To be successful every basketball team needs a sparkplug, a go-to guy who can put up points as well as assist his teammates. The Neshaminy boys’ team has just such a player in Damon McGovern.
Damon started his athletic career trying to decide between basketball and football. When an injury halted his football days he focused totally on the hardcourt. “I started playing basketball in sixth grade. I had played football since I was in second grade. I got hurt playing football. I fractured my shoulder so I had to stop playing. Basketball is the only sport I play now. I’m competitive and I like the competitiveness of basketball.”
The Neshaminy basketball coaches are undoubtedly glad that Damon focused his competitive drive on roundball. Last year, he earned third team All Suburban One League National Division honors as a junior. This year, the 5’9” guard is averaging 13.4 points per game in the first six games.
More importantly, his efforts are heading the ‘Skins in a winning direction. “I’m a point guard and I like getting other people involved. I will do whatever it takes to win. If I have to score that night I’ll score. If my teammates are open, I’ll give them the ball.”
His selfless style of play well suits his role as captain. “We have a lot of young guys who are getting a lot of minutes this year so I try to show them how to lead and lead them. Me and Kyle (Saglimben) and the other seniors have been waiting for this season since we all played freshmen year together. We’ve waited for our senior year to win and go far.”
So far Neshaminy is well on the way to recapturing some of the glory of the 2018 season when Chris Arcidiacono helped them go all the way to the Elite Eight of the PIAA State Playoffs. They have already equaled their number of victories from last year’s season.
A key game for the young ‘Skins was their 63-51 victory over Conwell-Egan in the second game of the season. In Damon’s appraisal, “Our game against Egan was important. “We were actually losing. We were down by 15 at one point and we came back to beat them. That showed we’re not going to give up when we’re down.”
A week later Neshaminy notched its first league win in a 57-54 thriller over Harry Truman. Kyle Saglimben proved the game hero nailing a clutch three pointer in the final seconds of the contest. Damon summed up the game, saying, “We were up at halftime by 11. Then Mike Murray got in foul trouble. They caught fire and ended up coming back but we closed out the game.”
The Redskins were determined to continue their winning ways as they faced New Hope- Solebury four days later in a non-league encounter. “We knew they were a good team. They were 4-1 and they had a good player in number 14 (Alex Walinski). We knew we had to play solid defense. We Tried to contain number 14 and that didn’t work. Then we knew we had to play together to beat them.”
Damon lead the Redskins with 18 points, many on driving layups. “It goes game by game. I can usually get myself open so if they’re not going to play ‘help’ defense I’m going to go and attack the basket. If they collapse on me, I’m going to kick out to my other shooters.”
Between Damon’s 18 points and Kyle Sagblimben’s 17 Neshaminy was able to keep pace with the Lions. In the end a strong defensive effort preserved the 53-52 win. “We know that we can score with the ball so to separate us from other teams we have to stop our opponents. We usually play man but we have a 1-2-2 press that we use a lot. The key at the end of the New Hope game was staying composed. We needed a stop and we got that stop.”
The entire Redskin team was understandably elated. “We were happy to win two in a row. We only won three games last year and we are 3 and 3 right now so we were feeling pretty good. We just have to focus on our next game.”
With Damon providing the necessary spark, Neshaminy could prove a real force in the highly competitive Suburban One League