EASTON — The locker room remained silent for 10 or 15 minutes Sunday after a 64-58 loss to Archbishop Wood, except for the sound of teenagers crying softly.
This was not how the Reading High boys basketball team expected its season to end.
It wasn’t the time or the place. It was the second round of the PIAA Class 6A playoffs at Easton Area Middle School, not the state final later this month at Hershey.
The Red Knights were anguished by the thoughts of what might have been.
What if they had shot better than 6-for-27 from the field and 2-for-10 from the line in the first half against the Vikings?
What if they hadn’t fallen behind 40-15?
What if they had 6-4 senior Daniel Alcantara, their second-leading scorer?
“I know Daniel wanted to be out there,” junior Amier Burdine said. “It just sucked that he wasn’t out there with us.”
Imagine how Alcantara felt. He broke his left hand and chipped a bone in his back on a hard landing after a dunk in the fourth quarter of a 68-45 win over Wilson in a District 3 quarterfinal.
He watched Reading’s last four games from the bench wearing street clothes and a cast on his injured hand.
“It was definitely very hard knowing that I should have been out there,” Alcantara said softly. “It really sucks I couldn’t be out there. To watch them lose and watch them play their hearts out, it’s devastating.”
The Red Knights managed to beat Cedar Cliff, Warwick and Downingtown West without him. Ruben Rodriguez was magnificent again, scoring 17 of his 21 points in the second half Sunday. But they clearly missed Alcantara and his 16.4 points a game against Archbishop Wood.
“We had trouble putting the ball in the hoop a little bit because he’s the finisher,” Reading High coach Rick Perez said. “You get the ball rotating and — boom — it ends in Dan’s hands and he knocks it down.”
They lacked a second option who was capable of scoring 25 points. In the four games without Alcantara, only three Reading players had a double-figure outing other than Rodriguez.
Alcantara scored 15 in a 64-58 win over Wood in January at Geigle Complex.
“It was a great game in January and it was a great game today,” Vikings coach John Mosco said. “They were missing one body. I don’t know what would have happened if the kid (Alcantara) didn’t get hurt. But they had other kids step up for them.”
Justin Walker came off the bench in his final game and scored 12 points, including 10 in the second half when Reading made a comeback that fell short. Walker also stepped up earlier in the season when Alcantara served a five-game suspension.
“I’m not going to be a part of this family anymore,” Walker said. “I’m going to move onto the next chapter in my life (college). That hurts the most.
“When we’re on the court and we win, it feels amazing. But everything we do behind the scenes, like team bonding, that’s the fun part. We’re brothers. I’m going to miss that the most.”
Walker, Xavier Davis and Joey Chapman played their final games Sunday. Deshawn Wilson and Daniel Garcia also are seniors. Along with Alcantara, they helped Reading go 92-22 the last four seasons and win two Berks Conference, two District 3 titles and one PIAA championship.
Because of the pandemic, they saw their 2019-20 season end abruptly after two PIAA Tournament wins and navigated their way through protocols the last two seasons.
“They kept our city alive at the lowest of moments,” Perez said. “They showed resilience. They were able to bring some joy to a lot of people.”
There was no joy Sunday, only tears and thoughts about what might have been had Alcantara not been injured.
“By no means did we lower our expectations,” Perez said. “I think that (winning a state title) was very realistic for us. I think it was within our reach. Wood was better today. But if you get by this one, you’re going to the final.”
Chapman and others were inconsolable. Alcantara had tears in his eyes more than 30 minutes after the game ended.
“It’s just hard because of how much work the seniors put in for this year,” Burdine said. “Daniel going down … it’s just … dang, it just sucks.”
Source: Berkshire mont