Some small-school players made quite a large impact this past season in Pennsylvania high school boys’ basketball.
Two, in particular, caught the attention of the state’s sports writers when it came time to honor Pennsylvania’s top players in Class 2-A and Class 1-A from the 2019-2020 campaign.
Nisine Poplar, a 6-4 junior guard from Philadelphia charter school Math, Civics & Science, was named the state’s 2-A Player of the Year. In 1-A, that honor went to Kaden DiVito, 5-11 senior guard from Cornell, a public school in Coraopolis, Allegheny County.
Poplar led the Mighty Elephants to a 2-A state title in 2019 and was still playing in the state quarterfinals when the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2020 season. The District 12 champions finished 24-5. MC&S won this year’s Philadelphia Public League title, knocking off Class 6-A power Simon Gratz in the final.
The NCAA Division I recruit made the all-state second team a year ago and averaged 22 points and five rebounds this season. He has college offers from Maryland, Auburn, Penn State, Temple, St. Joseph’s, Miami, Wichita State and Virginia Commonwealth, among others.
The 2-A Coach of the Year is Mike Rodriguez of District 7 champion Our Lady of Sacred Heart in suburban Pittsburgh. OLSH was 26-1 and through to the state quarterfinals when the games stopped, having won its two state games by a combined 76 points. Rodriguez is a former FBI agent.
DiVito, meanwhile, scored 20.8 points per game for a team that reached the District 7 title game and then won two games to reach the PIAA quarterfinals. DiVito, who made the second team a year ago, will play at Washington & Jefferson College, an NCAA Division III program. He finished his career with 1,970 points for Cornell, which finished 20-7 in 2019-2020.
The state 1-A Coach of the Year is Dan Spangler of Chester Charter after he led his team to a 20-5 mark, a District 1 title and a state quarterfinal berth in his first year at the helm and only the third year of the school’s existence.
The 6-A, 5-A, 4-A and 3-A all-state honorees will be announced later this week. There weren’t any York-Adams League players on the 2-A or 1-A all-state teams. The only District 3 player honored on either the 2-A or 1-A all-state teams was Nathan Blasick, a 6-3 senior from Halifax, who made the 1-A second team.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com.
PENNSYLVANIA SPORTS WRITERS
HIGH SCHOOL BOYS’ BASKETBALL
(Player of the Year): Nisine Poplar, 6-4 Jr. G, Math, Civics & Science
Keshaun Hammonds, 6-0 Sr. G, Constitution
Jake DiMichele, 6-3 Soph. F, Sacred Heart
Dante Spadafora, 6-0 Sr. G, Sacred Heart
Andy Zuchelli, 6-2 Sr. G North Star
Abe Atiyeh, 6-0 Sr. G, Moravian Academy
Isaac Marshall, 6-2 Sr. F, Academy of the New Church
Jevin Muniz, 6-5 Jr. G, Executive Education
Malik Smith, 6-3 Sr. G, Sto-Rox
Tvon Jones, 6-4 Sr. G, Math, Civics & Science
Malik Ramsey, 6-3 Sr. G, California
Tyler Fritz, 6-3 Sr. F, Marian Catholic
Jessiah Witherspoon, 5-10 Sr. G, Bishop Guilfoyle
Eric Hopson, 6-2 S. F, Farrell
Jackson Piotrowski, 6-6 Sr. F, Delco Christian
Kieran Burrier, 6-0 Sr. F, Holy Cross
Titus Wilkins, 6-4 Sr. F, Executive Education
Darius Ellis, 6-7 Sr. F, Dock Mennonite
Coach of the year: Mike Rodriguez, Sacred Heart.
(Player of the Year): Kaden DiVito, 5-11 Sr. G, Cornell
Tanner Colflesh, 6-1 Jr. G, Turkeyfoot Valley
Davion Hill, 6-0 Fr. G, St. John Neumann
Angelo Reeves, 6-6 Jr. F Vincentian Acad.
Tristan McDannell, 5-11 Sr. G Bishop Carroll
Elijah Sechler, 5-11 Jr. G, Berlin Brothersvalley
David Hill, 6-1 Jr. G, St. John Neumann
Nathan Blasick, 6-3 Sr. G, Halifax
Vinnie Cugini, 5-11 Fr. G, Aquinas Academy
Grant Sareyka, 5-11 Sr. G, The Christian Academy
Vince Fyock, 6-0 Jr. G Shade
Symir Preister, 6-4 Jr. G, Sankofa Freedom
Isaiah Langston, 6-2 Sr. F, Cornell
Kegan Hertz, 6-6 Jr. F, Nativity BVM
Malik Cook-Stephens, 6-3 Jr. G, Chester Charter
Hayden Callen, 6-4 Jr. F, Clarion-Limestone
Darian Keyser, 6-6 Sr. F, Jamestown
Isiah Mitchell, 5-9 Sr. G, The Christian Acad.
Marquis Ratcliff, 6-5 Soph. F, Nativity BVM
Coach of the year: Dan Spangler, Chester Charter.