By Alex Clark ‘20 PC: Robby Cordova ’19

In the 2017-18 season, the Bells finished 24-4 overall,13-1 in league play, captured the WCAL title and won the CCS championships. I asked Coach Schneider about the recent success these past few years. “I think we have had two great back to back years, 13-1 last year and 14-0 the year before (in league play). To go 27-1 in the last two seasons is a special period of time. I think there are a few things we carry forward from that, one is the knowledge that it takes to get to that moment.” The Bells had a number of close games last year. Coach Schneider highlighted a particular one against Riordan High School. “We had a buzzer beater at Riordan last year. In the last 7 seconds, we had an attempt to win the game and 3 frantic deflections before the ball landed in our hands for the putback buzzer. Those kinds of experiences, help you see how fierce you have to be to pursue the ball or the play,” he commented.

The current team is also considerably different from the one that won CCS in the previous year. Seniors Jake Wojcik ‘18 and Kendall Stubblefield ‘18 who played unbelievably last season have now graduated. With new players on the team, the Bells needed a new leader in the locker room. “I think Kirin Kruse who’s a 3-year varsity performer for us is a good candidate for this role. In his sophomore year, his offensive abilities were critical for us and we played him off the bench. Even as a sophomore, he was finishing games for us because he was one of our 5 best players. Clearly, Kirin is the type of guy that everyone looks to be our team leader,” Coach Schneider said.

This year’s team features a collection of returning varsity players, but also some new faces to watch. “If we played a game today, Kyle Lewis ‘20 would be a starter. However, not saying that he will be when guys come back healthy but he has been really good. We have looked at Ridley Ruth ‘20 who has really been playing much better the last couple weeks and moving up the depth chart. The one that I think is most intriguing is Ryan Kiosh ’21, a sophomore 6’8” center. He’s so long and defensively just really able to stymie people when they go under the basket,” Coach Schneider mentioned.

The Bell’s current team also features some familiar faces such as Quinn Denker ‘20, Constantijn Cole ‘20 and Ian Elam ‘20 who played last year as sophomores. Seniors Kirin Kruse ‘19, Gio Saso ‘19, Cole Troedson ‘19 and Jackson Williams ‘19 round out the roster. I also asked Coach Schneider about any differences in the way the team would operate offensively or defensively this season. “I think the offense is going to be much more democratic, we are going to move the ball and find people,” he said.

He added on that they would look more closely at the matchups on offense. “We will take advantage of matchups and look to attack the weaker defender on the other team and determine where the ball needs to go. There is going to be a little bit more problem-solving at the end of games.”

On defense, because the distribution of minutes is more even, Coach Schneider said that his team will play with more intensity. “We will be able to be much more aggressive defensively… this year there is going to be more people sharing more minutes and people who aren’t starting will be getting way more minutes than people who came off the bench last year. It’s going to be a more even distribution of minutes and playing time and a more competitive distribution of playing time. And people will have to continue to earn that. But because we can play a lot more people and will be playing a lot more people, we can be much more aggressive defensively,” he stated.

There will be plenty of big rivalry games throughout the season as usual against Archbishop Mitty and St. Francis. But one game stands out the most for Coach Schneider. “I think the Valley Christian game this year is going to be really big. In week 2 on Tuesday, we play an away game at Mitty. On January 12th, we play Saint Francis on their home court. The Mitty and Saint Francis games typically draw huge crowds, while the Valley Christian matchup can be overlooked. So if I were to invite people to consider, ‘Ok how could you most help the team’, come to that Valley Christian game and make sure this doesn’t become a game that we overlook between 2 of our more historical rivalries,” he said.

The Bells play their first league game on January 2nd at home against St. Ignatius at 7:30pm. Come out and support the team. Go Bells!