Highlanders surprise on the court

February 6, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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By Greg Farrar Isaiah Davis (right), Hazen High School senior guard, drives around Lindbergh senior forward Michael Smith on Jan. 29 to put up the last two points of the game in the Highlanders’ double-overtime, 71-64 victory.

By Greg Farrar
Isaiah Davis (right), Hazen High School senior guard, drives around Lindbergh senior forward Michael Smith on Jan. 29 to put up the last two points of the game in the Highlanders’ double-overtime, 71-64 victory.

The 2013-2014 Hazen High School Highlanders boys basketball team isn’t used to losing, so when it suffered its second loss of the season against Renton Jan. 24, the boys couldn’t wait to get back on the court.

“We took two days off and I think they were just excited to get back competing on the court again, which was encouraging to see,” coach Ryan Thompson said.

The loss to the Indians showed Hazen that the team couldn’t take anyone lightly, as it sat atop the Seamount League standings, senior guard Isaiah Davis said.

It’s a mistake they won’t make again, he added, as the Highlanders wrap up what’s been an impressive regular season.

Just three seniors graduated from last year’s Hazen squad, a team that went 7-14. So, this year’s near perfect record, in which they already have more wins than they had losses all of last year, is even more surprising given it was done with almost the same roster.

His team’s quick turnaround is due, in part, to a tireless offseason, Thompson said, in which the guys put in significant work in the weight room and on the court.

“We have a lot of experience that we haven’t had the last two years, but these guys put in the work out of season to put themselves in this situation,” he said.

Summer workouts were well-attended, allowing the guys to grow closer as a team, senior Adonis Shareef said. The Highlanders also benefitted from a key transfer in sophomore guard Connor O’Hearn.

“Everybody had the mindset where we had goals to be Seamount champs and go to state and make the seniors’ last year count,” Davis said of the offseason motivation.

The Highlanders are poised to meet those goals, with a chance to win the league title outright.

In a season filled with highlights, the one victory that stands out among the rest for the Highlanders is the team’s 84-52 win against rival Kennedy on Jan. 10.

“Kennedy was a big one,” Shareef said. “These guys beat us every year and we couldn’t let that happen again this year.”

Dominic Green had a career-high 31 points, while Anthony Phillips had 18 points and 16 rebounds, in a game that Thompson called the team’s “most complete effort to date.”

“Dominic has had a really good year,” Thompson said. “He’s stepped up a lot from where he was last year. He had a monster summer and really came back a different kid.”

Hazen will wrap up its regular season Feb. 7, when it hosts Tyee at home. From there, the team will compete at districts with the hopes of eventually making it to state, but the players admitted they aren’t looking that far ahead just yet.

“We’ve got a 1-0 mentality for every game we play, so every time we come out, we’re not worried about the next game or the game after that, we’re worried about what we’ve got to do that night,” Shareef said.

 

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