Having culminated the last two seasons by advancing to the state Prep B title game, the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team wasn’t looking to end this winter by playing a Mercer County Tournament consolation contest.
But topping crosstown rival Princeton High 58-50 in the MCT consolation game on February 17 left PDS head coach Paris McLean and his players with a warm memory to end a tough winter.
“It was an unbelievable way to go out; the past two years we lost in the Prep B state final and it was a locker room full of upset players and tears,” said McLean, whose team posted a final record of 8-14.
“This time there was joy and excitement in the locker room. The seniors passed the torch in a great way. It was special to end with a win.”
The PDS seniors went out with a bang in the victory over PHS as senior Deante Cole scored 19 points with classmates Langston Glaude and Chris Okorodudu each getting 11 and classmate Ford Schneider posting a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
“We had multiple contributors; we had four guys in double figures and that is what we did all year,” said McLean who got 13.0 points a game from Cole this winter with Glaude averaging 13.2 points, Okorodudu chipping in 10.5 points a contest, and Schneider averaging 11.4 points and 8.3 rebounds a game.
“I think we were the only team in the county to have four guys average in double figures.”
Although PDS didn’t hit double figures in wins, the players never hung their heads.
“By some accounts, the season was a little disappointing,” said McLean. “The boys wanted more wins and so did the staff but the players really impressed me with the way they showed up and worked hard everyday. I didn’t know how the season was going to go and whether the boys would keep their morale. The motto was are we getting better everyday and I think we did that.”
McLean is impressed by what his group of seniors have contributed in their time with the program.
“On senior night, I said they need to look at their body of work,” said McLean, whose senior group included Zack Banks, Brandon Glover, Jake Hall, Dan Lee, and Ben Levine along with Cole, Glaude, Okorodudu, and Schneider.
“While some people would say it isn’t where you start it is where you finished. They need to look at what they accomplished over their four years. We had 15, 16, 19, and 8 wins; 58 wins in four seasons is a lot. They showed great leadership, they were role models on and off the court. We are losing nine seniors and that is a big hit in numbers and talent.”
The seniors have set a good example for the program’s returning players. “We have Chase Lewis, Josiah Meekins, and J.P. Radvany coming back, they are three capable players and they will need to step up,” said McLean.
“Chase has a bright future; he really stepped up this year. We have a strong JV and freshman program. It will be a transition for them; the game is faster at the varsity level but the players will be prepared. The opportunity will be there and I have learned that these kids are opportunistic.”
Even if that transition proves to be rocky at times, those kids will be getting an opportunity to be part of something special.
“We have had successful seasons most of the years I have been here in terms of wins and losses but this is about more than wins and losses and this season reaffirmed that for me,” said McLean, a former PDS basketball and football star.
“It is about playing for your school and giving your all. You get a special camaraderie from team sports and I feel good about this team and what we did. They have made lifelong friendships.”