How varsity boys’ basketball couldn’t rebound in the Battle of the Birds

By Danielle Flores

Originally published on February 2, 2015

Senior power forward Antonio Hughes drives towards the basket in the Cardinal’s 68–56 loss to the Washington Eagles in the Battle of the Birds on Jan. 16. Hughes led the team with 12 points. Photo by Karina Huft

As the clock winded down, Lowell’s side of Kezar stadium remained silent as senior Justin Sujishi made the final shot of this year’s Battle of the Birds, but the shooting guard’s efforts were not enough as the boys’ varsity basketball team fell short in its matchup against the Washington Eagles, 68–56, on Friday, Jan. 16.

At the start of the second quarter, the Eagles heightened their defense and immediately took the lead from the Cardinals. Though senior point guard Soren Carpenter kept the score close, racking up 8 total points in this quarter alone and 11 in the whole game, the Cardinals were outscored 18–15 and began halftime trailing behind 34–32.

Senior point guard Soren Carpenter tries to dribble past an Eagle defender in the annual game at Kezar Stadium. Carpenter finished with 11 points. Photo by Karina Huft

The third quarter marked a major shift in the game, as the Cardinals were able to score just seven points. Both teams had turned the ball over, but the Eagles were able to still complete their shots and get rebounds, according to senior power forward Antonio Hughes, who led the team with 12 points in the game.

“We came out pretty strong and it just went downhill,” Hughes said. “ We went on our runs, they’d do something to counter our runs and they’d go on huge runs [and complete], and we wouldn’t be able to complete.”

“We came out pretty strong and it just went downhill.”

They also failed to box out and position themselves to rebound the ball. This helped the Eagles secure a 46–39 lead.

In the final quarter, the Cardinals really pushed and tried to close in on the point difference, scoring 17 points. Senior shooting guard Justin Sujishi and junior center forward Caleb Hilladakis contributed 14 points, but this was not enough and the Eagles won 68–56.

Senior center Joe Fish looks for options in the key on Jan. 16. Fish is one of the five starters for the Cardinals this season. Photo by Karina Huft

Season Preview

Adaptability. The varsity boys’ basketball team has had to adjust to very big changes this year including a new coach and the two Academic Athletic Association divisions competing .

“Our season looks very different in a lot of perspectives,” senior point guard Soren Carpenter said. “But I feel like we will reach more goals than we did last year.”

Goal-setting is important to new head coach Carl Jacobs, who has applied a new format where he sets expectations allowing for the players to step up and come out of their comfort zones by raising the bar.

“Same vehicle, just a different driver.”

“Same vehicle, just a different driver,”Jacobs said, pushing the team more assertively through their defense. “At Lowell High School, we’re the best academically. We should be the best at all we do [including basketball].” This contrasts with assistant coach Robert Ray, who has been the head coach of the Cardinals for past seasons. Where as Ray successfully coached the players to play within their comfort zone, Jacobs tries to get them out of their comfort zone and play better than people expect them to, according to the new coach. Despite their differences, however, together each coach’s style of play points in the right direction for the team giving the players the best of both worlds, according to Carpenter.

Jacobs also has implemented a more uptempo style that allows them to have more possessions and score more points, according to senior guard and forward Jordan Chan. To create more offensive playing time, the team will play man-to-man defense throughout all four quarters. This season’s starters are senior point guard Soren Carpenter, senior power forward Antonio Hughes and senior center Joe Fish, and junior shooting guards Sherman Wong and Nick Gee.

“We become more familiar with our opponent and so does the other team.”

With the new divisions of the AAA league, there will be much more pressure each game. Lowell will compete in Lang, division A, with Lincoln, Washington, Marshall, Balboa, Mission, Galileo and Leadership. With fewer teams to compete against, the Cardinals will play their main competitors — Lincoln, Mission and Washington — twice.

“We play tougher opponents more often and those second games spice up the competition because one team has to change their game plan to come out victorious if they lost the previous game,” Carpenter said. “But that is also the difficult aspect because it’s hard to play the same teams with [changing ]game plans. We become more familiar with our opponent and so does the other team.”