Boys’ Basketball Takes First Shot at CIF


Aneska Smith

Power forward and junior Mohsen Hashemi plays man-to-man defense and guards against Moorpark High’s forward at the second round of CIF on Feb. 12. Throughout the season, the team continued to improve on their defensive playing, although they faced difficulty against strong players from Moorpark High.

Annie Qiao, Aneska Smith, and Tiffany Wu

As the doors to the gym open, squeaks from worn sneakers against the freshly-waxed court fill the room. White lights shine down on sweaty, muscled shoulders, and the bleachers are silent for a split second, eyes intently following the pass, dribble and swish of the ball before the bleachers erupt with ecstatic celebration.

After a discouraging 0-2 start to the season, boys’ basketball’s (15-15) hard work throughout the season and Pacific Coast League (PCL) qualified the team to compete in CIF Southern Section after defeating Irvine High 66-60 on Jan. 31. This victory marked the school’s second varsity team sport to compete in playoffs.

The team passed the first round of CIF on Feb. 8, narrowly slipping past Santiago High 55-54 due to a last-second free throw by small forward and junior Soma Doherty. The Bulldogs lost to Moorpark High Musketeers 50-65 in the second round of CIF on Feb 12, marking the end of an exciting season. The team boasts an impressive overall season record of 15-15 despite lacking seniors.

“I’ve gotten my guys to get us to CIF by constantly working, making sure they have someone to look up to and someone who has a closer connection with the coach so I can pass on the message,” co-captain and junior Robert Giraldy said. “We just get through everything together. We’re like the hungriest team in the league and, I think, in our county. Nobody wants it as bad as we do.”

The athletes demonstrated determination through two-hour long practices every day, including Saturday mornings. Through offensive drills, defensive drills and conditioning, head coach Brian Smith smoothed out kinks in plays, perfected repetitions and maintained peak performance.

“[My favorite memory from this season is] winning CIF, because not only was it good for us, but it was good for the school and for the people around us,” junior and point guard David Kenduck said. “They knew we were contenders and not the bottom team, and I think it built a culture at the school for all sports because it shows how a lot of students came out to support, and we want that to keep going on throughout every year.”

Three years in, already has long-lasting traditions established such as classy suitwear and ties on game days, team dinners before games and a special team chant of “Dadazee!” following wins. The team hopes to set a strong school culture for the sport with support from students and teachers in the audience, according to Kenduck.

“Bottom line is, I’m proud of them,” Smith said. “I don’t think people get told enough if someone’s proud of them. And so I’m proud of them; I love those guys. They’ve bonded, and we’re a big family, and I’m looking forward to next year.”