Noah Riley had veteran status by the time he participated in Century’s basketball summer camp as an eighth-grader.
A five-year run had Riley feeling quite familiar with George Wunder, camp director and varsity boys basketball coach, and the camp helpers who played for Wunder in high school. Riley knew his eighth-grade summer camp was the most important if he planned on being part of Century’s program.
Something else motivated Riley that year. The Knights were making a run to the Class 2A state finals. Riley said he and classmate Colby Owings, both of whom had older brothers that played at Century, attended just about every game that season.
“We were always there supporting,” Riley said. “Me and Colby, when we were watching the state final game we looked at each other and we were like, ‘We can do this too.’”
Riley made varsity as a sophomore, turned in a three-year career and guided Century to a Carroll County Athletic League championship this season. The senior guard and Times Boys Basketball Player of the Year displayed his basketball skills throughout the abbreviated winter by averaging 15.3 points (second best in Carroll) and 2.7 assists per game.
Riley added 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals for the Knights, who went 11-1 and won their third county championship in as many seasons and sixth in the last eight seasons. He sank 29 3-pointers and shot 36.7% from behind the arc, but said working on other parts of his game helped him become more well-rounded.
His coach took notice.
“Noah has been tough because he’s able to score from a variety of places on the court,” Wunder said. “What makes him who he is, is the ability to shoot the ball … from way beyond 3-point range. You always know the playing aspect is going to be there. He put the work in and the time in. And he’s a talented kid.
“It’s just the other aspects. It’s neat to watch him grow with the leadership roles. I thought he did a great job of leading the guys.”
Riley said he and Owings, his teammate and longtime friend, led a team talk about midway through the season because they felt Century wasn’t playing up to its standards. The Knights played their season opener Jan. 6, then had to sit for two weeks because of COVID-19 concerns involving other county teams. They lost to rival Liberty 61-60 on Jan. 29 when the Lions beat them with a layup at the buzzer.
Things changed after that game ― Century won its final seven games by scoring 61.6 points per game and allowing 38.9.
“We kind of just stuck to what we do, offensively and defensively,” Riley said. “We stuck with playing hard and bring a lot of energy defensively. … We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, but we stayed focused and stayed ready.”
Riley shot 55.9% from the floor this season, and posted a double-double in his final high school game by collecting 14 points and 10 rebounds in Century’s 58-29 victory over South Carroll. Riley sank a long 3-pointer in the final seconds to beat the Cavaliers in their first meeting, 40-38 on Jan. 20.
Century posted a 51-9 record during Riley’s three varsity seasons, and the Knights went 33-3 against Carroll foes in that stretch. Riley had 635 points in 57 career games, and said his four high school years seemed to fly by as many fellow athletes would agree.
“I can’t believe it’s over, it’s honestly crazy,” Riley sad. “I’ve been coming here since the third grade, and it’s like ‘I can’t wait until I get here.’ And then once it gets here, it goes quick.”
Riley plans to continue his basketball career at Bryn Athyn College, a Division III school near Philadelphia, and said he’s planning to start his “offseason” as soon as possible in order to be ready for the next level. And when Century’s next basketball summer camp rolls around, expect Riley to make an appearance like the former Knights did before him.
“I learned a lot coming up in the Century camps. Just watching the older guys,” Riley said. “They set a great example for me, and I hope I did that for the younger kids. So I feel like I fell in pretty well.”