After two years of weirdness… The country is inching back toward normalcy…
Two seasons ago, everything came to an abrupt halt as the coronavirus engulfed western civilization. The United States battened down the hatches and Americans hunkered down in their homes until the Covid-19 storm started to diminish.
Shut that shit down… NBA, NCAA, PIAA, CYO, intramurals, milk crate roughhouse, hangers on bedroom doors, paper football on desks… Everything… Shut that shit down!
Last year, we dared to peek out… We, once again, began to have something resembling scholastic competition. However, since most games were played with no fans it was still wierd… Momma? Nope, can’t come… Grandma? Nope, can’t come… What about my girl? Naah… My side jawn? No, she can’t get in either.
But, at least they played some games. The last time we saw Reading High School play a scholastic game, they defeated nationally ranked Philadelphia Catholic League powerhouse Archbishop Wood High School, 58-57 on March 29, to win the BIG BOY PIAA 6A boys’ basketball championship at the Giant Center in Derry Township, Dauphin County. With that victory, the Red Knights captured their second state crown in the last four years.
It was considered an upset.
Archbishop Wood, champions of Philadelphia’s vaunted Catholic League featured no fewer than four players currently on NCAA Division 1 rosters. Point guard, Rahsool Diggins was ranked 58th in the nation by ESPN and ranked in the top 100 by every other reputable scouting service. He is currently playing for UConn in the Big East. Combo guard, Jaylen Stinson is playing in the Colonial Athletic Association for James Madison. Two Wood wings, Marcus Randolph and Desean Shepard are in the highly competitive Atlantic 10 conference at Richmond and La Salle respectively.
Wood was FUCKIN LOADED…
I didn’t even mention do everything power forward Muneer Newton, who is starter William Penn University (Iowa) currently a top 3 NAIA program.
The Reading Red Knights knocked ’em off…
I’m really starting to wonder if they have wifi in Reading. Clearly, the young men on the varsity basketball team don’t know much about their opponents reputations or rankings. Or perhaps, they just don’t give a fuck… Check ball!
After ending last season defeating one of the finest teams in the nation. Reading decided to initiate this season with a matchup against the mighty Imhotep Panthers. Imhotep has three players currently ranked in the top 100 in their respective classes. Junior wing, Justin Edwards is ranked #16 by ESPN in the class of 2023. Sophomore combo guard, Ahmad Nowell is the #24 player in the class of 2024 according to ESPN. Junior point guard, Rahmir Barno is ranked #98 in the nation according to 247sports.
Imhotep is FUCKIN LOADED…
Furthermore, they are coached by, the highly regarded, Brother Andre Noble, winner of an all-time record 9 Public League Championships and 7 state champions. A relatively young man, Noble is on track to be mentioned in the same breath as the legendary Morgan Wooten and Bob Hurley should he decide to remain on the sideline.
The thing is… the kids in Reading either don’t know or don’t give a fuck about all the high falutin accomplishments of Philadelphia’s elite scholastic basketball programs.
Pick a gym… Put 32 minutes on the clock… Find 3 refs… Get a scorekeeper…
Once again, a bunch of Berks County kids virtually unknown to folks residing outside Reading city limits knocked off a Philadelphia powerhouse program.
Daniel Alcantara, a senior forward was assigned the task of matching up with Imhotep’s Edwards. A highly skilled wing with outstanding length, Edwards holds offers from Kentucky, Auburn, Syracuse, Georgetown, Virginia, Marquette, Pitt, St. John’s, VCU, Rutgers, UConn, Penn State, Maryland, Miami, Temple, Seton Hall, etc…
You get the picture…
Alcantara, on the other hand, holds an offer of a cheesesteak with fried onions and hot peppers from Black Cager Sports whenever he’s in Philly to go along with a single D1 offer from Jacksonville a couple D2 offers from PSAC schools.
Those D2 PSAC schools are trying to hit the jackpot… They are fighting way above their weight class…
Tonight… Alcantara was the best player on the floor… By a considerable margin. He finished with 27 points and 4 rebounds while limiting Edwards to 13 points and 5 rebounds. Alcantara scored from all three levels. He splashed in 4 3-pointers… Not one hit the rim… He received the ball at the foul line turned and faced the Imhotep defense, gave simple ball fake and proceeded to waltz down the lane to finish creative layups and floaters with both hands. He even threw in a dunk for good measure. All of his contributions were timely and much needed.
Every time it seemed Imhotep was turning the tables and about take control, Alcantara delivered a stinging counterpunch.
Also tonight… Senior guard, Joey Chapman was the toughest player on the court… By a considerable margin. He imposed his will on the Imhotep guards. In the words of my friend and fellow scribe, Amauro Austin, “Chapman took a few lunches out there tonight.”
An incredibly confident player, Chapman let the Imhotep guards know he was there all night. This kid NEVER, EVER shuts up… He talks when he makes a good play… he talks when he makes a bad play… He talks when he’s up… He talks when he’s down…
Standing about 6’2’ and coming in at 190 lbs, Chapman is built like a Big 10 or SEC safety prospect. While he prefers the hardwood to the gridiron, Chapman plays basketball like a high major football player. If aesthetics are your thing, you won’t appreciate Chapman. He game doesn’t feature sweet, smooth crossovers, elegant in and outs and step backs… You won’t see him dribbling behind his back or between his legs…
However, if winning basketball games is your thing, you will appreciate Chapman. He makes winning plays over and over and over again. You need to stop a fast break? He’ll strip the dribbler from behind… You need a loose ball? Get the towels ready, because Chapman’s perspiration is about to be all over the floor. You need a tough basket? Here he comes… He’s getting to the rim. Free throws in crunch time? He does that too…
PSAC and CIAA schools looking for guys that want to win games would be well served to make their way to Reading to see young Mr. Chapman.
If there is a kid that established some degree of “star” power on the Reading roster, it is junior point guard Ruben Rodriguez, Jr. A very athletic and intelligent player, Rodriguez holds D1 offers from Jacksonville and St. Peter’s. A selfless player committed to helping his team win, Rodriguez does just about everything on the court. And he does it with a lot of panache. His game is aesthetically pleasing and does feature tight crossovers, quick in and outs and step backs. He scores, he passes, he defends, he rebounds and tonight he played through a cramp in his calf muscle.
On what turned out to be a wonderful first night of the scholastic season in Pennsylvania, highly regarded sophomore point guard, Ahmad Nowell made his debut in an Imhotep uniform. He did not disappoint. Nowell scored 16 points in the first half to help Imhotep erase an early deficit and go into the locker room up 2 at the half. The second half would be prove to b more challenging. Reading coach Rick Perez made the necessary adjustments in the locker room and Nowell was held to 4 points over the final 16 minutes. With three full high school seasons ahead of him, Nowell threw down the gauntlet and immediately established himself as one of the premier backcourt men in the state. For the first 16 minutes, he gave the experienced Reading guards all they could handle.
When an opportunity presents itself, go watch Nowell play… After one game, he’s in the discussion for the best guard in the region. I have no doubt that he will go down as one of the finest players to don the dashiki at Imhotep.
And… some bad muthafuckas have worn the dashiki.
Hoop group is to be commended for putting this matchup together. Two titans battling on open night. It’s shame one had to walk away with a loss. Imhotep’s supremely talented team fell to a bunch of gritty, grimy, tough Berks County kids playing together as a team. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Imhotep probably had the best three players on the court. Reading definitely had the better basketball team. And… Reading HS Picked Up Where They Left Off… Beating Philly’s Finest!
Thanks for the all coverage, so IMhotep probably had the 3 best players on paper, but Reading had Danny Alcantra who ,by far, was the best player on the court, while outperforming and outproducing Edwards and Barno combined.
Also, this summer, Danny boy, lead Team Final Red to just a 2 point near upset of the 17> National Champion- Team Final Nike EBYL