Prep boys basketball: Hunter finds its rhythm
It takes more than one word to describe how Hunter High School played in the preseason.
Not so good.
Not good as in .500?
Nope, not good as in 4-9.
But since the Wolverines started region play, there is only one word needed to describe their game:
Hunter beat West on Friday and Granger on Tuesday to improve to 10-0 in region play, a complete transformation from a team that had not won more than two straight games this season.
Who is responsible for this turnaround? It starts with a baseball player who didn't try out for basketball until his junior year and a sophomore who leads the team in scoring and in carrying bags.
Brandon Davies is a 6-foot-5 senior who is averaging 11.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game despite getting off to a slow start.
"He's improved 500 percent," Hunter coach Dave Filimoehala said. "He's a very good shooter and now he's added the dribble dimension to his game. Now he can take it to the basket."
Davies used his lengthy frame to make himself an intriguing prospect on the pitching mound. He learned how to throw an effective changeup along with his latest pitch a knuckleball.
"I was focusing on baseball," Davies said. "But I started playing in the summer [with Hunter] and then made the team. We struggled a little bit at the first part of the season, but now we're playing well. Everyone is working hard and now that hard work is paying off."
Davies teamed with sophomore Noah Togiai to make a formidable combination. Togiai, a sophomore guard/forward, leads the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game.
"He likes to attack the basket and has NBA 3-point range," Filimoehala said. "It makes him tough to defend. He started last year for us and was one of our leading scorers. He's put the time in the offseason to make himself a better player, and it's showing."
The winning streak is a result of Hunter finding its chemistry.
"The players from last year were telling me this was my time to show what I have," Togiai said. "We had a team meeting at the beginning of the year, and in that meeting they told me they would follow me. Vocally, I'm not the team leader. I'm still the little kid that gets punked all the time. I have to carry everyone's bags. We have seniors that are the vocal leader. I just try to lead by example."
Filimoehala is quick to point out that it isn't just Davies and Togiai who have helped Hunter turn around its season. It's been about his rotation finding out how to play together.
"The preseason for us is different then it is for most teams," he said. "We like to look at different combinations and see what people can do. We've improved game by game, and we hope that continues into the state tournament."