(Dec. 7, 2018) With only three veterans returning from last year, the coaching staff of the Stephen Decatur boys’ basketball team hopes to shape and mold the new players to build a strong program.
“I would describe this team as very young in experience, but that’s a good thing because we can grow together. We’re trying to rebuild and I hope everyone will be patient with us,” Coach BJ Johnson said. “I think everyone is getting better each day and that’s our goal. They’re working extremely hard. I cannot ask for any more. We’ll just see where the chips may fall.”
Of the 14 players on Johnson’s roster, only senior Brett Berquist and juniors Churchill Bounds and Gabe Aluma were on the team last year.
“This team is very young,” the sixth-year coach said. “The beauty of it is, with this year and next year we can build something really strong.”
During the 2017-18 season, Decatur earned an 18-8 record. The Seahawks captured their third consecutive 3A East Region championship and advanced to the state tournament. They lost in the state semifinals.
Bounds, who stands 6 feet 10 inches, received Bayside South Conference Honorable Mention accolades for his performance last season.
Johnson will count on Bounds, a team captain, to lead the squad.
“I’m telling Churchill it’s his team. This is his third year playing varsity and he’s got the most experience of any of our kids returning, so I’m putting all the weight on Churchill Bounds and I think he’ll deliver,” Johnson said. “He’s definitely very skilled and, at 6’10”, I think he’ll cause a problem in the Bayside with people trying to guard him. I think we’ll go as far as he will take us.”
“I feel like being on the team three years learning from great players like Keve [Aluma], Gary [Briddell, Jr.] and Kevon [Voyles] that I can take what they showed me, and I can give it to these guys and definitely help improve their game as much as possible,” Bounds, who plays center, said. “I feel like we’re jelling. It’s going to take some time and effort, but definitely we’re going to get there.”
Berquist, a guard, has also been part of the team for three years. As one of only two seniors, Berquist said he wants to make sure everyone’s focused and ready when it comes to game time. It is important for the boys to practice how they would play during games, he added.
“We know our bread and butter,” Berquist said. “That’s our secret. BJ is like the best coach in the Bayside. With him, that just makes everything easier. We can feed of that, we can feed off our crowd and feed off each other.”
Among those joining the team this year are juniors Antonio Collins, Matt Brown and Theo Hobbs. Junior Drew Haueisen is a transfer from Snow Hill.