HARRISBURG – Finishing on the winning side in a championship game – or coming mighty, mighty close – scored plenty of points with the panel that selected Pennsylvania’s all-state boys’ basketball team.
Especially when it came time to choose those – whether players or coaches – who claimed the top individual awards.
Teams that closed out memorable seasons by capturing state championships produced three of the four players of the year and three of the four coaches of the year chosen by a group of Pennsylvania sports writers.
While New Castle (AAAA), Neumann-Goretti (AAA), Constitution (AA) and Lincoln Park Charter (A) collared PIAA championships last month at Hershey’s Giant Center, players from non-PIAA schools also were eligible for selection.
Neumann-Goretti senior Ja’Quan Newton, who one day after his mother died pocketed a career-high 33 points in a 64-57 overtime victory over Susquehanna Twp., was named the Class AAA player of the year.
The 6-foot-3 Newton, who will attend Miami (Fla.), averaged 21.6 points per game for Neumann-Goretti (27-4), captured its fourth state title in five seasons.
Joining Newton on the first team are Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman of Allentown Central Catholic, Nana Foulland of Berks Catholic, Derrick Jones of Archbishop Carroll, Nehemiah Mack of Susquehanna Twp. and Abington Heights’ J.C. Show.
Newton, Abdur-Rahkman and Show are repeat first-team selections.
Susquehanna Twp.’s Vince Rogers, who piloted the Indians to a 23-8 record and their second-place finish, was named Class AAA coach of the year.
Constitution junior Ahmad Gilbert, who popped a double-double (19 points, 14 rebounds) in the Philadelphia-based Generals’ 61-59 victory over Seton-La Salle, was named the Class AA player of the year.
The 6-6 Gilbert, who holds scholarship offers from Drexel, Hofstra and Rhode Island, averaged 15.7 points per game for a Constitution club (28-5) that claimed its second state title in three seasons. Constitution won the 2012 Class A championship.
Joining Gilbert as first-team selections are Constitution teammate Kimar Williams, Dominick Antonelli of Camp Hill Trinity, Dale Clancy of Seton-La Salle, Jared Nickens of Westtown and Tyriek Steward of Wilkes-Barre Meyers.
Constitution coach Robert Moore made it a clean sweep for the Generals, as he claimed Class AA coach of the year honors.
Lincoln Park Charter sophomore Maverick Rowan, who racked up 37 points in a come-from-behind 70-66 victory over Philadelphia’s Math, Civics & Sciences that handed the Leopards their first state title, was named Class A player of the year.
The 6-7 Rowan, who averaged 24.3 points per game, already has verbally committed to Pitt.
Rowan was joined on the first team by Lincoln Park teammate and Monessen native Elijah Minnie, Samir Doughty and Mike Watkins of Math, Civics & Sciences, Alize Johnson of Williamsport St. John Neumann and Terry Larrier of Phelps School.
Minnie also landed a first-team all-state nod following his junior season.
Mark Javens, who piloted Lincoln Park to a 30-1 mark, was named Class A coach of the year.
Hampton senior Ryan Luther, who sparked the Talbots to the state quarterfinals, was named the Class AAAA player of the year. Luther, who averaged 22.1 points per game for a 24-5 Hampton team, will attend Pitt.
Joining Luther on the first team are Sal Biasi of Hazleton, Mikal Bridges of Great Valley, Malik Hooker of New Castle, Rashann London of Philadelphia Roman Catholic and Isaiah Washington of Williamsport.
Ralph Blundo, who guided New Castle to a perfect 31-0 record and its first state championship, was named Class AAAA coach of the year.