In the world of Philadelphia hoops, nothing tops the annual Big 5 tournament ... yet. Next year, fans of prep hoops in the City of Brotherly Love are hoping that will change, thanks to the resumption of a public-private face-off that could prove to be among the nation's best cross-league grudge matches.
According to Ted Silary of the Philadelphia Daily News, PIAA District 12 Chairman Robert Coleman frantically tried to organize a Philadelphia City Title game this year, which would have pitted the winner of the city's Public League and Catholic League titles. While Coleman's best efforts couldn't get a game set up for the 2010-11 season, he has confirmed that one will almost certainly occur in 2012.
Such a meeting would be the first since 1980, when Overbrook (Penn.) High topped Roman Catholic (Penn.) High. If a game had been played this year, it would have pitted two teams with an astounding 54-consecutive league victories: Public League champ Imhotep Charter, pictured above, and Catholic League winner Neumann-Goretti.
"We can go forward with this next year," Coleman told the Daily News. "We've gotten permission from [PIAA executive director] Brad Cashman. He said there's nothing that would prevent such a game.
"When this was mentioned to me, I jumped right on it. I was ready to rock and roll. I called [Cashman] right away and got his permission and went from there."
While setting up an official city title game also requires the cooperation of the Catholic League, Coleman indicated that the only thing holding Catholic League champ Neumann-Goretti from endorsing such a game this year was the upcoming playoff slate (Imhotep's coaching staff were all for adding the title game). With additional lead-in time, there's no reason why the 2012 game can't be set up for a date with more time on either side to diminish the affect it will have on a team's state playoff chances.
In the process -- and by adding a girls city title game, which Coleman also indicated would be in the works -- Philadelphia prep sports will take a significant step toward building the kind of infectious atmosphere and excitement associated with Big 5 games, which rank among some of the most exciting in all of college basketball.
"There's no question this is a worthwhile idea," Coleman told the Daily News. "It's the key that's going to unlock the unknown mystery: Which league's champion is better? Holding this game will bring back some energy. The old-school people are gonna love it."