Senior Seahawks Reed, Vance reflect on CSN’s amazing four-year run

Ryker Vance (35) and Landon Reed (4) celebrate a Seahawks run during Community School of Naples' hard-fought 46-39 loss to defending Holiday Hoopfest champion Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.) on Dec. 29, 2018. CSI FILE PHOTO

BY GREGG HARDY
CSI EDITOR

Ninety-nine wins and only 18 losses.

Landon Reed didn’t have to go to MaxPreps or ask his coaches to learn what the Community School of Naples boys basketball team’s record was over the last four years.

He knew it, and stated it proudly, as if he was talking on behalf of the guys who helped get the Seahawks’ run started — guys like Parker Weiss, Jacob Siegel, Jay Beshears and Jeffrey Donahue — as well as the fellow seniors who helped them continue it — Ryker Vance, Xavier Lovenson and Yell Newhall.

“It’s been a heckuva journey,” Reed said after CSN saw its bid for back-to-back state semifinal appearances come to a harsh end with a 56-40 regional finals home loss to Canterbury School on Feb. 23. “It’s been probably the best four years I could’ve asked for. Coach (Greg) Donahue’s an amazing coach. All my teammates through four years, I still keep in touch with all of them.”

Vance, easily one of the area’s top players the past two seasons, was there with Reed as freshmen when CSN began the greatest four-year run in program history. While Reed spent his first couple seasons as a role player, Vance had an immediate impact on the Seahawks. As a 6-foot-3, 150-pound freshman (who grew to 6-6, 195 by his senior year), Vance led CSN in blocks. He did so in each of the next three seasons to become, as Donahue put it, “by far” the school’s all-time leader in swats.

“The last four years, we’ve had incredible records, we’ve made incredible runs,” said Vance, who is also CSN’s all-time leader in rebounds while being second in points. “We’ve gone farther than a lot of people thought that we could go. It’s been an awesome four years.”

For Donahue, the chance to talk about Reed and Vance’s time at CSN may have been a bit of a salve from the stinging loss to Canterbury (which the Seahawks had beaten handily in two regular-season meetings.)

Landon Reed, shown here during CSN’s 91-55 home win over Marco Island Academy on Jan. 5, made some incredible passes during the 2020-21 season. SCOTT SHOOK/SPECIAL TO CSI

“(Reed) was really … maybe a lynchpin of our team because he brought the energy and the toughness that not everybody had,” Donahue said. “He would get the team going: ‘Hey let’s go. Come on! Come on! We’re winning this thing.’”

Donahue quipped about the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Reed: “With that build, he’s going through people. Nobody took a charge all season on Landon.”

Don’t let that stocky frame fool you, though. Reed was a true playmaker his senior year, averaging five assists and 2.5 steals per game. (Check out Donahue’s Twitter feed over the last couple months and you’ll see Reed making some slick behind-the-back and alley-oop passes.)

As for Vance, Donahue said, “Man, what a career Ryker’s had. He never complains. He just competes and does whatever we ask him to do — very unselfish. He always makes the right plays. It’s not like he’s padding stats against teams. … The next right play is the one he wants to make.”

Ryker Vance elevated himself over four years to become one of the greatest players in CSN history. CSI FILE PHOTO

How unselfish was Vance? From his junior to senior seasons, his assists-per-game average increased from 2.9 to 3.7 while his points-per-game and total field goal attempts dropped from 17.6 and 349 to 15.8 and 307. Those numbers reflect a willingness to let Xavier become the focus of the Seahawks’ scoring attack this season. Xavier, who spent two seasons at Community School after transferring from Golden Gate High School, had a huge senior year, averaging 21.8 points and eight rebounds per game.

Both Vance and Reed are moving on to college ball, although Reed’s time playing competitive hoops is over. Instead, Reed will be playing football for the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minn., while Vance will remain on the hardcourt with Amherst College (Mass.). Reed, who’s also played lacrosse for all four years at CSN, returned to football this season after a two-year absence and helped lead the Seahawks to a 9-2 record (which included a 7-0 start) and regional finals berth.

Vance and Reed were both asked how their four seasons as a CSN basketball player might help them at the collegiate level.

“These past four years have been the best four years of my life to be honest,” Vance said. “CSN in general has been amazing both academic- and athletic-wise. Coach Donahue, Coach (Kevin) Van Duser, Coach (RJ) Jones, both Coach Woods (Joseph and Mitch) — they’re all bought in. They’re driving all around the state scouting for teams. They’re watching hours and hours of film. It just shows how much they care about us, how much they love us, how much they want us to succeed. That’s where I give all the credit. They just each and every day try to make us better.”

Said Reed: “I’ve learned how to be a great leader and a great teammate, and I think that really pushed me to be the best person I could be in high school and move on to play college football. Hopefully, I’ll bring that up there — I will bring that up there — and continue to be who I am.”

Vance said what he most appreciates about his four years with CSN basketball are the life lessons Donahue teaches his players — that it’s about being better men off the court.

Landon Reed, center left, and Ryker Vance, center right, look on during CSN’s net-cutting celebration following last year’s regional finals victory over Seffner Christian. CSI FILE PHOTO

For their part, Vance and Reed tried to pay it forward the last couple seasons by helping teach the younger Seahawks what CSN basketball is all about.

Next year will be a real test for Donahue and his coaching staff, as CSN stands to have just two returning seniors: Conor Hayes and Stefano Schmieding. Hayes played in 29 games this season while Schmieding played in 14. Jackson McAdams, a sophomore who played in all 30 games this season, will be the team’s top returning scorer. He averaged 7.5 points per game (while also adding three rebounds and 1.1 steals per contest).

“When I was a freshman, people like Jeffrey Donahue, Parker Weiss (and) Jacob Siegel took me under their wing, and Landon as well,” Vance said. “It’s just part of the culture here. We embrace our younger guys. We’re more than happy to have them along. We try to make them better each and every day so that one day they can become leaders for the program ahead. I think it goes to show in our success. Once again, it’s a culture that the coaches establish here. It’s amazing.”

Donahue said he hopes his younger guys learned a thing or two from Reed because of how hard he plays.

“The guys that are coming up, they don’t have the height, skill (and) talent level of maybe a Lovenson and a Ryker, so they’re going to have to compete at a different level to get their baskets and to play harder. Ryker and Lovenson could get away with stuff because they’re that good. These (new) guys aren’t going to be that skilled. So there’s going to be a whole different CSN, and Landon was the guy they should look to … to (know) how hard you have to play.”

Editor’s note: Please support CSI’s advertisers; we cannot exist without their help. Follow CSI on social media: @239CSI (Twitter); facebook.com/CollierSportsInsider (Facebook); @colliersportsinsider (Instagram). Email Gregg Hardy at editor@colliersportsinsider.com.