Reggie Charles and Holy Family flying high

JENSEN21
Holy Family guard Reggie Charles drives past Philadelphia University's T.J. Huggins.

Clock winding down, another win in the books - the words still lingered in the brain of Holy Family point guard Reggie Charles: No turnovers.

That game, Holy Family wasn't going to take another shot, but the Father Judge graduate saw there was a couple of seconds difference between game clock and shot clock.

Charles remembers calling over to his closest teammate, Marvin Crawford: "Marv, come get this ball. I'm not taking this turnover.''

No turnovers means no turnovers.

His coach kind of loved it. That night, Charles had three turnovers and didn't want a fourth. His next game, Charles had zero, for the first time this season.

"He finally won a running bet with my dad,'' said Holy Family coach R.C. Kehoe.

All this matters because Holy Family is having itself a season and Charles is the driving force. You watch him change speeds and switch directions, throw in a little hesitation move, then a crossover, shifting gears. Saturday afternoon at Philadelphia University, Charles drove the left baseline for one reverse layup and the right baseline for another.

He leads the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference in assists (6.2 a game), leads Holy Family in scoring (16.6 ppg in 32.5 minutes), and adds 3.8 rebounds into his mix.

"He plays at a pace that is hard to defend, and he gets the toughest defender every night,'' Kehoe said.

As it happened, Holy Family went into Philly U. and took a 76-66 loss - that's not necessarily news, since it made 1,030 career victories for Herb Magee. But this season, Holy Family is the top dog, with the nation's leading Division II defense (as Kehoe reminded the refs a few times).

The Holy Family ledger still adds up to 22-5 and 16-2 in the league, first place, second in the region. Magee's team, second in the league, improved to 21-6 and 14-4.

Although his jump shot wasn't falling, Charles - who had 30 in a win over Philly U. earlier this season - got 16 points and seven assists. There were four turnovers, although, Kehoe pointed out, "he has the ball in his hands 99 percent of the time.''

Growing up in the Lawncrest section of the city, playing CYO ball on Rising Sun Avenue, following an older cousin to the Finley and Mallory rec centers, Charles was always a slashing guard. Not really a jump shooter, and not quite a point guard although he thought he always had good court vision.

He got on the court right away when he got to Division II Shippensburg, forced by injuries into a point guard role.

"I think he led the country in turnovers,'' Kehoe said of Charles as a freshman.

When there was a coaching change after his sophomore season, Charles changed schools, coming home. Kehoe is lobbying hard for Charles to be CACC player of the year.

"He's the most important player on the best team, not only in the league, but in the region,'' Kehoe said.

Holy Family is a veteran group, with nine seniors, including Charles a group that plays an aggressive zone. That part, Charles said, also was a transition for him.

"Last year I was getting bailed out by our back line, which is still probably the strongest part of our defense,'' Charles said.

Saturday, Peter Alexis had 23 points inside and T.J. Huggins 22 all over the place for Philly U., while a nine-minute second-half field goal drought sank Holy Family.

"I think it was more important to them than it was to us,'' Kehoe said afterward. "I can't explain it. They played harder for 30 minutes.''

The local rivalry in recent years between these two schools and the University of Sciences is a D-II version of the Big Five, often with more competitive games, whether on Woodland Avenue or Henry Avenue or Frankford Avenue.

Whatever the gym, Charles has earned his respect.

"I don't think he takes a night off,'' said University of Sciences coach Dave Pauley. "At the end of the night, he's so effective. You never see him coming at times - he's silent but deadly."

By the way, that turnover Charles avoided? "I found out those turnovers at the end of the shot clock don't go to an individual player,'' he said.

His coach still loved the thought he put into it.

"He's not flashy, he's not fast,'' Kehoe said. "He is consistent and he has helped us win a whole lot of games because of his ability to score the ball and get people easy shots."

mjensen@phillynews.com

@jensenoffcampus