard College is just two miles from the steps that actor Sylvester Stallone ran up in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum in the film “Rocky.”
“I hope we can bring some credibility back to the west,” Mancino said.
Mancino, a Youngstown State graduate, returns four of his “top six” from last year’s team. One is the leading scorer from last year’s title-winning team, guard Drew Magestro.
Maceo Austin, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, joins him in the back court and has received interest from four Division I schools.
The new playmakers for the Golden Eagles include senior Clay O’Dell, who transferred from Mathews, and 6-foot-8 forward Marcin Wiszomirsky.
“We’re deep and we have some very good athletes,” Mancino said.
The Golden Eagles (26-2) have prepared for today with a schedule that features teams in 6A, the highest classification in Pennsylvania. They’ve already defeated one Philadelphia team this year, beating Constitution 76-69 at home.
They played both teams competing in the 2A final — beating both and one finalist each in the 3A and 4A finals. The scrimmaged 5A and 6A finalists Meadville and Pine Richland. They also took out Warren Harding, 86-80, on Jan. 6.
“I know we’re 1A, but I don’t look at classifications. I think we can compete with everybody,” Mancino said. “Of course. it’s any given night. I thought we were fortunate to beat Warren Harding.”
Kennedy Catholic and Girard College tip off at 2 p.m.
“We’re going to have to play fast and try to play a full-court game,” Mancino said. “We’re hoping we can go in and just play our style.”