On Jan. 11, the Bishop McDevitt boys’ basketball team was 6-6.
Three weeks later, the Lancers are the talk of the town.
Bishop McDevitt stretched its winning streak to eight games on Sunday, stunning previous Philadelphia Catholic League unbeaten Neumann-Goretti, 60-57.
Senior forward Jamil Manigo scored his 1,000th career point in storybook fashion, making a layup for a 58-57 lead with 19.6 seconds on the clock. Senior guard Robert Smith added two free throws to seal the deal for Bishop McDevitt (14-6 overall, 10-2 in the PCL).
Since losing to North Jersey non-public power Gill St. Bernard’s on Jan. 11, Bishop McDevitt has won eight consecutive PCL games.
The Lancers built some momentum with five straight wins over teams with losing records in the league, then handled Archbishop Carroll by 62-47 on Wednesday, as Smith scored 24 and Shamir Mosley added 15.
After defeating Father Judge on Friday, McDevitt shook up the league by beating a Neumann-Goretti team that entered play with a 10-0 record in the PCL and an overall nine-game winning streak as well as the No. 1 spot in The Inquirer’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10.
The result scrambled the standings, leaving five teams — Neumann-Goretti (10-1), Archbishop Wood (10-1), Bishop McDevitt (10-2), Bonner-Prendergast (9-2) and Roman Catholic (9-3) — battling for the top four spots in advance of the league tournament.
Assuming they win in the opening round — no sure thing in a league as balanced and competitive as the PCL — the top four would host quarterfinals for the right to advance to the Palestra for the semifinals.
McDevitt, which jumps into the Top 10 this week at No. 7, will be smack dab in the middle of the action with games at Bonner-Prendergast on Friday and at Roman Catholic in the regular-season finale Sunday.
Here’s the new Top 10, with last week’s rankings in parentheses:
1. Archbishop Wood (2) 15-4: The Vikings have won 13 of 14, with the lone loss at Neumann-Goretti. Junior guard Rahsool Diggins scored his 1,000th career point and Daeshon Shepherd generated 19 points in an 80-61 win at Archbishop Carroll on Friday. Shepherd, a dynamic, do-everything junior swingman, has picked up an offer from St. Joseph’s. The Vikings’ remaining regular-season games: at St. Joseph’s Prep on Monday, vs. La Salle on Friday and vs. Archbishop Ryan on Sunday.
2. Neumann-Goretti (1) 16-3: If nothing else, the Saints’ loss to Bishop McDevitt underscored the difficulty in going unbeaten in the PCL regular season. Senior Cameron Young went for 17 points with 11 rebounds in the Saints’ first setback since a Dec. 2 game vs. Legacy of South Carolina. Senior Jordan Hall added 11 points for the Saints, who still can capture the top seed in the PCL playoffs with wins this week over Devon Prep, Cardinal O’Hara and West Catholic.
3. Westtown School (3) 18-7: The Moose took the court for Tuesday’s game vs. Friends’ Central with every player wearing a Lower Merion No. 33 T-shirt in honor of Kobe Bryant. They rolled to a 87-50 win as seven players scored between 14 and eight points, with junior forward Franck Kepnang leading the way with 14. Westtown will open the Friends Schools League tournament with a semifinal game vs. Shipley on Tuesday.
4. Roman Catholic (4) 13-7: The Cahillites have won five in a row since suffering back-to-back, double-overtime losses to Neumann-Goretti and Archbishop Wood. In a 77-70 win over Cardinal O’Hara on Sunday, sophomore center Jalen Duren generated 20 points and dominated the paint and sophomore guard Justice Williams led all scorers with 24. Roman Catholic can secure a Top 4 seed in the playoffs by closing out the regular season with home wins over Archbishop Ryan on Friday and Bishop McDevitt on Sunday.
5. Methacton (5) 20-2: Senior guard Erik Timko scored 21 and senior center Jeff Woodward went for 16 points with 15 rebounds in a 58-56 loss to Wilson of West Lawn on Saturday in a clash of Class 6A state-title contenders. Earlier in a week, Timko scored 31 and Woodward, a Colgate recruit, grabbed his 1,000th career rebound in a win over Owen J. Roberts. The defending-champion Warriors are the top seed and will have a first-round bye in the Pioneer Athletic Conference tournament.
6. Bonner-Prendergast (6) 16-3: The Friars are 13-2 since Dec. 12, with the losses to Neumann-Goretti and Archbishop Wood. Junior Malik Edwards, the team’s purest scorer, produced 21 points in a win over Archbishop Ryan on Friday and 18 more in a win over West Catholic on Sunday. Senior all-purpose guard Tyreese Watson scored 15 in both victories. Bonner-Prendergast will host Bishop McDevitt in a huge clash on Friday, then finish the regular season vs. Lansdale Catholic on Sunday.
7. Bishop McDevitt (NR) 14-6: Senior guard Robert Smith is averaging a team-high 16.6 points for the Lancers. But it’s been defense that has fueled the team’s winning streak. Bishop McDevitt has allowed an average of just 45.2 points in its eight straight victories and has not allowed any team to score more than the 57 that Neumann-Goretti put up on Sunday. And that was the Saints’ second-lowest output of the season.
8. Malvern Prep (7) 21-4: Junior Rahdir Hicks scored 15 and spurred a furious second-half rally as the Friars clinched the Inter-Ac League championship with a 69-64 win over Springside Chestnut Hill on Friday. Senior guard Deuce Turner added 24 and junior forward Fran Oschell chipped in with 15 points and eight rebounds. Malvern Prep, which has won nine in a row, will play at Haverford School on Thursday and at home vs. Episcopal Academy on Friday before entering the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament, likely as a high seed.
9. Imhotep Charter (10) 15-6: The Panthers have won nine in a row. They earned the top seed in their quadrant of the Public League playoffs and on Thursday will host the winner of Tuesday’s preliminary round game between Tacony Academy and Engineering & Science.
10. Garnet Valley (NR) 19-1: The Jaguars have won 16 in a row and locked up the Central League on Tuesday title with an imposing 77-32 win over Lower Merion, the only team to beat them (back on Dec. 17). Senior Chris Coyne scored 18 for Garnet Valley, which made nine three-pointers in the first half and bolted to a 51-10 lead. Junior point guard Carl Schaller and junior shooting guard Neel Beniwal have led the way for the Jaguars, who earned the top seed and first-round bye in the Central League tournament.