The varsity basketball team has started off the season strong, going 9-1 in their first ten games and winning two tournaments in the process.
Head coach Damaine Powell mentioned the team’s defense as a bright spot for this season.
“If you look at the numbers, we probably [are]one of the better defensive teams in the state. I was really proud of how we played in the Fall season. I think that gave our team a lot of confidence going into the real season,” he said.
After winning the Paul Sutton Tip-Off Classic at Providence High School, they captured the El Rancho Blue Pride Classic title behind a dominating 85-56 win over Bell Gardens. They began the game with an offensive eruption, taking a 19-2 lead and eventually leading 30-14 at the end of the first quarter. They entered halftime with a 41-30 lead, even after Bell Gardens cut it to seven with 1:40 left in the quarter. In the second half, the Cubs exploded for a 33-point third quarter, including a lob pass from senior guard Jalen Cox that led to a two-handed jam by senior forward Parker Jones. The Cubs led 74-36 at the end of the third. The final frame involved the use of the Mercy Rule, which includes a running clock. The Cubs continued to get to the rim with ease and took home the tournament title behind a 29-point victory. Senior forward Vincent Sampson led the way with 16 points, while Cox and Jones had 13 and 10, respectively. Jones was awarded the tournament MVP, and Cox was named to the all-tournament team.
After the win, Powell said, “We feel good. I’m just happy for the guys. They bought into the culture we’re trying to build, and it’s good to see them enjoy the fruits of their labor.”
The 85 points were a season-high for the Cubs. As far as how they can keep that momentum going, assistant coach Ernie Hill said that turning defensive stops into fast breaks would be key.
“If we can continue to make that part of our overall game, then we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with ‘cause we’re gonna get out and score,” he said.
In the semifinals of the El Rancho tournament, the Cubs defeated Dominguez High 62-54 in a nail biter. Though the team was down by five heading into the fourth quarter, they did not hang their heads and tied the game at 52, with Cox nailing the game-tying free throws. With momentum on their side, the Cubs outscored Dominguez 10-2 in overtime. Cox led the way with 18 points.
In the first two games of the tournament, the Cubs beat Montebello 58-31 on Dec. 1 and dominated Wilson 66-48 on Nov. 29.
The Cubs’ goal for this year is very clear. They believe they have a solid team and Cox said that an Open Division playoff run is a top priority for them.
Powell stated, “We just want to reach our potential as a team.”
Powell does not have any overarching goals for his team, such as reaching a certain number of wins or winning the CIF Championship; rather, he takes everything one day at a time.
“We just want to get better, and we want to win the next game. We want to be 10-1. We take it one step at a time, one day at a time,” he said. “We believe if you just focus on the day, win the day, and you stack really good days on top of each other, then the other thing is a byproduct of just giving your best and becoming better everyday.”
The Cubs look to extend their winning streak to six when they face Calabasas High School on Dec. 11 at 2:00 PM.