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Grant Bachman has helped South Williamsport boys succeed

Grant Bachman sensed something good might happen, so he started playing basketball again.

The South Williamsport junior was right, too. The Mounties are producing mighty well. And he’s a big reason why.

Bachman took last year off so he could focus on baseball, but returned this season, worked his way into the starting lineup and has helped South enjoy its best season since 2012. The Mounties (15-4) have made an eight-win improvement since last season and entered Tuesday’s game against Sullivan County tied for first in the Mid-Penn while chasing their first league championship since 2010.

It has been a true team effort, but without Bachman frequently stuffing the stat sheet, South likely would not be in this position.

“Having Grant come out this year is huge. He brings a physical presence to the team,” South coach Rob Houseknecht said. “He can rebound, he can score. He can do a little bit of everything.”

An excellent three-sport athlete, Bachman showed promise as a freshman pitcher on South’s 2019 Class AA state semifinalist. He was the most experienced pitcher returning last spring so he decided he would focus on baseball. Then COVID-19 struck and wiped out his season before it ever started.

Knowing South had all but one basketball player returning from last year’s team which rallied to reach the playoffs and that standout guard Secoy Roberts would be joining the team, Bachman did not want to miss out on something which seemed so promising. He figured it was time to start playing basketball again.

What a good decision it was.

“We’re doing pretty good this year and I feel like part of the team again and I’m loving it,” Bachman said after scoring 11 points, grabbing six rebounds and adding two assists in Monday’s come-from-behind 61-49 win at Montgomery. “I’m going to play again next year, too.”

South enjoys hearing that. Bachman already has made a big impact and that is without having a summer season due to the pandemic. South usually attends various camps and plays a lot of summer league games but that all was erased, and Bachman basically was starting his junior season from scratch.

These days one can hardly tell. The 6-foot-2 forward has made enormous strides and has become an all-around weapon. South does not feature much height, but Bachman plays bigger than he is and combines with Evan Laudenslager to give South a strong post duo. In a dramatic 64-63 win at St. John Neumann last week, those two combined for 24 rebounds.

Oh yeah, Bachman won the game on a buzzer-beating putback as South handed Neumann its first loss and defeated it for the first time in nine years.

“He is a true athlete. Football, basketball, baseball … he can do anything. It’s starting to show with some of his rebounds and some of his point,” Houseknecht said. “He’s bringing that physical presence and that is really helping us build our program.”

“Coach wants me to hit the boards as hard as I can,” Bachman said. “With my size I have to play big on this team. I’m not much of a scorer but when I score, I like it, but I like getting boards, too.”

Bachman consistently has been doing both once he became more settled. Missing a year and having offseason playing opportunities eliminated had Bachman behind schedule but he has caught up fast. He has reached double figures in four of South’s last five games and produced a career-high 16 points and nine rebounds in a key midseason win against Muncy (12-3).

“I started out this summer rusty and in our two scrimmages against Danville and Canton I was scrappy,” Bachman said. “I was getting there and our second game of the year against Neumann (in January) I had a pretty good game and ever since then I’ve been doing pretty good. I’m just striving to get better every day.”

That is what Houseknecht likes most. Bachman has not been part of a losing team in high school and it’s not a coincidence. He was a standout wide receiver and defensive back last fall, helping a young team with just four seniors reach the District 4 Class AA championship.

That success has translated to the court, but it goes far beyond stats. It is the intangibles, the spark he provides, the way he motivates his teammates which make Bachman such a valuable asset on any team of which he is part.

An unselfish athlete, Bachman is happy contributing any way he can. And he sure is contributing a lot.

“He’s a team player and he’s starting to flourish into a little bit of a leader,” Houseknecht said. “He fills that role that we were missing a little last year.”

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