Boys basketball all-area: Notre Dame-Green Pond’s Danny Darno is the ambassador of the year (2024)

Danny Darno passed for 2,258 passing yards and 26 touchdowns last fall for the Notre Dame-Green Pond football team. He completed 64.6% of his passes, ran for 966 yards and 15 more scores.

He was all-area and all-state and received the first Frank D’Angelo Memorial Scholarship Award from the Eastern Pennsylvania Football Officials Association and was his school’s nominee at the National Football Foundation Lehigh Valley Chapter Scholar-Athlete dinner in March.

He is a busy guy, so busy that no one would have blamed him if he decided not to play basketball for the Crusaders as a senior this past winter.

But Darno wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

He jumped right from football to basketball and didn’t miss a beat in helping Notre Dame repeat as Colonial League champs, reach the District 11 3A title game and advance to the second round of the state tournament before the season ended with a 25-4 record and the second-most wins of any Lehigh Valley boys basketball program.

Darno averaged seven points and seven rebounds per game and shot 71% from the field, but it was his leadership, savvy and ability to make players around him better that was most valued.

For those reasons and more, Darno is The Morning Call’s Boys Basketball Ambassador of the Year for 2023-24, an honor that recognizes a player’s impact on and off the court.

“We were thrilled with how he came out of football season because last year it took him about a month to six weeks until he got his basketball legs under him,” Notre Dame coach Pat Boyle said. “This year, he came out and hit the ground running and helped us from the start. Certainly coming into the season we didn’t expect him to be the guy that was a starter and playing 25 minutes per game in the playoffs, but he was just so reliable. We knew he was going to give us scoring, rebounding and great defense and he was a huge difference-maker for us.”

The 6-foot-3 Darno said there was no letup for him after football ended.

“It was just great to play with those guys and we obviously had a great season with a lot of success which made it even better,” Darno said. “There was no falloff. We had great teammates, great coaches and a league championship.”

Darno said he always played basketball since he was a kid and said the Crusaders were a very tight-knit group.

“We’d always go out to eat together and got along great,” he said. “It was a special year … winning the Jeff Dailey Memorial Tip-Off Tournament, getting Coach Boyle his 500th win, winning the league championship. Obviously, all of those are great memories, but honestly it’s just the practices and going out to eat together made it such a special year.”

Boys basketball all-area: Notre Dame-Green Pond’s Danny Darno is the ambassador of the year (1)

Darno said the guys were competitive at practice to the point that “it was almost like being in a game. It was just the competitive nature we all had and we had a lot of fun. We’d do 4-on-4 drills up and down the court and we’d scrimmage each other and have foul shooting contests. It always got intense, but it was a great time.”

Boyle said that Darno is an all-around good kid.

“He’s a member of the National Honor Society, he’s the altar server, senior class president, Key Club, student council … he’s just an awesome all-around kid,” Boyle said. “He’s the same way every single day. He comes in there with a smile and he’s as competitive as any kid you’d want to be around and at practice everyone wanted him to be on their team when we did the intrasquad stuff.”

In terms of basketball ability, Boyle said that Darno just knew how to play the game.

“He knew how to make the right cut, timing up the cut, coming over at the right time on help defense, the fundamental things that good players do,” Boyle said. “He may not have been the most skilled player. He probably only took four shots all season from beyond five feet. But he did what he did well and he did it all the time. It sounds simple, but not a lot of guys do it.”

Darno said his forte was crashing the boards when his team was on offense and said “Any rebound I’d get I would make sure I had a good look before shooting it,” he said. “If I didn’t, I’d just kick it out again. That’s where I contributed the most this season. I felt I also built great chemistry with my teammates. Collin Boyle was always able to find me on back-door cuts, which I made a point to practice.”

It’s likely that Darno has played his last game for a school team. He hasn’t made his college choice yet and is weighing academic opportunities to attend Holy Cross College in Indiana and then follow through and attend the University of Notre Dame, Villanova University or play football at Muhlenberg College where he’d be a teammate of his brother Andrew.

“It’s a tough decision, but something I will be making in the next week or so,” he said. “I love basketball. But when I was entering my junior year I knew I was going to be the starting quarterback and I had to focus on football a little more. I spent a lot of time on football, but I always wanted to continue my basketball journey as well.”

Darno will be a success no matter where he goes or what he decides to do because he takes pride in keeping his priorities in the right order.

“You have to make sure to spend your time equally,” he said. “When I am at practice, I focus on practice. When I get home I do my homework. You have to manage your time in school and out of school and balance all parts of your life equally.”

As for his time of Notre Dame he said: “I’m going to miss it. Not being able to wear the Notre Dame blue and gold again is tough. But I am proud to have been able to accomplish so many different things. I will be back to visit and see games when I can and this place will always be a part of me.”

Past Morning Call ambassadors of the year

2020: Derek Troxell, Catasauqua

2021: Stephen Joseph, Easton

2022: Tyson Thomas, ACCHS

2023: Griffin Patridge, ACCHS

Boys basketball all-area: Notre Dame-Green Pond’s Danny Darno is the ambassador of the year (2024)
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