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Dreibelbis shines bright for Ryan, grandmom

Jack Dreibelbis celebrates senior night with his grandmom, who passed away Friday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

It would have been easy for Jack Dreibelbis to sit this one out.

Instead, he honored his grandmom in the best way possible.

Dreibelbis is a senior shooting guard on the Archbishop Ryan High School basketball team, and on Friday night, he helped the Raiders advance in the first round of the 5A state playoffs by knocking off West Chester Rustin.

Typically at Raiders games, Dreibelbis’ family is sitting in the stands, cheering for their guy. But yesterday he was alone.

“My family was at the hospital, unfortunately my grandmom had a cardiac event and she passed away today,” Dreibelbis said Friday night after going 3-for-3 on three pointers for nine points in Ryan’s 83-45 triumph. “I played with a chip on my shoulder for her. It was my mom’s mom. We were really close. She came to a lot of my games. She was fantastic.

“I did think of her after I made my first shot. It was good, the energy was insane, and it stayed that way all game. My family told me to play. I went to the hospital to say goodbye before the game. I got a lot of text messages from them encouraging me. We’re really close, they just weren’t here tonight. I was thinking of her a lot.”

All season, whenever Dreibelbis was struggling, he knew he could turn to his grandmom for support. And he knows she would have loved what happened on the court on Academy Road on Friday night.

“There were times when I wasn’t playing a lot, she would always be there for me,” said Dreibelbis, who lives in Parkwood. “She would always tell me to keep my head up, try to stay positive. She was always there to support me.”

Dreibelbis has had plenty of support all season in all of his sports. And he needed it after a disappointing junior year that lasted only a few days.

He tore his ACL during soccer season. Not only did it keep him sidelined for the rest of the fall, he missed basketball season as well. He wasn’t cleared to play until July, so the injury wiped out an entire year of his athletic career.

He more than made up for it senior year.

“I was kind of nervous going back to soccer because that’s how I got hurt,” said Dreibelbis, who played striker during the fall. “But once I got back, I felt good. And we had a great season, we won the PCL championship. That was crazy.

“Basketball? Obviously losing in the first round of the (Catholic League) playoffs was tough, but that’s why we’re glad we have a chance to win a state championship. Not winning the championship was a disappointment, but we’re back, and we have a chance to win a state championship.”

Dreibelbis has always been an athlete, but his basketball game has evolved. He credits great coaching, as well as a lot of hard work for turning him into the sniper he’s become.

“I’ve always worked pretty hard, I love playing sports and love playing with my teammates,” Dreibelbis said. “That’s the thing, in soccer, we were a family, and when we won the championship, it felt so great. We were playing for each other. It’s the same way on this team, and it’s why I really want to win a state championship with them. The feeling of winning with your team full of your brothers, it’s the best.”

That’s what Dreibelbis and his teammates are focused on now.

Next up for Ryan is the winner of West Chester East-East Stroudsburg South in the second round. Should the Raiders advance Tuesday, things will only get harder with both Radnor and Imhotep Charter left on their side of the bracket.

It’s a tough test, but the Raiders are battle tested, having finished third in the Catholic League this year. And Dreibelbis is ready to do whatever it takes to help his squad advance.

“We were disappointed not getting to the Palestra after getting there the past four years, but we have a good team and we know we can win,” he said. “We all know we can win a state championship. It was one of our goals and it’s still possible.”

Dreibelbis is still mulling what he’ll do next year.

A good student, he is leaning toward joining the Marines, but recently he started talking to a junior college in South Jersey.

“I’ve always wanted to join the Marines, but I’m starting to think about going to a juco and playing basketball,” Dreibelbis said. “They want me to play basketball, but after I talked to the coach, he gave me the soccer coach’s business card. I’m looking into criminal justice. My whole family is involved in law enforcement, my dad is a detective. Both are great options.”

Ideally, wherever he ends up, he hopes to go there as a state champion. And he’s willing to do anything he can to help the Raiders advance.

“I just try to be a good guy to have on the team, and help anyone,” Dreibelbis said. “Whenever I miss a shot, someone will say, ‘Keep your head up, keep shooting.’ Then I feel better. I try to do that, especially for the younger guys. I try to keep everyone smiling. If you smile, they’ll smile.

“This team has been like that. I’ve been best friends with Zaire (Paris) since freshman year. Then Thomas (Sorber) came, and Darren Williams. Now it’s everyone. We’re very close and we play for each other. We want to win together.”

That would make grandmom very proud.

Jack Dreibelbis scored nine points in Ryan’s first-round victory over West Chester Rustin. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
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