The Scotts Valley High boys’ basketball program is used to bringing in a steady number of players throughout the years. More than enough to fill up rosters for all three levels in high school.
But the entire program, which now includes just the varsity and junior varsity teams, is only 18 players deep. It’s the lowest turnout that Scotts Valley coach Mike Pasquini has had in a long time.
This year’s varsity team is young. It carries five sophomores, Evan Anderson, Marshall Dodge, Nico Isles, John Murphy and Chase Welle, and a freshman, guard Will Shilling.
“That’s young, for varsity,” Pasquini said. “Our numbers are down in regards to this year. I don’t really have an answer for it.”
Tristan Roure, a junior guard who is averaging 20 points per game, leads the Falcons this year along with senior guard Zach Musch, who opted out during the abbreviated 2021 spring season.
Other upperclassmen include senior guard Isaiah Velez, a stud for the Falcons’ football team in the fall, and junior guard David Bruce.
Pasquini said this particular group of upperclassmen hasn’t had the strongest interest in basketball. In fact, Scotts Valley became one of two local schools to recently drop its freshman program due to the lack of participation.
Plus, the ongoing pandemic deterred some student-athletes from the sport.
“We’re making it work with what we got,” Pasquini said. “This whole group of guys you see are new … We are just fundamentally building young players into more fundamentally competitive players.”
Still, he’s been extremely proud of how the players’ work ethic has grown in the past four months. He also likes that they’re slowly turning into that competitive team he envisioned at the start of the season.
The Falcons are currently 6-7 in preseason play. They went 1-2 at the 35th annual Tim Cole Memorial Tournament that ended with a 68-42 loss against Mt. Eden High (8-5) of Hayward on Dec. 30.
Roure said the goal for this season is to earn a trip back to the Central Coast Section playoffs. The Falcons were bounced in last year’s Division IV semifinals with a loss to Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton.
Roure said going up against tougher opponents who tend to be bigger and stronger than them helps the Falcons prepare for opponents in league play and the postseason.
“I think we’ve improved a lot,” he said. “Our first tournament, we were not playing good defense and our offense, we weren’t moving at all. I think we’ve improved a lot by being able to pass the ball as a team and score as a team, now.”
Musch, who is scoring 10 points per contest this season, said they’ve been unselfish with the ball and have been passing it a lot more to create open shots.
“We’re pretty young, so we gotta take a lot of time to develop and learn,” he said. “But for the most part I like the way we’re playing this season.”
Musch also added that the defense has vastly improved since the start of the season. He said they just have to keep playing consistent basketball and limit the turnovers.
“That hurts us a lot but just keep playing strong and rebound and pass, and we’ll be good,” Musch said.
Pasquini said it’s been tough matching up with teams from over the hill, especially because the Falcons are a guard-heavy team with thin players.
However, he does see improvement whenever they match up with teams in the area.
The Falcons were supposed to tip off Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League play Tuesday night at Santa Cruz High but that game was postponed due to Covid-19 protocols. They’re also in jeopardy of having tonight’s league game at Soquel High postponed.
If they have to wait, Scotts Valley won’t see action until it hosts San Lorenzo Valley High on Jan. 11 at 7pm.
The Cardinals (9-3), who are the defending league champion, are the favorites to win it again this season, according to Roure. But the Falcons will be fighting for at least the runner-up spot against Aptos High (11-3), San Lorenzo Valley (12-3), Harbor High (3-3) and Soquel (4-7).
“We’re going to be fighting for a good spot between us,” Roure said.