Senior North Penn-Liberty basketball player Noah Spencer was the engine for the offense that tore through the Northern Tier League Small School Division, and for his performance in the 2021 season has been named this year’s Tioga Publishing Offensive Player of the Year for boys basketball.
“It’s an awesome honor,” Spencer said on being named this year’s OPOY. “In the past, Liberty has been looked down on because we are so small, but for our team to turn this around is a cool moment, And to be recognized is just cool.”
Spencer was a player who did a bit of everything on the offensive end of the floor for his team, scoring a team-high 19.9 points per game, dishing out an NTL-best 5.2 assists per game and also recording 6.2 rebounds per contest which were good for second-best on his team.
“Noah’s stats talk immensely about his all-around game, he was leading the team in rebounding for half the season,” NP-Liberty Head Basketball Coach Brian Litzelman said. “His ability to go get rebounds and then start the break was extremely important to our running style of offense. Most people talk about his one-one offensive skills and overlook his rebounding and passing. He led the league in assists per game for the second straight year and continued to improve his offensive abilities.”
Spencer made a big jump in the scoring department from his junior to senior year.
A big part of that jump in production came from added confidence and knowing that the coaching staff wanted him to be the main option for his team.
“Honestly my coaches and teammates would just tell me over and over that ‘I got it,” Spencer said. “Having them look at me like a role model and a leader and know that I got them helped.”
Spencer was one of the biggest pieces in Liberty going a combined 34-9 in the previous two seasons and had a handful of huge games this season where he took over and put the team on his back.
Spencer scored more than 20 points in seven games during the year, and when he did that the Liberty team went a perfect 7-0.
The one game that Spencer pointed to as one of his favorites during the year was their division-clinching game against Wyalysing on the road, where he scored a game-high 26 points as they made school history winning their first-ever back-to-back division title.
“Wyalusing was one of my favorite games,” Spencer said. “Being able to clinch the NTL title, that was just a great moment. The bus ride back home was awesome too, just having a good time with everyone. We have always been together; we have played together up through. Our chemistry was a lot better than most teams; we know how each other plays. We are all good friends and can talk outside the gym. It’s cool to be able to have a good team that feels like family. “
Spencer was also able to reach some important milestones during the year, coming down to the wire to become one of the few players in school history to reach 1,000 points as he was able to reach the mark during the District 4 Class A Championship game.
“He makes #6 on the 1,000 points list here, and I’ve been involved with four of them,” Litzleman said. “I am so pleased that he was able to achieve this very difficult goal, but he might have been the all-time leading scorer. We played nine fewer games this year than last year and would have normally got at least one or more State games in a normal year.”
Though Spencer had fewer games than others to accomplish the feat, he still persevered. Coach Litzelman saw the achievement as much more than a player getting there, but almost as a family member who he always believed in achieving greatness.
“The ending for Noah is so special to me, he’s close friends with my boys and close to my entire family. But, it means the most to me because when I was ridiculed for starting him as a freshman. It has come full circle and I believe I made the right decision then and it allowed him to become the player he is today,” Litzelman said. “It wasn’t an easy choice to start him over some seniors, and not a popular one, but I still would do it all over again.”
With the career of one of the best point guards to ever put on the Liberty uniform ending, Litzelman pointed to a game his junior season being one of the best memories of Spencer’s career.
Early in the 2019-2020 season, Liberty made one of their biggest statement wins of the year during their thriller against Wellsboro where Spencer played hero.
“There are a ton of great memories, one has to be the shot in Wellsboro last year that seemed to bounce around the rim forever before going in to send the game to overtime,” Litzelman said.
But even with all of the great moments on the floor for the coach and player, the family mentality on and off the floor produced some of the memories that will be the most impactful for the long-time Liberty coach and native.
“Probably the best memories are going to be our chats with my arm around his shoulder trying to convince him to have confidence in himself. This season is the first year we didn’t have that conversation weekly,” Litzelman said. ”That coach-player bond is something special and I’m going to miss how challenging he could be to get motivated at times, especially in practice.”
Spencer also pointed to his relationship with the coaching staff and other players as an impactful one, and the family that is the Liberty basketball program is something that he will never forget.
“I just want to thank all my coaches for always being there for me,” Spencer said. “From Brady to Coach Litz, I just love those guys. My teammates too, those guys are my dogs.”