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UC Basketball Battles for First Place in League

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UC Basketball Battles for First Place in League

Sophia Lewis-Mussa

Sophia Lewis-Mussa

Sophia Lewis-Mussa

Kayli Sandoval, Editor-in-Chief

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With sixteen wins over eight losses and are in first place in the San Diego Section City League, this year’s Boys Basketball Team has already made improvements, bouncing back from last year’s 10-18 season.

    The team is still in Division Three but did switch to City League from Central, which means they are now playing teams such as James Madison High, San Diego High, and Coronado High, according to a high school sports statistics site (maxpreps.com).

  Senior Co-Captain Benito Hurtado explained, “The main difference [from our previous season] is that we are focusing on playing together and playing hard for the full game, and not taking any plays off. We are sharing the ball a lot and have great shooters to finish the play.”

   However, during the 2017-18 season, six seniors graduated — one of which was the highest scorer on the team, Justin Anderson. The loss of great players seemed to be an upcoming challenge for this season, although, according to Senior Co-Captain Casey Granfors, “…[the team] filled those spots very quickly with guys like Kasen Dickerson and Ben Bruce who can get the job done and score buckets.”

   This year’s Leading Scorer and Starting Point Guard Kasen Dickerson explained that this season the team is playing quicker. He also noted that the team has improved on transitions to half court on fast breaks and passing, overall.

   The UC High Boys Basketball Team averages a total of 56.8 points per game (p/g). In addition to that, the team also averages a 44 field goal percentage, 38.8 rebounds p/g, 13.3 assists p/g, and 4.4 blocks p/g — all above the national average (maxpreps.com).

   “Our offensive approach actually starts from the defense. Our defensive strategy is to protect the paint and force the opponent to take bad shots or make silly mistakes. When we get a stop on the defense, we try to push the ball early to get an easy layup,” Hurtado explained. “In the half-court set, though, we share the ball and look for mismatches and take advantage of a size mismatch or an athletic mismatch. Junior Jalen LeFear is a great player for that because he is so strong for most guards and too fast for most bigs,” he added.

   As explained by Senior Co-Captain Ben Bruce, when on defense, the team is flexible and can play both man and zone defense. He stated, “We use man when teams are our size because we can easily guard them. We use zone when the teams are a lot bigger than us and we need to protect our bigs like Benito and Casey so that they don’t get posted up the whole game.”  Although, Hurtado said, “[When playing a zone defense,] we need to work on having patience and moving the ball around before we look for a shot. If we move the ball more, the shots will become more and more open.” Dickerson added, in order to meet their goals of winning the League Title, the team must consistently “play together and play smart.”

   As per usual, the team’s goal is to focus on League and take the City Championship. This year, the goal seems to be more in reach of the boys. Granfors explained, “We set our goals really early this year, before the year started, and we play with a ton of confidence because we all know what we have in store.” He added, “We are taking one game at a time. Not doubting anybody.”

   Bruce and Granfors explained the camaraderie that has strengthened over the summer, the new confidence of the team, and the trust between the players are all factors for the success the team has seen this season. “We pretty much know where everyone is going to be on the court, regardless of whether we see each other. We know how we each play with each other, so, we all know our roles on the team. If [we had no trust in out] teammates, we probably wouldn’t win a lot of games. Communication and trust play a pretty big role,” explained Bruce.

   The team has not won the League Championship since the 2008-09 season. The team looks to be on the right track to making history. Hopefully, they will continue to surprise other schools and take home the long-deserved title once again.

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