Squad finds consistency with playoffs approaching

Squad finds consistency with playoffs approaching

Guard Johnny Juzang ’20 releases a jump shot from the top of the key on Jan. 11 in Taper Gymnasium. The Wolverines fell to the Cubs 66-61 in their first matchup of the season.

Despite early season injuries, boys’ basketball adjusted mid-season and found success with the help of its deep roster, posting a 17-6 overall record and a 4-2 league record.

The team has competed in three tournaments so far. Head coach David Rebibo said the schedule is more challenging this year in order to prepare the team for games later in the season.

“We have really stepped up our schedule and played some of the best teams in [Southern California], while nursing injuries and illness,” Rebibo said. “We have persevered and found a way to compete and get better.”

The squad secured a tournament win in the Beverly Hills High School tournament, in which forward Mason Hooks ’20 made his season debut and the team took home the championship undefeated. Including the Wolverines’ three wins in the tournament, the team had an eight-game-win streak.

Forward Holden McRae ’20 said that pre-game preparation is pivotal to being successful during games.

“On the court, we always try to be tuned in to the other team’s plays and personnel,” McRae said. “We prepare really well all week, but the most important thing is that we are reactive. We know that no matter how much we prepare, it is ultimately the on-court decisions that matter the most. By keeping the scouting report in mind while simultaneously locking in during the game, we put ourselves in the best position to win.”

In addition to practice and studying game plan, Rebibo outlines the team’s goals to win each game.

“We have to be very good with our team defense: five guys working and helping one another for 32 minutes,” Rebibo said. “We have to do a great job rebounding and, last but not least, limit turnovers and be in the 14 assists range.”

Although the team has upset several high-ranked teams, there have also been low points in the season.

“The season has been up and down,” Hooks said. “We started off with a lot of injuries, and we didn’t have [Johnny Juzang ’20] until about midway through the season. I think we had to adjust to his being back, just like every team struggles for a little whenever a star player comes back. I think we’ve adjusted well and we’re playing well now.”

With Juzang injured, the whole team needed to fill his shoes and the entire roster was utilized.

“We have had people step up the entire season from [Brase Dottin ’20], [McRae], [Spencer Hubbard ’20], [Cameron Thrower ’22] and [Adam Hinton ’21] who really stepped up when we had 3 starters out, to [Hooks] and [Truman Gettings ’21] coming back and picking us up big time while [Juzang] and [Darren Long ’19] were nursing injuries,” Rebibo said.

Thrower said he has learned a lot in his first year of high school basketball.

“It is a huge adjustment in terms of learning new defensive and offensive concepts,” Thrower said. “It’s also different because the level of competition rises and everyone has some capability of playing and contributing at a high level.”

All members of the team are now healthy, and the squad looks to end league play well and head into playoffs strong.

“Our main focus approaching the playoffs is finishing off the regular season strong,” McRae said. “Having played each team once during the regular season, we know what lies ahead. Every team is going to bring their best, but we plan on bringing ours as well.”

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