Boys Basketball Catches Fire After Slow Start


Courtesy of Bernard Geenan

The team gethers in a huddle on the court during a game to get the players pumped up. The team went on a seven-game win streak one point i the season after starting 1-4

By Jake Certner, Sports Editor

After a disappointing 1-4 start to the season, the now 12-9 boys varsity basketball team has turned it around and propelled themselves into relevancy as they look ahead to the playoffs.

The Bulldogs have climbed their way back to a respectable season and have done so by taking down some of the best competition MoCo has to offer.

“We have learned to win as a team, and a lot of that is mental toughness,” head coach Robert Bean said. “In the past we didn’t handle adversity nearly as well, and without a doubt, the driving force behind our success has been our confidence level.”

The Bulldogs put together a seven-game win streak in the middle of the season, sparked by back-to-back wins against Whitman Jan 8, 54-40, and a buzzer beater against last year’s state runner-up B-CC Jan. 12, 45-44.

“We were showing glimpses of our true potential early on, but to be able to hit a buzzer-beater against a state runner-up at their place was big,” Bean said.

The players agree that the buzzer-beater was a defining moment in the season that sparked the team’s revival.

“The end of the B-CC game was most significant for me,” senior captain Jonathan Wilson said. “Instead of putting our heads down and giving up, we stayed in it, fought back and stole a game on the road.”

Wilson has been an integral part of the team’s success. He is the team’s top three-point shooter, shooting over 35 percent from beyond the arc, and plays a crucial role in leading the team.

“Our success cannot be pinpointed to one player as far as actions go,” Bean said. “Each game new players have shown leadership qualities, but as far as vocal leaders, Jonny Wilson has settled into that role both on and off the court.”

Knowing what the team is capable of, the Bulldogs are looking forward to the postseason, and perhaps a shot at the regional championship.

“After we beat two of the top teams in the region, we knew we were capable of being legitimate contenders,” Wilson said.

The team is confident in its abilities and believes it can compete with any opponent and potentially make it to the state championship held at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center.

“I hope we can get on a streak again and make a run to the Xfinity Center,” junior captain Bradley Leventhal said. “We can beat anyone in the county.”

Leventhal leads the team in points per game, and has impressed both the fans and the coaching staff with his leadership and play.

According to Bean, Leventhal’s performance has “exponentially improved” in all aspects over the last year.

It’s not just confidence and mental toughness that has brought the Bulldogs their newfound success, but their ability to play as a unit and win together.

According to Bean, new players step up in each game to help lead the team to victory, and no single player has carried the team at any point.

“What makes this team special is that we can have a different player step up in every game,” Wilson said. “There’s no one player we have to rely on to win games, it’s a team effort, and we have so many guys that can step up and win us a game, whether it be on the offensive end or the defensive end.”

It is clear that the team is most proud of its play as a unit, but more specifically, team defense is where the players hang their hats.

“We’ve been focusing on improving our defense all year, and it’s been a major part of our success,” said sophomore Reed Moshyedi, a starter for the Bulldogs who is second on the team in rebounds per game and third in scoring.

Defense is a marquis part of basketball; it is the one aspect players can confidently bring day in and day out whether or not they are scoring.

“My man Shultzy [junior Michael Shultz] has been a beast on defense,” Bean said. “He didn’t score that much during our seven-game win streak, but he was on lock down all seven games. We were best with him on the court, and if he came out it was most likely because he needed a rest.”

Assistant coach Jake Eskin is brand new for the Bulldogs this year, but his presence hasn’t gone unnoticed over the team’s successful season.

“He’s really helped us on defense, which is something he takes pride in,” said Moshyedi. “When you have a new young coach like that it makes it a lot easier to win games.”

Eskin has been able to get through to the players, but the coaching staff also has a great deal of respect for what he has helped them to accomplish.

“Having an assistant in practice that knows the game and has great leadership qualities makes a big difference,” Bean said. “His energy and enthusiasm definitely influences the team’s energy.”

On top of all of the inside changes and progressions that have led to the team’s success, the fans have also stepped up and helped in some big time scenarios, most notably the home games against Whitman  and Wootton Feb 4, 76-63.

“[The student section] makes a huge difference,” said Athletic Director Scott Rivinius, who was also the team’s interim coach during the first games against Whitman and B-CC said. “The players really feed off that energy and it makes for a great atmosphere.”

Needless to say, Bean has been very proud of what the team has been able to accomplish and has the utmost confidence going forward.

“They have worked hard and looked sharp,” Bean said. “I hope that we have short memories and take it game by game, if we focus on the process then the winning will take care of itself.”