Arron Goodman laughs when he recalls the first time he met teammate John Raymon.
“I was at the Newtown Athletic Club, and he walked in with his older sister, who was about 20 years old,” Goodman said. “I went up to him and said, ‘Is that your girlfriend?’
“He said, ‘No, I’m in seventh grade. That’s my sister.’ I will never forget that day. I was like, ‘Geez, you are huge.’ I thought John had to be 20 when I saw him, and he was in seventh grade.”
Goodman and Raymon not only went on to become teammates on a Council Rock North basketball team that is projected to be a top two seed in the upcoming district tournament, they also became friends.
“He’s one of those guys – he’s energetic, he’s an emotional player, he gets everyone pumped up,” Goodman said. “He’s so much fun to be around.”
Raymon – who is listed as 6-6, 255 – is still big by high school standards, and on Wednesday, he will be signing a Letter of Intent to accept a football scholarship to the University of Iowa.
But for now, he and his teammates are taking care of business on the basketball court. Coaches and players alike are quick to acknowledge the significant role Raymon and his fellow seniors have played in the success of this year’s squad.
“The seniors are just the leaders on the court,” Goodman said. “You can always look up to them. It’s just natural. They’re the oldest guys, and you know to look up to them.
“They all work really hard. They all really want it. They want a lot out of their underclassmen too. They want the best for us. They want to see us succeed at the same time.”
“All the seniors work their (butts) off,” junior Aaron Morgan said. “They all want to get better every single day.
“The seniors are the vocal leaders. They do as much as they can on the boards because most of the seniors are big, so they rebound real well. The dirty work that no one knows about – they do that too. They do whatever they have to do to help us out.”
“They’re definitely leaders,” junior Matt McCloskey added. “They lead by example at practice. They’re always working hard. They’re always positive, never getting down on anybody.
“They’re not going to bash anybody. They’ll say, ‘Keep your head up, keep playing.’ They never take the easy way out.”
One fact is clear - the team’s six seniors set the tone for this year’s squad. Raymon, Charlie Anastasi, Hunter Stevens, Jordan Chernin, Kevin Bogucki and Liam Kane each bring something unique to the team, and together they have created something very special.
“They all play different roles for us,” coach Derek Wright said. “Regardless of their roles, I think they’re all pretty mature kids in terms of their understanding of their importance to our team, and that’s hard to do a lot of times.
“Sometimes you get caught up in the pressure of wanting to get noticed, wanting to get publicity, wanting to be the star, and you sometimes forget the real reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, which is to play as a team and have fun and get the most out of your abilities. These guys have really done a nice job.”
The commitment of the seniors during the offseason was as important as their commitment during the season.
“They have set a nice tone for future programs that there’s a certain way to do things in the offseason at North,” Wright said. “I think our younger kids will benefit because they know how it’s going to be because our seniors are those kinds of kids.
“It’s important to recognize regardless of what their role is - they all have some traits and characteristics that make them special.”
Anastasi, according to Wright, is the heart and soul of this year’s squad. The 6-6 senior forward is a force at both ends of the court for the Indians.
“He’s going to leave a great legacy long after he leaves here,” Wright said. “I think he will be somebody that hopefully when he comes back he’ll be able to still really take ownership of what’s going on here.
“He’s going to leave here not only as one of our better players in school history but one of our most impressive young men both in the classroom and outside the classroom. I’m glad he’s a North kid.”
Anastasi’s work ethic is not lost on his teammates.
“Charlie is all-around, just works the whole game, will never stop working,” Morgan said. “He’s 100 percent all the time. He’s a good shooter, takes charges, rebounds and does whatever we need.”
Raymon is a powerful presence in the paint at both ends of the court.
“John is a humungous offensive and defensive rebounder and just finishes down low, takes charges, dives on the floor, guards the other bigs – just does whatever,” Morgan said.
According to Wright, Raymon epitomizes what high school sports is all about.
“He’s had to handle a lot of adversity and challenges and has responded to them well and as a result I think he is a much more mature young man,” the Indians’ coach said. “I have learned a lot from him. I think I’m a better coach because of him.
“I’ve learned empathy and communication and the importance of humor within the team. He’s made us a better team and made me a better coach.”
Stevens is a standout volleyball player who – at 6-7 – gives the Indians a presence in the paint off the bench.
“Hunter Stevens is going to be a really good example for our program in the future as somebody who didn’t play a whole lot as a junior but used his jayvee time as a junior to get really better and had such a great attitude in handling it last year,” Wright said. “The fact that he’s a Division One volleyball player – we knew that he could make an impact on the team, and the guys knew he could really help us out this year.
“We knew from his season as a junior that we could depend on him this year. He’s been great for us.”
Wright calls Chernin a ‘great program kid’ who has contributed off the bench for the Indians.
“He has really made himself into a pretty good player and from ninth grade on has really committed himself to becoming a better athlete and a better player,” the Indians’ coach said. “He’s gotten so much stronger in the weight room.
“He worked on his quickness, he worked on his offensive game, and he’s a great friend to a lot of guys on our team, even a lot of our underclassmen. He’s done a real nice job for us off the bench. He’s so selfless and really understands the team concept. We’re really glad to have someone like him.”
“I just met him when I came into high school,” McCloskey said of Chernin. “He’s a great kid. He’s awesome, a lot of good times with him.”
Kane, a key member of the state championship golf team, transferred from Holy Ghost Prep to Rock North as a sophomore.
“Liam Kane is another kid that really does a lot for us off the court when not everybody sees what’s going on,” Wright said. “He’s great at practice every day, pushing Aaron Morgan and Matt McCloskey.
“He’s a guy we know we can depend on if there’s a situation with foul trouble, and we need an extra guard in the game. He’s got a great sense of humor and always has a positive attitude. I’m really glad he ended up coming here.”
Wright calls Bogucki one of the most improved players in the program. An injury early in the year has kept the senior reserve from getting the minutes he might have gotten if he had not been hurt.
“He’s still working to get into the rotation,” Wright said. “He went from being a kid who we didn’t know if we could keep in the program because we didn’t know if he would ever be a varsity player to being somebody we may have to depend on down the stretch.
“He worked really hard in both the weight room and on the court to become a better player, and he recognizes that the season we’re having this year is partly a result of the work he’s put in because he’s really a good teammate.”
And therein lies a key to this year’s successful season. It isn’t just lip service when the players say they like each other. They really mean it, and it shows.
“I have known them since I was in sixth or seventh grade, and we have always been friends,” Morgan said of the seniors. “Since I was a freshman, they have always been there for me. I guess that’s why we have good chemistry.
“We hang out outside of school. They’re my best friends.”
Stevens is Goodman’s next door neighbor.
“I moved here when I was seven years old, and he was my first friend when I moved,” he said. “We’ve grown up together.
“It’s the last year for the seniors, and they want the best out of this that they can. We all work really hard for them. They push us, and we’re all there for each other.”
On Wednesday night, the six seniors will be honored at a special Senior Night celebration prior to the Indians’ 7 p.m. game against Harry S. Truman. It promises to be a special night.
“Ever since my freshman year they have always been there for us,” McCloskey said. “It’s nice knowing they have our backs.
“Seeing them working hard makes us want to work hard too. It’s their last year. We don’t want to let them down.”
Just the Facts
This year’s record: Council Rock North 10-0 SOL (16-1 overall), Harry S. Truman 3-6 SOL (7-13 overall)
Last year’s record: Council Rock North 11-3 SOL, 21-6 overall; Harry S. Truman 5-9 SOL, 7-13 overall
Last meeting: Council Rock 67, Harry S. Truman 44 (Council Rock North: Aaron Morgan – 19 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists; Charlie Anastasii – 16 points, 12 rebounds; John Raymon – 10 points, six rebounds; Harry S. Truman: Dequan Ashley – 15 points; Shaun Miller – 10 points)
Last game: Council Rock North 56, Pennsbury 37 (Arron Goodman – 29 points)
Harry S. Truman 46, William Tennent 43 (Shaun Miller – 18 points; Merdic Green – 10 points).
Council Rock North
#3 – Liam Kane (5-0, Sr., Guard)
#4 – Kevin Bogucki (6-1, Sr., Guard)
#23-Charlie Anastasi (6-6, Sr., Forward)
#42 – Jordan Chernin (6-0, Sr., Guard)
#50 – Hunter Stevens (6-7, Sr., Forward)
The rest of the Indians:
#2 – Matt McCloskey (6-1, Jr., Guard)
#5 – Aaron Morgan (5-10, Jr., Guard)
#10 – John Raymon (6-6, Sr., Forward)
#12 – Owen Rice (5-8, Jr., Guard)
#14 – Brandon Knotts (5-10, Soph., Guard)
#21 – Alex Corry (6-0, Jr., Guard)
#22- Arron Goodman (6-4, Jr., Guard/Forward)
#24 – Alex Jordan (6-2, Soph., Guard/Forward)
#31 – Kyle McCloskey (6-5, Soph., Guard)
#32 – Sam Ryan (6-3, Jr., Forward)
Harry S. Truman
#1 - Daiquan Ashley (5-9, Jr., Guard)
#4 - Lamont Waters (5-8, Jr., Guard)
#12 - Merdic Green (6-3, Soph., Guard)
#21 - Daveed Ransome (6-0, Sr., Guard/Forward)
#24 - Shaun Miller (6-4, Sr., Forward)
The rest of the Tigers:
Brian Callazo (5-10, Sr., Guard)
#11 – Shane Monahan (6-0, Soph., Forward)
#14 – Samaroo Lakshaman (5-10, Sr., Guard)
#32 – Dan Harris (6-5, Jr., Center)
#33 – Antoni Griffin (6-3, Sr., Forward)
#35 – Mike Mintah (6-5, Jr., Center)
#40 – Mike McGuire (6-5, Jr., Forward)
#44 – Kenny Osbourne (6-4, Sr., Center)
#55 – Shareff Clinton (6-7, Soph., Center)