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Closing Out March Madness

Spring has definitely sprung across the West Branch Valley, and with late March and April showers come May flowers. I especially enjoy the increased hours of daylight and knowing those long days of summer are just around the corner. As you’re reading this, many of our local baseball teams have already thrown their first pitch of the season. A few nice days of bright sunshine combined with a little bit of wind from Mother Nature would sure help to dry out the playing fields for all sports. The same can be said for our local farmers and getting the fields ready and the crops planted.

This brings me to my first serious thought of the week. In talking with a local farmer, fertilizer and products to get the soil ready for seed are up on an average of 80%. This, of course, goes along with the increased price of fuel to power the equipment and the seeds to put in the ground. This will lead to a much higher cost of production for the American farmer and continued increased food costs for the American people.

Our Nation must become energy independent in every possible way. This is the absolute best way to control cost and dependency on foreign nations; many we should never buy anything from, to begin with. The United States should be the worldwide leader in energy production, future development, and exploration. The cost of freedom should never be determined at the gas pump or by the price to heat your home.

Moving right along, at press time, it was estimated that over 8.5 million Ukrainians have left or are in the process of leaving their country and that over 400,000 have been taken against their will, this number including over 80,000 children. The actual number of Ukrainian casualties varies significantly depending on the source. The Russian assault on Ukraine is now over a month since it began; President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s leadership, combined with the will of the Ukrainian people, has managed to hold off the Russian takeover. This is truly remarkable. However, at this point, if they do not get more help, there isn’t going to be anything left in Ukraine. The United States, NATO, and all the nations supporting Ukraine must step up the efforts. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the innocent people being affected by this most unnecessary act of war.

In moving from some of the most tragic and serious events of the world back to our cover story and sure signs, Spring has sprung. The Saint John Neumann Boys’ Basketball team just completed an amazing season. Congratulations on the trip to Hershey and a silver medal finish in the state championship game. The team navigated the gauntlet all the way to the Giant Center, losing to Pittsburgh-power Bishop Canevin.

As you probably know, Head Coach Jamie Spencer is a weekly contributor to our publication and is like a younger brother. I appreciate his Phil Jackson style of coaching and approach to the game.

A tip of my Webb Weekly Live cap with the American Flag on the side to Spence and assistant coaches Chris Reed, Bill Reed, Louis Roskowski, and athletic assistant and statistician Steve Parlante on a job well done. Their daily commitment of time and effort guiding the Knights through all the challenges of the season was well done.

I must also give a shout-out to Principal Alisia McNamee and Athletic Director Frank Lupacchino for all their efforts in supporting the athletes of SJNRA.

It goes without saying if you’re playing after the first day of Spring, you have some very talented basketball players, and Saint John Neumann just that.

Davion Hill is just an absolute amazing athlete who has an unbelievable desire to win. The junior averaged over 30 points per game in the state tournament and was unstoppable at every aspect of the game.

Senior Hanief Clay can make the ball sing when it’s in his hands. His dribbling, passing skills, and shooting are outstanding, and as Davion also seems to have the ability to will his team to victory. These two players provided a 1-2 punch for the ages, and did I mention they’re both left-handed and teams are still trying to figure out how to stop them?

Solidifying the lineup each game for St. John Neumann was seniors Naseer Dymeck, Naz Smith, JerVal Weeks-Shuler, and Josiah Coleman. Juniors Jozef Savage and Kane Wright also gave the Knights great minutes throughout the year. One of the keys to the team’s success was the athleticism, commitment, and desire to win of these players. They all understood their role within the team concept and gave a 100% effort to improve and provide what was asked of them.

There is much more about Saint John Neumann Regional Academy and their Silver Medal season in the pages ahead.

Let’s all be careful out there and enjoy all the April days ahead have to offer.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb