Ken Bianchi was J.C. Show’s coach at Abington Heights High School and had the best view of what the player meant, not only to the Comets and their opponents, but also to the sport.
In Bianchi’s mind, all the honors that have been bestowed on the senior are well-deserved, helping Show to build a legacy that will be second to none in the history of the Lackawanna League.
Being chosen as the Gatorade state player of the year and selected as a first-team all-state member for the second straight year doesn’t begin to tell the tale about Show.
“I don’t have the words to express what it was like having J.C. on our team,” Bianchi said. “His actions both on and off the court were exemplary and he was a consummate team leader. His on-the-floor exploits speak for themselves, but it was his off-the-court actions that showed just what kind of young man he is. After away games, we would get back late on the bus and everyone would be accounted for except J.C. and Nate [Hollander]. They would be the last two people to get off the bus because they would still be picking up garbage and papers that were on the floor of the bus so that the bus driver would not have to do it. After practice, he would go around the gym and pick up any water bottles or papers that might be left on the bleachers. That’s just the way he is.”
Bianchi didn’t mention many statistics at first when talking about Show’s impact on the team, but the 1,950 points he accumulated to become the Comets career scoring leader certainly stands out.
“The thing that made him excel in basketball was his work ethic,” Bianchi said. “I’ve never had a player work as hard day in and day out as he did.”
“I have a competitive spirit; I want to win, I always want to win” Show said. “I will do what it takes to win.”
In the limited time before games, sharp-eyed opposing coaches recognized what Show was really about.
“In the pre-game meeting with the captains, coaches and officials at half court, opposing coaches got to see how hard he works,” Bianchi said. “After the meeting and hand shakes, the officials usually have to ask for a towel to wipe the floor because of the water on the floor from J.C. sweating after his pre-game warm-up. After a victory in a state playoff game, the opposing coach came to me and told me he knew he was in trouble when he saw how hard our player worked in the pre-game.”
Show led in every way imaginable.
“J.C. is always telling our players how we have to get better everyday,” Bianchi said. “He and Nate are the last two players to leave the gym after practice. They will stay 45 minutes to more than an hour working on their game. Coach [Jeff] McLane and I have to chase them off the court.”
The senior felt he needed some extra time on the court, as a change of duties meant Show had to do more than just score. It wasn’t as easy as Show made it look as he transitioned to having up to four different starters on the floor.
“This was a new group of guys starting; this was my first go-around with them,” Show said. “It took me some time to take more of a facilitator role.”
Once he figured out what he had to do to fill that role, the senior discovered that it made it easier for him to score, which made it easier to run the offense. The more Show passed, it opened up shooting space for himself, and when his shot was falling, teammates seemed to get a more openings for their shots.
“I played my best ball over the second half of the season,” Show said. “I wanted to do whatever I could do to help the team win.”
On the court, Show watched opposing defenses designed to stop him, figured out the weakest spots, and then attacked where necessary, either with his perimeter game, driving to the basket, or finding a teammate with a crisp pass.
When the Comets needed Show to play his best, he usually did.
“He’s at his best in big games,” Bianchi said. “In our loss to Susquehanna Township, we were down 21 points in the third quarter, and he scored 14 points in that quarter and we eventually cut their lead to three before we lost. In our game against Bethlehem Catholic, he scored 20 points in the third quarter, and finished with 33 points, leading us to a victory.”
Local opposition fared just the same.
“In two games against Scranton Prep, our closest rival in Division I, he averaged 32 points per game,” Bianchi said. “In our four district games he averaged 24 points per game. He was the catalyst that made our team go and will be sorely missed.”
But mere awards and numbers won’t entirely tell the story of J.C. Show. Bianchi knows the intangibles Show brought to every game and each practice; those are the memories he will cherish.
The attention to the little details that pushed Show in his pursuit of victory ultimately assisted his chances of claiming the Gatorade honor.
“The Gatorade award means a little more to me because I had to fill out some paperwork, and that there is just one winner, no classifications,” Show said.
His hard work off the court paid off, as he needed to supply items like his community service time and his high school transcripts.
“[By virtue of receiving an email inviting me to apply], I figured I filled the basketball criteria,” Show said. “Plus, in the email I received, it said it was one of the most prestigious awards. I saw some of the names of past winners: Peyton Manning, Dwight Howard, Alonzo Mourning, Robert Griffin III. I’m very thankful.”
Now, his name is on that list, a list he joins with pride.
While there was disappointment about losing in the second round of states, Show takes a host of great memories with him.
“We set our goals so high, and we came up a little short,” Show said. “But I had so much fun. It was a great experience with my teammates and friends. It was a blast, so much fun.”