Boys’ basketball looks to bounce back from early season struggles

Courtney Cohn

WJ boys’ basketball looks to come back strong this season and improve upon their performance from last year. Last season they finished with an overall record of 8-13 and went 7-7 in the Montgomery 4A/3A South.  

This season, Coach Brian Fairall wants the team to make some changes to improve upon their performance from their last season. He wants the players to have more focus, intense practices, unselfishness and better shooting.

Additionally, senior captain Nick Bournias wants to make sure his teammates come together in order to be a great team this year.

“This season I am personally working on bringing the team together,” Bournias said. “Talentwise we are all very skilled and capable of being one of the most successful basketball teams WJ has seen in some time.”

In addition to these changes, the team has several new players this season, including juniors Spencer Mahne, Jonathon Newman, Luke Kaleeba, Patrick Markey, Jason Taylor, Ben Castellano who played on the JV team last season and Luel Alemu, who joined the team this year after transferring from Richard Montgomery High School. Additionally, senior Andre Roales was injured last year, but is returning this year.

The team had their first game on December 5 against Richard Montgomery and ended up losing 77-47.

Even though the outcome of the Richard Montgomery game was not what the team strived for, Newman played exceptionally well, as he was the leading scorer with 13 points.

Even though he played tremendously well in his first game of the season, the transition from the JV team to varsity was difficult for Newman at first. The faster pace was the biggest difference between JV and varsity, but his hard work in practices and over the offseason clearly prepared him for the season.

“I trained almost every day of the week, whether it was on my body or my skills,” Newman said.

WJ played Paint Branch on December 8, and junior Hank Roll led the team with eight points and seven rebounds, but his great performance was not enough to bring the team to a victory. WJ ended up losing the game 75-40.

Despite losing the first two games,  Fairall is still confident that the team will find success in their upcoming games.

“Our next opponents, Damascus and Poolesville, are teams that are more similar to us in terms of size and athleticism,” Fairall said. “We will have more confidence against them. We are focusing still on the fundamental issues that will make us more successful.”

The wildcats’ next game is on December 12 at 5:30 p.m. at home against Damascus High School.