By Jacob Polacheck (’17)

The SDJA basketball team remains on top after finishing the 2017 season with their third consecutive league title. Although the team was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, this season culminated a historic career for 11 seniors including team captain Jordan Battaglia (‘17). “At the beginning of the school year, the team agreed on setting our team goal as finishing within the top 4 in rankings for playoffs,” said Battaglia. “We did not achieve that goal. However, we achieved a goal greater than our ranking: we became a family.”

basketball
Carmelo Xia (’17) floats like a butterfly as he shoots for the basket. Photo: sdjaathletics.com

After beginning the season with a dismal 3-6 record, the Lions pulled themselves together and ended with a final score of 7-1 in league play, with their only loss against rival, Guajome Park. “Although we didn’t perform as well as we had hoped or live up to the hype of what we could have been, we did achieve something that is greater than any record could show- we became a team,” said Elliot Muller (‘17).

The team’s loss at home against Guajome put them in a difficult position as they needed to win their final two games of the season to make the playoffs. “We never quit,” said Muller. “It didn’t matter who we played or how good they were, we came together as one and played every game like it was our last.” This incredible on-court chemistry won the team the two final games which secured their place as the #15 seed in the CIF-Division Four San Diego Section Playoffs.

Despite clinching a playoff berth, the Lions were faced with a play-in game against Preuss to earn their chance to play the #2 seed, Olympian High School. In a thrilling game, the Lions were able to rise and claim victory with a score of 60-56. This victory earned them a spot against Olympian High School. That game took place on February 21, 2017. “We competed with a team from a school with 2,500 kids,” said Battaglia. With a six point lead at halftime, Olympian lived up to their reputation, and defeated the Lions with a final score of 86-53. “We would not have competed with a team like that if we weren’t a family,” said Battaglia. “That’s what I will always remember.”

For the 2016-2017 SDJA basketball team, things may not have gone according to plan but through strong leadership and chemistry, they were able to claim another league championship title. Elliot Muller summed it up best: “I am, and will forever be, proud to be a Lion.”

 

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