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McDonald ready to lead at Holy Ghost

Adam McDonald scored eight points per game for Holy Ghost last year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Adam McDonald has been around the team for as long as he can remember.

Growing up, McDonald had a pair of older brothers, Luke and Jake, who were stars at Holy Ghost Prep High School. 

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And when they were on the court, the youngest brother was in the stands cheering, showing his support for the Firebirds and doing all the things young kids do when they’re watching their heroes play the game they love.

“I was around the team a lot, that’s a big reason for why I went there,” said McDonald, who lives in Pine Valley. “I was around (Holy Ghost) all the time. When Luke went there, they won a district championship his junior year and I think they won a game or two in states. They were pretty good and I loved watching them.

“I was like 7 or 8 years old, seeing them win really made me want to go there and play for a winning team. My brothers are very supportive, especially my brother Luke. He trains with me. Jake comes all the time as well. They’re very supportive. My whole family is. But that’s why I went to Ghost, I really wanted to play here.”

McDonald is no longer running around the team.

He’s now running it.

A starter as a sophomore, the rising junior will be in his second season of running the offense at point guard. It was his first year as starter, it was also the first year for head coach Tom Heston, who replaced legendary coach Tony Chapman, and the pair did their best to help the other get acclimated to their new role.

The two leaned on each other and enjoyed a successful season. The Firebirds went 12-11 on the season. It’s even more impressive when you consider the team started 3-8 and rebounded to win six of its final seven before ending the season with a playoff loss to Upper Moreland. 

McDonald more than did his part, averaging just under eight points per game. He also did his best to run Heston’s offense, helping both off to a great start to their new roles with the Holy Ghost basketball program.

And they’re just getting started.

“When I was playing as a freshman, Coach Heston was an assistant coach, so I knew him and he got to see me develop as a player,” McDonald said. “I had a fresh start with him. He had a lot of trust in me and knows my ability. He lets me have the ball in my hand and he helps me learn. He helps me so much. He likes to see what I can do and help me grow my game.”

Last year, he was getting his feet wet.

Now, he knows what it takes.

It’s not easy to compete for a District One championship. There are a lot of good teams competing with the Firebirds to make it to the district championship, but that’s always the goal when you play at Holy Ghost. 

McDonald doesn’t want to compete for a title, he wants to decorate the gym with a new banner, so he’s doing everything he can to make sure he’s the player Heston needs.

And he’s working at becoming a better leader from the point guard position as well.

“My role on the team is I’m usually the ballhandler who calls the plays and sets everything up,” McDonald said. “My role is to be a leader by example. I’m trying to work on that, I want to be a leader because I have experience and I’m the point guard. Everyone works with me and helps me, and I like to think I’m learning. I really want to be one of the leaders of this team.”

He knows there’s a lot of work to do, and he’s doing it.

He plays in the Bensalem Summer League with his teammates on Holy Ghost, and when he’s not with them, he’s working on his game with the Philly Revolution AAU team.

“The summer league is great because it really helps you because you’re not around your teammates as much,” McDonald said. “It’s great to get the guys together, stay in touch with your teammates. Sometimes we’ll hang out, go get food after workouts or something. And I love playing (for Philly Revolution). I’ve really gotten better playing for them.

“I’m working on my game, but I think what I want for myself is to grow into a bigger role as a leader and be that guy for the team. Our goal, collectively, is to win the district championship, get into states and we only graduated two seniors. They were very good, but we have the rest of the team coming back. It will help, we’re all on the same page, Coach Heston does a great job of making sure everyone knows everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and we’re better because of that. We are a good team.”

McDonald is also picking up tips of being a good leader while working with his coach during his basketball camps.

Not only is he learning more about the game working as somewhat of an assistant coach for the younger kids at the camp, he’s working on those leadership skills.

“I help out our coach at the camps, and I really like it,” McDonald said. “At Ghost, younger kids come to learn about Ghost. I just help them learn about the school, the system, everything. I think it’s from second grade to eighth. I love doing it because it helps me become a better leader. Plus, coach tells me that we need to be a good example because these kids look up to high school players. I want to do that for them, help them learn and love basketball.”

After all, he knows how much role models can impact you.

Besides his brothers, McDonald points to his parents and his sister Samantha as great mentors. And he credits them for much of his success.

“My family, especially my dad, they’ve all helped me so much,” said McDonald, who also plays golf for fun. “When I started playing, he saw the potential, and he makes sure every day I get better at something. I appreciate him for all he does. My mom, she does everything for me, I can’t even explain it. My sister played volleyball for Nazareth and she’s always there to help me with anything. And my brothers. I’m very lucky.”

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