Basketball Team Unbeaten Since December 7

As of Feb. 3 the team is perfect in conference play


Jaden Valentine, senior, averages 8.5 points per game.

Andrew Baker and Bryan Beck

Basketball is a demanding sport, requiring focus, dedication and hard work day in and day out. After a rebuilding period during quarantine, the basketball team got out to a cold season start with three consecutive losses but quickly ramped up the temperature with 15 straight wins. 

Like everything else, the pandemic impacted basketball. There are many aspects to the game that are surfacing now that covid isn’t as big of an obstacle. 

“Last year was my first year, but going through the virus, we had the quarantine twice, we only had to work out a little bit, I didn’t really know the guys, they didn’t really know me,” head coach Gregory Ackles said. “And this year we actually got all season to hang out with each other more, getting to know each other a little bit more. And we’re fairly talented, which helps, so that’s made things a little bit easier. Actually, being able to do what you normally would do during a regular basketball season has helped us.” 

The team had to deal with many growing pains and junior guard AJ Smalls agrees with Ackles on what has helped the team become more successful.

“I think we really just got older. We were a young team for the past  few years, so we got older and we matured. Everybody knew it was gonna be better when we got older. That’s how it is,” Smalls said.

Smalls leads the team with 13.7 points per game.  

A recent cross-town rivalry stirred up emotions in fans and players, but junior Dashaun Grant who led the team in points against the Heritage Huskies, Jan. 19, with 18 doesn’t focus on past performances.

“It was a much needed win, we got them out of the way and we’re focused on next week,” Grant said.

The competition in our conference is pretty even, which makes every game as exciting as the last. There are no obvious champions.

“Everybody in this conference can play with each other. Anybody can be beat on any night so we gotta come out and play our game,” junior Nigel Lucas said.

Lucas scored 12 against the Huskies. 

Wakefield, who entered the game with a 12-1 record, faced Wake Forest with the mindset of a blowout, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Wake Forest won 69-63, a similar score to the Heritage game, although the Huskies brought a 4-9 record into the game with the Cougars. 

“I feel like we were the underdogs. Everybody was doubting us, and I felt like we could win the whole game,” sophomore Jaevian Alston said.

Ackles knows his team has a target on their back due to the hot streak they are on and encourages the players not to look too far ahead. Ackles believes that all the teams are competitive and will give their best shot to become the team that broke the win streak. Focus is a key part of the game, and Ackles warns his players not to get distracted.

“Trying to get them to understand daily: value that day. Take care of that day. Don’t worry about what’s two weeks down the line. That was something that happened when we played Wakefield and I caught myself looking ahead to Heritage,” Ackles said. “But I had to tell them, you have to take care of today’s game, don’t worry about the next game, take care of today’s game. That’s something I try to instill in them. Make sure we are worrying about the person in front of us and then eventually you’ll get to that game.”