Prolific scorer Austin Laughlin leads Garnet Valley into playoffs

Garnet Valleys Austin Laughlin (1) drives to the basket against Lower Merion.

Austin Laughlin almost took a ho-hum approach to becoming Garnet Valley’s all-time leading basketball scorer.

The senior combination guard surpassed previous record holder Dave Bitting, who totaled 1,346 points in a career ending in 1995, in a 96-71 nonleague victory at Collegium Charter last month.

“It’s special to me and I’m sure it’s something I’ll savor down the road, but I just want to focus on the rest of this season,” Laughlin said.

The long-range marksman and solid penetrator has 1,434 career points going into a Central League matchup against visiting Conestoga at 4 p.m. Friday.

“He plays with so much energy,” Garnet Valley sixth-year coach Mike Brown said. “Even if he’s not having a good shooting night, he helps the team in other ways. He rebounds well for a guard, is a good passer, and scraps for loose balls.”

Camera icon CHARLES FOX
Garnet Valley’s Austin Laughlin, right, battles Lower Merion’s Josh Martin for a rebound.

For the Jaguars, who are 15-6 overall and 10-5 in Central League action, Laughlin averages 22.7 points and has made 71 three-pointers.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder honed his skills while playing for the Brandywine Youth Club and St. Thomas the Apostle in Glen Mills from fifth through eighth grade. Laughlin and St. Thomas won the CYO seventh- and eighth-grade state championship in 2014.

Laughlin played AAU ball in the offseason for the Pennsylvania Yellow Jackets. His teammates included Penncrest guard Tyler Norwood, Valley Forge Military Academy 6-10 center Abraham Deng, and Father Judge 6-7 wing Tom Quarry.

Laughlin and Norwood (22.1 ppg.) are close friends and train together at Penncrest and the Rocky Run YMCA on Baltimore Pike in Media.

Norwood and the Lions topped Laughlin and Garnet Valley, 65-59, in a Central League contest last month. “We did a little of bit of trash-talking before the game,” Laughlin said. “He’s a great player. I’ve become a better player by practicing with him and playing against him.”

Garnet Valley heads into its game against Conestoga looking to rebound from Monday’s 63-62 upset loss to Haverford High. Laughlin totaled 34 points, two short of his career high, vs. the Fords.

“We’ve been giving up too many points,” said Laughlin, who scored 12 points and  grabbed 14 rebounds in a 75-68 loss to Lower Merion last week. “We need to get more stops and communicate better.”

Camera icon CHARLES FOX
Garnet Valley’s Greg Vlassopoulos, left, goes up for a shot against Lower Merion’s Darryl Taylor.

The Jaguars’ other starters are senior guard Connor O’Brien (15.3 ppg., 49 treys), junior forwards junior Cade Brennan and Greg Vlassopoulos, and junior guard Cole Palis. Freshmen guards Neel Beniwal (16 points vs. Lower Merion) and Carl Schaller contribute off the bench.

Both of Laughlin’s brothers, Ryan, 25, and Brandon, 20, played quarterback at Cardinal O’Hara. Ryan (class of 2011) went on play at Holy Cross; Brandon (2015) is a junior studying economics at Penn State. Austin Laughlin played football, as a quarterback and safety, through his freshman year at Garnet Valley.

The 18-year-old has a scholarship offer from Holy Family, which competes in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference and recently gained commitments from Neumann-Goretti guard Dymir Montague and Conwell-Egan 6-7 wing Eric Esposito.

Other Division II possibilities are Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg, and West Chester. “My plan is to wait until the season is over, and then figure out my next move,” Laughlin said.