The following is a partial list of changes to the lives of members of the Archbishop Carroll boys' basketball team since 2008, the last time anyone other than Neumann-Goretti won the Catholic League.
Accra, Ghana, circa 2010. Ernest Aflakpui, a promising soccer player in the West African nation's capital city, grows four inches. His cousin Michael Jones puts a basketball in his hands. They practice Euro steps on a little hoop in the living room. Aflakpui is raw, but takes to the game well enough to consider playing opportunities in the United States.
"It was almost the same concepts as soccer," says Aflakpui, now a 6-foot-9 center bound for Temple. "I had seen people play it, but I never put my mind around it. I just ended up loving the sport."
A year later, in Radnor, Derrick Jones finishes his freshman season at Carroll. He looks around the room and realizes he is the Patriots' only big man left. He figures he'll spend the rest of his high school career playing under the basket.
Around the same time, Aflakpui lands with a host family in Collegeville and catches on at Carroll. He likes the community, and how diverse it is. He does not like the cold weather as much. The Patriots reach the state championship game that spring.
With Aflakpui manning the middle, Jones is able to develop and display the ballhandling and perimeter skills that will make him the Catholic League's highest-rated recruit since Kyle Lowry in 2004. Jones eventually announces on ESPN his decision to attend UNLV.
Two summers ago, talented combo guard Samir Taylor transfers from Episcopal Academy. Aflakpui, just a year removed from Ghana, is now making newcomers comfortable.
"Ernest is just a welcoming person," says Taylor, now a captain with Jones and Aflakpui. "It was like I already knew him when I first met him. He brought me in."
Suddenly, Carroll has an abundance of ball handlers. Ryan Daly, the sharpshooting son of Penn State associate coach Brian Daly, transfers from State College. Jones says the Patriots will count on him as their knockdown shooter.
January 2014. Carroll's Catholic League season ends in a semifinal loss to Neumann-Goretti. Monmouth-bound point guard Austin Tilghman scores 25 points in his final game.
Fall 2014. Carroll chooses to use nearly everyone to replace Tilghman.
"We don't really call them guards or point guards," Jones said. "There are no 'ones,' 'twos,' 'threes' or 'fours.' It's basically just whoever brings the ball down and makes the right decision, starts the play."
Coach Paul Romanczuk has the Patriots run simple plays, over and over and over. They also run, over and over. They plan to outhustle everyone.
Jones' life changes after the ESPN appearance, but he remains deferential to his teammates, and focused on one goal.
"Everyone wants to go out a champion," he says. "I wanted to start as a champion, too."
His phone buzzes with long-lost relatives wishing him well. He answers every message. "Even if I haven't talked to you in a while," he says, "you're still my family."
Aflakpui sends daily texts home. (It's free if he's connected to wifi.) His six-year-old brother already comes up to his ribs. The kid can't wait to start playing basketball.
Neumann-Goretti has captured six league titles in a row. Change does not come easy in the Catholic League. But don't tell that to Archbishop Carroll.