Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3)
AMBLER — It was certainly a first for Norman Gee.
From the minute he stepped on the court Friday night, the North Penn boys basketball senior was serenaded with an exaggeration of his first name by the Wissahickon student section. Every time the ball came his way, the “Noooooooooorman, Noooooooooorman” chants followed.
But, see, Gee likes away games because he lives to quiet the opposing crowd.
Gee slowly but surely sucked the enthusiasm out of the Wiss faithful and even earned a few “Norman, Norman, Norman” chants of support from the Knights JV players as he steered North Penn with 28 points in a 69-51 win over Wiss.
North Penn's Norman Gee scored 28 points in Friday's season-opening win over Wissahickon. (Photo: Andrew Robinson/CoBL)
“I was surprised, it was very confusing when the other student section started doing it, it’s not like I know any of them,” Gee said. “I use that as motivation. I like away games more than home games; as soon as we come into the gym, we’re already trying to beat them.”
Gee is one of the quickest players in the Suburban One League, a blur in transition and lethal if he gets a step on a defender. However, he’s also on the short side for a guard, listed at 5-foot-8 on the roster, so his focus heading into his senior year was to develop a counter.
That equalizer, he hopes, will be his perimeter jumper. Last year, the Knights had a good number of outside options. But that was last year, and Gee is the only returning starter from that team.
With an athletic roster and a more post-oriented big in Tre Simpson around him, Gee wanted to be more consistent outside the arc.
“I’m a little guard, pretty much everyone is bigger than me, so I know I’m not going to get into the paint as much — I guess I did get in the paint a little bit (tonight) — but I knew I needed to work on my shooting,” Gee said. “I also wanted to work on playing in transition and change of pace; as the other team pressed, I think we broke it pretty easily.”
His first shot was a 3-pointer that went in, a nice answer to an early wave of the derisive “Norman” chants from the Wiss students. The senior missed his next three looks but none after that to close 9-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-8 from deep.
“When I started shooting the ball, that’s when I started lighting up,” Gee said. “When I’m locked in, no one can stop me. That’s my mentality.
“Everything around the perimeter, I’ve been working on. Form, my form, last year I think it was good, but you can always still improve it.”
Trojans coach Kyle Wilson felt Gee was the difference-maker in the game, alongside the Knight’s general unselfish play. While the veteran Wiss coach admitted Gee’s shooting was a bit of a surprise based on what he’d seen on film, he added that keeping the senior in check was a priority no matter how he was looking for points.
“We knew we couldn’t let him get downhill, and there was a point where he was unconscious with the shots he was hitting,” Wilson said. “On film, I think he maybe made one jump shot, but we knew he could shoot. And, when you’ve got a 10-point lead, you get more comfortable.
“We let them get way too comfortable.”
Gee had the last nine points the Knights scored in the second quarter and 12 total in the first half. He started the third quarter the same as the first, hitting a 3 for the team’s first points of the half then erupted in the fourth quarter.
The guard, who said he’s hopeful of playing in college but hasn’t had much contact with any programs at the next level, had a pair of 3s, a nice cut down the lane that led to a runner off the glass and finished his night by turning the corner, getting a step on a defender and bursting to the rim for an and-one layup.
“I wish everybody can play at his pace, he just has a gear nobody else has,” Knights coach Jon Conrad said. “He controlled the tempo, got guys involved when they needed to be involved and every time (Wiss) went on a run, I thought he had an answer for that.”
Senior Dom Vacchiano led Wiss with 21 points. He and Brayden Ryan (12 points) are the only Trojan players with any major varsity experience.
Gee highlighted the impact of Simpson, who had a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double while Conrad noted all eight Knights who played had at least one assist.
On the wake of winning the first state playoff game in program history last year, Gee wants to drive the Knights even further this winter. First, they’ll look to claim a tip-off tournament title when they face La Salle on Saturday night.
“This is my last ride,” Gee said. “It’s senior year and I want to make it great, not just for me but for the whole team.”
North Penn 18 | 19 | 13 | 19 || 69
Wissahickon 10 | 12 | 20 | 9 || 51
North Penn: Norman Gee 28, Tre Simpson 13, Ahmaar Godhania 10, Lee Hammond 5, Corey Meade 4, Aiden Atkinson 2, Gabe Altemus 7
Wissahickon: Dom Vacchiano 21, Brayden Ryan 12, Gabe Lassiter 6, Nico Vacchiano 4, Josh Palutis 6, Michale Maltin 2
La Salle's Nick Parisi scored 23 points in his first varsity start Friday against Downingtown West. (Photo: Andrew Robinson/CoBL)
Prior to taking over La Salle’s program, Ryan Ansel had a good idea of what Nick Parisi could do.
Making his first varsity start Friday night, Parisi had a chance to show everyone else what Ansel’s known for the last few years. The Explorers’ junior shot the ball well as La Salle brought Ansel his first win.
Parisi had 23 points and the Explorers had a good night, downing a solid Downingtown West team 56-48.
“I just came in with a clear mind,” Parisi said. “I was just thinking that all we needed to do was win and not really thinking about anything else.”
Nick’s uncle is Joe Parisi, a longtime baseball coach and athletic director at La Salle who was just inducted into the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame.
Last year, Parisi played JV but did dress for varsity games and got a few minutes here and there. This summer, he got a little bigger and a little stronger. Now at 6 -3, he showed no problems Friday going into the lane to take some contact on drives.
“I’ve known Nick since he was in seventh grade, and he’s got an ability to score the ball,” Ansel said. “Our guys have realized that, and they realize they want to get him shots. He’s not going to hesitate because he’s confident in himself and he knows he’s going to knock them down.”
Parisi shot 7-of-10 Friday, making his first three shots plus a pair of free throws for a 12-point first quarter. The junior, who was 5-of-7 from long range in the game, spent the last few months preparing for the moment.
“I knew I was going to have a bigger role, so I was putting the work in during the offseason,” Parisi said. “I worked on my dribble, tried to get stronger, those were really the main things.
“I’ve always had a passion for honing my jump shot, that’s kind of my main thing.”
About the only thing that could slow Parisi down was Parisi. A fall to the floor in the first half opened up a cut on the guard’s back that stained his jersey with blood, requiring him to sub out a couple times to try to have it cleaned before ultimately swapping into a spare jersey to finish the game.
The Explorers were also boosted by Prestin Washington. The sophomore forward came off the bench to deliver 13 points, including a scintillating end to the third quarter where he went 3-of-3 on 3s capped by a buzzer-beater as part of a 24-2 run after the Whippets had rallied to take a lead.
Donovan Fromhartz led Downingtown West with 26 points with Zeke Staz adding 17.
La Salle will face another early test Saturday when it faces North Penn for the tip-off tournament title.
“We have a lot of doubters, but we all know inside what we’re really capable of,” Parisi said. “We came ready to play.”
La Salle 15 | 5 | 21 | 15 || 56
Downingtown West 8 | 9 | 14 | 17 || 48
La Salle: Nick Parisi 23, Prestin Washington 13, Joe Shields 4, Grayson McKeough 4, Liam Hawley 3, Lukas Hudock, Hayes Altomare 3, Albert Zone 2, Will Baer 2
Downingtown West: Donovan Fromhartz 26, Zeke Staz 17, Ryan Barker 4, Brady Moore 1