Coach Dave Ancrum coolly walks backwards on the court, listening to the beat of a single basketball hitting the backboard over and over again.
The boys run in a circle around him, catching the ball and throwing it back up, never letting the ball touch the ground, keeping the same constant beat.
Even under the stress of competition, they keep this calm rhythm.
The varsity team is 13-2, having lost games only to teams in higher divisions (Hiram Johnson High School and Bear River High School). They also won the Redding Christian tournament on the weekend of Dec. 13 for the first time in school history.
“They kept their composure during a stressful tournament,” Ancrum said.
“A lot of the players are only freshmen, and you don’t know how they’re going to act. I get nervous before every game. The kids think they know, but they’re just babies.”
But the four freshman starters—B.J. Askew, Rick Barros III, Cole Johnson and Jayce McCain—don’t play like babies.
Barros is the high scorer with 256 points. Askew has scored 226 points, closely followed by McCain with 217.
“They’re having fun tearing it up this season, and we’re having fun with them,” senior captain Skovran Cunningham said.
The team has won some games by over 30 points. They beat John Adams Academy 82-6 on Dec. 8 and Woodland Christian 84-48 on Dec. 16.
During the season, the boys have worked mostly on layups and taking time off the clock. If the team has a considerable lead, they pass the ball around to let the clock run down.
However, Ancrum said that the boys still need to work on their spacing, rebounding against bigger people and boxing out (putting oneself in between an opposing player and the basket).
At the first league game against Valley Christian on Jan. 8, the boys won, 87-75.
In the win over San Juan High School and loss to Hiram Johnson, the boys had a tough time guarding against the other teams’ bigger players, some of whom reached a height of 6’4”.
Barros said that the game against San Juan was his favorite.
“It was a close game and we won by a single point. The lead kept turning over. That’s how basketball is supposed to be played.”
Previously published in the print edition on Jan. 13, 2015.