Entering their second year at the varsity level, players on the Christopher High boys varsity basketball team weren’t shy in setting lofty goals for the 2011-12 season. If you ask them, the more expectation, the merrier.
“We feel like we can take that league this year,” junior guard Wyatt Rocheleau said after the Cougars breezed through its non-league home opener 71-48 over Pacific Collegiate on Tuesday night.
“Last year, we did pretty good. But this year, we have some experience. We’ve been training hard all off season. We set some high goals so we have to go out and achieve them.”
How will the Cougars meet those expectations? If Tuesday’s break-neck tempo is any indication of what’s to come, full-speed ahead, of course.
“Running, gunning and have some fun. That’s our motto,” Rocheleau said.
The Cougars (2-5) pushed the tempo throughout the game, and had success with its active, pesky one-on-one defense that created easy transition layups at the other end.
“That’s kind of the idea,” CHS head coach Kaden Bahner said. “We are running kind of an up-tempo style of play right now. But I feel like the key to our tempo stems from our defense.”
The Cougars boast a bevy of speedy, defensively aggressive guards, including Rocheleau and fellow starters Andrew Foster and Marcus Harrell at point guard. The trio combined for 31 points in Tuesday’s victory. Factor in another 12 points from DJ Campos and nine from Nick Cordova and Bahner has the luxury of picking and choosing the right combination on the floor. Campos, Rocheleau, Foster and Cordova are two-thirds of the Cougars’ six returning varsity players from a year ago.
“I really like what our guards are doing. We are loaded with guards. I feel like we have some good interchangeable qualities with those guys, which allows us to put pressure on the ball,” Bahner said. “It’s nice to know that if someone is having an off night, we have someone else we can get in.”
The first two weeks of the season haven’t been all fun and games, however. The Cougars had lost five of their first six outings, including a disappointing yet useful 0-3 performance at the Los Gatos Wildcat Shootout last week. And, an integral piece to its starting five, returning center Takoda Bowers, is out with a hand injury he suffered during the football season. His return is still up in the air. Despite a few of those bumps, Bahner said he likes his team’s approach to the everyday grind of the season.
“I feel like our team has shown some great improvements and also feel like we are never going to make it easy on an opponent,” he said. “We expect them to compete every game. The focus early on this season is competing and making sure the game stays close. We feel, with the potential that we have, when the game is close, we can make that final push.”
Adding to that push, forwards Dillon Babb and Samaki Johnson, two post players who use the space they take up with efficiency.
“We have that senior leadership this year. We have a couple new guys out here that have past experience. I see this as going to be a good year,” Foster said.
The Cougars face Alvarez in the first round of the Bob Hagen Memorial Tournament today. Check back for results.