Paint Branch Boys Basketball Enjoying Eight Game Win Streak
It's looking like this will be another strong season for the Paint Branch boys basketball team.
The Panthers are coming off an exciting campaign in which the group finished 18-7. The team even enjoyed some postseason success, topping Digital Harbor and Springbrook before falling to eventual MPSSAA 4A state champion Perry Hall in the 4A North regional final, 82-71.
Though there has been an influx of younger players on the roster this season, Paint Branch still returns eight players from last year's group, which has definitely made the team more motivated.
"That experience gave them a sense of how much work it takes to get there and the level of basketball that we need to be playing in order to compete deep into the playoffs. It has fueled a lot of what we are doing this season," head coach Chris Bohlen said. "This group has developed a really strong work ethic and each day we are trying to get a little better so as the playoffs approach we are playing our best basketball."
If the Panthers do play better than they already have been, then they'll be a serious contender in the state playoffs. After dropping its opener against Bethesda-Chevy Chase 73-72, Paint Branch has reeled off eight straight wins. The Panthers have won their games by an average of 23.62 points, with just one of the victories being by single digits.
For Bohlen, the key to his group's success has been the its depth. The Panthers regularly use 10 different players during games, with Bohlen saying the talent level doesn't drop much when the team's bench goes onto the floor.
"It's a real testament to the kids' work ethic during the off-season that they have developed as much as they have," Bohlen said. "We like to play an up-tempo style, attacking, and keeping pressure on the opponent for a full 32 minutes. Our depth allows us to play that way. We have kids who can play multiple positions, on both ends of the court, and that has really been a luxury."
Junior point guard Richard Dudley has emerged as the team's top scoring threat with 23 points per game. Xavier Reaves, a senior small forward who's also a team captain, is right behind Dudley with 18 points and eight rebounds per game. Sophomore power forward Jordan Alphonso has also been key as the team's top rebounder and shot blocker. Bohlen also expects senior guard Bobby Miller to be one of Paint Branch's go to players in the second half of the season as he continues to get healthy after suffering a broken foot.
The team's offense is what stands out, with Paint Branch averaging just under 87 points per game. As dynamic as the team has been on that end of the floor though, Bohlen says Paint Branch's defense has been crucial to the group scoring so many points.
"We want to create as many easy offensive opportunities with our defensive pressure as possible," Bohlen said. "We've emphasized being a quick strike offense and developing a system of play that focuses on spacing, ball and player movement, and maximizing each players' skills to produce the best shot for the team each time down the court. We're lucky to have such an unselfish group of guys who've really bought into the way we play."
In terms of goals, Bohlen says that every season the Panthers talk about wanting to win their division, section and region before winning a state title. For that to happen though the group will need to put in the work on a daily basis, something Bohlen says his players are enthusiastic to do.
"Successful players and teams build successful habits and that is a daily process," Bohlen said. "Based on their work ethic to this point, I fully expect this group to maximize their talents. If we are able to do that, we will have accomplished our goals."
|January 8th, 2018||By: Wick Eisenberg|