The Palo Alto High School boys’ basketball team looks to achieve a great season with a former star coach and its group of talented players.
Last season, Paly (7-5, 17-8) began the year with successful games but ultimately fell in the second round of Central Coast Section playoffs against Santa Teresa high school.
“They started off very strong and won their first 20 or so games but then they had a little bit of a slide at the end,” new head coach and Physical Education teacher Peter Diepenbrock said.
Diepenbrock previously coached the boys’ varsity team during the 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons and is returning to his former position, replacing Adam Sax. Junior guard Jack Simison believes that a new coach may be a big factor in leading the Viking’s successful season.
“I believe with the new coaching staff and a lot of coach-able players, we will do better this year,” Simison said. “Once we are able to get the full team together our coaching staff will take us through what I believe will be a great season.”
One of the challenges the team faces this year is the loss of players during initial practices. Seniors Justin Hull and Mikey Grandy and sophomores Paul Jackson, Bryant Jefferson and Max Dorward were completing their football season, as the Vikings continued into the CCS semi-finals and were unable to practice with the basketball team. However, Simison says this obstacle shouldn’t affect the team too drastically.
“Those players will cause setbacks, but eventually we will be back to normal or even better than before,” Simison said.
The team lost key scorers Kevin Mullin and John Rojahn to graduation, according to Diepenbrock. However, Diepenbrock said he believes this will provide an opportunity for the team to discover new talented players.
“They both were very good seniors who scored a lot of the points,” Diepenbrock said. “One of our challenges is going to be finding out who are going to be our scorers — that’s a big void we are going to have to fill.”
Simison stated that he thinks this year’s team is filled with great players who can be successful.
“The team this year is a solid group,” Simison said. “I am proud to be playing with the selected players this year.”
Diepenbrock reiterated this thought and is entering the season hoping for success.
“They are a very unselfish team and I think we are going to have a strong team chemistry,” Diepenbrock said. “ I think it’s a good group and I have very high expectations.”
The team will take on Piedmont Hills High School at 5 p.m. tonight in San Jose in its first game of the season.