A year after losing in the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs to St. Francis, defense has been the mantra for the El Camino High School boys’ basketball team, and it has already had some early returns.
“It’s a reality check. They feel it and now they want it,” El Camino coach Archie Junio said. “It’s going to help them in the long run.”
El Camino has started the season 6-0, and that six-game winning streak is the longest the Colts have had since the 2008-09 season when they won 11 straight on their way to a berth in the CCS Division III semifinals.
“We don’t preach the record,” Junio said. “Just keep doing what you’re doing to [help the team].”
El Camino has generated more offense, and that has stemmed from the Colts’ defensive mentality.
“Our defense has gotten a little more aggressive. It’s creating transition baskets,” Junio said. “We’re faster than last year.”
The Colts have scored at least 60 points in each of their first six games after only doing it eight times all of last season.
Having top returners Elijah White and Anthony Knight believe in the defense has helped the rest of the team follow suit.
“Chemistry is always there [between White and Knight],” Junio said. “They bought into playing strong defense.”
Knight led the Colts in scoring and rebounding as a junior last season.
The fleet-footed junior White has lit up the scoreboard so far this season, dropping in 17.7 points per game.
“They’re a lot more mature,” Junio said. “They play off each other very well.”
White and Knight were both All-PAL Bay first teamers last season.
Michael Smith, who came up from junior varsity at the end of last year, has also been crucial to the team’s early success.
The 6-foot-2 junior is averaging 12 points and four rebounds per game.
El Camino will get its first real test this season on Friday as it takes on St. Ignatius and it will be used as a “measuring stick,” Junio said.
“Any time you play a WCAL team, you’ve got to bring it,” Junio said. “This is going to be our most challenging game to date.”
The Colts are well on their way to their second consecutive winning season a year after finishing second in the Bay behind Burlingame, which went undefeated in league play.
“We want to be competitive, but our main goal is to play our game,” Junio said.
This is El Camino’s third year in the Bay after spending a number of years in the PAL North Division.
WHO: El Camino High School
COACH: Archie Junio
CURRENT RECORD: 6-0
LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 17-11
KEY PLAYERS: Elijah White, Anthony Smith, Michael Smith
LAST GAME: Defeated Lynbrook 68-41 on Saturday
NEXT GAME: Friday, 7 p.m., at St. Ignatius