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Playoffs goal for small school teams
Denair b ball
The Denair High boys basketball team gears up for a stellar season during a recent practice. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

The 2011-12 high school basketball season is in full swing. Players are putting in time and effort in school gyms across the Valley, practicing and preparing for successful seasons.

 Denair, Hilmar and Turlock Christian High’s players are no different. All three teams have already played in at least one game in the past week, testing the state of their teams and gauging what areas still need to be perfected. Although there are plenty of differences between the three teams there is one glaring commonality, their overall goals for the season.

“As with any varsity team the goal is always to win league, make it to the playoffs, get a home game and eventually make it to Arco Arena (Power Balance Pavilion),” Turlock Christian head coach Mike Williams said.

For Turlock Christian, a team in rebuilding mode, the realization of their goal will have to come from developing a team identity. This is Williams’ first season as the head coach for TC, or any varsity team, as he helms a team that includes transfer students and inexperienced varsity players.

“We have a lot of guys who have not played together on the same team,” Williams said. “They’ve responded very well, but we have a lot to work on in order to reach the level we can achieve this season.”

Hilmar is also in a similar boat. The Yellowjackets come into this season with a young team which includes one freshman player.

“This year we only have maybe one or two guys with varsity experience,” head coach Danny Freitas said.

Hilmar has also begun the season shorthanded, with many of their players still competing on the football field rather than the court. Even without a full team Hilmar still managed to defeat Gustine in their foundation game. Hilmar is hoping its win is a sign of what is yet to come.

“We surprised the league last year by going 6-6,” Freitas said. “This year I see us competing with the league again.”

The Coyotes may be the most experienced team of the three this season but they are definitely not the biggest. Despite the shortcomings in the size department, Denair has a very cohesive squad of players, many of whom have played together on the soccer field as well as the basketball court this summer.

“We played a lot of summer basketball, that’s where it starts for us,” head coach Daniel Romero said.

In addition to team unity, the Coyotes believe their defense will be the ticket for success this season.

“We’re small and we’re scrappy. If we can hold teams to under 50 points we’re going to win every game,” Romero said. “Since we’re smaller we need to run and press it. Our defense will lead to victories for us.”

To contact Frankie Tovar, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.