Fifty-one weeks of athletic accomplishments made the area a hotbed of memories.
The site of top professional talent, South Philadelphia also offers sports enthusiasts amazing amateur efforts, too. This year presented a plethora of athletes busting their tails, with numerous elementary and high school students leading the way.
Some surprises occurred but the last 12 months will go down as a period when the great became greater and everyone added more displays of guts to the community’s annals.
Point guard Tiffany Johnson helped Prep Charter High School, 1928 Point Breeze Ave., to bolster its history of producing collegiate talent by signing a basketball scholarship with Drexel University.
With the help of senior forward Rick Jackson and junior guard Antonio “Scoop” Jardine, graduates of Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., the Syracuse University men’s basketball team raced to a 16-0 record and the No. 4 ranking in two national polls.
The boys’ basketball team at Charles Y. Audenried High School, 3301 Tasker St., returned to Public League competition against Division D foes.
David Melaragni, a student at Christopher Columbus Charter School, 1242-46 S. 13th St., strengthened his hockey résumé with his selection to the 98 East Coast Selects-Q Team. The honor took him to Sweden and Latvia for competition.
Scoring machine Matt Powers topped 1,000 career points for the basketball squad at The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, 901 S. Broad St.
Under the leadership of coach Steve Gittleman and sniper Demetrius Davenport, the boys’ basketball team at The Academy at Palumbo, 1100 Catharine St., reached 19 wins, the highest tally in its three-season history. The total earned the Griffins their third straight postseason berth.
The Neumann-Goretti boys’ basketball team extended its winning streak in the Catholic League to 50 games with a last-second home win over St. Joseph’s Prep. The Saints, who overcame a 14-point deficit, set a league record for consecutive triumphs by claiming a 77-74 decision.
The Saints and Johnson’s Huskies continued their dominant seasons by scoring postseason semifinal triumphs.
With sophomore forward John Davis and freshman guard Ja’Quan Newton leading the way, the Saints made history at The Palestra by becoming the first parochial players to register three straight undefeated league campaigns by defeating Archbishop Carroll for the Catholic League title. The Huskies won their first Public League girls’ crown by downing rival Central at the Liacouras Center.
The chess stars at Palumbo advanced to the Philadelphia Scholastic Chess League final. The Griffins had company in taking on big challenges, as the Saints captured the city title against Philadelphia Electrical to kickstart a run to the state playoffs and the Huskies dropped the city championship to Archbishop Wood but still earned a spot in the state pool.
Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, products of the Prep Charter boys’ basketball program, led the Kansas Jayhawks to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. Jackson and Jardine helped the Orange to receive a No. 3 berth, and Temple University guard Ramone Moore, out of South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St., helped to secure a No. 7 spot for the Owls.