Patriots vs. Eagles

Varsity boys basketball team hits the court on Dec. 21 against O'Fallon in the MICDS Tournament.

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Patriots vs. Eagles

Senior forward Greg Rollins drives to the basket.

Senior forward Greg Rollins drives to the basket.

Alicia Strong

Senior forward Greg Rollins drives to the basket.

Alicia Strong

Alicia Strong

Senior forward Greg Rollins drives to the basket.

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As winter sports roll around, that means its basketball season. The back-to-back conference champion Patriots look to go for a three-peat this year. Currently the team has a 3-4 record. They face O’Fallon Christian in the first round of the MICDS Holiday Tournament on Dec. 21.

Adam Sommer, Paul Stone, Greg Rollins, Mitchell Ellebrecht, Isaiah Esker are this year’s starting five.

Esker and Ellebrecht stand at 6’6 and 6’9. Sommer is the team’s point guard and main scorer.  6’1 forward Greg Rollins and 6’0 guard Paul Stone fill the lineup.

Head coach Matt Roach talked about some strengths of his team.

“We’re a good transition team and get to the free throw line. Often we make them!” Roach said.

According to Roach, the Patriots will use the fast break often this season. He also said teams will also learn you can’t foul them as they’re a good free throw shooting team.

South lost four starting seniors last season. Roach said it will be a challenge to recover from this.

“Every year you have a new team and new dynamics that can be challenging. As a coach, it is my goal to get the most out of every player on the team. So, we have to trust the process and realize that it could take time if a guy is new to the varsity team,” Roach said.

Roach said the Patriots will be using the “trust the process” mentality this season after losing key players.

Roach talked about the game plan and if they’re doing anything different this season.

“Game plan is very similar. We want to try and get up and down the court quickly. Our defense changes from game to game based on our opponent,” Roach said.

Roach said earlier they’re a good transition team so playing fast will help the team be successful. South will be having different defensive schemes night in and night out based off of who they’re playing.

Roach said the Patriots do have their weaknesses.

“We need to be more consistent when it comes to our toughness. The guys play incredibly hard, but there is a difference in playing hard and playing tough,” Roach said.

Roach explains how toughness and playing hard are two different things.

Finally Roach said there aren’t any specific key players.

“All 13 of our guys are key to leading this team. We need each one’s individual strength’s to flourish. When that happens you have a good team!” he said.

According to coach, every guy on the team brings something to the table to help win games. If every guy executes his strength this team can win games.

Other than the coach, players also had a lot to say about this season. Adam Sommer discussed his feelings about the team. Last season Sommer posted 11.4 points per game last year as a sophomore.

Sommer said he thinks the team definitely can improve on last year’s 18-9 record.

“We have goals and to be like the team last year because of how hard we worked last year and we hope to grow off that by keep working hard this year and have some respect to our name,” Sommer said.

The Patriots enter a conference with much harder competition. In fact, Webster Groves has won state the last two years. However, Sommer is by no means intimidated and wants the team to prove themselves against the some better teams.

“Our conference has changed and we believe it is more difficult with tough matchups against Webster Groves, Jennings, Lafayette, and Marquette just to name a few. But we are excited to play them and hope to prove we can hang with the big dogs,” said Sommer.

Sommer talked about if he considered the team young or old.

“I would consider this team young because I am the only returning starter and we lost a bunch of seniors,” Sommer said.

The team changes up completely this season as South lost a total of six seniors from last year’s team. Sommer said he looks to guide a lot of new varsity players this season.

Sommer said he has great confidence in the team’s capabilities. He said although they have tougher matchups this year they’re not intimidated by the better teams and want to prove themselves to be in the elite category in the area.

Sommer also said he has some goals for this season.

“My goal for the season is to win a district championship because the last two years we won conference but I am yet to win a district championship even though we made it to the championship last year as the one seed,” Sommer said.

The Patriots have had plenty of success over the past couple years and Sommer looks to grow from that and take it to the next level.

Sommer spoke on how the team can be successful.

“I think this team can be successful because we have talent at all positions and hard workers but not much experience so once we put it all together and gel we will be a successful team,” Sommer said.

The team is unexperienced and needs time on the floor to be successful.

6’9 junior Isaiah Esker is the tallest player this season. He discussed his feelings about the team.

He said he thinks a key player this season will be junior Jack Crayton.

“He is a knock-down shooter who plays good defense,” Esker said.

Esker thinks Crayton will be used as a solid role player this season that can provide some scoring off of the bench.

Esker also said he thinks the team focuses more on offense than defense.

“We have lots of guys who can score which makes us a solid team,” Esker said.

Esker believes the team consists of many scorers this season and should be fun to watch them in half court sets.

Esker said a big loss this season will be senior Josh Skidmore. Skidmore was set to be the starting guard alongside Sommer. Skidmore had a stress fracture in his foot at one of the first practices.

“It’s a tough loss so early in the season, but we have guys that can step up,” he said.

Esker said seniors Paul Stone and Dominic Gong will get minutes along with Crayton to make up for the team’s loss. Skidmore will return shortly after winter break.

The team has some challenges to face this upcoming season, but they’re ready to defend the Suburban West and try to win conference for the third straight season.

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