Sophomores enhance boys’ basketball

Jackie Nichols

On game days most varsity basketball players have the option of sleeping in, taking a nap before the game or running errands during their AUTs. Jackson Dubinski and Nick Norton never have that; as sophomores they are stuck in the building for all of their classes.

At 3 p.m. though, they become leaders with their own right on the hardwood. Dubinski and Norton trade between point and shooting guard, controlling the tempo and direction of each play. The older players trust their two underclassmen with leading their team to victory.
“I don’t really think about it a lot. The only thing is some guys are stronger and a little bit bigger and faster. You have to adjust your game knowing that you can’t always drive in the lane because there are guys towering over you,” Dubinski said. “You don’t really think about it when you are out there playing. You just think about what you can do against them and use your strengths to their weaknesses.”
One senior on the team understands exactly the situation Dubinski  faces. Senior Will Echelmeier was the only freshman on the varsity team three years ago, and he knew what it was like being a part of the team.
“For me I was the only freshman, so I was by myself. At first I made a lot of new friends. It sounds kind of weird on the basketball team, but it’s true. I knew them all, but I wasn’t good friends with any of them,” Echelmeier said. “I didn’t; Jackson didn’t either. You don’t really say much because when you are the only one, you learn when to speak and when not to speak.”
Dubinski is not alone this year, though. The other sophomore on varsity, Norton, makes Dubinski feel like less of an outsider on the floor with seven out of the 13 varsity players being seniors.
“The seniors help us out on the court and give us pointers on what to do,” Dubinski said. “We all work as a team; we want to make them happy because it is their last year, but if we hang out we usually all hang out together.”
Despite the variation in their ages, the boys see themselves as equal contributors on the court. Upperclassmen don’t get more playing time simply because they have been here longer, and the younger guys know their hard work during practice will pay off in playing time.
“We don’t even think about age. We think of who is on the varsity and who we have available,” head coach Jim Scanlon said. “We don’t think of age or year. If you can play, you can play, whether you’re 12 or 20.”
Even with seven veteran seniors on the roster, the starting lineup changes from game to game, never containing a full court of upperclassmen. No matter the combination Scanlon puts on the court, each game the team has learned how to find its chemistry to produce the desired outcome.
“It’s pretty cool because it shows we have a lot of talent on our team, and anybody can play. It’s just motivation. Jackson and I play two different roles, but it’s good for him because in the years to come he’s only going to be that much better,” senior Corey Haith said. “Now we have our trust in him. You don’t think about [giving him the ball; it’s just second nature.”
While Dubinski knows the degree of intensity required at the varsity level could turn him against the game he has loved since he was little, he doesn’t let that affect his mentality.
“I’ve been playing for so long,” Dubinski said. “It’s really just the beginning for me.”
By Jackie Nichols