Bright future for Malvern Hoops
As the young basketball team prepares for the start of the Inter-Ac, they have been playing a tough, out-of-league schedule to improve and prepare.
With thirteen players on varsity who can all play at a high level, the basketball team’s biggest strength this season is depth.
Head basketball coach Mr. John Harmatuk believes that the team wins games by wearing its opponents down and playing at a fast tempo.
“It’s been an exciting season,” Harmatuk said. “We have a lot of new faces and a lot of good leadership from the older players.”
On the flip side, Harmatuk believes that if the team does not play hard and bring the energy every night, then they are going to struggle.
“We played really well at St. Joseph’s Prep [on December 12] but then we came back two days later and played LaSalle with no energy,” he said.
Led by senior captains Ray Baran and Tommy Wolfe and junior captain Billy Corcoran, the Friars are 2-4. Three of their four losses this season have been decided by less than five points.
Harmatuk, who is in his fourth season, said that this team is probably one of toughest teams to lead because of many young and new faces they have. “The leadership from the captains has brought this team really close together and they have done a really good job,” he said.
With a roster stocked with young talent, Malvern basketball looks primed to have a strong team in coming years.
“We have five freshmen on the team, and four of them contribute a lot of minutes,” Harmatuk said. “Deuce Turner is our leading scorer and our leading rebounder. Isaac White is second in scoring and he is leading in steals. Rahdir Hicks, our point guard, leads the team in assists. Spencer Cochran has shot the ball really well and played well. The freshmen have played above my expectations.”
Hicks has enjoyed the ride so far.
“Many freshmen do not get to start varsity, so I was nervous but I am used to it now,” Hicks said. “I love the student section, and my favorite memory this season was the Bonner game because the student section was crazy.”
The basketball team receives a great amount of support from the assistant coaches, the managers, and the Friar Nation student sections.
Harmatuk said, “We have four alumni who help coach. Three of them graduated in the ‘06-’08 era, Andrew Flanagan, Joey Hoben, and Matt McManus. We also have Murph Rodgers, who was a senior on the first team that I coached here.”
“One of the things that I take pride in running this program is having a really good manager staff because they are invaluable,” Coach said. “Jerry Curran is the head manager, and he has done a great job leading those guys.”
Led by seniors Matt Boles and Michael Mingey, Friar Nation has shown out the previous two Friday night games against Salesianum and Bonner. Against Salesianum, the theme was “Silent Night”. The students wore costumes and stayed silent until the team scores ten points.
Sophomores Tristan Corcoran and Pat Malone took part in the Silent Night.
“My favorite costume that I saw was a panda,” Corcoran said. “It was the most wild student section I have ever been a part of because there were 150 kids and everyone was going crazy.”
Malone said, “It was hype. My friend Drew was wearing a Tommy Bahama outfit, like a blue and pink outfit. For awhile, we were at nine points then someone would put up a three and we would all let a gasp. The bleachers were rockin’, it may have been my favorite memory at Malvern.”
Tommy Wolfe’s favorite part about Malvern basketball is Friar Nation and all the people who show up for the games.
“I love the student section because it motivates us,” Tommy said. “Scoring the tenth point at the Silent Night was something that we had to reach for.”
Coach Harmatuk and Wolfe’s favorite memory so far this season was the game against St. Joseph’s Prep. The team put up 102 points, which was the first time in Harmatuk’s career of coaching Malvern basketball that the Friars scored over 100 points.
“Traditionally, St. Joseph’s Prep is a Philadelphia basketball powerhouse and that fact that we could score that many points in their gym was a proud moment for our team,” Coach said.
With Inter-Ac play starting up in just two and a half weeks, the Friars have been playing a rigorous, out of league schedule to prepare for the rivalries.
Harmatuk said, “The Inter-Ac is 100 years old, so the history there and playing in those games is something that I am proud to be a part of.”