HomeNewsRyan seniors do the little things to keep Raiders' run alive

Ryan seniors do the little things to keep Raiders’ run alive

The nine seniors on the Archbishop Ryan basketball team would love to end their career with a state championship. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Greg Weiss, Gavin Reed and Frank Monaco are great athletes.

And all three would probably be key players for most high school basketball teams in the Philadelphia area.

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But they are members of an Archbishop Ryan High School basketball team that is loaded with talent, and playing time is at a premium.

Did they think of transferring? Complain to the coach? Consider quitting?

Never. Not even once.

And that’s because no matter what roles Weiss, Reed and Monaco are playing, they’re right where they want to be with the people they want to be doing it with.

Greg Weiss gives Ryan size off the bench. CONTRIUBTED PHOTO

“I love my role,” said Weiss, a Somerton native who plays behind Georgetown-commit Thomas Sorber, who is also one of his best friends. “Ever since my sophomore year, my role is to be a practice player, to work hard, stay positive and be a good teammate. I’m not the best player on the team, but I’ll support my guys.

“In practice, I’m on Thomas most days. It’s very fun. Great competition, and he’s a close friend of mine, so it’s fun going against him. When he got here, I showed him around, we clicked right away, now we’re best friends.”

Best friends is a common phrase used by this team.

It’s really the first thing they talk about.

And there’s a lot of other things this squad could brag about.

Twice in three years, this group has advanced to the Catholic League championship game.

It won 10 games in the Catholic League in each of the past two seasons.

The seniors on this team, there are nine of them, have been a huge part of the run the Raiders have been on. They’ve played four games in three years at the Palestra, played in arguably the greatest Catholic League championship game of all time, and have three times made the state tournament.

The team has two Division I recruits, three All-Catholics and it checks all the boxes when it comes to being one of the best basketball teams in Northeast Philadelphia history.

But the players never talk about that.

Gavin Reed is recovered from an injury to make an impact off the bench for the Raiders. Photo: NOLAN SINER / @SHOTBYNOLANFILMZ

They just talk about each other.

“It’s been a lot of fun, honestly, traveling to Florida, going to D.C., trips with my teammates, they’re like brothers to me,” said Reed, who lives in Torresdale. “It was just going on a trip with friends. We’re very tight. Honestly, my sophomore year when Thomas and Darren were two of the best players, there were nine (sophomores). I knew we’d get pretty tight over the years. Sophomore to junior year, we all learned from those seniors, carried on what they’re bringing to us.”

It helps that this group of players has the best collection of personalities. They like having fun. They like being together. And they love playing basketball for Ryan.

But all three seniors said the family atmosphere didn’t come over time. It came from the way the program is run.

“Honestly, it’s just we’re one big family and everyone loves being together,” said Monaco, a Somerton native who during his junior year helped lead Ryan to a Catholic League soccer championship. “We’re together off the court. In school, out of school. It’s a lot like the soccer team. Coach (Joe Zeglinski) does a great job of keeping everyone together. It’s great. We are really a family.”

And they’re always there for each other.

During a practice, Reed suffered an ankle injury while running. Sorber and Darren Williams, both First-Team All-Catholic selections, were the first two to pick him up.

They pick each other up in other ways, too.

That was evident immediately following the team’s heartbreaking loss to Roman at the Palestra in the Catholic League championship game. An amazing game to watch, a horrible game to lose.

But even in their darkest moment, they were a family

“It helped, we were in the locker room picking each other up,” Reed said. “The seniors were emotional, the younger kids were helping us. They’ll get another chance to get a plaque. I didn’t notice it in the moment, but after getting on the bus, I thought about it. Thomas, Darren and Jaden (Murray) are showing them how to be leaders on the floor. But they’re already great leaders. They were there for us. They were there when we needed them.”

And the best part? That heartbreaking loss wasn’t the end of the run.

In fact, it was the start of another.

Ryan has made state championships before, but they never won it.

It won’t be easy. The 5A bracket is loaded.

After Ryan’s 67-43 win over Sun Valley, there’s still four more to go.

Reed, Monaco and Weiss all played well in the win, seeing significant minutes and making the most of it.

Frank Monaco won a PCL soccer championship during his junior year. He’d love to add a state basketball title before he graduates. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

So why not Ryan?

“Honestly, how close we are, every day before, and after, we just all talk throughout the entire day, that’s the best part of being on this team,” Weiss said. “We have friends outside the team, but our friends on the team are the main friends. It means a lot to win with these guys. All I want to do is win with these guys. I feel like it’s destined.”

“(After losing to Roman) I knew we still had season left, we had to get ready for a state run,” said Monaco, who will play soccer in college. “Guys were down on themselves, so we all picked each other up so we can keep performing in the state run. You win as a team, you lose as a team and you stay together.

“This team is together. And I think we’ll always be like that. We’ll all be friends forever.”

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