When the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division boys’ basketball schedule kicked off, there was only one thing known for certain.
It was going to be anybody’s title to win.
With Wednesday’s games marking the halfway point of the season, there was certainly no surprise as to who was sitting on top. But even Jefferson High School coach Nick Paras was surprised at the Indians’ record.
“We expected to be a tough team to play,” Paras said. “But we never expected to start 4-0 in this league.”
Jefferson sat at 11-8 overall and 4-1 in league after dropping their first PAL Ocean contest Wednesday to 52-48 against Mills. It slowed the momentum that Jefferson had started in a hard-fought 48-44 victory over Carlmont on Jan. 21 that saw the Indians rally back from a double-digit deficit in the third period.
Bernard DeBerry, who led Jefferson with 23 points in the win over the Scots, leads a group of young players who are hungry to erase last year’s frustrations.
“Last year we underachieved,” Paras said. “This year we sort of expected some of our success we’ve had.”
Last year’s team finished next-to-last in league with a 3-7 record, well behind undefeated Hillsdale. Which begs the question: Can the Indians hold on and take home the PAL Ocean title? Paras would like to see it happen, but isn’t expecting it.
“Every game in league so far has been a war,” Paras said. “They are going to continue that way because every team is preparing for each other. It’s been one of the most competitive leagues I have seen in years. You have to fear every team in this league because if you look past anyone you are probably going to lose.”
But Paras isn’t going into the second half of the season expecting anything less out of his team than what he has seen so far.
“We have a hard-working bunch of kids,” Paras said. “They are not going to let any kind of adversity hold them down.”
That was displayed during the Carlmont game, when the Scots completely controlled the tempo of the first half and kept the Indians in check on both ends of the court.
The Indians’ bread and butter is the transition game, getting easy layups on the break and generating momentum to carry them past their opponents and they used it in the second half to escape with a tough win against the Scots.
“We’ve focused on rebounds and getting into transition, getting up and down the court,” Paras said.
Including a Feb. 9 rematch at Carlmont, when the Indians hopes for a league title itself could be up for grabs.
Jefferson at Half Moon Bay
WHEN: Wednesday, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Half Moon Bay High School
LAST TIME: Jefferson defeated Half Moon Bay 51-45 on Jan. 14