Junior varsity boys’ basketball closed out the season with a winning record of 12-7, finishing on a four-game streak, thanks to sophomores Jaden Rowe, Nathan Bowman, and Chris Rinaldi. Freshman Dason Miller, Justin McGraw and Ryan Parent also tagged along with their share of points as the new kids on the block, and hope to make their marks in the upcoming years.
JV has a lot of talent, many of the players are returning, while there are a handful of freshmen, and that is part of JV head coach Andre Gaines success. Gaines also coaches varsity football as a defensive coordinator, so he knows his way around the sports life. Gaines has been coaching JV for three years and helps out for varsity on game days. Gaines knows how different the pace is between JV and varsity. “If you’ve been playing basketball your whole life, as you get older, each level different levels of basketball, it gets a lot stronger and quicker, and you have to process the game quicker, because you are playing against bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic players. And that big difference is like going from ninth grade to 10th grade.” Gaines said.
McGraw got called up to varsity for the playoffs. McGraw has wicked speed and a nice touch to his mid-range jump shot, which is a large benefit for someone that is six feet two. McGraw can also get inside the paint and grab those boards, as he averages about four rebounds a game. McGraw was excited to be called up to varsity. “It feels good, you get to see how the varsity guys play while learning from them at the same time. It’s a very good learning experience.” McGraw said.
Another young freshman is point guard Ian Smith. He has great ball handling, he can shoot the ball extremely well, and can dish the rock out better than the average JV player. Smith knows that he has to focus on school and basketball at the same time and manage to balance out his schedule. Smith said, “It’s hard to manage my time well, but I try my best to get my school work done before a practice or game. I go to my teachers for extra help and even sometimes my coach.”
Sophomore Thomas Jezek is another player who benefits the team as he makes opponents work on defense as an offensive threat from anywhere on the court, especially from downtown. Jezek has been a JV player for the past two years, continuing to help out his fellow teammates on both sides of the ball and improving as a player himself. The sophomore hasn’t let not making varsity get in his way as he said, “After two years on JV, I think I have developed the skills and mindset needed to make varsity this year or the year after that.”