Danielle Nelson (@Dan_Nels)
Before the season started, Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman had four goals in mind.
“I wanted to accomplish a District Championship, a league Championship, a scoring title and a State Championship,” Rahkman said.
After toppling West York on Friday night in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA boys’ basketball tournament and continuing their undefeated season, the Allentown Central Catholic shooting guard is well on his way to accomplishing his fourth and final goal – a state championship.
In the midst of a 67-54 victory on Friday, Abdur-Rahkman continued to add to his all- time shooting record at Central Catholic.
“It hasn’t dawned on me yet because I am still playing,” he said. “Once the season is over and I sit back and realize the accomplishments I have, it will mean something special.”
Although Abdur-Rahkman helped to secure the win with his 29 points, however, the senior had a rocky start.
Foul trouble early in the game sent Abdur-Rahkman to the bench for much of the second quarter but not after he helped the Vikings to a 21-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs were unable to capitalize on Abdul-Rahkman’s absence on the court as the Vikings stretched the lead to 14, ending the first half 33-19.
West York picked it up in the second half, beating the Vikings in the third quarter 17-14. The Bulldogs’ Kevin Rice led the offensive push with 29 points but Central Catholic did not let up as the Bulldogs were unable to overcome the first half defeat.
Jeanlee Baez was the only Viking to join Abdul-Rahkman in double digits with 10 points as he left Vikings’ student section rocking after a one handed dunk within the last minutes of the third quarter.
Abdul-Rahkman found much of his points from behind the arch as he drained four 3s in the game.
The 6-foot 4 inch senior said he has been playing the game of basketball since the age of two. As he grew older, however, he ventured out into other sports such as lacrosse and football, which on occasion, he said, he still plays. Abdur-Rahkman said it wasn’t until he was 12, when he started focusing entirely on the game of basketball.
The Viking star credits his dad, who is an assistant basketball coach at D-III Muhlenberg, for his basketball development.
“He is the only person I work out with,” Abdul Rahkman said. “He is like my mentor even though he is my dad. He makes sure I understand the game and makes sure I know what is going on.”
Throughout his four year career at Central Catholic, the Vikings head coach said Abdul-Rahkman contributes to the team with more than just point production.
“He is a complete player,” Dennis Csencsits said. “Not only does he lead us in scoring but he leads us in assist, he is a very good rebounder so he is a really well-rounded player, very smart, very savvy basketball player.”
Although he continues to excel on the court, Abdur-Rahkman’s teammate says the “friendly and outgoing” star has been their mentor.
“Muhammad has helped me become a better leader and a better teammate,” sophomore point guard Zay Jennings said. “Just learning some basketball [techniques] that he does, overall, he is just a good teacher and a good leader.”
While Vikings will square off against Bishop McDevitt on Tuesday, Abdur-Rahkman has something in mind. The senior has received offers from colleges like Bucknell, George Mason and Lehigh for the fall but has insisted he has not yet decided.
“I don’t have any schools in mind yet,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “I am just keeping an open mind to all schools and I want to make sure I find the right fit. I just want to be a good player, play right away and help my team get to the NCAA tournament and make a run possibly.”