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St. John Neumann Takes Silver in Hershey

Though the Golden Knights of St. John Neumann Regional Academy ended their season with a loss of 64-47 to the Bishop Canevin Crusaders of Pittsburgh, they will always be champions in the eyes of the community. Getting a police escort into town, the players and coaches were greeted by hundreds of fans, friends, and family. “Lots of hugs were exchanged,” said coach Jamie Spencer. “The support was unbelievable.”

Coach Spencer went on to say that he was more proud of his team than words would express. “It was an incredible journey for me and my guys — an incredible run. To see us bond together. We had so much talent. To get where we went, we needed to bind and mesh that talent, and we did. We also needed ‘buy-in,’ and everyone bought in.”

The Neumann Knights had a record of 26-3 going into the state championship. “Their desire and will was second to none. It was beautiful to watch unfold throughout the season,” said Spencer. Coach Spencer went on to express not only the pride he had for his players as athletes but also as students and young men. “They make me look good both on and off the court. We have really come together as a team. No one was concerned about who scores. Everyone understands their roles. Our defensive intensity has been off the charts. We like to get out and run. My guards are outstanding. Five of my six seniors were recently named to the honor roll. That is amazing.”

What was also amazing was their poise under pressure. “The game was very emotional, especially for the senior class. From the beginning, we were determined to make it to the state finals, and we were determined to win. I won’t lie; the defeat was heart-breaking. A lot of the shots that we would usually make just didn’t hit. It was very emotional in the locker room after the game. I told them I loved them, and I thanked them. I said the Neumann Nation thanks them, and the fans in Williamsport and the area thanks them.”

When asked about his thoughts about Bishop Canevin, Coach Spencer had nothing but respect. “They were a well-oiled machine. The #1 ranked team in PA. It was one thing to watch them on video, where they were certainly impressive. It was another thing, however, to see them in person. Their size and skillset were amazing.”

Coach Spencer was quick to say that the success of the St. John Neumann basketball program could not have happened without the support of his assistant coaches. “Bill Reed, Chris Reed, and Louis Roskowski are all alumni of Neumann and were basketball players. They showed tremendous effort by putting in extra hours and helping to prep the team, and we couldn’t have gotten this far without them. They are like the little brothers I never had, and we do this because we love the kids and love the sport of basketball.”

Coach Spencer went on to say that his phone has been ringing off the hook recently with calls from former players offering words of encouragement. “It’s meant the world to me. I am so proud of my coaches and players. At one point, when we knew we weren’t going to pull out the win, I told my guys to look around savor the moment. Take it all in, enjoy it and embrace it because this is something you’ll still be thinking about ten years from now. They won’t realize what they accomplished for a while. I am very proud to share this with them.”

When asked if there was anyone that deserved a special mention, Coach Spencer said everyone deserved praise and gave a brief comment for each of his players:

#1 Davion Hill is a complete stud. 6’2, 215, Junior. He averages 26 per game. Around 7-ppg. He’s the total package. Crafty lefty who scores inside and out. A bulldog. He’s getting several major D1 interests —already has three offers. Can really play. Had 39 in the semis over Nativity. Always guards the other team’s best player. Incredible 31 points and 19 rebounds the game before. FIRST TEAM ALL-STATE as a FROSH and SOPHOMORE. Should be a lock this season. Hoping for POY. FIRST TEAM all-conference.

#2 Hanief Clay. 5’8 SENIOR. Our flashy point guard. Super quick and sees the floor. Averages 19 ppg and 6 dimes. He is also the real deal. He makes some amazing plays. SO PROUD OF HANIEF. HIGH HONOR ROLL STUDENT. So good with the younger guys. Vocal leader. Leads by example. He is a star. FIRST TEAM all-conference.

#4 Naz Smith. 5’10 SENIOR. Super athlete. Will play baseball in college. Definitely an X factor. Plays with incredible energy. Very active on both ends. Averages 5.4 ppg. But does so many things. Big Naz had 12 huge points for us against Nativity. Including two treys. Another honor roll student.

#11 JerVal Weeks-Shuler. 6’0 215 SENIOR. Incredible athlete. Another guy who will play baseball in college. 4.4 PPG. 7 Rebs. The human cyborg. Total freak down low. Guards, the opposing bigs. Monster rebounder. Has only played basketball for two years. Can’t make it up. One of the most talented guys I have ever seen. Pitcher and left-handed catcher. But he will throw with both arms. Dead serious. HONOR ROLL LAST SEMESTER.

#3 Nas Dymeck. Little Nas. 5’6” SENIOR. Tough as nails. Our best on the ball defender. Plays with a lot of heart. FEARLESS. One of the scariest kids I have ever met. Decent shooter. Hit some big threes in the playoffs. Averages 8.4 per game. Another bulldog. Tenacious. HONOR ROLL.

#12 Jozef Savage. 6’3 SOPHOMORE. Joe will get some minutes. Started most of the year. Joe is more of a guard, but we ask him to play in the post. Great skills for a big. HE WILL BE AN OUTSTANDING PLAYER Young. But a total gym rat. Has really improved. 5.2 PPG. 6 REBS.

#5 Kane Wright. 5’8 JUNIOR. Sniper. Plays hard. Scrappy. He will be the man in 2023. Great baseball player. Competitor. HIGH HONOR ROLL student.

#0 Josiah Coleman. 6’1 SENIOR. Great TEAM player. Dedicated. Great kid. Talented in many areas. Leads the cheers. Great smile.

#13 Angelo Fernandez. 5’9 JUNIOR. Another TEAM player. Plays hard. TERRIFIC student. Well-liked on campus. The world would be a better place with more GELLOS. HIGH HONOR ROLL

#24 Corey Agnew. 6’0 JUNIOR. He has really improved. Will be a key guy next season. TEAM first. Another great cheerleader. Always goes crazy on the sidelines.

#34 James Weller. 6’0 SENIOR. Exceptional student. Great kid. Strong. Quiet. But we got him to talk 1/2 way through the season. HIGH HONOR ROLL

Spencer also spoke of a couple notable SJNRA alums including, Alize Johnson, who is currently on the New Orleans Pelicans. He was a 2nd round draft pick of the Indiana Pacers. “He played for the Nets, Bulls, and Wizards. Alize is the older brother of Davion Hill.”

Kevin Anderson. PIAA state player of the year in 2014. Starting guard for the Delaware Blue Hens. Scored nine vs. Villanova in the NCAA tournament.