Bigger Than The Game: How the Norristown Boys Varsity Basketball Team Made History

A photo collage shows highlights of the team throughout the season.

Layla Chaaraoui, Staff Writer

Oh, it’s just Norristown.

Before, this was a phrase heard plenty by the fans of the opposing team as they discussed who they were about to play. Now, after a close to the 2021-2022 Boys Varsity Basketball season, you will never hear the phrase again. 

Going into the game as underdogs and “expected to fail,” Norristown time and time again would rise victorious over the team they were playing, no matter how highly they were ranked. Proving everyone wrong this year, the Norristown Boys Varsity Basketball team had many accomplishments, including making it into the PAC playoffs, the District Championship game at Temple, the Sweet Sixteen round in States, and finishing with a 22-9 record. 

After 2 years without a full season, it was refreshing to see the team play again. Their season drew in a crowd of all ages, all there to support the team and to show their Town Pride. Led by a team of seniors known as the “Core Four,” DJ Johnson, Johnny DiNolfi, Zaki Gomez, and Righteous Mitchell, the team was able to rise to the challenge, defying odds and beating obstacles including injuries and illness. What this team did is not just about their impressive streak. The team accomplished something even greater: they made history.

Norristown’s student section, organized by student leaders, showed up strong at games. Decked out in themed outfits and yelling chants, the student section, along with the community, supported the team through each game, no matter what the outcome was. DiNolfi, small forward, was able to feed off of this energy, and it caused him to play even better.

“It gave us a confidence boost,” said DiNolfi. “The support from both the community and our school helped us a lot. We’re recognized throughout the community, and will continue to be for a long time now.”

The team knew what they had to do going into each game. Johnson, point guard and whose dad is the head coach, understood that stakes were high.

“Going into each game, I felt confident knowing that we put the work in the off-season and that as a team we were able to adjust very well,” said Johnson, “We were able to make changes throughout each game to keep the other teams guessing on what offense or defense we were going to throw at them next. We work well together, and we perform well as a team.”

The players understood they had doubters, but they didn’t let this get to them. In fact, it motivated them further.

“We knew what we were capable of from playing all summer together. We believed in each other when nobody else did,” said DiNolfi. “After a couple of early tough losses, everyone doubted us, but we proved them wrong.”

Reflecting back on the season,  Johnson is proud of his team and what they were able to accomplish.

“This season was a great experience for me. Since we didn’t have a season last year, no one knew what the team was going to accomplish,” said Johnson.” I was one of the only players with varsity experience, so I had to lead the team.”

 However, Johnson had help and shares credit with his teammates, coaches, and fellow seniors for their successful season. “As the season went on, we were able to play together better, listen to our coaches, and work with each other more. I, alongside the other seniors, like Righteous, Johnny, Nasir, Zaki, and a few others, depended on each other and were vocal about what the team needed,” said Johnson

When basketball season comes around next winter, make it a goal to go see a game or two. While the team will look different, as the seniors will have graduated, the passion, motivation, and determination the team has cultivated will all still be present. After all, you aren’t watching “justNorristown. You are watching a history-making team, one that brought the community together had many successes, and is ready to do it all again next year.