Apr. 1—Moro Osumanu
Rick Perez never missed a chance to explain how important Moro Osumanu was to the Red Knights.
Cornerstone. Keystone. Centerpiece.
Those were all words Reading High’s coach used to describe the All-Berks center. They were all accurate. Never was that more apparent than during the PIAA championship game.
Osumanu’s 21 points against Archbishop Wood were a performance for the ages. The 6-6 senior shot 9-for-10 from the floor and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Perez called Osumanu, who averaged 13.7 points per game, one of the greatest players in Reading history after claiming the school’s second state title. That’s quite a compliment.
“Moro chops the wood and carries the water,” Perez said. “He doesn’t get caught up in shiny objects. He’s a loyal, hard worker. You know what he’s gonna bring on a daily basis.”
Ruben Rodriguez was the rising star who transferred away and then came back.
The All-Berks guard, who helped Muhlenberg win a district championship as a freshman, never met a situation that rattled him. He has what teammate Myles Grey called “that clutch gene.”
Rodriguez averaged a team-high 14.7 points and made a team-leading 40 3-pointers. The sophomore scored in double figures in each of the last seven games, from the Berks final through the PIAA championship game.
Rodriguez’s return was essential for the Red Knights.
“It felt like our missing piece came back,” Grey said.
Daniel Alcantara was a matchup nightmare. A guard and forward rolled into one. Opponents didn’t know how to handle him.
The 6-3 junior could hit a 3-pointer, he dropped in 30 of those, had a nice mid-range jumper and could drive to the basket and dunk. He was also the second-best rebounder on the team.
Alcantara averaged 14 points and scored in double figures in all six District 3 and state games.
“We know he can hit shots,” teammate Xavier Davis said. “We know he can finish. We know he can play the game the right way. We make sure to look for him when we can.”
Rene Rodriguez was almost cut as a sophomore. Coach Rick Perez told the aspiring shooting guard he wasn’t making enough progress.
Rodriguez took the criticism to heart and turned into an indispensable part of Reading High’s lineup.
One of just two seniors on the team, he made 31 3-pointers and was the architect of the Red Knights’ defense.
“He’s the most consistent player I’ve ever seen,” Perez said. “As soon as he came in the game, he hit a 3, he got a steal. Everything that was in the practice plan, everything he was taught, he executed it.”
Myles Grey wasn’t expected to be a starter who logged so many minutes. The sophomore guard forced himself into that role.
Grey could handle the ball like it was attached to a string. He could make a timely 3-pointer and was a good foul shooter.
When the Red Knights spread the floor and tried to hold a lead, Grey often found the ball in his hands. He made himself too important to put on the bench.
“He just comes to work,” coach Rick Perez said. “You’ve got to appreciate a kid like that. The world we’re in nowadays people expect things. He never expected anything. He’s a guy who made the most out of it.”
Everyone will remember the steal. What people might forget is Joey Chapman wasn’t supposed to be on the floor at the end of the PIAA championship game.
The junior was subbed into the game after Myles Grey fouled out. Then Chapman delivered perhaps the most famous play in Reading history.
Chapman stole the inbounds pass in the final seconds against Archbishop Wood and ran out the clock in a one-point win.
A tenacious, fearless point guard, his toughness and unselfishness symbolized the Red Knights as a whole.
“We look to him to control the game,” teammate Xavier Davis said. “We look to him to bring poise and calm us down. To let us know everything is OK. Joey is the man.”
Everyone called him X. Xavier Davis was an energizing force off the bench and a cerebral presence in the locker room and at practice.
Twice in the PIAA semifinals against Upper St. Clair, Davis scrambled for a rebound and put home a basket in the final seconds of the quarter.
That’s what he brought in his bursts of action. He never gave up on a play and made sure Reading didn’t miss a beat with him on the floor.
“X is that foundation,” coach Rick Perez said. “He’s the guy who is reminding everybody of our purpose. What’s our mission? Sticking through it and believing.”
A football injury suffered eight days before the PIAA championship game didn’t keep Amier Burdine from returning.
The sophomore said he couldn’t miss his final game alongside the two seniors. He couldn’t miss the chance to experience the state title euphoria that came in 2017.
Burdine scored a layup, drew a charge and went diving onto the floor for a loose ball against Archbishop Wood. He brought what he always brought: strong defense and grit.
“He just has an ‘it’ factor,” Reading football coach Andre Doyle said of his quarterback. “Whether it’s on the basketball court or on the football field they see his potential and his talent; they (feel) his aura and are drawn to it.”