Council Rock South senior Alex Nordenholt (23) drives through the Neshaminy defense in Hawks’ win Jan. 10 on the Skins’ home court. (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)
SOUTHAMPTON – When attempting to build a successful team, every basketball coach prays for depth and athletic diversity on his roster. Derek Wright, in his first year as head coach of Council Rock South, knows his squad is blessed with both essentials. His Golden Hawks have the blend of talent, size and determination so necessary to compete with anyone in the Suburban One League.
Last year, South chalked up a 7-15 overall record and finished sixth in the SOL National Division. This year’s senior-laden squad hoped to reverse their fortunes and reestablish themselves as a real league threat.
Alex Nordenholt, a 2016 All-SOL second team honoree, joined the other seven seniors on the team in pinpointing some very definitive goals. “I think this year is destined to happen. We have all been playing together for so long. Our goal is to definitely put Council Rock South back on the map and make playoffs and states.”
The Golden Hawks are well on their way to reaching this goal. Presently, they boast an overall record of 9-2. Their 4-1 league mark places them only one game behind frontrunner and four-time league champ Abington.
Alex, who carried most of the scoring load last year, attributes the Hawks’ rise to team balance. “This team has a lot of depth. We have guys who can do anything we really need and ask for. We have athletic big men. We have athletes who can defend. We have shooters. We have guys who are willing to put their bodies on the line and dive on the floor – the pure hustle guys. We have everything, I think.”
They also have a new mindset, one instilled by coach Wright. According to Alex, “The first day he met with us, he made it clear that he had confidence in all of us to score the ball. We practice catch-to-shoot. He also taught us how to play defense and the importance of it. We’re more defensive-minded and our defense often leads to our offense.”
Council Rock’s recent 50-35 victory over Neshaminy exemplified just how deep an impression the coach’s words have made. The big win also proved that on any given night, a new Golden Hawk could soar into the limelight.
The game carried special import. South knew they had to win to stay ahead of the Redskins in the division. They also knew they faced one of the league’s hot scorers in Chris Arcidiacono, who entered the contest sporting a 24 point-per-game average.
Alex and his teammates were ready. “That was a league game so we definitely wanted to win. We shut down Arch. I think we held him to 13 points. Those league games, we really want to win.”
Shutting down Arcidiacono required a supreme effort by the Hawks’ Kevin Newbert and Christian Jabbar. “We weren’t going to let him catch the ball so we put two of our best defenders on him. We didn’t want him to get a shot off. We wanted the other Neshaminy players to beat us.”
Keeping the opponent’s biggest scoring threat off the board was only part of the strategy. At the other end of the court, South looked to its two 6’6” towers, Ryan Boyd and Ryan McNamee. “When we have a size advantage we definitely want to utilize it. That’s what we did against Neshaminy.”
The two big men proved their worth. Boyd netted a game high 17 points. McNamee contributed nine points to the Golden Hawk cause. When Neshaminy dropped to cover up inside, the Hawks bombed from deep. Alex, Austin Thomas and Kevin Newbert all hit from beyond the arc.
Alex relishes his new role. He no longer has to fear being the sole focus of enemy defenders. “I see myself as just another leader, a leader by example. I think last year, I had to do more of the scoring but this year, I don’t have to do that because we have other guys stepping up and scoring. I just see myself as one of the kids who can get it done and help us win.”
Alex’s confidence reflects a new Golden Hawk attitude. “It (the win over Neshaminy) felt great. Every game raises our confidence just a little more which we will definitely need against Abington.”
The new look Hawks have definitely put Council Rock South back on the basketball map and have pointed them in a playoff direction.
Next, both teams get set to compete in the SOL Basketball Challenge set to take place Saturday at five area high schools (including CR North) in Bucks County and another in MontCo (Plymouth-Whitemarsh).
Rock South takes on Pennridge at 1:30 p.m. at CR North while Neshaminy will battle Wissahickon at 12:30 p.m. at Bensalem. See the remainder of the schedule below.
Council Rock South 50, Neshaminy 35
(Jan. 10 at CR South)
Neshaminy 8 9 12 6 – 35
Council Rock South 6 16 13 15 – 50
NESHAMINY (4-6) — Chris Arcidiacono 3 5-6 11, Anthony Verrecchio 3 1-1 7, Anthony Papeo 2 0-0 5, Mark Gentry 2 1-1 5, Zach Tredway 2 0-0 4, Andrew Note 1 0-0 3; TOTALS — 13 7-8 35.
COUNCIL ROCK SOUTH (9-2) — Ryan Boyd 7 3-3 17, Alex Nordenholt 4 2-4 11, Ryan McNamee 3 3-4 9, Kevin Newbert 3 1-2 8, Austin Thomas 1 0-0 3, Christian Jabbar 0 2-2 2; TOTALS — 18 11-15 50.
3-POINT GOALS: CRS — Nordenholt, Newbert, Thomas; N — Papeo, Note.
SOL BASKETBALL CHALLENGE
Saturday, Jan. 14
At Council Rock North
1:30 p.m. Pennridge vs. Council Rock South (Boys)
3 p.m Council Rock North vs. Central Bucks East (Girls)
4:30 p.m. Council Rock North vs. Central Bucks East (Boys)
3 p.m. Harry S Truman vs. Central Bucks South (Boys)
4:30 p.m. Bensalem vs. Quakertown (Girls)
6 p.m. William Tennent vs. Quakertown (Boys)
At William Tennent
3 p.m. Council Rock South vs. Souderton (Girls)
5 p.m. Pennsbury vs. Hatboro-Horsham (Boys)
7 p.m. Pennsbury vs. William Tennent (Girls)
11 a.m. Neshaminy vs. Wissahickon (Girls)
12:30 p.m. Neshaminy vs. Wissahickon (Boys)
2 p.m. Souderton vs. Bensalem (Boys)
At Central Bucks West
11 a.m. Central Bucks South vs. Hatboro-Horsham (Girls)
1 p.m. Abington vs. Pennridge (Girls)
3 p.m. Cheltenham vs. Central Bucks West (Boys)
At Plymouth Whitemarsh
4 p.m. Abington vs. Upper Dublin (Boys)
5:30 p.m. Springfield vs. Harry S Truman (Girls)
7 p.m. Springfield vs. Plymouth Whitemarsh (Boys)