Ss. Neumann-Goretti have become State Powerhouses!!

I was reading the South Philly review on Thursday, March 24th, 2015.  In it there was an article about the triumphant Boys and Girls basketball teams from this co-ed school.  The boys basketball team has won three state titles in a row.  The girls just wrapped up their second title in a row.  Talk about a major accomplishment.  I am so proud of the athletes that attend this school.  It became one school back when Catholic parishes were downsizing.

At one time there was North Catholic and Little Flower.  St. James and West Catholic Boys and Girls.  When these schools were open, the Philadelphia Schools were not allowed to compete in the PIAA State Championships.  Those titles were collected by the likes of Chester High, Penn Wood, Lower Merion and Carlisle.  I remember some of the great athletes that came from other parts of the Commonwealth.  Billy Owens and Keith Wood were from Carlisle and Chester respectively..  James Spears from Glen Mills was a beast.  Rap Curry was an awesome guard who went to Saint Joe's.  I was following Chester High when they lost to Kobe Bryant when he was a senior at Lower Merion.

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Pennsylvania is one of the largest states in the country.  The number of athletes that play at the scholastic level has to be large.  I was just following a post on Facebook of one of my favorite grade school teams.  St. Charles Borromeo was a powerhouse at the grade school level.  One of the best players I have ever seen, Marty Campbell honed his skills there.  One of my best friends in life, Keith Smith, who is still hooping, played on CYO Championship teams there.  Basketball is a beautiful game that engenders lifetime friendships.

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One of the all time scorers in Philadelphia history went to Neumann-Goretti.  Daquan Newton now plies his trade at the University of Miami.  He was probably on that first run of three straight titles for the Neumann-Goretti boys team.  Unfortunately, they ran into a Villanova team that is now in the Final Four.  Back in history some my favorite players were Reggie Jackson from Roman Catholic and Clarence Tillman from West Philly High.  They were McDonald's All-Americans who were actually on television commercials.  Gene Banks took his talents to Duke and the Chicago Bulls.  Simon Gratz, with Rasheed Wallace would probably have made some noise in the PIAA playoffs.

The girls team was being criticized at one point because they imported some players from Nigeria.  There were a number of schools that were doing this in previous years.  Oak Hill Academy imported players from all over the country.  The students that comprise these two teams have made Philadelphia proud.  I know their parents and classmates have to be proud.  I guess the real pressure is on now to repeat the championship.  I wish these players look in their academic and scholastic careers.  You have represented Philadelphia well and have young people trying to emulate your success.  Add Kamiah Smalls and Zane Martin to the growing list of basketball legends from the City of Brotherly Love!!

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