Aseem Lucky wanted an encore.
And he’s still hoping it can happen.
Lucky is a senior big man on the Abraham Lincoln High School basketball team. Last year, he was a starter and a key player when the Railsplitters enjoyed a historic season that saw them win the District 12 6A championship and advance to the state finals in Hershey, where they fell just short of beating Roman Catholic, the same team they bested in the city title game.
It was a fun ride, one Lucky will never forget. But he certainly wanted a return trip to Chocolate Town.
“We had a great time last year, it was special,” Lucky said. “It was hard going that far, but we did it because we had a lot of good players who worked together. It worked out.”
This year, they have players who work together, and there is talent on the team. But many of the players are new to the system, so the beginning of the season was a challenge.
The youth and inexperience was problematic especially because coach Al Brown loaded his team up with a tough schedule. That’s how you get better, and he had full intentions of having his young squad compete for another state championship.
But it was a rough start.
“We had a lot of work to do,” said Lucky, one of four returning players from last year’s team. “It wasn’t that they weren’t working hard. They were. They were doing everything and they were listening to us and trying to get better.
“It’s hard to play varsity basketball against good teams. They tried, and we weren’t losing by a lot, but we were losing. We weren’t where we needed to be.”
Lincoln dropped eight of its first 10 games. Even now, the Railsplitters aren’t where they want to be at 7-14, but the good news is they have a chance.
The Public League playoffs begin this week, and Lincoln is in the party. Lucky believes once the Railsplitters get there, they’ll be hard to knock out.
“We are a good team,” Lucky said. “We can beat good teams. Good teams can beat us, too. It’s like last year, if we play the way we can, I think we can beat a lot of people. We want to do what we did last year. I see a big difference in how we were at the start of the year and how we’re doing now. We’re playing a lot better.”
Lucky is certainly doing his part.
He is averaging just under 10 points per game and is also doing his part making plays on the defensive end and providing muscle under the glass.
This year, he knows he’s one off the star players, but he still has the same attitude he had when he was coming of the bench as an underclassman.
“I’m good because I’m an energy guy,” the 6-foot-8 Lucky said. “I’m a pretty good player, but I need to get out there and work hard. That’s where I’m at my best. I need to be out there, pushing everyone and making everyone else work harder. When I’m doing that, that’s when I’m at my best.”
He’s also better when he’s sharing his knowledge with his teammates.
Last year, he was surrounded by players who had varsity experience and guys who had a hand in helping Lincoln win a Public League Class 6A championship and advance to the state final.
This year, there are a lot more novices on the team, but they have the perfect role model to look up to.
“I like helping them,” Lucky said. “The younger guys have talent, they just need to learn some things. Same things I had to learn. I’m also showing them how to work. I work hard to get where I am. It’s the only way you can do it. If you work hard, things happen.”
His work ethic is paying off.
Lucky’s goal is to leave Lincoln in a great place and help the team compete in the playoffs, but he will be busy playing next year, too.
He’s unsure of the route he’ll take, but he has options. Many colleges have expressed interest, and he’s also considering a junior college where he could continue to hone his skills.
He would love a future in basketball beyond college, but if that doesn’t work out, he has the perfect job all picked out.
“I want to do something in criminal justice and law,” said Lucky, who is staying with school counselor Dawn Seeger until he graduates because his mom moved to New Jersey and he wanted to finish the year at Lincoln. “I was in ROTC and I like the military, so law enforcement seems like a good fit. I think it’s something I would enjoy.”
Almost as much as he’d enjoy another trip to Hershey.
He’s not big on chocolate, but he does love to win.
“We have the same type of talent we had last year,” Lucky said. “We can beat anyone if we play together. We’re starting to play like that. We’re getting better every day.”