Luke Forjan, with assists from brother John, continues family success at York Catholic
Luke Forjan’s family members didn’t leave him many athletic "firsts" to achieve at York Catholic.
His grandfather, James, was so pivotal in building the York Catholic basketball program that the gym is named after him.
His father, Jim, won back-to-back state titles with the Fighting Irish and played basketball at Penn State.
His older sister, Rachel, won four straight district titles with YC, reached three state championship games and scored 1,000 points at Elizabethtown College.
His older brother, Andrew, played basketball and golf for the Irish and is on the golf team at NCAA Division I Rider University.
The Forjans did leave one basketball feat for the York Catholic sophomore to claim though — first 1,000-point scorer at York Catholic. Luke said it’s a running joke in the family that Rachel fell three points shy of the number, and with Luke leading the York-Adams League in points per game this season, he will likely have his own honor to claim during family gatherings, if he eventually eclipses that mark, as expected.
“It would mean everything to me,” Luke said. “I would do it mostly for my sister. I couldn’t explain how thankful I am for her in my life. It would just be an amazing moment for me. It’s always been something I wanted to do and achieving it and being the first one in the family to do it would be great leverage for some bragging rights in the family.”
Raised around the sport: It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Luke was raised around the sport. His first hoops memory was practicing in the basement with his father and twin brother, John, at 5 years old. The kids worked on dribbling drills around chairs and gained basketball skills earlier than the average athlete.
“My dad taught me everything,” Luke said. “He really helps me with basketball and helps me do the right thing.”
York Catholic coach Dustin Boeckel attributes those early lessons in the basement and on the driveway for Luke’s ability to make plays that usually only come from players with much more experience than a sophomore.
“You don’t see many players box out on the offensive end, but he does,” Boeckel said. “When you watch him play, he is anticipating what’s happening and he perceives things really well.”
Strong on the boards: To go with his intuition on the court, Luke worked on a few skills that have allowed him to collect offensive rebounds in 2021. The family bought a volleyball net and Luke said he and his twin brother would spend up to six hours per day playing.
In addition to helping him stay fit while access to gyms was limited, the jumping and timing when to leap was key in developing the 6-footer’s ability to grab rebounds and score in his favorite way.
“I love getting offensive rebounds more than anything else,” Luke said said. “It’s just such an empowering moment to get the rebound and put (the ball) back in and get back on defense.”
Luke averaged 14.4 ppg as a freshman and was a major contributor on a team that won a District 3 title. One year later, Luke is atop the Y-A League at 23.4 ppg and has nearly reached his total points number from last season in half of the games.
Giving credit to his brother: The only other players who averaged over 20 points in the league — Dallastown’s Michael Dickson (23.4) and Susquehannck’s Jalen Franklin (20.2), are their teams’ primary ball handlers. Luke does his damage primarily on rebounds, foul shots and designed plays, often set up by the person who he has a unique connection with.
“I couldn’t have done it without my brother,” Luke said. “John is such a selfless player and he gives me the assists I need to get me points. He and I have this twin telepathy thing we always had growing up.”
The Forjans have led the Irish to an 8-5 overall record this season, including an 8-2 mark in York-Adams Division III. They are just a half game behind first-place Littlestown (9-2).
Boeckel added that with a large amount of Luke’s scoring coming on rebounds and free throws, it’s even more impressive that he can lead the league in scoring when teams can prepare to prevent him from free points at the foul line or around the net, but aren’t able to do it.
“You’re a pretty good player when the other team knows what you’re going to do and you can still do it,” Boeckel said.
Using pressure as fuel: The Irish coach said he talks with Luke to make sure the 15-year-old doesn’t put pressure on himself to live up to the family’s historic achievements at the school, but the sophomore says he loves the sport and hopes to play in college. It’s impossible for him to avoid reminders of how successful the Forjans have been for generations, with championship banners hanging above the court, but he uses it as fuel.
Luke's grandfather died in 2019 and he never got a chance to see his youngest grandsons play varsity basketball, but Luke enjoys the chance to honor him during each home game when he walks by James’ photo and steps onto the court named after the man that started the family’s long run of success for York Catholic basketball.
“Performing well in the gym named after my grandfather is nice. It feels right,” Luke said. “I enjoy playing in any gym, but I love our gym. I play for myself and I play for my family. I just know that he would be ecstatic to watch us play.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.