Spencer Mahne leads WJ basketball with newfound leadership


Photo by Ned Storer

Spencer Mahne pulls up for a jumper in practice. Mahne is second on the team in scoring with 11 points per game.

After several disappointing years for WJ basketball, the players are finding it difficult to motivate themselves each year. After finishing last season with just a 4-16 record, spirits have been low. However, senior captain and starting point guard Spencer Mahne is looking to change that.

Mahne, standing at just 5 feet 8 inches, has truly embodied the “heart over height” phrase commonly bounced around in the basketball world. Mahne has played on the varsity team since his freshman year and looks to use his experience to build team success this year.

“I have more varsity experience than most of kids on the team, so I want to be the guy who can give good advice,” Mahne said. “If I can successfully teach every kid on the team at least one thing, then I feel like I would have done my job.”

Mahne was a pleasant surprise last season, averaging a team-high 3.3 assists per game, including a nine point, five assist performance in a victory over Wheaton late in the season. However, he hasn’t let his impressive stats distract him from his primary goals.

“I try not to focus on stats, but I know I didn’t have a horrible year,” he said. “On the other hand, four [wins] is a joke and we know we are good enough to win more. So this year we want to establish ourselves as a force in the county.”

WJ played its first game of the season on December 6, a disappointing 86-54 home loss to Richard Montgomery. Despite the loss, Mahne put his skills on display, finishing third on the team with six points and a game-high four assists. In the next game, Mahne poured in an impressive 12 points, but the team lost to Paint Branch 78-61. In the team’s third game, a victory against Damascus on December 12, Mahne scored a career-high 20 points to lead the team to a 61-45 rout of Damascus.

As captain, Mahne looks forward to his new responsibilities.

“I’d say that I’m more responsible for maintaining a positive attitude and an encouraging environment,” he said. “I also have to work more closely with the coach to talk about team specifics such as plays and other things.”

His new role also gives him the responsibility of checking in with his teammates and keeping them motivated throughout the season. Mahne believes that the team is talented and has a lot of potential.

“We have arguably one of the best sophomores in the county in [guard] Phillip Stubin,” he said. “We also have some great players with multiple years of varsity experience such as  [senior forward] Hank Roll and [senior center] Corey Criss. If we can learn from each other and work as a team, the sky’s the limit for us this year.”

Junior forward Bealu Bezabeh has been particularly impressed with Spencer’s impact on the team.

“[Spencer] is a great teammate. He is unselfish with the ball and he pushes everyone to do their best, which is what makes him a great captain,” Bezabeh said. “He is also an elite scorer, great passer and lockdown defender. I love playing with Spencer.”

The team is especially excited for the arrival of new head coach Kevin Parrish. Parrish has nearly 20 years of high school coaching experience.

“Big Kev is going to make a huge difference,” Mahne said. “He brings a level of understanding and experience to the team that we haven’t seen in any previous coach. He really is the main catalyst for this winning change we are bringing in.”

The Wildcats are sitting with a record of  3-2. They look to add another win to their resume with a game at Seneca Valley on Thursday, December 20 at 7:15 p.m.