Before last Tuesday, he had never played a varsity minute or scored a varsity basket. It did not matter. Dan Temons already was arguably the most popular Loyalsock boys basketball player ever.
Watch Temons bring the Lancers and opponents together when he plays in JV games. Watch Temons elicit a standing ovation at Mount Carmel during halftime after putting on a show that concluded with him sinking a 3-pointer. Watch the way Temons makes everyone smile when he is around and one understands his impact.
"He's the life of the party," Loyalsock senior Roger Wilson said. "Middle school, high school, elementary school ... when you say Dan Temons, they all know him."
And now Temons officially is part of Loyalsock's rich tradition. The senior made his first start Tuesday on Senior Night against Montoursville. Just seconds into the game, Temons scored his first varsity basket. Loyalsock and Montoursville are fierce rivals but when Temons scored, they were unified.
That is the power of Temons. Life threw him a curveball early on. He is not supposed to be doing the things he does, but he does them with gusto on and off the court. Temons has overcome the odds and become a true Cinderella story. His story is a triumph of the human spirit.
"I've learned a tremendous amount the last four years Danny has been with us," longtime Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. "It's been very gratifying to watch him grow as a young man. He puts things in perspective and sometimes as coaches we get caught up in the win-win attitude and forget what's important in life. The basketball experience alone is a life experience and Danny brings that to the forefront."
Temons was diagnosed as autistic as a young child. Doctors at both Hershey Medical Center and Johns Hopkins told his parents that he would be unable to speak or make eye contact when he grew older. They added that young Dan would some day have to be institutionalized.
That diagnosis was no match for Temons. He soon started making big strides and anyone who knows him realizes he is just one of the guys. Anyone who has been around him knows Temons has no problems talking or making eye contact. When it comes to talking, Temons is a champion.
Temons was named a team captain at the season's outset and has made the honor roll every marking period in high school. He is a master puppeteer, is heavily involved with the drama department and can bring the house down with his spot-on impersonation of Abbott and Costello's, "Who's on First?" routine.
Temons has no time for limitations. He had his own plans, his own dreams and he is steadily achieving them.
"I am blown away by his ability," former Loyalsock all-state center Tyler Bogaczyk said. "Regardless of who you are, he just will always brighten your day right up."
Bogaczyk, his younger brother, Ryan, and Wilson have been with Temons every step of the way since they started playing in the "Little Lancer" program. All three have seen Temons grow as a player and as a person. A player who once could barely dribble or shoot is now draining 3-pointers, making spin moves in the lane and dubbing himself "White Chocolate Thunder."
A person who doctors said would never talk has displayed a knack for always motivating those around him, always making them feel special. He is a player who loves the game and a person who loves people. Whatever the future holds, he seems like a person who was put on earth to make people happy.
"His presence kind of lights up the gym when he walks in," Insinger said. "He's extremely positive. I've never heard him say a negative word about anyone. It doesn't matter how tough of a day you've gone through. When you walk in the gym and see his presence he has an enormous way of uplifting everyone's spirits."
"Dan has a great personality. He impacts us all," Wilson said. "No matter who you are, he is going to go up and talk to you after the game. He's just a fun person to be around. He makes life even better and being on his team is special."
Temons has made his game better, too. A regular attendee at Insinger's summer "CI" basketball camps, Temons has worked with both coaches and Tyler Bogaczyk and made himself a more well-rounded player. He can shoot from anywhere, dribble, make post moves and play defense. He scored a career-high seven points against Mount Carmel and made his impact felt again against Shikellamy.
That game went double overtime and Loyalsock was in so much foul trouble that only five players remained. One was Temons and he played the entire second overtime as the Lancers still had a shot to win in the end before losing by two.
Temons holds the record for Coaches Awards won at Insinger's camps. His positive attitude is infectious and players, veterans and first-timers alike, gravitate toward him. He has done so well at those camps that the Coaches Award is now named in his honor. This is a player who makes all those around him better.
Tyler Bogaczyk left his mark on Loyalsock basketball, helping the Lancers win a district championship and two league titles in three years. When his scholastic career ended two years ago, Bogaczyk knew who was the perfect player to wear his number in the coming years. He asked Insinger to let Temons where his No. 30 and Temons has done so since, building on what Bogaczyk started. Now, whoever wears that number next has some mighty big shoes to fill.
"Ever since I played in high school he came to every single practice. He was in there doing conditioning with us, trying to pay attention and absorb as much basketball as he could and it's nice to include him in Loyalsock basketball history," Bogaczyk said. "I am very privileged and honored to have Dan wear the number after I graduated."
Temons graduates in June and that will be a triumphant moment for a person who repeatedly defies the odds. His biggest personal moment came last Tuesday. This was the night Temons had dreamed about. A player who always is saying "input equals output," drove that point home. This was his well-earned moment in the sun.
When Temons was introduced the crowd came alive. When he scored seconds into the game, they roared. It was a moment Temons and those who witnessed it will never forget.
"It was like a miracle. The whole gym went wild, they went crazy when I made two points," Temons said. "It was a dream come true when I made that shot. It was wonderful. Starting for the varsity team was probably the most exciting thing in my entire life."
His teammates have won championships at various levels and are trying to do so again. The thing is, they share that feeling. As much as Temons wanted that moment, his teammates might have wanted it more.
These are players who have treated Temons like a brother. They have seen him grow, they have seen him put everything in its proper perspective. They knew there was no better way to go out on Senior Night.
"When you saw his face light up after he made that basket it was priceless. The whole crowd went wild and that's exactly what we wanted," Wilson said. "To have something like that happen is just amazing. It makes everyone feel great. No matter what else happened, that was his night."
Years from now, casual high school fans might look back at Loyalsock's stellar run over the last 13 seasons and talk about great players like Wilson, Bogaczyk, Antoine Ellison-Love, Will Kelly and Kory Datres, to name a few. Those who have played at or attended Loyaslock the last few years likely will talk about someone else.
The games, the championships and the other accolades will fade somewhat in memories. Temons and what he has meant to Loyalsock basketball and the Loyalsock community will not. He and what he has taught them will stick forever.
Temons is one of a kind.
"Dan has definitely touched my life in a special way. He will always be close to my heart when I look back at my high school memories," Tyler Bogaczyk said. "He's made a big impact on all our lives and made high school an enjoyable experience.
"If you ever had privilege to play with him, you'll never forget Dan Temons."