Ignited by a stellar backcourt combination, Plymouth Whitemarsh is closing in on the Suburban One League American Conference title and preparing to make a serious run at its first District 1 Class AAAA crown since 1998.
Andre Mitchell, a tenacious floor general, is averaging 15.1 points and Jimmy Murray, a high-energy wing, is averaging 13.1 points.
"They grew up together, have played basketball together for a long time," coach Jim Donofrio said. "The fact that they have a great feel for each other's game is a big plus for us."
In Tuesday night's 73-50 romp over American Conference rival Upper Dublin, Murray scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the first half. Mitchell (seven rebounds) posted eight of his 11 points in the second.
The Colonials, who stormed to a 37-16 lead against the host Cardinals, are 17-2 overall and 10-1 in conference action entering Friday night's matchup vs. Springfield (Montgomery County).
"I had a good feeling about this team," Donofrio said. "We're kind of driven by last year's disappointment."
Last season, as the No. 6 seed in the district tournament, Plymouth Whitemarsh (20-5 overall, 13-1 conference) was upset by No. 22 Central Bucks West, 37-35, in the second round and then eliminated by No. 30 Wissahickon, 52-47, in a consolation game. Murray was slowed in the postseason by an ankle injury.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Mitchell averages 4.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. "I see myself as more of a facilitator than a scorer," the third-year starter said. "I'm kind of an extension of Coach Donofrio on the floor."
Murray, a second-year starter, averages 2.5 boards, 2.1 assists, and 1.8 steals. The 6-foot, 175-pounder has drilled 32 three-pointers. "He's a cold-blooded player," Mitchell said. "He has a great shooter's mentality."
The Colonials also have 6-4 junior guard Xzavier Malone, a Martin Luther King transfer who averages 15.5 points, 6.4 boards, and 1.3 treys.
"He brings another gear and helps us compete with the top teams out there," Donofrio said.
Cameron Johnson, a 6-2 senior who averages 6.7 rebounds, and 6-6 junior Mike Lotito (5.5 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game) round out the starting lineup. Of Lotito, Murray said, "His defensive intensity is amazing."
Against Upper Dublin, Johnson posted six points, six rebounds, three steals, three assists, and a block.
Mitchell is hearing from the likes of Catholic University, East Stroudsburg, and Gwynedd Mercy. Murray's suitors include De Sales, Chestnut Hill, Gwynedd Mercy, Philadelphia University, and Widener.
Tap-ins. Chester junior guard Khaleeq Campbell is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. . . . West Chester East's Evan Anderson is averaging 19.1 points and has hit 29 threes. . . . Pope John Paul II is led by Mikey Cianciulli (16.8 points per game, 34 threes) and Nick Giampetro (15.4, 38). Cianciulli, a 6-foot senior guard, has drawn the interest of Northwood, an NAIA Division II program in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Seahawks are guided by former Villanova head coach Rollie Massimino.
Hatboro-Horsham's Walter Kimble is averaging 13.3 points and has drilled 32 treys. . . . Harriton's Jordan Wright is averaging 18.2 points. . . . Through 20 games, Germantown Friends senior guard Ray Leon was averaging 20.1 points. He was 55 for 108 (50.9 percent) from beyond the arc. . . . Shipley's Quazzie Johnson is averaging 16.5 points. . . . Council Rock South's Austin Thomas had totaled 37 threes through Tuesday.
Records are through Wednesday. Last week's ranking in parentheses.
1. Roman Cath. (2) 17-1
2. Neum.-Goretti (3) 16-1
3. Arch. Carroll (4) 12-5
4. La Salle (1) 15-3
5. Constitution (5) 12-5
6. M.L. King (6) 13-5
7. Westtown (NR) 18-7
8. Imhotep Char. (7) 12-7
9. Ply. Whitemrsh (8) 17-2
10. St. Joe's Prep (10) 15-2
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Abington (14-3), Conestoga (16-2), Episcopal Academy (15-5), Germantown Academy (18-4), Pennsbury (13-4), George Washington (15-3).
- Rick O'Brien