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Ryan big man having fun at new home

Thomas Sorber led the Catholic League in rebounds this year. MARK ZIMMARO / TIMES PHOTO

Thomas Sorber might be from Trenton, but he certainly found a perfect home on Academy Road.

Sorber is a sophomore at Archbishop Ryan High School. For the first 10 years of his academic career, he attended Trenton Catholic Academy. Toward the end of last school year, TCA announced it was closing, so Sorber enrolled at Ryan.

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It’s like he’s been there his entire life.

“I liked (Trenton Catholic) a lot, I didn’t get any varsity time because they had a lot of bigs, but I liked it there a lot,” said Sorber, who stands 6 feet 9. “They said they were closing because of financial reasons, then they reopened. I thought about going back because I really liked it, but I really like Ryan.

“I just liked it right away. As soon as I got here, I met the basketball team first, they seemed like great kids and I knew it was a great program. I think it was two weeks, after I met everyone and remembered all the names, it was great. We were all friends right away, they took me right in.”

The Raiders were very much rewarded for their hospitality because Sorber played incredible basketball and is now one of the top players in the state.

With him manning the middle, Ryan enjoyed a great season that included three postseason wins and a trip to the Catholic League championship.

Ryan lost to Chester 53-48 on Friday in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, ending the season. The loss ended the career of four great Raiders, Jalen Snead, David Wise, Luke Boyd and JT Arpino.

It wasn’t the way the Raiders wanted to see the season end, but there are plenty of reasons for optimism in the future. And Sorber is a huge reason for that.

“Trenton has great basketball, but it’s a lot of fun playing in this league,” Sorber said. “Playing at the Palestra was exciting, the best atmosphere. I never knew it would be that packed. It felt like there were 10,000 people there. Everyone kept asking me if I was nervous. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t nervous at all. I just went out, and played. My brother told me not to look at the crowd, just play your style.”

He did that all season.

Sorber scored 16.5 points per game, and leads the Catholic League in rebounding. In that regard, he takes after his brother, who was also a relentless rebounder in high school and is now playing at Lincoln University.

“My whole family is tall, my brother is my height and he’s a great basketball player,” Sorber said. “My dad was a soccer player. I was a soccer player growing up until I got tall. My family is from Liberia, so they played soccer more than basketball. But since we’re so big, I think that’s why we play basketball.”

Sorber might get some coaching from his brother and his slick footwork from his dad, who passed away in 2015 after an illness, but he credits mom for giving him all the energy on the floor.

“I think the biggest reason is my family, and definitely my mom’s cooking, that helps me play better,” Sorber said. “She’s a great cook. She makes a lot of things with rice. African cooking. But her specialty? Spaghetti and meatballs. She makes the best spaghetti and meatballs.”

His friends and coaches at Ryan might not be the cook mom is, but they also supply him with a lot of energy. Sorber has all the talent in the world, but he’s having fun because of his friends on the team.

“Ryan is a big reason for the way I’m playing, I get so much help,” Sorber said. “Whenever we don’t have practice, I go there and work out just to work on things. The guys on the team, especially the seniors, are great. Dave (Wise, senior point guard) was the first one to really help me with anything I need, but everyone has been like that.

“I think a lot of people didn’t know I would explode, like be out there as much and play the way I’m playing. Especially because I barely played last year at Trenton Catholic, I was just on the bench. I got better, but the guys here taught me not to be scared, don’t be afraid in games. Just go out and play.”

Catholic League foes aren’t the only ones who have noticed.

Sorber already has scholarship offers from Drexel, Georgetown, Richmond and La Salle. It’s safe to assume more will be rolling in for as long as he stays uncommitted.

“It’s fun, they can’t really contact me because I’m too young, they just come to games, they can’t call or anything yet,” Sorber said. “It’s fun. I’m not in a rush. I’m just working to get better. I want to become a better player.

“I’m lucky to have a lot of people helping me. The coaches here are great. Coach Joe (Zeglinski) works us hard because he wants us to be good. He expects a lot out of us, but he does it to make us better. And my family, too. My mom is my right hand. She knows basketball, too. At least she tells me she does! Everyone goes out to help me.”

And that’s why he wants to produce championships at the school, not just for himself and his teammates, but the school.

“We have the best fans,” Sorber said. “They are loud, always cheering. The school really loves basketball.

“I love my team, love my coaches, love my school. I love the school. It’s a really good school. Trenton Catholic, I was at there from kindergarten to ninth grade. That was my home, but I really love Ryan.”

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