As we bustle through the high school basketball season, the Peekskill Varsity Basketball team seems to be carrying some momentum in finishing the year with a positive win-to-loss ratio. Currently, their record stands at a solid nine wins and five losses, and with many games to come, there’s only more room for improvement.
Over the past 4-game stretch, Peekskill’s Antonio Taylor has been phenomenal. While scoring 20 plus points during the stretch, he earned himself the “Player of The Week” title from LoHud. Along with Taylor leading the team, players such as Brennon Heaven and Elijah Ritter have been helping the team on both offense and defense. Heaven is capable of playing paint defense with his height and wide wing span as much as he is capable of immediately hitting a corner three on the other end after defense. Elijah Ritter is a lockdown defender with a knack for grabbing up steals and a satisfactory ability to score on the drive.
Just watching Peekskill play in real time, you can see that this team is equipped with a roster that has a job for everyone. The team has many forwards that are very versatile in their playing style. LaQuan Jenkins is a player that can get you a block on one end and dish the ball to a man in the corner on a fast break in no time. Mehki Hodges is a tall power forward with the strength to make anything in the paint, even while being heavily contested. With these players and the rest of the roster, this team has the potential to make it far.
There are many play styles that coaches and teams like to use, many of which involve lockdown perimeter defense and a fast offense to the other end, but Peekskill plays the game differently. The team itself has many great scorers that could easily shoot the ball and knock it down in the mid-range, but the team, instead, relies on constant perimeter ball movement. The guards will rotate side to side and dish the ball to their shooting guards in order to create defensive lapses on their opponents in order to score corner threes or pockets for a swift drive in the paint.
With the exception of Heaven and Taylor, the team falls behind in outside shooting. The three point shot is a big part of offense in this era of basketball. Nowadays, three point shooters dominate the game rather than the big man dominating the game with high- rate paint scoring like in the 80’s. Basically, if you construct your offense solely on your team’s paint and mid-range game, the chances of you winning games decreases a lot.
Their defense is also different from most; the team will focus primarily on closing off the corner three opportunity, but will play their heavy defense in the paint. The majority of the roster is over 5’10, which makes for a pretty tall team. This means that most guards and forwards can rotate between paint and perimeter defense without creating mis-matches.
Things that the team can work on as a whole would be their perimeter rotations on the court. In addition, they can practice having everyone put up threes. Every day the game is becoming more and more versatile in the capabilities that players have. Take Nikola Jokic for example; he’s the star player for the Denver Nuggets, has an amazing passing ability, rebounds well, and shoots the three ball with ease. Yet, standing at 7 foot, he’s Denver’s starting center. In the 80’s, you would’ve never heard of big men shooting threes. The responsibilities that the big men on the court had were to rebound the ball and play close quarters defense in the paint.
Could you imagine if all the players on Peekskill Varsity basketball developed a consistent three ball? If players like Mehki Hodges could develop a three point shot and knock them down in game, imagine how much of an unstoppable force he would be.
Two-way players that can play lockdown defense and knock down the three ball are essential for every team. Two-way players such as Klay Thompson, Scottie Pippen and Paul George are the perfect models as to how the two-way archetype should be run. Teaching young players how to play tight defense and three point offense is the perfect way for their coaches to prepare them for the next level: college ball.
With some work in the gym on their perimeter rotations on both offense and defense and getting all their players to shoot from three, slowly this team can become a high-performing machine that will be even more exciting to watch. The bad news, however, is that Antonio Taylor is a senior, along with a couple other players, so they won’t be on next year’s roster. The good news is that a good majority of the team are still juniors and younger. Just by watching the games and looking at the stats, Brennon Heaven will most likely become the star of the team next year.
For now, it’s about finishing the year strong with a positive win-to-loss ratio and developing the team’s chemistry as a whole. If they can do this, hopefully the team can go on to achieve championships in their future.