Boys basketball focuses on conditioning and stresses day-to-day improvement

Last year, the boys basketball team finished the season 10–12, placing eighth in the Colonial Valley Conference. Despite four starters having graduated last year, the boys expect to improve upon their record this season.

Cristobal Silva ’17 and the rest of the team practice daily in the PHS gyms. Photo: Shreya Dandamudi

Cristobal Silva ’17 and the rest of the team practice daily in the PHS gyms.
Photo: Shreya Dandamudi

“[We lost] leadership from J.C. [Silva ’15] and the scoring [ability] from Kevin [Kane ’15], but I think we can replace them with Zahrion [Blue ’17],” said guard Andrew Goldsmith ’17, who played nine games for the varsity team last year. “[Blue is] a huge factor. He has improved so much from freshman year and last year. Matt Hart [’16] was also one of our better players, so I’d expect the same from him.”

Last season, senior Kane accumulated 311 points. Despite the loss of this leading scorer, Hart, who scored 361 points, and Blue, who garnered 224 points, both returned to the team.

With returners sporting great scoring experience, Head Coach Mark Shelley expects the team to perform very well.

“You always trust the strength of your overall program and hope you have players ready to step up,” Shelley said. “We lost some good players, but at the same time we feel like we have a good group of juniors and seniors [based on] their records when they were freshmen and sophomores, so we think we will have one of our best seasons in years.”

Point guard Sam Serxner ’17 also believes the team will go very far because of an overall increase in talent in the team.

“This year we have a lot of speed in the backcourt with myself and Andrew Goldsmith. That combined with dominant scorers like Matt Hart and Zahrion Blue and a shooter like Mike Dowers [’17] really sets us apart. We have also had great chemistry, as players like myself, Andrew [Goldsmith], Cristobal [Silva ’17], and Justin [Marciano ’17] have played with each other since we were about eight years old,” Serxner said.

In order to improve on its previous season, Coach Shelley has made it his mission to make progress every day. By focusing on conditioning early in the season, Shelley hopes to have a good base level of fitness.

“I always tell my players if you are better after practice than you were before, then we are in good shape,” Shelley said.

Along with team fitness, Shelley prioritizes goals for certain players. Returning guard Dowers, in particular, is learning to fulfill a new role.

“Coach Shelley spoke to me about being the third scorer, so that is something I am working towards in practice,” Dowers said. The role of the third scorer would place him behind the two forwards, Hart and Blue.

The first practices have put an emphasis on uniting the team mentally. Making sure that all the players are focused on basketball remains the team’s first priority.

“[We need to] work on the simple things. I think once everyone gets back into basketball—like Serxner and I [who were] both playing soccer all fall—everything will fall into place,” Goldsmith said.

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