Boys’ varsity basketball aims to win as WCAL concludes

by Anusha Jain (’25) and Anya Nandiwada (’25) | February 3, 2023

Photography by Nathan Lee (’24)

Over halfway through the winter season, the Boys’ Basketball Team is 4-5 in WCAL as they prepare to face Archbishop Mitty on Tuesday, January 31. The team has already accumulated numerous wins so far and with a winning spirit in mind, they hope to prevail in their final six games before CCS. 

After losing ten seniors last year, the team of thirteen has many new faces. As a result, this season has been “fun and experimental” according to starting forward Nate Heppberger (’23). Despite the new faces, everyone “get[s] along [on] and off the court…spend[ing] time with each other outside of just practices and games.” The teammates unite over their common goal: “win together.” 

Basketball is a team sport that requires players to know each other’s playing styles well in order to be successful. According to starting guard Gavin Everett (’23), “trust is a significant part of being successful in basketball.… Everyone needs to work well with one another, everyone has to be on the same page at all times.”

Starting guard Anujan Tennathur (’23) elaborates, “Every practice, every weight lifting session, every film session, and every game, we are all giving our 150% effort.… We love going into every workout with high energy and enthusiasm.”

Early in the WCAL season, the team had a huge victory over Junipero Serra High School, beating them 59-46. For Everett, the game represented one of the reasons he wanted to play basketball at Saint Francis; there was a vast turnout of “fans and students at our game and it was amazing to play in front of them.” While the pandemic made it impossible to have fans indoors, restrictions have been lifted this year.

The powerful energy of fans was apparent in the team’s sold-out home game against Bellarmine, when the gym was packed with encouraging students and teachers. Pep Band and Pom Squad also showed their support with performances at the end of quarters and during half-time. Heppberger describes the special experience as a welcome change from prior seasons: “having fans this year has been super exciting.” 

A significant highlight for the team thus far was the three day Rose City Tournament at Cardinal Newman High School, where they won two games and lost their third by just two points. Tennathur described the tournament as “a great opportunity for us to not just play high level basketball, but also to bond off the court.”

Another highlight of the team’s season was their win in double overtime against Saint Ignatius in San Francisco. It was “a hard fought win” according to Heppberger: “we all had to grind through regulation and two overtimes.” Eventually, the team emerged victorious, winning 74-69.

Oftentimes, one of the biggest struggles for high school athletes is balancing schoolwork and athletics. It’s very difficult to achieve high grades while spending hours every day at games and practices. When asked, Heppberger states, “it is always a challenge balancing schoolwork and basketball, but as a team we are all so academically oriented, so we always find time to get homework done whether it’s waiting for the vans to leave for an away game or just getting it done in the locker room before practice.” Tennathur adds, “it’s not easy, but it’s all a part of being a student athlete, and we embrace that challenge.” 

Student athletes at Saint Francis like Everett know that “being able to play [sports] at this school is a privilege. Most kids do not get the opportunity, so it is important to take advantage of it.” Despite being disappointed in some of their losses starting the season, Tennathur assures supporters, “we have a lot of basketball left to play.”

Categories: Sports

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