Brendan Yu
Curry Coastal Pilot

Last season wasn’t exactly one for the record books, as a young and inexperienced Brookings-Harbor boys basketball team finished with an overall record of 9-14.

The outlook for this upcoming season is a much more promising one however, as the Bruins return a more experienced and mature roster.

“We’re older, and we’ll all be juniors and seniors,” said head coach Buell Gonzales Jr. “There’ll be a couple of sophomores that’ll be on varsity, but we’re basically going to rely on juniors and seniors for the majority of the work, which is nice. It’s nice to have an older group.”

While Brookings-Harbor finished last in the Far West League with a record of 3-7, the team wasn’t far off from a 6-4 record and second place finish. Of the Bruin’s three opening losses in conference play, all three were decided by a matter of three points.

“I think a lot of it was just youth. I mean we had some great seniors and some good senior leadership on that team, but when you start a couple of sophomores you’re always gonna have, especially in tight games like that, you’re gonna have mistakes down the stretch,” said junior Brig Schofield, one of the team’s leading scorers last year. “A lot of that goes away with — we have a big strong junior class this year, and a solid senior class this year— a lot of those mistakes go away just because of experience and getting older.”

Fellow junior guard Austin Fronckowiak concurred, emphasizing that the team will bring a much more mature mindset into the season this year.

“I think last year we weren’t as mature as we are coming into this season,” Fronckowiak said. “Last season we’d come down to the last final seconds, and we lost a couple of games by three, a couple in overtime by three; they’re all close games. I think just then, we weren’t as mentally prepared or ready to finish a full game versus this season.

“Our first practice we had, we probably ran more than we did during the mid-season of last year. We’re getting more prepared and healthy so we can play a full game.”

According to Gonzales, the Bruins, who averaged 48 points last season, will have no trouble facilitating plays in transition as the team boasts a number of agile guards and deadly perimeter shooters. The real test will be how effective the Bruins, whose defense allowed 50.8 points a game last year, can be on the other end of the floor.

“We’ll be able to put the ball in the hole, it’s just how efficient we’ll be able to play defense,” Gonzales said.

Another critical aspect for the Bruins this season will be their bench, which Fronckowiak feels is strong enough to go 10 deep.

“We’ll be able to bring anybody off the bench and immediately be a threat on the floor,” Fronckowiak said.

“What I want to get this team to go into is to be really passionate when they play, to really feel the game and just drive enough to where we all believe in one thing, so our identity is noticeable through everybody in the gym, especially the kids on the bench.”

While the season is still two weeks away and the Bruin’s identity has yet to be formed, Schofield is already confident in what the team’s biggest strength this season will be.

“Whatever it’s gonna be, I know we have great senior leadership this year, and that’s the biggest strength for us I see,” Schofield said. “I know that’s not a stat you’re going to see in the box score or the newspaper, but that’s something that this team has that we haven’t had in years past. We have a lot of great seniors and juniors that are ready to come out and work hard and be leaders on and off the court; that’s going to be huge for us.”

The Bruins will kick off their season at the three-day Yreka Tourney at Yreka High School on Nov. 30.