Close Friends Ready for Basketball Battle

Written By: James Nelson Stewart aka “Suburban Guru”

On the last day of February 2023, the Final 4 teams of the 6A District 1 bracket will play each other trying to make it to the District Championship Game, that will be played on March 4, 2023 at Temple University 6pm. The one game features 2 Hall of Fame State Championship winning coaches Gregg Downer (Lower Merion) and Jim Donofrio (Plymouth Whitemarsh). Both coaches have over a combined 1000 wins and 4 State Championships. The coaches bring their star power along with players such as Sr. 6-3 G Sam Brown (Lower Merion/Penn) and Sr 6-4 F Quadre Bennett (Plymouth Whitemarsh). The history of those 2 teams makes them the favorites almost annually in District 1. On the other side of the bracket are #1 seeded 22-2 Spring Ford and #5 seeded 19 Downingtown West, whose programs aren’t historically as great as Lower Merion and Plymouth Whitemarsh but both coaches (Joe Dempsey/Spring Ford and Stu Ross/Downingtown West) are very good coaches in their own right and building programs that can compete with the Elite of District 1 and throughout the state.

Donovan Fromhartz, Downingtown West

Two major building blocks for each program are extremely talented 2025 players that will compete against each other tonight but will play alongside each other in the Prestigious Philly Pride Program on the Under Armour Circuit. The 2 players Jacob Nyugen, a sweet shooting 6-4 guard from Spring Ford and the 6-5 athletic wing forward Donovan Fromhartz from Downingtown West are key building blocks for their respective High School teams and for the Philly Pride 2025 National Team. The play of these 2 young players will have a huge effect on which team will be competing for an illustrious District 1 title on Saturday. I was able to interview both players before the game to describe their friendship and the stakes for the game ahead.

When did Jacob and Donny start their friendship?
Jacob: 5th grade AAU. East Coast Power Coach Shawn Wheeler
Donovan: 1st year playing AAU and formed friendship with Carson Casmier (Lower Merion) and fellow star 2025 Jake Sniras (Garnet Valley)

Describe your friend’s game in your own words
Jacob: Donny’s tough and athletic, strong, can shoot it and takes it to the rim. Attacks rim, plays to win
Donovan: Jake’s a team player, crafty finishes, excellent shooter 3 ft behind the 3 pt line, 3 level scorer

What are your roles on your team this year?
Donovan: my role is playing positions 3/4, rebound, be aggressive, bring athleticism and scoring when the opportunity presents itself
Jacob: whatever to do to win, score and lead the team, get others involved

Talk about your Philly Pride Team
Jacob: Very good team and very hard to beat. Very excited to play this year.
Donovan: A lot of guys from last year are getting recognition, extremely hard to beat, with players such as Luke Bev (George School), Jordan Ellerbee (St. Joes Prep), Big things await. Coach Sandy Tanner (SCH)

What are you expecting from this game and from the rest of the season?
Jacob: Very close game, must show up to beat Downingtown West, want to win D1 and make run at states
Donovan: Spring Ford is very good team, great game both teams are playing well, excited away game, 1game at a time, make a run at states, District Title.

Jacob Nyugen, Spring Ford

Name some other players in your programs
Jacob: The 2 Guards G EJ Campbell (2024), Caleb Little (2023), Tommy Kelly (2025), Alex Lewis (2023) 6-0 Stats don’t tell the whole story. Lymir Green (2026) and Oben Mokonchu (2026) 2 future great players in the program.
Donovan: Division 1 Recruit Dylan Blair (2023-Army), Joey Suarez (2023-shooter), Kelly Bell (2023-High Point 6-5 Track and Field), Alex Newhouse 6-3 Defensive intensity Antonio Lewis (2024) Coupe (2024) Zeke Staz (2025) injuries but will be back next year.

Two Teams (Spring Ford and Downingtown West) and two very good friends (Jacob Nyugen and Donovan Fromhartz) prepare to battle for a spot in the District 1 title game. Many years back in 1996, two friends, two AAU teammates who became two NBA Champions and legends of the game of basketball battled in this same round in the District 1 playoffs. Lower Merion and Coatesville battled in the semifinals and those teams were led by players who became known by one name. The players were the Late Great Naismith Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant (Lower Merion) and Future Hall of Famer Richard “Rip” Hamilton (Coatesville) who became household names and NCAA/NBA Champions with the Los Angeles Lakers, Connecticut Huskies and Detroit Pistons. I’m not saying that these young men will reach those illustrious heights but let’s hope that their 1st battle tonight will lead to future greatness and maybe those young men can become household names in their future endeavors.