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Kilpatrick sparks Malvern Prep's win over Moorestown

GAME TIME WAS minutes away and there was Brendan Kilpatrick, exchanging text messages with teammate Steve Perpiglia.

GAME TIME WAS minutes away and there was Brendan Kilpatrick, exchanging text messages with teammate Steve Perpiglia.

Oh, no. Don't tell us communication between teenagers has become so impersonal that two star players on the same basketball team can't even be bothered to talk to each other shortly before tipoff.

OK, we won't.

Both guys were somewhat nervous at texting time, because only one, Perpiglia, was in the gym at Lenape High in Medford, N.J., where Malvern Prep would be meeting Moorestown High, of South Jersey, Tuesday night, in the Board 34 (referees group) Holiday Showcase.

Because of distance, wicked rainy conditions and rush-hour traffic, Kilpatrick's dad, Jerry, a key frontcourt sub for Bishop Kenrick's 1976 Catholic League champs, misjudged how long the drive from Norristown would take.

"Because there was so much rain, my dad didn't want me driving," Brendan said. "So I was just sitting in the back, playing games on my phone and staying away from all the craziness. It was pretty entertaining. Even when things are normal, my dad can freak out while driving.

"The drive took so long, it got boring for a while. I was yawning and slapping my face. Then I noticed the time and I was just saying, 'Stay calm . . . Stay calm.' "

Brendan then texted Perpiglia, asking whether everyone had already made it to Lenape.

The response (in standard English, as opposed to textese): "Yes, you're the only one not here."

Luckily for Malvern, this game was the fourth of the day and started roughly 15 minutes after the scheduled time. And the Friars rolled, 67-39, upping their record to 10-0.

As always, the 6-4, 200-pound Kilpatrick, a wing guard, Vermont signee and the Inter-Ac League's most valuable player in 2010-11, led the way. In a little less than 24 minutes of action, he totaled 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. Even more impressive was the fact he took three charges, especially since the Friars were far from home and had no idea how the game would be officiated.

"You have to show . . . I guess it's courage . . . to step in there and take the charges," Kilpatrick said. "One thing I've really tried to work on is my defense. They weren't too bad [physically]. It's just a matter of being in the right spot and setting your body the right way.

"They were kinda out of control with their driving. If your teammate gets beat, the best thing you can do is take a charge."

Malvern had not yet established complete command when Kilpatrick first absorbed a thump and tumbled backward onto his butt. Plus, he already owned one personal.

While Nos. 1 and 3 in his charge-taking night were normal, he got absolutely plastered on No. 2.

"I got hit pretty good in the ribs on that one," he said. "That one did hurt."

His side already was tender from laughing. Check this out: With 4:44 showing in the first quarter, junior wing guard Jimmy Gordon was going to be Malvern's first sub. But when he stood up, removed his warmup and strode to the nearby scorers' table, he wasn't wearing his No. 24 uniform top, but instead a dark-blue undershirt.

As everyone buzzed and Gordon turned red and sat back down, and junior forward Ryan Ammerman wound up earning first-sub status a short time later.

Gordon ran downcourt to the locker room, tugged on his game shirt and joined the fray with 2:54 left in the quarter.

The explanation: Until shortly before warmups began, the Friars were going to wear gray tops. But it was decided gray was too close to Moorestown's white, and the switch to blue was made.

"I was so pumped up for the game . . . " Gordon said.

Memory for life.

While preparing for his Vermont career, Kilpatrick has worked on improving his ballhandling, pull-up jumper and strength. He hits the weight room twice a week, between the end of school and the 5 o'clock practices, and has added almost 15 pounds of muscle since the school year began.

Like the frisky Perpiglia (five assists), Kilpatrick saw two plays down the road and some of his passes were, in a word, awesome.

"In certain situations," he said, "it's important for me to do good things with the ball" as an adjunct point guard.

Coach Jim Rullo used all 15 players. Dennis Gabert (10) also scored in double figures, while Ammerman claimed seven rebounds and another sub, Ryan Bonner, dished three assists.

In the same gym tomorrow at 2 p.m., Malvern will meet Sterling, also of South Jersey.

Even if the weather is great, here's guessing the Kilpatricks will allow more time for the journey.

Maybe with Brendan at the wheel?

"Ummmm, I don't know about that one," he said, laughing. "Anytime a long distance is involved, my dad takes the initiative. He likes to put himself on the ropes. It's funny watching him."

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