Season preview: Experienced players to lead boys’ basketball to success

Claire Krugler and Amy Leung

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Senior Kevin Mullin rebounds the ball and drives to score. Paly defeated Saratoga High School 66-31 on Jan. 22, 2014. Photo by Edward Mei.

Now-senior Kevin Mullin rebounds the ball and drives to score. Paly defeated Saratoga High School 66-31 on Jan. 22, 2014. Photo by Edward Mei.

After making it to the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section playoffs, the Palo Alto High School boys’ basketball team is hoping to accomplish another successful season with its more experienced players.

Last season (15-8, 8-4), Paly fell to Menlo-Atherton High School in the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section playoffs. Senior guard Kevin Mullin says that even after graduating key players Noah Phillips, Keesean Johnson, Clark Schmutz and Matthew Fogarty last season, the team will be strong due to many returning players.

“We lost four seniors, but we’re not really worried,” Mullin said. “We’ve got a couple of guys who are ready to step up — [senior] Jonathan Rojahn, [senior] Alex Dees [and junior] Justin Hull, among them.”

Hull agrees, emphasizing that the experienced sophomores and juniors of last year’s team will be stepping up.

“Last year there were a lot of new people who hadn’t played the year before,” Hull said. “This year we have more people who actually played last year so they’re more familiar with the offense and our coach and what he’s trying to do. That really helps in our first couple of tournaments.”

With experienced players, Mullin is looking forward to a different game strategy.

“We’ll be playing a little more uptempo this season,” Mullin said. “Playing defense the whole court, from one end to the other. [We’ll] try to get more shots up this year. Other than that, we’ll still going to be running our offense.”

The team will take on Santa Clara High School at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Santa Clara in its first preseason game.

“We haven’t really gotten a chance to scout them,” Mullin said. “From what I know we’ll be able to handle ourselves.”