he Gilroy High boys basketball team was one of the best kept
secrets in the section last year
– winning a share of the MBL title and making a Cinderella
playoff run into the CCS Semis.
GILROY – The Gilroy High boys basketball team was one of the best kept secrets in the section last year – winning a share of the MBL title and making a Cinderella playoff run into the CCS Semis.

This year is not much different as a new group of unknown, unproven varsity players will try to milk every win they can from within head coach Michael Baumgartner’s defensive-minded system.

“We’re going to be pushing the ball up court with a pressure-type defense,” said Baumgartner, who returns only one player from last year’s squad. “We have a lot of quick players, but we won’t be able to set up in the half-court set. We need to push the ball up and get the easy bucket.”

Senior two-guard Danny Vadilla was part of last season’s magical run as a reserve guard off the bench – but this year he is expected to step into a starting role and fill the shoes of his departed teammates.

“He’s been working really hard on his shot. He’s aggressive with the basketball. He’s learning to finish,” said Baumgartner of Vadilla. “He’s got to be two things – a court leader because he’s been through the battles and he’s got to take the pressure shots. He has to know when to take it and when to look for something else.”

Running the show for the Mustangs this season will be senior point guard Tucker Baksa – who played on the junior varsity team that won 18 games last season.

“His knowledge of the game and his desire makes him heads and shoulders above anybody else on the team. That’s what is going to carry us,” Baumgartner said. “He’s a pure point guard. He’s a distributor. He puts players in scoring position to be successful. He makes everyone else better.”

Senior forward/center Erik Tollison (6’1″) played through the preseason with the varsity squad last year before moving down to JV for more playing time.

“He’s been working on being aggressive on the boards. He’s also one of our better perimeter shooters. He can score on the inside and the outside,” said Baumgartner of Tollison. “He needed the confidence. He didn’t have it sitting on the bench last year. He’s an emotional player as well. He’s showing this year he’s got it already.”

Two more junior varsity call-ups expected to make major contributions this season are junior guard Ron Colmon and senior swingman Josh Gravell (6’1″).

“(Colmon) is very quick. Defensively, he will be our spark off the bench. We’re working on his court awareness and staying under control. He plays with a lot of emotion,” Baumgartner said. “(Gravell) plays with a lot of heart. He really knows the system. He does exactly what we ask of him. He’s developed a good shot and he’s banging the boards.”

At six-foot-three, senior center Blair Wortham is the tallest Mustang baller in his first varsity basketball season. According to Baumgartner, the big man has come in with a great attitude and work ethic this season.

“He worked hard in the offseason to prove himself,” Baumgartner said. “He’s got a lot of athletic ability… He’s got to be our intimidator. He has to be able to direct shots. He’s got to get a lot of rebounds.”

Sophomore swingman Vince Mitre is the youngest member of the squad after a solid freshman campaign on JV last season.

“He’s a natural leader. Even as a sophomore, the kids rally around him,” said Baumgartner of Mitre. “His passing skills are better than anyone else on the team.”

The Mustangs open up on the road Nov. 26 against Carmel at 7 p.m. and Dec. 3 against Seaside. Following an entry into the San Louis Obispo Tournament Dec. 5-7, Gilroy will play host Dec. 9 to Gunderson at 7 p.m.

“13 or 14 wins would be a nice season for this group,” Baumgartner said. “They play really hard and really smart. To be successful, they have to limit their mental errors and execute what’s asked of them.”

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