San Marino High School boys’ basketball team is coming off an impressive summer, during which the Titans compiled a 20-4 record despite taking on some elite competition throughout their summer league and tournaments.
The experience culminated last week with what head coach Mihail Papadopulos called “a great team bonding weekend for the junior varsity and varsity in Palm Springs.”
“Our goal was to put them up against the most athletic and complete teams this summer in order to see how this young group stacked up and the boys in royal did a great job battling and competing all summer long,” said Papadopulos, whose team captured its first Rio Hondo League championship since 1981 this past winter, sharing the title with La Cañada and South Pasadena. “We absolutely love this group of varsity boys. It’s perhaps our most skilled and versatile group top to bottom. We are ‘sneaky athletic’ and they love to play hard and play for each other.”
Papadopulos pointed out that San Marino battled against teams with good size and athleticism such as Riverside King, St. John Bosco High of Bellflower, Palmdale, Summit High of Fontana and Palm Springs.
“We faced off against very technically sound teams like Newbury Park, Keppel [from Alhambra], Ayala [of Chino Hills], Burbank and Shalhevet,” Papadopulos said. “It was gratifying to see our boys competing and only dropping competitive games to King, Shalhevet, Troy [of Fullerton] and Palm Springs. We learned a lot about our groups this summer, especially in the losses. We know that we have a lot of offensive firepower and gritty defenders, but we still have a lot to learn.”
Returning junior Adrian Huang, senior Xavier Duong and junior Jadyn Tse had solid summers in terms of scoring and impacting games on both ends of the floor.
“Adrian is such a dynamic player that can score in so many different ways and creates such a matchup issue for [the opposing] team,” said Papadopulos. “Xavier is literally an x-factor with his ability to attack off the dribble and pull-up as well as hit from beyond the three-point mark and Jadyn can hit a half-dozen three-pointers before you realize the game started and just locks in defensively like few are willing to do.
“It’s also a luxury to have two wonderful floor generals or point guards in juniors Bobby Reyes and Eli Chin,” the coach continued. “Bobby has such a feel for the game and is so unselfish. Not only does he set up his teammates like few can put he hit some incredible shots, none greater than a beyond halfcourt buzzer-beater to win against Bonita [High of La Verne]. Eli is such a bulldog and impacts the game with his relentless and tireless energy. He’s going to be fun to watch grow into his game.”
The Titans also provided valuable playing time for returning junior Jaden Clarke.
“He is an elite athlete,” said Papadopulos. “His ability to soar for rebounds or get timely blocks literally can wreck a game for opposing teams. And his offensive game is evolving as well, which is super exciting.”
First-year varsity player Jack Fuerst also had an outstanding summer.
“It’s hard not to compare Jack to his older brother, Joey, who as a senior led the state in scoring but, boy, Jack can really shoot and score and his improvement this summer was phenomenal. He, too, had games where he hit a barrage of threes and single-handedly moved our team forward. We love his toughness and leadership.”
Rising varsity senior Josh Tang, juniors Dean Ryan and Kyle Lei and sophomores Casey Chan, Mitch Mooney and Luca Moggio also had notable summers.
“We were hoping that all these guys could impact our team this summer at some point but we didn’t realize that it would happen so soon,” Papadopulos gushed. “They played a lot, contributed to our team process and we are so happy to have such young exciting and selfless talent.”
The Titans are enjoying a much needed two-week “dead period” and will have preseason practice in the fall in preparation for the CIF regular season, which opens in November.
“It was fun to see all the different ways that we could succeed this summer,” Papadopulos concluded.