PISCATAWAY — The video is still there, readily available on YouTube, although you do have to search for it a little harder these days.
The obscure 8-second clip, shot five-and-half years ago with a smartphone inside the Hoop Group facility in Neptune, has since been overrun by mix tapes and highlight reels ever since.
Scottie Lewis takes one dribble, rises, and does a full 360-degree turn before dunking the ball. He was in the seventh grade at the time. Seventh grade. The video made the rounds, even spawning a Bleacher Report feature on Lewis. At a minimum, that short clip gave an early glimpse into what was coming.
On Sunday afternoon, Ranney will go in search of an NJSIAA Tournament of Champions crown when it squares off against Bergen Catholic at the RAC. For the Panthers, this will be the culmination of years worth of hype, much of it justified.
By the time Lewis and Bryan Antoine got to Ranney in the fall of 2015, the word was already out. They were studs, and in turn, the expectations were huge. This thing didn’t happen overnight, though. Ranney, with no basketball history to speak of, was not an immediate force.
Those two continued to blossom, and other pieces were added, and last season, the Panthers started looking like the real statewide force they were expected to be. Now, after getting over the hump in Non-Public B, and getting to a TOC, this group has a chance to do what no Shore Conference boys program has done, win the season’s final game in the state of New Jersey.
The debate is already on the table as to whether or not this Ranney team is the best the Shore has ever produced, at least in the TOC era, which dates back to 1989.
This day, this opportunity always felt destined to happen for Ranney. That iPhone video from 2013 provided one of the earliest inklings of what was to come.
Staff writer Josh Newman: firstname.lastname@example.org; @Joshua_Newman