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(Dec. 6, 2019) Coach BJ Johnson said the Stephen Decatur boys’ basketball team is a “work in progress,” but the Seahawks are training hard to prepare for the 2019-20 season.

“They’re starting to buy into what we’re trying to accomplish,” the seventh-year coach said. “The goal is to be the best defensive team as possible – [because] defense wins games – and be the best rebounding team.”

Johnson said the Seahawks need to take care of and value the basketball and limit turnovers.

Handling other teams’ pressure will be key as well.

“If we can handle the pressure, we should be good. We’ll be in most games and we have a good chance at winning,” he said.

Johnson said the team will use its size and experience down low, under the basket, to its advantage.

“Our strength, I believe, is inside, with Gabe [Aluma] and Drew [Haueisen],” he said. “If we go inside to those big and powerful guys down there, I think they’ll be a mismatch for a lot of teams.”

Aluma is 6 feet 9 inches and Haueisen is about 6 feet 4 inches tall. Johnson will rely on the two seniors to put points on the board and be a big presences on the court.

“Drew will be one of our leaders and Gabe, nobody can match his size,” Johnson said.

Senior DaCameron McAfee, who is new to the varsity team, will also be strong inside, and provide another threat along with Aluma and Haueisen, Johnson said.

“My job is to just play defense and go hard. I’m obviously going to get a lot of offensive opportunities just because of my size,” Aluma said. “In the Bayside [Conference] nobody else is really as big as me or as strong as me. I think I’m one of our guys that’s going to pull people up when they’re down and bring the energy every time I step on the floor. I feel like I’ve done it more and more as I’ve progressed with my game.”

Aluma has been a member of the team since he was a freshman and said he is looking forward to his final season playing for Decatur.

“I think we’re really deep and we have a lot of chemistry. I’m excited, for sure,” he said. “We’re just going to come out here and compete every night no matter who’s playing against us. By the rankings, we’re getting stepped on a little bit, but I think we should do pretty well this year.”

Haueisen and senior Trae Bunting are team captains.

“I’m going to lead by example. I’m going to set a good example for the rest of the team and hopefully, we can all step up together and get things done,” Haueisen said. “We have a lot of room to grow, but I think we could be a really good team this year and be at the top of the Bayside if we can stick to what coach tells us – play hard defense, hustle, have good offensive possessions, work the ball around and take good shots – and play as a unit.”

Haueisen was also a captain last year. He finished second in scoring with 273 points. He led the team in rebounds, with 189.

Haueisen and Theo Hobbs, a senior, earned Bayside South honorable mention accolades for their performances last season.

“I’m really excited to do everything I can to help this team win,” Haueisen, a two-year member of the team, said.

Johnson said Bunting will be a three-point threat this season. He led the team percentage-wise in three-point shooting last year.

Seven of the 11 players on Johnson’s roster competed last season, when the team finished with a 12-11 record. The Seahawks’ season ended in the second round of the 3A East Region tournament.

“The kids are working extremely hard. I think we’re heading in the right direction,” Johnson said. “Our motto is to get better after each game.”

Johnson said he was pleased with the Seahawks’ performance during their scrimmage against Cambridge earlier this week.

“I saw a lot of good things we can build on,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the season.”

Johnson said the goals are to win all home games, then, capture Bayside, region and state titles.

Decatur was scheduled to kick off the season yesterday, Thursday, on the road against the Kent Island Buccaneers. The Seahawks will host the Snow Hill Eagles on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Berlin.

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