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Hilmar deals with personnel losses; still eyeing playoffs
Hilmar Varsity
Jordan Ahid attempts to cut through the key as three defenders put pressure on the drive. - photo by BROOKE BORBA / The Journal

Hilmar High’s boys basketball team didn’t earn a Trans Valley League Championship or make it to the post-season last year but it did lay a foundation for the future—or so it thought. Anchored by then freshman Demsen McFaddin, who led the team with 359 points, the Yellowjackets looked poised to put together a potent offense for the next three years.

But McFaddin’s sudden transfer to Turlock High and the Central California Conference put a wrench in those plans. To make matters worse, Hilmar’s second best guard, senior Jesse Burke, injured his knee during football season, leaving head coach Danny Freitas without his two best players and holes to fill on his team.

“We don’t have a true point guard but we got some good handlers who can facilitate the ball,” Freitas said. “It’s basically playing guard by committee.”

Without question the loss of McFaddin and Burke will hurt the ‘Jackets’ season but the return of seniors Jordan Ahid and Trevor Mattox ensures there would still be a sense of leadership on the team. Juniors Joseph Bello and Beau Balswick have also stepped in to help Hilmar’s 2012 effort, with Bello setting up shop under the rim and Balswick putting in time at guard.

“It’s going to be more of a team effort,” Freitas said. “We’re going to win as a team or lose as a team.”

Hilmar is currently competing in the Ron Peterson Tip Off Tournament in Riverbank; putting the finishing touches on their team chemistry before its Jan. 4th TVL home opener against defending champions Modesto Christian High. The ‘Jackets fell to Ripon Christian High on Thursday but beat Waterford High 61-46 on Friday.

“The kids are playing hard and I’m happy with the results so far,” Freitas said.

Hilmar’s chances at a TVL title are slim at best, especially considering MC’s talented roster bloated with transfers, but its chances at a playoff berth is still in the cards.

“We’re in such a tough league,” Freitas said. “Modesto Christian is piled with players; they keep reloading.”

“Our goal is 15 wins and to make playoffs,” Freitas added.

Hilmar plays in the Ron Peterson Tip Off Consolation round at 4p.m. today at Riverbank High.