Raiders good behind the scenes too

 

Luke Arpino keeps the book for the Ryan boys basketball team. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

You might not know their names, but if you’re a fan of the Raiders, you definitely know their work.

If you follow how many points your favorite players on the Archbishop Ryan High School boys basketball team puts up in a game, you’re familiar with what Luke Arpino does.

And if you like to scroll through Facebook or Instagram and watch videos of one of the Raiders dunking or swooshing a three pointer, you’ve seen the work of Tyler Paxton.

And while neither Arpino nor Paxton are running up and down the court during games, it would be incorrect to say they’re both not a huge part of the team.

Tyler Paxton runs Ryan’s basketball social media sites, as well as takes great videos of the games. CONTRIBUTED

Both are crucial, and the team lets them know.

“I love doing it, I just love being around the team,” said Arpino, a junior who has been the manager of the varsity team for the last two seasons. “I started doing this my freshman year, I did it for the freshman team. I didn’t expect to do varsity my sophomore year, but at the same time, I knew Nick (Taylor, the previous manager) was graduating, so they would need someone. I wanted to do it. I’ve always been a good stat guy, I love basketball, and I wanted to help if they needed me.”

Arpino was needed. All basketball teams need a trusted guy to keep points, fouls and work the table. Paxton has been a huge luxury.

He’s known as the team’s social media manager, but he gets most of his notoriety from posting videos of big plays. He started doing it last year, and after doing it with his cellphone, he upgraded to a full camera.

Now, he posts top plays from the team after games, and some of his videos get more than 4,000 views.

“They told me to do it last year, because I love basketball, and after doing it a few times, I would do it with my phone, and I got good at it,” said Paxton, who lives in Parkwood. “It helped me meet a lot of people. I don’t look at it like this, but the guys on the team treat me like I’m on the team. I love being a part of everything. I wouldn’t want to do this for any other team, the guys on this team are the best.”

It’s been quite a run for the guys. This year the Raiders have been very successful, making it to the semifinals of the Catholic League playoffs and they’re stuck on the verge of playing in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. The PIAA suspended the tournament two weeks ago as Ryan was preparing to play in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A tournament, so the layoff has been a bummer for players, coaches, managers, videographers and fans alike. But it hasn’t knocked the shine off of the season.

And both Arpino and Paxton agree on the best part of the season thus far.

The trip to the best arena in the city.

“Making it to the Palestra was incredible, it was the best,” said Arpino, who lives in Chalfont. “We played in the second game against Neumann-Goretti, and during the first game, it was Roman and Wood, I was on the floor just looking up at the stands. I had been to a lot of games there, but being on the floor is something I’ll never forget.”

“Last year, I went to a game at the Palestra between Roman and Neumann-Goretti, just to watch,” Paxton said. “This year, I was sitting underneath the basket watching us play. I really couldn’t believe it. I was right there on the floor. It was incredible.”

While the duo have had more than their fair share of fun, they also have helped the squad and made a great year that much more memorable.

During a recent game, Gediminas Mokseckas threw down a monster dunk in the first half. By halftime, it was all over the Far Northeast on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook thanks to Paxton’s shooting.

“I knew after he did it, I had to have it, and I did get it, I checked immediately to make sure,” Paxton said. “That was the best play of the season. That got like 2,500 views.

“Some of the bigger games got a lot of views. The Judge game, highlights of that got 4,000 views. Some just do great. The bigger games do great.”

While Paxton’s work is on full display for all to see, Arpino’s work is more geared toward the players.

“Usually the seniors ask me about their points first,” said Arpino, who is a member of the Ryan golf team, which is also on hiatus due to the coronavirus. “After some games, like if Luke (Boyd) drops 30, he’ll come up after a game and I’ll say, ‘Want to guess how many you had?’ Then I’ll tell him.

“I’m learning so much. At first I did the JV games, too, but we have a fan Billy Zeits do those games, he helps us all the time now. I set the gym up before the game, then I just stay with the team the whole game, do the book. Mostly just points and fouls, but people will ask about blocks and assists. I help wherever I can.”

And while both guys are doing this to help the team and have fun, it is giving them a glimpse at what they could do in the future.

Both are leaning toward studying accounting, but it’s possible they stay in the game after Ryan.

“I do pretty well in school, but I think I would like to stay involved, maybe do this on the side,” Paxton said. “It’s been great for me. It’s so much fun. Now when I go to the park, everybody talks to me about it. I’m really glad I started doing it.”

“I’ve learned so much from (Coach Joe Zeglinski),” Arpino said. “I had two brothers play here before, my dad coached me at Calvary and my younger brother is on the team, so I thought I had a good basketball IQ. But just watching Coach, I learn so much. Sometimes my head starts spinning, I’m learning so much.

“It’s been great. I am learning a lot. I definitely think I’d like to coach or stay involved. The more I’m around this team, the more I want to stay involved.”