Seniors Caleb King, Jarvis Watkins and Kei’shaun Sinclair use last season as motivation to win State title
STORY BY ALLISON GIBSON – EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
After last season’s history making year with the Varsity Boys Basketball team making it to the NorCal Bracket Semi-Final round, the expectations are definitely high for this year’s team—go farther. However, the expectations don’t stem from the fans, but rather from the three captains.
Seniors Caleb King, Jarvis Watkins, and Kei’shaun Sinclair have been starters since their sophomore year. Last season they each experienced what it is like to win a game at Power Balance Pavilion and they each want to use their past experiences to win State this year.
“It’s the last year,” King said. “I wouldn’t say there is pressure to do well from others, but it is an expectation in our mind that we do well. We as a team want to get to State, because we didn’t last year.”
With the goal of a State title set, the three have worked together to better the team as a whole.
“We have tried to just create more of a chemistry on the team,” Sinclair said. “We now have really become a family unit. As captains, we have just tried to be leaders in practice and on the game floor. When we are at practice, we are always commanding that everyone does their best and that brings out the excellence in everyone. That just makes it easier as a team for us to go out and win games, because then everything comes naturally.”
So far, the practice has paid off. Entering tonights game against the Cordova Lancers, the Titans are 23-1 on a 22-game winning streak, currently placing them second in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II rankings.
“We have been working really hard at practice,” Watkins said. “Our chemistry is great and we hope to continue our success into playoffs.”
Much of the continued success as been attributed to King (3 assists per game), Watkins(3.5 rebounds per game) and Sinclair (7 points per game) by Varsity Head Coach Rob Richards.
“All three contribute to the team as players every time they hit the court,” Richards said.
“As leaders, they contribute in different ways. Caleb is the more vocal leader during workouts and practices, getting things going for us. Jarvis is our motivator in practice and getting the rest of the team going harder and with more intensity when needed.
Kei’shaun is more of our quiet, in-game leader, calming the team down, getting us balanced, and getting us back into our game.”
With their experience on the team, each player has grown into their role on the team and each contribute every game. King averages 11 points a game, Sinclair leads the team in steals and assists per game with four, and Watkins leads the team in free throw shots made with 59 this season.
“After the past three years on Varsity, they have all improved immensely,” Richards said.
“Caleb has become more physical, quicker with the ball, and improved his ability to finish at the rim.
“Jarvis has really worked to become a complete basketball player. He has improved his shooting range which now makes him a double threat—to shoot or drive.
“Kei’shaun was very one dimensional three years ago as a basketball player. Now, he probably has the most complete-game. He can run the point for us, shoot the three, or go in the post verse bigger guys.”
Compared to their sophomore years, the team has grown in maturity.
“I just think we just grew more confident our junior and senior year,” Sinclair said. “Our sophomore year we didn’t have confidence in ourselves or our teammates, plus our skill level was subpar. As we started to bond and became more confident, everything got better.”
According to fellow captain King, the improvement from three years ago also stems from growth of leaders.
“The last two years, there hadn’t been a lot of leadership from players,” King said. “People would not get on each other as much, so this year we have really tried to create a more focused environment to get to where we want to get. Everyone gets along a lot more this year, than any of the other years.”
With such high standards this season, the captains have had to demonstrate hard work and leadership and though the Titans have been doing very well this season, there are still challenges that the captains are faced with sometimes.
“We tend to start games slow and come out sluggish,” Watkins said. “But, as captains we bring the team together and we encourage the team to pick it up.”
However, due to their veteran status, King, Watkins, and Sinclair know how to bring the team back together and step up their game.
“These three rarely get rattled which has a calming influence on the rest of the team,” Richards said. “When things aren’t working, I don’t have to burn a timeout early in games to get them on track–they know how to do it themselves. They’ve done a great job communicating with the team and keeping me ‘in the loop.’
“Every team changes every season. When these guys and the rest of the Seniors move on, there are some young guys that need to learn to grow into a leadership position. Hopefully they’ve learned from all their predecessors. I’ve been fortunate to coach these guys and enjoy the success we’ve had with them.”
Before the three can move on though, they still plan to lead the team back to Power Balance.
“I would have to say going to Acro was one of the best moments of my life,” Sinclair said. “It is the floor where all the NBA players have played, and the big screen above our heads, and the fans, the whole thing was really memorable and I think that experience betters us as captains. We play harder and with more confidence to make it back to Power Balance.”