The old saying goes, “Age is just a number”.
The Apollo High School basketball team is taking that to heart.
The Hawks sport a starting lineup with three sophomores who happen to be among the team’s top four scorers. Despite being underclassmen, this youth movement has helped propel the Hawks to a 9-2 record, with those two losses being by a combined six points. The roster, and the mindset, have helped fuel this hot start.
“We just really want to get it done on the defensive end because if we do, that will jumpstart our offense and get us rolling,” Apollo sophomore Jeff Perez said.
The three sophomore starters are Perez, Holland Woods, and Dre Marin, who is also Apollo head basketball coach Jacob Marin’s son. Coach Marin says the three are versatile players, but each has his own specialty on the court.
“I would say (Woods) is the quarterback of the offense, and Dre is the quarterback of the defense,” Coach Marin said. “Jeff is what I call a ‘glue guy’. He does a little bit of everything. He defends, he rebounds, and he finishes.”
The sophomore starters played at the varsity level last year as freshmen. Coach Marin says they grew as players in their first year of high school basketball, and are now “seasoned” players with a plethora of game experience. They have returned in their second years with expanded roles and more developed skill-sets after an intense offseason.
“Last year, they did a lot of good things, but you could see their youth and their lack of strength caused some challenges for them,” Marin said. “They developed their bodies, and it helped their game. They’re stronger: They’re stronger with the ball, they’re stronger finishing, they’re stronger in the fourth quarter.”
And as all three players grow in their second varsity season, father and coach, Jacob, and son and player, Dre, continue to nurture their relationship on and off the court.
“It was definitely a lot harder last year, just getting used to everything. I think he’s a little harder on me, but I think it all pays off. On the court, it’s player-coach. Off the court, it’s father-son,” Dre Marin said.
Despite the early-season success, don’t anticipate the Hawks to get ahead of themselves.
“Sometimes we talk about (the future). Our biggest thing is winning a state championship by the time we’re out of high school,” Woods said.
With this young nucleus, the Hawks have multiple chances to achieve just that.