It had all the trappings of the highlight of Jack Brockett’s basketball career at Seneca: A big scoring night, some clutch free throws down the stretch, a dramatic victory over a perennial power.
He just hopes it wasn’t as good as it gets.
Brockett scored 26 points and was money from the foul line in the fourth quarter on Friday night as Seneca scored one of the signature victories in program history, a 50-49 triumph over then-No. 1 Shawnee in a clash of Lenape school district rivals.
It was the continuation of a superb senior season for Brockett, and what looks like a breakthrough year for the Golden Eagles.
But the 6-foot Brockett, a three-year starter for Seneca who plans to continue his playing career at the University of Scranton, knows better than to place too much significance on a single victory in late January, no matter how exhilarating.
“That’s what we talked about,” Brockett said. “Sometimes teams get wins like that, and they get satisfied. They feel like they can rest on that. We want to build on it, use as momentum for the rest of the season.”
As if to underscore the steep slope of Seneca’s climb to South Jersey basketball prominence, the Golden Eagles lost their next game, dropping a decision to battle-tested Cherry Hill East in an Olympic Conference cross-over contest on Tuesday night.
Still, with a 12-4 record that includes victories over current or former Top 25 teams such as Delsea, Paul VI, Sterling and Shawnee, the Golden Eagles have established themselves as a team on the rise.
Brockett and fellow senior Mike Ginyard have led the way, according to Seneca coach Sean Kennevan.
“They’ve been everything you hope they would be as senior leaders,” Kennevan said.
Brockett has fashioned a remarkably consistent career, averaging 9.2 points as a sophomore, 14.2 points as a junior and 15.7 this season.
With 852 career points, Brockett is on pace to reach the 1,000-point plateau just as the Golden Eagles enter the South Jersey Group 3 tournament, likely as a top two seed.
“Jack is the kind of kid you love to coach because he leaves it all out on the court,” Kennevan said. “He loves the game. He wears his emotions on his sleeve.”
Kennevan said that Brockett’s intensity and will to win has been as much a part of Seneca’s resurgence as his smooth jump shot and consistent scoring.
“He’s so tenacious,” Kennevan said. “He plays with so much heart. He hates to lose.”
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Brockett, who lives in Shamong, grew up playing for Seneca youth travel teams and middle-school teams that regularly competed against future athletes at Shawnee, Lenape, Cherokee and Moorestown, among others.
Seneca’s status as something of a second-class citizen in terms of basketball success has been motivation for Brockett and his teammates.
“You always hear about Lenape, Cherokee, Shawnee, all these other schools,” Brockett said. “That’s fuel to us. We know we can play with them. We know we’re just as good as them.”
Brockett said the victory over Shawnee, coming at home before a boisterous student section, was a huge boost for the Golden Eagles’ confidence.
“You count on one hand the total number of people who thought we could win that game,” Brockett said. “Our rival, at home, all our people come out, it was huge.”
It’s a measure of the challenge in front of the 19th-ranked Golden Eagles that they travel to No. 2 Shawnee for a rematch on Thursday night, followed by February battles with No. 4 Timber Creek, No. 17 Lenape and No. 8 Camden Catholic.
Brockett said he’ll never forget the win over Shawnee. He’s just determined to make some more memories.
“That’s been one of our main goals, trying change culture around,” Brockett said. “We know that talent always hasn’t been here, but this year we’ve been playing together so long, beating teams growing up that were better than us and we feel like this year it’s time to put Seneca on the map.”