A year ago, Arion Lewis was not even a varsity basketball player.
He was a player on the Roman Catholic junior varsity roster, to his dismay.
Now, at Valley Forge, he’s shining in a much bigger role as the star point guard for head coach Francis Bowe.
“It is a luxury to coach him,” Bowe said. “He’s only getting better, which is scary because he’s only a junior. So it’s going to be really interesting to see what he does in the future, because he’s playing some great basketball.”
On Tuesday night, Lewis led the way again for the Trojans, scoring 25 points in a 69-50 win over Lower Moreland.
For Lower Moreland, it was senior guard Nick Smolda leading the way with nine points while shooting 3-of-5 (2-2 on three pointers) from the field.
In addition to his tremendous shooting -- he shot 7-of-14 (4-9 from beyond the arc) -- Lewis’s handles were on a different level, making Lower Moreland defenders miss and having his way getting to the rim all night.
Lewis’ intelligence shows itself on the floor. The entire offense runs through the lean, 6-foot-4 guard, and his strong shooting ability and extraordinary court vision plays a big role in the Trojans’ continued success.
Lewis has basketball in his blood from as far back as he can remember. His father, James Lewis, is the head coach at Del-Val Charter in Philly, and formerly spent seven seasons as head coach at Philly Electric.
“I’ve been playing basketball ever since I was born,” Lewis said.
Having your dad as a coach can certainly help with basketball IQ.
“He’s a cerebral kid; he thinks the game, he knows the game and it reflects on the court and I don’t have to say half the things to him as I do to many kids because he knows,” Bowe said.
Lewis’s transition to both Valley Forge and playing basketball at the varsity level have both gone smoothly.
“He blends right in, it wasn’t like he came in and demanded the ball, he’s a team player first,” Bowe said. You can tell he set everybody up in the first quarter, he got everybody touches early, and then when the game gets going he gets going.”
Lewis feels the transition process has been all he could ask for.
“I didn’t feel like I was getting the right treatment over there (at Roman Catholic), and I feel they give me a better opportunity here,” he said.
Lewis was not however, the only one to shine for the Trojans on Tuesday. Their 6-10 big man, Abraham Deng, had a double-double, finishing the game with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’ve been doing this coaching thing for a while and you just don’t get kids like him, you just don’t,” Bowe said.
After a slow start for the Trojans on their homecourt, it was a slam dunk by Deng, followed by a Myles Bunyon 3-pointer that sparked the offense and initiated the rout. After that dunk, the Trojans went on a 14-0 run, and never looked back.
Leading by just 11 at the break, the door was still open for the Lions to mount a second half comeback. But by the 4:30 mark of the third quarter, the Trojans lead had ballooned to 20, thanks to Lewis’ sharpshooting.
In addition to entering double figures in both points and rebounds, Deng capped off his night with a few signature blocks as well, much to the delight of the crowd on hand in Valley Forge’s Price Hall.
Deng has been playing at a high level, getting the attention of Division I programs such as Temple, St. Joe's and most recently La Salle, all of whom have offered him.
Will Colleran (7 points), Rye Ahronson (7) and Alex Panayides (5) rounded out the scoring for Valley Forge.
The win improved Valley Forge’s record to 10-3 (5-1), and it came against a Lower Moreland team that was league champion last season. The Lions 6-3 (4-1) had to replace the league's 2x MVP, Danny Duffy, who is now playing at Gettysburg College.
“This game is a momentum booster for us,” Bowe said. “To beat a quality team and well-coached team like that who has a really good program, it does wonders for us in the future.”