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Coatesville's shaky hoops start partly a result of banner football season

The Red Raiders have six players who played a key role in the squad's run to the Class 6A football semifinals.

Coatesville’s Tyrel Bladen (11) celebrates a basket next to Pennsbury’s Chad Weldon (14) in the Red Raiders’ 52-42 victory last Saturday.
Coatesville’s Tyrel Bladen (11) celebrates a basket next to Pennsbury’s Chad Weldon (14) in the Red Raiders’ 52-42 victory last Saturday.Read moreLOU RABITO / Staff

Coatesville coach Chuck Moore is understandably disappointed by his team's slow beginning to the basketball season, but it's something he thought might happen.

That's because six of the players in the group's main rotation were part of the football squad's long drive to a 13-2 record and the PIAA Class 6A state semifinals.

"The transition for the guys from football to basketball has been kind of slow," Moore said. "Through the course of the season, we'll figure out our identity."

The Red Raiders were 2-3 going into Thursday night's Ches-Mont League National Division contest against visiting Downingtown West.

Coming from the gridiron to the hardwood are guards Dapree Bryant, Aaron Young, Avery Young, Mekhi Alexander and Kahtero Summers and 6-foot-4 forward Tione Holmes.

The Red Raiders' 49-42 loss to Ches-Mont  rival Bishop Shanahan, 49-42, Tuesday night in Downingtown evened their league record at 1-1.

"We're going to have to be patient," senior center Tyrel Bladen said. "It's going to take some time before we really jell as a team."

Last season, the Red Raiders went 23-6, were runners-up to Abington in the District 1 Class 6A playoffs, and fell to District 3's Carlisle in the opening round of the state tourney.

Their catalyst, whirlwind guard Jhamir Brickus, is back. The 5-foot-10 sophomore averaged 15.6 points and five assists per game as a rookie. "He's a great scorer, a solid playmaker, and he's been stepping up as a leader," Bladen said.

Brickus shot 9 for 10 from the foul line en route to a game-high 21 points as Coatesville topped Pennsbury, 52-42, last Saturday in the inaugural Diane Mosco Foundation Shootout Against Cancer at Archbishop Wood. The speedy Red Raiders forced 20 turnovers with their intense defensive pressure.

Bryant, a sophomore guard, contributed seven points, five steals, three assists, and two rebounds. "He's that grit and determination type of guy," Moore said. "He's an extension of me on the floor."

The 6-10, 220-pound Bladen, who has committed to Eastern Kentucky, chipped in a three-point play in the first quarter, three offensive boards, three blocked shots, and a steal. He had only four field-goal attempts.

"He works so hard down low and I constantly tell our other guys to reward him by giving him the ball more," Moore said.

Bladen, a captain and second-year starter, played AAU ball in the offseason for the New Jersey Playaz. One of his teammates was Immaculate Conception (N.Y.) senior guard Jalen Carey, a four-star recruit who is bound for Syracuse.

"We played in tournaments across the country, and I tried to work on every part of my game," Bladen said.

Bladen chose Eastern Kentucky over Canisius, Hartford, Monmouth, and Wagner. The Colonels compete in the Ohio Valley Conference against the likes of Austin Peay, Morehead State, and Tennessee Tech.

"One of the things I like most about the team is the way the head coach [Dan McHale] and his staff develop the skills of their big men," the 17-year-old said.

Premier showcase

'The second annual City Classic, featuring six of the area's elite teams, is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Jefferson University.

The event will feature Abington 6-7 forward Eric Dixon, Neumann-Goretti 6-9 forward Marcus Littles, Archbishop Wood guard Tyree Pickron, Plymouth Whitemarsh 7-2 center Naheem McLeod, Imhotep Charter wing Danta Scott, and Roman Catholic point guard Lynn Greer III.

The schedule: Abington vs. Neumann-Goretti at 2 p.m.; Plymouth Whitemarsh vs. Archbishop Wood at 3:45; and Roman Catholic vs. Imhotep Charter at 5:30.