Central Valley High School’s youth-laden boys basketball program compiled an 0-11 record and lost all 10 of its games against Western Athletic Conference South Division competition during the 2020-21 COVID-shortened season.
Head coach Mike Rodriguez believes the Hawks will enjoy a major turnaround this winter.
“I’m confident we can be pretty good,” he said. “Experience is the No. 1 thing. We got our core group back from last year’s team. They put in a lot of work during the offseason. The players are more confident. They’re pushing each other every day at practice. The kids have really bought into what we’re trying to do.”
Central Valley will be led by Yoshi Kumar (Sr.) and Gage Mastropierro (Jr.) this season.
Fellow returnees Michael Couto (Sr.), Erick Pena (Sr.), Jordan Powers (Sr.), Willy Souksavath (Sr.) and Jeremy Alvarez (Jr.) will be counted upon as well.
Central Valley has six newcomers: Roman Aguinaga (Jr.), Jake Olsen (Jr.), Jomari Ocasiones (Jr.), Cameron Bradshaw (So.), Jagdeep Hundal (So.) and Alex Prado (So.).
The Hawks lost three players to graduation, including Xavier Valencia, Amari Taylor and Steven Santora.
“We got good chemistry,” Rodriguez said. “They work and play hard. They get after it.”
Kumar is a third-year varsity player. He earned honorable-mention conference accolades as a sophomore.
“Yoshi is our leader,” Rodriguez said. “He sets the tone for everything. He’s vocal and leads by example. He doesn’t take plays off. He goes 100 percent all of the time.”
Central Valley will compete in the Central California Conference in 2021-22, along with Patterson, Atwater, Buhach Colony, Merced, Golden Valley and El Capitan.
The Hawks were previously members of the CCC from 2018-20.
“The league is going to be really tough,” Rodriguez said. “There are no easy teams. You have to compete every single night.”
Central Valley spent this past season in the WAC South Division for COVID-safety reasons.
Playoffs were postponed for all sports during the 2020-21 school year because of a late start to the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s nice to play a bunch of games again,” Rodriguez said. “It’s good for the kids. They got shortchanged last year.”