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2011 NJ and PA State Playoff Action
Wednesday, 16 March 2011

By Brian Crownover
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High School playoff action is now beginning to really heat up.  With few games taking place in Pennsylvania last week, we headed over to New Jersey for a barn burner. 

The Plainfield Cardinals knocked off Mendham on the road in front of a full house.  The final of the double overtime thriller was 87-81. 

On Saturday, we caught the first two games of a triple header at Parkland High School in the first round of the Pennsylvania state playoffs.  In 2A action, Prep Charter took out Salisbury, 40-36. 

The Liberty Hurricanes took out a young Roman Catholic team 56-41 in the 4A game. 

Here is a look at some of the top players from throughout the week.


Justin Sears (2012, 6-7 PF)
With his teammates struggling early on, Justin carried the Cardinals on his back.  He pulled down offensive rebound after offensive rebound.  The talented forward was relentless on the glass.  He finished pretty well around the rim too.  Aside from his rebounding, Justin was a force on the defensive end too.  He’s quite the athlete and blocked numerous shots.  With his team down in the second half, he played the passing lanes and picked up a pair of break away steals.  On one of them, he finished with a crowd rocking dunk that ended up as an old fashioned three point play.  Justin was good down the stretch from the line, but his form isn’t the best and it is an area that certainly needs improvement.  He made a couple nice face up plays on the offensive end.  He showed he can handle the ball in short space with a drive and banked finish.  He hit a free throw line jumper too.  Justin has a solid build with the ability to add even more bulk.  That would allow him to be even more of a force on the interior.  He could benefit by showing more of a back to the basket game or better skills away from the basket.  Players who can crash the boards like him though are invaluable both at this level and the next level.  Justin should have an impact in college as well.  He certainly made his mark on this day, as he finished with a team high 24 points to go along with 19 rebounds and 4 blocks.

Dii’Jon Allen-Jordan (2012, 6-5 SF/PF)
Dii’Jon is another talented Plainfield forward.  He has a nice inside/outside combo game.  From the perimeter, he hit a deep two point jumper.  He nailed a pair of free throw line jumpers too.  He doesn’t possess the smoothest shot around, but it is fairly effective anyway.  Dii’Jon can handle the ball a little bit too as he showed on a runner.  He’s pretty athletic as well.  He scored on a turnaround shot in the post and pulled down some rebounds as well.  Dii’Jon played the passing lanes well defensively and picked up numerous steals with his long arms.  He shot well from the free throw line too.  He has a good all around game and appears to have a nice future ahead of him.  Dii’Jon finished the contest with 19 points.

Sekou Harris (2012, 5-11 PG)
This speedy guard had a solid game.  He really hurt Mendham with his perimeter shooting.  Sekou hit three from beyond the arc, including a go ahead shot in the fourth quarter.  He hit a runner in the lane, but struggled to convert on that shot consistently.  The lead guard did a good job of driving into the teeth of the zone defense and then kicking it out to open teammates.  He did convert around the hoop a few times, but for the most part, Sekou didn’t get all the way to the rim.  Nevertheless, it was a good game for the point guard as he ended up with 17 points in the thrilling win.

Jahmal Lane (2012, 6-4 SG/SF)
Jahmal came off the bench and made a couple plays.  He scored on a putback and had another offensive rebound.  The wing player hit a jumper, but overall struggled from the outside.  His form looks like it could improve.  He didn’t opt to attack much off the dribble either.  He was still a solid role player though.

Denzel Christian (2013, 6-6 PF)
Denzel was solid early on.  The sophomore has good size.  He did most of his damage on the boards.  He scored on a putback.  He also showed some range as he hit a jumper.  Denzel didn’t play much in the 2nd half though.

Roman Catholic

Rip Engel (2014, 5-8 PG)
The Cahillites struggled offensively in this contest and Rip was really the lone exception.  The heady freshmen point guard played beyond his years in his first state playoff action.  He led the way with 14 points in the contest.  He’s a very good shooter and he proved that by burying four three pointers.  Rip isn’t super quick with the ball in his hands, but the diminutive guard knows how to get into the lane off the bounce and where to go with it once he is there.  He’s a good setup man as well.  Rip size did hurt him on a couple drives and that could be a problem moving forward.  You don’t start as a freshman at Roman Catholic unless you can play.  That is certainly the case with Rip, although he’ll likely be a better player than a prospect as he moves forward.

Junior Fortunat (2011, 6-8 PF)
Junior made some plays, but the athletic big man didn’t have his greatest outing.  His biggest impact came on the defensive end, where he swatted away a number of shots.  Offensively, he could never get it going.  Liberty played physical defense and often doubled team him in the post.  To his credit, Junior continued to battle for space, he didn’t back down.  He has good hands and had a nice catch and finish inside on one play.  He was fouled a couple other times and hurt himself by not converting at the foul line.  His form definitely could improve.  Junior had a putback late, but was rather quiet on the glass in this one.  If you can’t get touches in the post, creating opportunities with offensive rebounds is usually the way to go.  Junior didn’t do that in this contest though.  He does have some great natural skills that you can’t teach, but Junior does need work on his low post game.  He certainly has a lot of upside though and his best days are clearly ahead of him.

Shafeek Taylor
(2013, 6-4 SG/SF)
This young wing made a couple plays, but overall was relatively quite.  Shafeek showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and draw fouls.  He had a nice finish after a feed from a teammate.  He hit a late three pointer too.  Shafeek could’ve looked to attack more in this game.  It clearly wasn’t his best outing.

Britton Lee (2013, 5-11 PG)
This small guard loves to shoot off the dribble.  Britton banked home a pair of runners.  He hit a difficult three pointer with a defender in his face.  He’s quick off the bounce and could’ve looked to utilize that more in this contest.  Instead, Britton settled for too many jump shots and wasn’t able to convert very often.  He has certainly had better days

Shep Garner (2014, 6-2 SG)
Shep is widely regarded as the best freshman in the area.  He showed flashes of it, but overall struggled in this game.  He hit a three pointer and was able to create some off the dribble.  His shot looks smooth.  He’s a good ball handler, although he doesn’t appear to be super explosive.  Shep struggled with turnover after turnover in this one.  He looked like a freshman in his first state playoff action.  He also struggled to convert from the perimeter.  He was in some foul trouble trying to guard Liberty’s Darrun Hilliard as well.  Shep has certainly had better days and this should be a good learning experience moving forward.

Prep Charter

Abraham Massaley (2013, 5-10 PG/SG)
Speed is the name of Abraham’s game.  He was terrific early on in this contest.  The lead guard loves to attack off the dribble and can break ankles with his lightning quick crossover.  He is capable of driving in either direction.  Abraham finished pretty well, including a nice banked runner.  He hit a pull up shot from just inside the arc.  His perimeter could be better than what he showed today.  He does have a smooth stroke though.  Abraham played an unselfish game as well.  He found his teammates with a couple nice passes too.  The only thing that hurt him was foul trouble.  He had to sit a lot of the second half because of it.  All in all, it was a good outing, as Abraham finished with 13 points.  Expect big things from him over the next few years.

Raheem Liggins (2014, 6-4 PF)
This young lefty was quiet in the scoring column, but Raheem did have some impact off the bench.  He pulled down several rebounds at both ends in this contest.  He struggled from the foul line and his form could improve there.  He has a decent build and could get stronger.  Raheem looks like a player to watch down the road.


Darrun Hilliard (2011, 6-4 PG/SG) committed to Villanova
Darrun clearly created matchup problems for Roman Catholic.  He was a force early in the contest as the Hurricanes built a comfortable lead and never looked back.  The Villanova bound wing converted a pair of old fashioned three point plays.  He drove the ball in either direction.  He used a head fake to draw the defender in the air and pick up a foul on a three point attempt.  Darrun had a strong game from the line.  He did a lot of other things for Liberty as well.  He rebounded the ball at both ends and picked up a steal on the defensive side.  He continued to be shaky from the perimeter in this one.  Darrun is very inconsistent from deep.  When the shot is on, he’s nearly unstoppable.  Lately, he’s struggled with it though.  He is clearly at his best in games like this where he’s in attack mode more often than not.  Darrun’s 14 points were  key as the Hurricanes moved on in the state playoffs.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 May 2011 )
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