Ideal send-off for William Penn seniors
When people look back at the William Penn boys' basketball team's current senior class, they probably won't remember this group much for its star power. None of the Bearcats five seniors were attention-grabbing studs during the team's 2008-09 state final run (Malik Generett and Malachi Leonard took those honors). And this group doesn't include any 1,000-point scorers.
But what is certain is that these seniors will be remembered fondly as a group of unselfish glue guys -- solid players made exceptional by their cohesiveness and hard work. They've certainly carved out a spot in the heart and mind of their coach Troy Sowers, who admitted after William Penn's senior night win over Red Lion Tuesday that he teared up during his pregame talk with his team.
He got a bit emotional after the game, too, when talking about his seniors.
"The last two years we're 51-5," Sowers said. "That's just unheard of. We had our little talk before the game, and I got a little teary-eyed. These guys are like family. ... I'm tearing up a little now.
"I don't know if York High fans appreciate what they've been able to see the last two or three seasons with these seniors. ... We're going to definitely enjoy this because these guys earned it. I don't know of any coach that could be more proud of the effort that these guys give on a daily basis. Teams don't play as hard as we do."
The leader of that group is Ryan Matthews, William Penn's emotional barometer and de facto mouthpiece. What he says generally gives a good representation of how the rest of the Bearcats are feeling.
"All day in school, in class and everything. I was just thinking 'This is it,'" Matthews said. "No more official games on York High's basketball court.' It hurts at times. I hope I don't cry tonight just thinking about it."
But Matthews certainly isn't alone. Fellow guards Jevaughn Murphy and Chemin Lambert have been steady presences. Lambert has been hampered by a knee injury and couldn't play Tuesday. Murphy, typically an impact sub, stepped in a scored a season-high 25 points.
Forwards Tyvon Efferson and Malcolm Murray round out William Penn's senior five. Both are lanky forwards, and both have been key parts of the Bearcats' improving frontcourt. Murray leads the team in rebounds (7.7) and blocks (2.5).
The improvement of those two, along with junior foward Zachary Newby, has helped William Penn reel off eight straight wins after mid-season rough patch.
"We look like our basketball IQ is a little bit higher now at this point in the season." Sowers said. "I think we're at a nice place now where we have a good combination with our guards and our bigs."
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this senior class? All five will play college basketball at some level. Three (Murray, Efferson and Murphy) will play together at Northhampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pa. Lambert will play at McDaniel, while Matthews is still deciding between schools.