A year ago at this time the Burroughs High School’s boys’ basketball team was in year two of a rebuilding project. The Indians struggled and stumbled to a 3-24 overall record and a last place finish in the Pacific League.
Meanwhile, the Indians’ girls’ basketball team enjoyed their first league title in 32 years. They finished 25-5 overall, set a program record for wins in a season and advanced to the Division II A quarterfinals.
November 23rd’s annual alumni games were an indication that the two programs are in a role reversal for this coming year. The boys’ team showcases veterans with experience, while the girls’ team may start a pair of freshmen while reloading without former Pacific League MVP, Lischa Elsenbach. Neither team will be as dreadful as the last place finishers of the boys’ squad a season ago, but neither is promising league championships just yet either. Here’s a more in-depth look at both teams as they gear-up for the 2011-2012 basketball season.
BURROUGHS BOYS’ BASKETBALL
Coach Adam Hochberg has worked hard to turn around a program that has struggled the last two season. He promises this season his team will play with, “pride, passion and purpose.” Several players are entering their third seasons on the varsity level and seven return from last season. Add in a successful summer campaign and hopes are high the Indians will compete this season.
“We can be a top-three team in the league and we can make the playoffs,” Hochberg said. “We certainly are not going to be the pushovers we’ve been the last couple of years.”
Burroughs leading scorer from a year ago, junior Jorge Flores-Pere injured a hamstring two weeks ago and could be sidelined until league play starts in 2012. The injury was especially concerning for a team and scheme built on speed as the Indians may showcase five guards on the floor at once in some action this season.
“We will look to take advantage of our quickness,” Hochberg said. “We’ll look to get up and down the court in a hurry.”
In addition to Flores-Pere, Burroughs also returns seniors Austyn Thompson, Zeke Zuniga, Pedro Gonzales III and Brandon Jimenez as well as juniors Lawrence White, Carlos Mier Jr. and Hanoak Amanios. Transfer Ty Bennett from Burbank High School will also be in the mix.
Burroughs lacks one bonafide star, but there are at least a half-a-dozen players close in ability who could each lead in scoring on any given night. One gets the sense that is how Hochberg likes it.
“The sum of our parts are really good, ” said Hochberg. “We will be better on offense, no doubt, but our focus will remain on our defense.”
BURROUGHS GIRLS’ BASKETBALL
Junior Aysia Shellmire is the lone Indian who saw significant minutes during last season’s championship run. She averaged nearly ten points per game (9.8 ppg), as well as 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks en route to being a first-team all Pacific League selection.
Shellmire will be joined by Delaney Nicol, the daughter of former Burroughs girls’ basketball coach and current softball coach, Doug Nicol. Although Delaney is presently nursing an injury, she joins a long history of freshman guards for the Tribe. Another freshman, Davina Del Castillo will likely start in the front court.
Two sophomores, Sydney Ortega and Paula Galicia will also be key to whatever success the Indians find this season. Seniors Nicole Wiliams, Kaycee Cartee, and Gabby Pineiro as well as junior Bilee Trotta also figure to be important pieces for head coach Vicky Oganyan.
“We have some youth, but we have talent,” she said. “Everyone works, we’re going to have some growing pains but we are going to be fine.”
Burbank, Pasadena, Muir and Crescenta Valley all figure to be tough this year in the Pacific League.