WINTER TEAMS BALL OUT: Boys basketball




Read more about the successes of girls basketball and soccer 

Just over halfway through the regular season, the varsity boys basketball team is off to its best seven-game start since entering the Capital Valley Conference in the 2014-2015 season.

With a 5-2 record, coach Greg Granucci feels that the team’s improved focus, chemistry, confidence and defensive mentality have been the biggest reasons for the newfound success.

“We are really invested in what we are doing and we are giving much better effort on the defensive end,” Granucci said. “We are playing with more confidence and we really believe in each other.”

This success has been a long time coming for some of the boys, specifically third-year varsity players seniors Brandon Del Rosario, Jason Russell, Zack Mancha and Tommy Edwards. One player absent from that list is senior Grant Baer, who would be a third year varsity player had he not retorn his ACL in December.

Baer’s ACL is just one of the injuries that the Tigers have sustained this season; junior guard Jase Giorgi is out with a herniated disc and center Cameron Anderson will miss the rest of the year due to a fractured foot. Prior to their injuries, all three were primed to be major contributors to this year’s team.

However, using the injuries instead as an excuse, players such as sophomore Jackson Esparza, junior Nate Richardson, seniors Jakob Hedger, Del Rosario, and Russell have all seen increased importance in their roles and have responded with improved numbers.

As a junior, Richardson’s role would have likely been a backup as he would have been placed behind Anderson on the depth chart for the center position. However, ever since the CVC season started, Granucci feels that he has embraced the role and has been one of the team’s strengths thus far.

“Nate has stepped up big for us in the absence of both [Cameron] and Grant,” Granucci said. “He’s been really big for us ever since we started league.”

These players have also gotten more exposure because of the steady rotation of players that Granucci has at his disposal during games. Granucci feels that this increased exposure is not only helping the Tigers in the present but will also assist them in the future and, hopefully, in any playoff games that might lie ahead.

Additionally, this rotation allows him to play who is “hot” and enables new people to step up when they are feeling good.

“We have different guys stepping up every night that are contributing, even if they didn’t contribute the game before,” Granucci said. “We have used that to our advantage and our depth has become one of our strong suits.”

It would be impossible to cover the Tigers’ success without the mention of senior guards Sean Granucci and forward Tommy Edwards.

Both have been offensive standouts this year and have put up crucial points for the team; in their 71-57 victory over the current #1 rank, the Whitney Wildcats, the two scored a combined 51 points. Their abilities to score from the three-point line and finish in the paint have been major factors in the team’s current status in the CVC.

Despite the hot start to the season, Granucci knows that there are still improvements to be made, especially in a league as competitive as the CVC. Currently tied for second in the league, the Tigers could see it all slip away in the blink of an eye, as only two games separate the top five teams.

With this in mind, Granucci has continued to stress to his team the importance of every game and not taking anything for granted.

  “We can’t get complacent and we have to remain hungry,” Granucci said. “We have to remain focused on our goals and not sleep on anybody in this league.”