Northeast vs Central - A Rivalry as Old as The Public League
A matchup and rivalry that goes back to the formation of the Philadelphia Public League in 1908 was renewed on Thursday, December 21: the Central Lancers vs. the Northeast Vikings. Both of the schools, in their third location geographically, and with NE having changed their mascot from the “Archives” to the “Vikings” in 1957, haven’t changed the dynamics of their ancient meeting. It always draws the biggest and most raucous crowd of the year for these two second tier Pub squads.
In those old days, at the formation of the league in only the 17th year of basketball’s creation, there were but eight schools that sent out a team. There are currently 59 boys’ varsity programs in the league, down from 70 a few years back, and 42 girls’ teams. There was no official girls’ basketball program until Title IX changed all that back in the early ‘70s.
Neither team could get their gears rolling in the early going of this match played at NE. The score after the first quarter was just 8-6 Lancers. At the half, the Vikings had added just one point and Central led 15-9 going into the break. Both teams employed a 2-3 zone for the most part.
There is clearly physical talent for Central and NE on the court, but there will be a steep curve in regard to applying it, and towards garnering and employing proper fundamentals and skills in a winning effort.
At the end of the third, it was Central 25-23. The Vikings were able to grab their first lead with 6:56 remaining in the fourth and make it 26-25. With about four minutes remaining, and Central holding on to a one point lead, head coach Haviland “Biff” Harper employed a bit of a slowdown four corners offense to try to draw NE into a man-to-man. The Vikings brought guard pressure. This went on for a short time and NE was forced to foul several times.
The game went back and forth like that for a while until the final score was 42-38, in favor of visiting Central. Even though it was not a showing of high level basketball, there were some signs that both of the teams can show progress down the road.
Northeast features Andrew Serowsky, a 6’1” G/F with a nice handle and strong athleticism, and Deshawn McCarthy, a 6’4” senior F/C defender and shot blocker. Also showing promise was Walter Dempsey, a senior 6’3” G/F. Ken Lang of Central showed high level ball handling skills.