HomeNewsBoys’ basketball makes playoffs after two years of struggle

Boys’ basketball makes playoffs after two years of struggle

Published Jan. 31, 2023


Currently ranked second in the Gabilan Division with a 5-2 record (14-5 overall), the CHS boys’ varsity basketball team, coached by Kurt Grahl, is headed to the February playoffs after obtaining a 500-point record during the preseason.

This winter, the head coach attributes the majority of the team’s success to the strong foundation that the players have been honing over the years, even through the disruption of the pandemic and the 2021 shift to the Gabilan Division, which forced players to compete against larger, stronger schools.

Junior Timmy Marnell, a point guard for the Padres, driving the ball during Carmel’s game against Everett Alvarez High School. (photo by AINSLEY HENDERSON)

“For us to be able to compete at a high level, it’s really important for us to be able to build a sound base,” Grahl mentions. “Many of the guys that went through all of the tough times last year in the more competitive league had to battle every single game. That fire they got put through, those lessons, is really paying off this year.”

During the height of COVID-19, which damaged the team’s ability to build fundamental skills and bond with each other, varsity basketball had an overall record of 1-7. Forced to then use the 2021-22 season as time to rebuild and grow, the Padres had an overall record of 6-18 and a league record of 2-9. 

“We were kind of punched by a lot of the league,” says senior Jim Moreau, who has been a varsity starter since his sophomore year. “We’ve been pushed around, but a lot of the teams have lost a lot of their seniors this year, while we have nine seniors on the team. All of that veteran leadership and experience has really come in handy.”

The Padres’ struggles have paid off, and the team, strengthened by the addition of several sophomores, including Simeon Brown (15.3 points per game through Jan. 28), Jackson Lloyd (10 ppg) and Warren Blut, has successfully rebounded. Their reward? A guaranteed spot in the February playoffs. 

Grahl believes that the team will make it far in the playoffs as long as they continue to work well with each other.

“Our team has a lot of chemistry this year,” senior John Phillips-Sullivan says. “We’ve been playing with each other since we were young, so we tend to always be on the same page. Last year we didn’t really have that.”

Sophomore Jackson Lloyd is one of the team’s key shooters this year. (photo by AINSLEY HENDERSON)

The team’s offense, led by Phillips-Sullivan (12.9 ppg) and supported by Brown and Lloyd, is particularly strong, and their defense, headed by seniors Moreau and Adam Carley, is not to be trifled with.

“As a starter,” Brown says, “my job is just to continue to make everybody around me better. We have a pretty good team, and I think we can make a playoff run. If we keep working hard, we can’t be stopped.”

Even though nine members of the 14-man team are graduating in 2023, Grahl is not worried about the team’s future after they’re gone. He emphasizes that although the seniors may be more consistent players and more experienced, the sophomores and juniors are talented too.

“It’s not all on [the younger guys’] shoulders for us to have success this year,” Grahl says. “The seniors are able to play hard and take a lot of that load off, so they have a chance to learn and grow without having the weight of success under their shoulders. Next year, when it’s their turn to take over, I think those guys will be ready.”

After winning a home game 63-35 against Hollister High School on Jan. 27, Carmel will face off against Palma at Palma School on Friday, Feb. 3.

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