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Skyhawks Depth Challenged as they Begin to Reinvent their Identity

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Skyhawks Depth Challenged as they Begin to Reinvent their Identity

Kyle Pinnell

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Every good team has an identity. From playing up-tempo on the break to slowing the game down and running plays, these teams have a style of play that defines who they are.

Despite losing seven seniors a season ago, Southridge believed it had found their identity by the time the first ball was tipped. However, a serious injury to one of their core players has them scrambling to find their identity before Metro League play starts up in January.

Not even a half into their home opener, Senior Zach Galvin went to create some space by using a simple step-back move. As Galvin went to push back, his leg buckled and he fell to the court. That night he left the building on crutches and a week later was diagnosed with a torn ACL.

Until the injury was diagnosed, Southridge head coach Phil Vesel said that the team had a cloud hanging over them. They needed to reinvent themselves.

“After Zach got hurt it’s been kind of hard to find our identity as a team, so I think we’ve just been working on that day in and day out and figuring out who we are as a group,” senior Kade Hustler said.

So what is this new identity the Skyhawks want to build? According to the coaches and players, it’s one that revolves around getting stops on defense and pushing the pace in transition. They want to be a tough team that others fear on defense.

“We just want to play hard defense, get the defensive board, and run because that’s how our offense runs,” Senior Ben Pak said. “Out in transition we can make plays, we can have guards who can find people in deep-corners for three’s. It all starts on defense.”

The Skyhawks have adjusted well so far –only picking up one loss in their first seven games– but they acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to be done before they head into league play.

“Something we’ve struggled with throughout the season already is rebounding,” Senior Brock Henry said. “We want to keep adding that and it is also part of that toughness piece. Being tough enough to box a guy out and go hit him opposed to watching and waiting for the ball to come to you.”

Added Hustler: “We’re a team who can make plays at times, but I feel like we have that switch we need to flip and keep it on all the time.”

The Hawks always planned to play a more defensive style, much like they did a season ago, but without Galvin — one of their go-to offensive players and leaders– staying in the game on defense becomes a lot more important.

Their defensive emphasis will be tested next week during the Les Schwab Invitational at Liberty High School. A season ago the Skyhawks went 2-2 in the LSI against national powers like Oak Hill Academy (Va.) and Crespi (Calif.). If they want to improve on that record, you can be sure that it will start on the defensive end.

“We want to hang our hats on defense,” Vesel said. “We want to be a tough defensive team where you got to earn everything that you get.”

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Skyhawks Depth Challenged as they Begin to Reinvent their Identity