By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
Justice Shoats was already one of District 2’s top players by the time he was a sophomore at Holy Redeemer.
As a senior in the 2021-22 season, Shoats expanded his game and turned the Royals into a serious state title contender.
After leading Holy Redeemer to its first Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state semifinal appearance where the Royals lost a one-point, overtime game, Shoats was named Thursday morning as a second-teamer in Class 3A on the latest Pennsylvania Sports Writers all-state squad.
“We accomplished a lot,” Shoats said. “I had a fun time playing with the guys. We made it pretty far. We could have won the state championship, but we all played as hard as we could the whole season.
“I loved playing with those guys.”
Holy Redeemer fell, 73-72, to Devon Prep in the overtime semifinal. A week later, the Philadelphia Catholic League team ripped through Aliquippa, 76-58, for the state title.
Shoats, who averaged 20.1 points per game this season and scored more than 1,500 in his career, had 29 points in the loss to Devon Prep.
The 6-foot guard was a first-team, all-District 2 selection as a sophomore and a second-team choice by NEPABasketball.com as a junior. As a senior, Shoats led Holy Redeemer to a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 title repeat and it’s a district Class 3A championship before its state title run and was named District 2 Player of the Year by the website.
“This past offseason, between his junior and senior years, he made a really big jump,” Holy Redeemer coach Paul Guido said of Shoats, who led the team through its ambitious offseason program while also playing for the NEPA Elite Coyle 17U team where he was a third-team Hoop Group Showcase League all-star. “For us, it was great.
“It helped lead our team to a special place and some place we hadn’t gotten to before in school history. A lot of that had to do with his maturity and his experience.”
Shoats made 58 percent of his shots from inside the arc, 36 percent of his 3-point attempts and 79 percent of his free throws. He also averaged 3.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.0 steals.
“I strengthened my game in my shooting and getting my teammates more involved,” Shoats said.
Shoats is the defending PIAA state Class 2A champion in the long jump. He is the second District 2 boys player recognized in the all-state selections, following Old Forge’s Joe Macciocco, who made the third team in Class 2A Wednesday.
Jason Fisher, a two-time Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom League all-star and scoring champion at the University of Scranton, was named state Coach of the Year in Class 3A for leading Devon Prep to its state title. He also serves as the school’s athletic director.