It's been too long since the Hilmar High boys basketball team has made the playoffs and this year’s group is determined to break the streak.
In fact, the last time Hilmar made the playoffs was during the 2009-10 season when the 'Jackets accumulated an overall record of 20-8 and won their opening postseason game.
Since then, the team has spiraled into a losing record for six consecutive seasons.
“Our expectations are to make the playoffs and that is something we have not done here in a while,” said Hilmar head coach Paul Willis. “That is our expectations for this team, to make playoffs. Obviously, if you can get a higher seed it is great but to do something we haven't done in a while is our goal and, of course, we want to win league.”
Winning league seems to be the most challenging, especially in the Trans-Valley League where the best preseason team is Ripon, which is loaded with seniors.
The Indians are projected as the TVL favorites but the 'Jackets aren’t taking any preseason speculation too seriously, as they are focused on themselves.
Last year the team was 12-13 overall and had a losing record of 4-8 in the TVL.
The 'Jackets lost their leading scorer from a year ago in Alec Cano, but they are returning their second leading scorer in senior Kole Gaglio, who averaged 13.4 points per game along with 5.4 rebounds.
“Kole gives us an inside and outside threat and we also have Jonas Tate, who is our big guy,” said Willis.
Tate hit a growth spurt in the offseason and the junior now stands at 6-foot-8, looking like arguably one of the biggest ballers in the area.
The 'Jackets will also rely on senior Xavier Burke, along with Carter Azevedo to name a few.
Hilmar will also look to their size to give them an edge against smaller teams. They currently boast four players who are 6-foot-4 or taller.
“One of our strengths has to be good senior leadership, but we also have size as well, and we will try and use it to our advantage,” said Willis. “That is a big positive we have with Jonas in the middle is a huge force and gotta be a positive for us.”
Hilmar will travel to Newman to take on Orestimba at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.