There are a lot of the same faces from the last couple of years for the Chaparral Firebirds basketball team. The difference this year that has them in the Division I final four? Experience.
The Birds have run with the same core of players, who are now seniors, for all three years of his coaching tenure at the school and the experience and cohesiveness of that comes with years playing with one another is showing.
“This is my third year here and these guys have been with me since the start,” mentioned Chaparral head coach Dan Peterson. “I think we’ve got a great rapport and what we’ve got is a senior class that doesn’t stop.”
“We have a good chemistry going right now, said senior point guard Brandon Hoffer after their 75-59 win over St. Mary’s. “We are finding each other, hitting open shots. I mean, we have been playing together for four years and the underclassmen are stepping up too. We’re clicking right now.”
The Firebirds can beat you in so many ways with Grand Canyon signee Kenzo Nudo, super sophomore Colten Kresl, Ryan Bayster who is a load inside and the man quarterbacks it all, senior Brandon Hoffer.
The improvement of this Firebird team can directly be correlated to how much Hoffer has improved from one year to the next. Now as a senior playing in his final games before going off to Colorado-Mesa at the next level, he is playing like a second coach on the floor and because of it, Chaparral never panics when adversity presents itself.
“He (Coach Peterson) has strong confidence in me,” explained Hoffer. “I am the point guard so I have to be a leader out there. We work together, we see things and let each other know and we’re on the same page.”
“He knows the game, he sees the floor, he finds our shooters,” added Peterson of Hoffer. “He penetrates well, you see him finishing at the basket. That’s what he’s doing this year. He’s actually finishing and he’s not just a point guard that they sag on.”
Hoffer’s game has a very similar style to Steve Nash who happened to be his favorite player growing up when he was with the Phoenix Suns. He and the Firebirds hope to keep “clicking” the way they are as the play for a spot in Monday’s state championship this weekend.