By Rich Chrampanis
TOMS RIVER – On Saturday night in Los Angeles, Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz won the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest. If you’ve seen Ranney’s
Scottie Lewis in person, you’ll realize that you’re seeing an athlete who very well could be winning that competition a few years from now. Lewis has built a dunk repertoire that would rival any current or past NBA superstar. It’s one thing to execute jams in a practice setting, it’s a whole different level to make it happen in a game. And that’s why fans from all over flock to Ranney games to see what Lewis will do next. He’s been able to execute a windmill dunk, a 360 slam and a whole variety of spectacular throwdowns.
During Ranney’s 76-52 win over Toms River North on Sunday in the Shore Conference quarterfinals, Lewis was able to wow yet another large crowd when he delivered a thunderous dunk with a defender literally in his face. Taking two dribbles and breezing past the first TRN defender, Lewis vaulted towards the basket after he planted just a foot in front of the free throw line. Toms River North’s Nick Dunsack was directly in the path of the phenom and at one point had his right arm across the face of Lewis. None of this stopped Scottie from slamming down the ball and an eruption from the crowd.
“Coach Tahj (Holden) called for a spread play and I knew I had a quicker step,” Lewis said in describing the dunk. “I took it in and he just happened to step up and it just happened to go in.”
As Lewis ran back on defense he pointed to the front row where tables were set up for the media covering the tournament. He was not giving a salute to any of the press though. Jay Wright, the head coach of Villanova, fresh off a win over #4 Xavier the day before, was front and center to witness Scottie’s latest feat along with two of his assistant coaches. The Wildcats finished the weekend with a 24-3 record, ranked #3 in the nation and are in line to be a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Sunday would be no day off for Wright and his staff as they made the trip to Ocean County to see Lewis and fellow junior Bryan Antoine. Both players were well aware that they were in attendance.
“I pointed at him right after it,” Lewis said. “He told me was coming to the game and I said I was going to have something special for him. It’s insane that coach Jay Wright (and his assistants) are on the sideline driving up after a big win yesterday. It shows that they care. Me and Bryan talked before the game and we said we need to put a show on.”
Time will tell if Wright’s Sunday trip to the Jersey Shore will pay off. Many of college basketball’s top coaches have made time to watch the Antoine and Lewis show. Villanova has just garnered a commitment from Jahvon Quinerly, the McDonald’s All-American from Hudson Catholic in Jersey City. It’s still not known whether Antoine and Lewis will play together in college or choose separate basketball powers. Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine bring much more to the table than gravity-defying slam dunks. The way they conduct themselves on and off the court is the reason that New Jersey basketball fans continue to do get to gyms early to make sure they have a seat for a glimpse and to say they were at the beginning of what should be an amazing basketball journey.
This article was first published in the Feb. 28-March. 6, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.