Elijah Jakeman loves to brag. But not about himself.
Jakeman is a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School, and when it comes to talk about his game, the shooting guard on the Railsplitters basketball team has very little to say. But if you ask him about his teammates or his coaches, you’ll definitely get an answer.
“This school is great and it’s a lot of fun to play for a basketball program like this,” Jakeman said. “Everything about it. The school is great, you get a good education and you can learn a lot, and it means a lot that I’m able to play on the team.
“We have guys who just want to win. They’ll all make sacrifices. They’ll sacrifice anything to help the team. And we have a great coach. Everyone expects a lot out of us because they want to see us do better. Playing for Lincoln has been great for me. I love playing for this team and this school.’
Jakeman and his teammates were a close group and they wanted to stay together for as long as possible, so they advanced to Friday’s Public League championship game.
They didn’t get the result they were looking for, falling to unbeaten Imhotep Charter 69-55. That was disappointing, but they were happy they were able to play through the final weekend of basketball in the state.
“I thought we did great this year, but we didn’t get the one we wanted,” said Jakeman, who lives in Mayfair. “We had high hopes going into the year and after our first couple games we got off to a good start, so I really thought we could win the championship.
“We had one more to get the job done and we didn’t, but I’m still really proud of this team. We played hard and we almost got it done.”
Last year, Lincoln won a game in the state playoffs before falling in the second round. This year, because the PIAA cut back the number of teams competing in the state playoffs, Lincoln didn’t qualify because the Railsplitters fell to Archbishop Wood in the District 12 championship game, but they still had a Public League crown to play for, so that kept them interested.
It also gave Jakeman more time to show the future leaders of the team how to set a good example for the younger players.
Jakeman was a captain, and he led both by example and with his voice.
“That took me a little while to get comfortable, but I was told they needed me, so I really tried to be a good leader for everyone,” Jakeman said. “I learned a lot from coach (Mel Lindsey). They wanted me to be a good leader this year, so I worked hard at it. It meant a lot (they put trust) in me.”
Jakeman was happy the Railsplitters were able to have a season because he didn’t enjoy being away from the game.
The world shut down just days after Lincoln was eliminated from the state playoffs a season ago. After that, like the rest of the world, Jakeman was stuck at home. He would still go out whenever there was an opportunity to play basketball at an outdoor court, but it wasn’t the same.
He also was dealt a blow when he got coronavirus in November, shortly before Thanksgiving. That really kept him from doing what he loved.
“It was really hard because I wasn’t able to see anyone, and I really couldn’t do anything,” Jakeman said. “When i was feeling OK, I would go outside around my house and shoot, but I couldn’t really do much. When you’re getting better, you can’t use up too much energy playing basketball.
“It was hard because it was when we were starting to get ready to play and we had to shut everything down for, like, a month. It was hard on all of us, but I wanted to make sure I was staying safe, my friends and teammates and family were staying safe, too. That was what we had to do.”
He was happy to get back in the swing of things, and he hopes he showed colleges what he can do. He’s already heard from a few schools, and he’s hoping to pick one where he can study psychology and play basketball. He can get in through basketball and grades. Jakeman maintains all A’s and B’s in the classroom.
“I’m a student first, I learned that from my mom and my dad, and coach says that, too, that’s what they want to see more than basketball,” Jakeman said. “I really like psychology, there’s so much you can learn about the mind. That really interests me, I think it’d be cool to learn more about and help people.”
He has high hopes about his future.
He also has high hopes for his teammates at Lincoln.
The Railsplitters have been one of the top teams in the Public League in the last six years, and Jakeman believes that will continue.
“They’re going to be really good because they have a lot of younger guys who can play,” Jakeman said. “”The best thing I can tell them is to work as hard as you can. I look back, and I think I took workouts for granted before my senior year. Then you realize it’s almost over. I hope they can take it seriously and get better. Because it goes by fast.”