One year after the Santa Clara Bruins girls basketball team went undefeated in the regular season (24-0), the Santa Clara boys team brings similar high expectations. The boys have five strong returners back in town with Jagos Jovanovic, Mark Anthony Wishom, Chris Clark, Matt Glennon and Jercey Paras returning for their senior seasons. Last year these Bruins went 7-5, which tied them for third in the El Camino League. Joining the seniors again this year is sophomore Geary Brown, who made varsity last year as a freshman, and junior Seth Everett who split last season between varsity and JV. But that’s not all, new to varsity this year is a duo of crafty freshmen in Jiohvani Toledo and Fredge Ramos. This team is incredibly deep.
“We wanna win league and go deep in CCS,” noted Wishom after a preseason blowout 88-15 over Trinity Christian. “We wanna make a run, something we haven’t done since 2012.”
Not only have the Bruins brought back the majority of their key players, but one of those returners, Clark, seems to have taken his game to a new level since last season.
Clark had a modest 10 points in the win over Trinity, but his hustle on loose balls was contagious and he looked extremely confident from beyond the three-point line.
“Chris put in a lot of work in the offseason, getting a lot of shots up, getting stronger in the weight room, getting faster,” confirmed Bruins Assistant Coach Justin Dixon. “He really committed himself to being a better basketball player. In the summer program it really showed, he was one of our go-to guys. Coming into this season he knew he was going to have a bigger role and he relished it. He’s been doing a great job for us.”
Coach Dixon downplayed the big picture expectations when asked about the talent on this year’s varsity team, instead focusing on day-to-day improvements.
“Our biggest expectation is that we’re going to get better each day, each practice. The kids coming into this program are super hard-working kids. It’s paying off now, especially with the work put in during the summer,” said coach Dixon.
With the mix of talented seniors and a strong group of underclassmen, the coaches do have a good problem on their hands when it comes to allocating minutes. Paras for example, came off the bench in the blowout victory over Trinity. Last year Paras finished second on the team in points-per game with 13.3.
“Everyone is competing for minutes and everyone is going to make each other better in practice,” remarked Dixon. “That’s how it goes at our practices, nobody is guaranteed minutes or a starting position, everyone is always having to work for their spot, their role on the team.”
The Bruins (2-0) will play six more games, including their next game on Friday, Dec. 8, before the league season starts on Jan. 3, 2018 against Lynbrook. Last season Lynbrook and Santa Clara split their two games, with the Vikings winning 53-47 and the Bruins winning 51-50.