The Serra boys’ basketball team has let Central Coast Section championships slip through its fingers over the past few years, but with a roster overhaul during the summer, the Padres may have their best shot to end their drought.
“We missed four banners by a possession in each year,” coach Chuck Rapp said. “We did talk about that and address that. It was this team’s goal to claim that banner.”
Serra lost in the final of the CCS Division I playoffs to Santa Teresa last season.
Now-graduated Connor McGrath dominated the team’s offense last season and, Rapp said, the team resembles nothing of that team.
“The key to our team has been our pressure defense,” Rapp said. “On offense we have to get back to moving the ball. The team is completely different.”
Two of the few returners, Henry Caruso and Jason Barsocchini, have played major roles for the Padres. Caruso was an all-league second-teamer and has continued to improve this season, Rapp said.
The senior guard Barsocchini “has picked up where he left off and has gotten better as the season has gone on,” Rapp said.
This season, Serra (19-3, 10-2 West Catholic Athletic League) sits one game out of first place after losing to Archbishop Mitty on Saturday, but remains confident heading into its last two league games.
“We suffered a setback [losing to Mitty],” Rapp said. “I don’t think we represented ourselves well. So the key now is to bounce back from that and get back to the way we were playing earlier and finish off strong.”
The Padres have played an uptempo style, a style Rapp prefers, and have averaged 58 points per game, up from 53 a year ago.
“We’ve been working on pushing the ball,” Rapp said. “That’s the way we’ve been preaching since summer ball.”
“Last year’s team really slowed the ball down and we really prided ourselves on our rebounding,” Rapp said. “We have more guys on our team that can make plays in space.”
Rapp said his team craves a championship and the mentality has been there for years.
“This has been in place from the beginning,” Rapp said. “They’ve introduced that to the underclassmen. That’s become part of the Serra culture, to play for a championship.”
Serra still has a chance to claim a share of the league title but will need help, most likely from Sacred Heart Cathedral when it faces Mitty.
Serra finishes off league play with St. Ignatius today and Valley Christian on Saturday.