Mills boy’s basketball team expects to fight for title

Joseph Schell/Special to the SF ExaminerBack for more: Brandon Berkovatz

The Mills boys’ basketball team has claimed its league title each of the past two years, and losing four all-league players has not cooled the Vikings’ confidence heading into this season.

“There are some expectations that we should be competitive,” Mills coach Rick Hanson said. “[We expect] we are going to be one of the best teams, no matter what league we play in.”

Mills is transitioning after seeing a quartet of solid players, including all-league first-teamers Marcus Chew and Arakel Aristakessian, graduate last spring, but Hanson said his team is making the shift smoothly.

“I think so far they have transitioned well into getting quality minutes,” Hanson said. “Mostly, I feel good about this team.”

The Vikings do bring back all-league second-teamer Brandon Berkovatz and junior Matty Wong, who played significant minutes for the varsity team last season.

“Those are two guys we have relied on,” Hanson said.

Seniors Kevin Chan and Nick Martz have played major roles early on, as well as sophomore Joseph Worku, but Hanson still sees work left to do.

“Consistent play both offensively and defensively is something we need to get better with,” he said.

The Vikings began the four-game Bambauer Basketball Tournament at Marin Catholic High School on Tuesday after having not played since Dec. 16, and Hanson does think rust will play a factor.

“The boys had some time off and we practiced [Monday],” Hanson said. “I think it was a perfect time to have some time off.”

The field consisted of teams from Los Angeles, San Diego and Washington, all of whom are contenders in their respective leagues.

“I feel it’s one of the better tournaments in the Bay Area and we look forward to going up there every year,” Hanson said. “Just the consolation portion of this tournament is just as good as any of the tournaments we’ve played in. It’s an exciting four days. We can explore who we are and what we can be.

Mills has won at least 17 games each of the past six seasons, and even though there are expectations, the 10-year coach does not put much stock in long-term goals.

“We kind of go game by game and try to do the best we can,” Hanson said. “I’m not big on making predictions or season-long goals.”

The Vikings were the sixth seed in last year’s Central Coast Section Division III playoffs and advanced to the quarterfinals before being knocked off by Division III runner-up and Peninsula Athletic League Bay champion Burlingame.

Mills has a final tuneup for league on Jan. 6 against Capuchino.

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