Basketball team

Joey Chapman leads the Reading High boys’ basketball team with his emotion

Feb.28 – Once the initial shock of seeing his best friend suffer from a broken hand wore off, Joey Chapman knew what he had to do.

It was he who, in a group text, implored his Reading High Boys basketball teammates that they all needed to step up in the absence of Daniel Alcantara.

He’s who Red Knights coach Rick Perez hopes to fill the Alcantara void against Cedar Cliff in a District 3 Class 6A semi-final on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Geigle Complex.

“I have to do way more than usual,” Chapman said. “Daniel is the biggest player in our team. I have to lead my team, play defense, make the bustle plays, score when I have the chance.

“I have to play this game and every game as if it’s my last. Knowing that we won’t have Daniel, I have to go.”

In another District 3 game Tuesday night at 7 a.m., No. 9 Wilson (15-9) will look to earn a spot in the Class 6A PIAA Tournament when he travels to No. 4 Hempfield (19-6).

Much interest will be focused on how top-seeded Reading (23-3) respond to Alcantara’s 6-4 absence against fifth-seeded Cedar Cliff (21-4) as they seeks his fifth consecutive place in a district final.

The Colts feature 6-9 senior Tyler Houser, who committed to VMI and scored 25 points, including game-winning free throws, in the first round against Muhlenberg. They also have 6-10 sophomore Justin Houser, Tyler’s brother, and 6-5 senior Mike Armamini, though all three aren’t usually on the floor at the same time.

Without Alcantara, Reading have no bigger starter than 6-2. The 6-1 Chapman, who served as the Red Knights’ sixth man, and others will try to pressure Cedar Cliff with their teeming defense.

“Joey will be important because he will fulfill a role in terms of physicality and presence, which he always does,” Perez said. “With the level of emotion he’s going to have, we just have to follow him.”

Chapman is the heart and soul of Reading. Fear is not a word in his vocabulary.

His mother, Maria, has been a single mother for 10 years and raised three children on her own: Joey, her younger sister Ashantin and her younger brother Nick. Joey has been the oldest man in the house since he was 8 years old, before they moved from Puerto Rico to the United States.

“My mom is a strong woman,” Chapman said. “I appreciate her so much. I wish I could repay her somehow. I thank her and love her to death.

“They’re all I have. Once home, I know I’m the man of the house. I take care of my little brother and my little sister (who are both basketball players from Reading High) They both admire I know what they expect of me I know what I have to do to make them and my mom proud of me.

Once Chapman moved to Reading, he admired Red Knights stars Lonnie Walker IV, RJ Dixon and Wesley Butler and saw how they led their teammates. Chapman was a freshman when Butler, then a senior and now at Kutztown University, offered some advice.

“We had practice at 5 a.m. and Wesley would be here at 3 or 4 a.m. doing his shots,” Chapman recalled. “I got that (his work ethic and his leadership skills) from him. He said to me, ‘Be positive. Be yourself. Always smile. Just have good vibes. “

Chapman was a four-year college player at Reading, and a Perez considers a four-year starter. When Ruben Rodriguez, the Red Knights’ best player, transferred from Muhlenberg to Reading two years ago, Chapman took him in.

“Joey was the first person to show me love and stuff,” Rodriguez said. “As soon as we got on the pitch to train, he was the first to keep me. We were fouling each other in training. It was bad, it was physical and it was the best. I don’t think that I will never play him against a defender as good as him.”

Chapman played a pivotal role last season in Reading’s 58-57 victory over Archbishop Wood in the PIAA Championship game. He threw an errant pass before a timeout with 3.9 seconds left. He responded by making a flight before time ran out.

“I made the turnover, I lowered my head and I said: ‘If they score and we lose, it’s on me'”, he recalls. “My coaches and everybody were trying to calm me down. Coach Flowers (former assistant coach Matt Flowers) came over and said, ‘You’re about to take the flight.

“The crazy thing is that I had the same flight the night before when we mingled in practice. Playing that game made me feel confident. It doesn’t matter who we play. The one in front of me , I’m going to be a dog for them.”

Chapman is averaging 7.5 points per game this season and often filling the stat sheet with rebounds, steals and assists. The Red Knights will need him to do the same against Cedar Cliff and set the tone with his contagious smile.

“Joey is our driving force,” Perez said. “Joey has a level of intensity that no one can match. When Joey leaves, we go to a whole new level.

“He did all the nasty things for us. He made all the bad plays for four years. There’s nothing he doesn’t want to do.”