Boys’ basketball has begun its season with strong tournament play despite early injuries to key starters. The team set high goals of winning, and games have demonstrated the seasons’ potential and given young players an opportunity to get game experience, wing Holden McRae ’20 said.
“Everyone is working hard and well,” program head David Rebibo said. “They all feel a sense of something special brewing, the general mindset has been to stay humble, stay focused and just keep working hard.”
All players on the roster, including underclassmen, have needed to work hard to fill in for key players early in the season due to injuries. Rebibo said it has required adjustments, but the team will find its way when players are healthy once again.
“We have been dealing with some injuries, so it is very hard to gauge where we are at currently,” Rebibo said. “We are getting a lot of other guys some quality minutes which will help us in the long run. Once we are healthy, I think we will have a better idea of our true identity and what we could be down the road.”
With several starters absent, the team saw mixed results in the Redondo tournament. Guard Johnny Juzang ’20 and forward Mason Hooks ’20 were both injured, forcing McRae and guard Cameron Thrower ’22 to step up. In its season opener, the Wolverines suffered a close loss, 72-71 to Lynwood. The squad’s final record for the tournament was 2-2. Although the results have not been complicit with the players’ expectations, McRae said he thought the games have shown promise for the season.
“We are all aware of our potential,” McRae said. “We’ve had a few key guys injured or recovering from injury so our chemistry is gradually evolving. I think we still have some ways to go to get to where we want to be, but I also think we have the means to do so.”
Prior to the season, the player had been training physically and mentally.
“During the preseason, we prepared by going hard in every lift and practice,” guard Spencer Hubbard ’19 said. “The leaders of the team really took in the young guys and taught them how we do things on and off the court, which helped them mature and get used things quicker.”
Last season, the squad had a solid record of 22-6 but exited in the second of CIF playoffs, failing to meet its goals. Fueled by the loss, players said they are more focused on their goals more than ever this season.
“We try to come into every game and every practice with a certain level of intensity,” McRae said. “[Rebibo] challenges us every day to expect more of ourselves and each other. Everyday, we strive to get better, take greater accountability for ourselves and for each other and hold ourselves to a greater standard.”
Most of last year’s team still remains, and current seniors and juniors make up a large portion of the roster. Forward Truman Gettings ’21 said that juniors in a have stepped up as leaders.
“I would say that [Hooks] is our biggest leader on the team and does a good job of keeping us focused,” Gettings said.
The team has set high goals for itself for the upcoming season, currently with a record of 4-2. Players and Rebibo have said they believe they can meet their expectations with hard work and focus.
“Our goals are pretty simple: get healthy, get better and become a great team,” Rebibo said. “We feel like if we can continue to grow and do those things, goals like league, sectional and state championships will follow.”
The squad’s first home game is against Beverly Hills on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.