Raw Sports


LONNIE WALKER’S “LEGENDARY PLAYOFF PERFORMANCE” (Final Four 3/21/17)  by: James Nelson Stewart   (photo by Gian Peta)

Where were you when…..

That is the age old question when something happens that is memorable and that is unforgettable.  Cliches are sometimes overused and we know sometimes they are downright exaggerated.  Well tonight at the Liacouras Center, the question “Where were you when” has a definite moment that many people in attendance will never forget.  I have been spoiled this year because I have seen some of the memorable performances of this 2016-2017 Pennsylvania High School season.  I was in attendance when The “Boss” and fellow McDonald’s All American Quade Green had a show stopping 37 point performance against Imhotep that established him as the alpha dog of Philadelphia HS basketball.  I was also in attendance when Collin Gillespie and the upstart Vikings, of Archbishop Wood showed the basketball community that he indeed was the “truth” and that Wood was the “New Kid on the Block” to be reckoned with a 42 point performance in their victory over Neumann and The “Boss” Quade Green.  Transcendent performances by 2 of the best players in the Basketball rich state of Pennsylvania.  You leave the building thinking “WOW”, I sure got my money’s worth for that game.  The stands are buzzing well after the final buzzer and the car ride home is like a replay of all the special plays in your mind.  I have to admit that after the Carlisle/Emmaus game, i wasn’t sure if I could see a performance that would keep me excited the way that game did.  Well I WAS WRONG!!!  I saw a performance that I will say was the most impressive of the season and the fans of High School basketball will never forget.  I call this THE LONNIE WALKER SHOW!!!!

To put his performance in perspective, you have to understand his opponents and how good they were.  Archbishop Ryan, out of the Philadelphia Catholic League with such powerhouse Wood, Neumann and Roman, was MY sleeper pick to win the 6A field because of their combination of size and skill and the excellence of Izaiah “IZB” Brockington.  This team played at the Palestra in the Catholic League Final Four and now they were at Temple in State Final Four.  So this was an accomplished team and they were hungry to make history.  With 2 Division 1 Signees (Brockington and Kulackovskis) and a long 6-9 shot blocking big man (Fred Taylor), Ryan would not be intimidated by Reading or anybody else in the 6A field.  Ryan got to the semifinal game by running thru the competition by an average of 12.3 points per game.  Ryan just eliminated Giant slayer Hempfield in their previous game.  They were ready for this challenge.  Ryan came out ready to ball and punch their ticket to “Chocolatetown”.  They jumped on Reading 17-8 in the first quarter, the Division 1 players for Ryan combined for 11 points and Fred Taylor controlled the paint with 3 blocked shots and many other intimations where Reading would not attack the basket.  Ryan was controlling the game but Reading has been trailing at the end of the first quarter in each game.  This one felt a little different because Ryan was the longer team and they had their own Division 1 player in Brockington getting into his groove.  Brockington (NJIT) is a fabulous player, an athletic lefty that scores easily and when he gets it going, the opponents can find themselves in real trouble.  Reading has owned the second stanza in this tournament unleashing runs that turn the tables fast and abrupt.  This game did not have that feel.  Halfway through the second quarter, Ryan was up 27-16 with Brockington slashing his way to 14 points and Taylor controlling the paint with 6 blocks.  And then it happen!!!  The “power” clap and then the flurry that Reading fans are used to and now the rest of the state are blessed to see.  It started with a steal and a dunk (think Dr. J), then 2 treys (one of the step back variety), another steal and dunk, then for good measure a three to end the run.  All scored by Lonnie Walker!!!  It came at a time when Reading was struggling to score.  His partner-in-crime Tyrone Nesby struggled to find his groove this game.  Taylor and Brockington were the best players on the court until the 13-0 Lonnie Walker run to end the half.  So at the half Reading was winning 29-27 with Walker scoring 19 points.  But for all intensive purposes the game was over with that run.

I read an excellent article by Delgreco Wilson (delgrecowilson.com) talking about levels to this game and Lonnie Walker.  It wasn’t the 35 points that Walker scored that has all of us in awe.  It was how he single handedly willed his team to this victory.  Only the “SPECIAL” players have THAT level.  Raw Sports has showed you Kobe Bryant and his playoff performance and Billy Owens and his State Title performance.  Those legends who were also McDonald’s All Americans and those legends carried their perspective schools to new heights.  Reading had Temple University looking like the Geigle Complex.  Lonnie and the Red Knights have the Reading Community behind them in their quest to bring the Pennsylvania State Title to Reading for the first time in history.  With a history lead by Stu Jackson and Donyell Marshall, Reading is deep in history.  But if Lonnie Walker, Tyrone Nesby, Isiah Cook and the rest of the Red Knights can summon one more performance like this, Reading will have their STATE CHAMPION.  Thank You Lonnie Walker, IZB for giving us (the fans) a legendary performance for the ages.  Congrats to Archbishop Ryan for a great season and GOOD LUCK to the RED KNIGHTS of Reading as they hold down their city in their quest to win the title.