By Dennis Duffy
Eagle Editorial Board
With a few minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Eagles leading the Crusaders by 10 points, senior Jamie Keating drives the lane, fighting through the hard contact and for what should be a foul, miraculously sinking the layup.
The crowd begins to chant “AND-ONE,” but is silenced when the referee calls the foul on the floor; no charity strike for Keating.
Out of nowhere, yelling erupted. Looking around the crowd, I realized that the Reckling Rowdies were not making the noise, but in fact it was coming from head coach Jonathan Kwok.
He not only yelled at the referee who made the bogus call but also argued furiously with the head official about how egregious his error was. He was clearly upset by the obvious mistake and made sure his voice was heard.
That is the thing about Kwok: he may be soft spoken, but when the time comes, he will fight for his players and team at all costs.
Coach Kwok, or for those of us who have not played basketball but have taken his Geometry class, Mr. Kwok, is a man of few words. Not to be trite, but the few words he does say are very meaningful.
“Coach K, the winningest coach in St. Thomas basketball” is no Krzyzewski, but he is the young math teacher extraordinaire that has been leading the Eagles to victory this season.
Last year, Kwok did something that angered and confused most of the student-body; he benched (and cut) several of last year’s seniors. Some of these student’s had been playing basketball all four years at St. Thomas, and had worked tirelessly to earn their time on the court.
Kwok wanted to play the younger players, mostly the then-freshman and sophomores. With a loss to Strake, a shaky season and an uneventful playoff run, ‘Coach K’ looked like a math teacher who had never heard of the triangle two.
But Kwok had a surprise for the Reckling Rowdies this year.
Eagle basketball is winning and doing so consistently. Yes, beating a few cupcakes, including Strake, is not a whole lot to brag about: yet. But seeing as how the Eagles had not notched a victory against the Crusaders once in this decade, the team deserves a pat on the back. More importantly, Kwok deserves the respect and praise he has clearly earned.
With Kwok’s wise decision playing the underclassmen to build experience and chemistry, returning players such as sophomores Colin and David Jones and juniors Joshua Shawn, Luke Dworak and Rockne Flowers are budding in ways previously unexpected.
With only two returning seniors, our here and now,Jamie Keating and Joshua “the future” Reece, the Eagles are looking like a playoff contender already. Although a young underdog, this team is starting to resemble the 2011 state champion team, which is now nothing but a distant memory.
Sophomore center Jeremy Peck is providing the team with a defensive surge and post presence not seen since Jeremy King (‘12) roamed the paint. Although bulkier than King, Peck has all the athleticism and potential as his now collegiate predecessor.
Now, obviously Christian Sanders (‘12) is one of the greatest to pick up a basketball at St. Thomas, but Keating is the go-to man just as Sanders was only a few seasons prior. Both play the guard position and have a shooting stroke that will make any defender quiver in his kicks.
Keating is the clear leader of the 2013 squad. Having started for three years, he is a face the younger players can look up to and is performing like the seasoned veteran that he needs to be. The White Mamba is sure to give the Eagles the push they need as the go-to man.
The Jones clearly resemble their older brother, Andrew Jones (‘11), who helped propel St. Thomas to its first state championship in nearly half a century. Although Colin may draw comparisons to his brother, David is the more similar of the two and is more easily comparable.
His quickness and outside shooting ability both closely resemble his elder brother. With a combination of pure athleticism and fine crafted skill, on the court, David is a spitting image of his brother. Also, Andrew played varsity for both basketball and baseball, just as David plays varsity for both football and basketball.
Meanwhile Colin, can be easily paralleled with Chase Brogna (‘12). Both share an incredibly competitive spirit; one that never allows them to give up. But Colin and Brogna have a laundry list of similar skills: their ball control and dribbling abilities, their sweet stroke from behind the three point line and their knack for driving the lane against much larger, towering defenders.
Kwok has a team with unlimited potential, and with starters and role-players alike ready to contribute to the team, this season is sure to be packed with excitement. The Reckling Rowdies fully support the Eagle basketball team and are sure to be in full force at every home game.
The city of Houston may still be feeling the effects of “Linsanity,” but at St. Thomas, “Kwoksanity” has hit and it is here to stay.