by Martin Barrett
Rookie head coach Ricky Frazier’s Highline Pirate basketball team finished with an overall 5-17 record, 5-7 in district play. After the 22-23 season, the Pirates lost five starters, including Amare Jackson, who transferred. It was a tough place to begin as a new head coach.
Frazier was satisfied, however, with the way the Pirates ended the season. The last four games of the regular season were three close losses. It caused the team to dig deep and focus. Then a first-round playoff victory over the Lindbergh Eagles saw the team gel and play at a higher level. While the season ended in a brutal loss to Franklin Pearce, there was much to take away positively.
Next year Coach Frazier will have a young team,( but a young team who gained confidence and maturity in the last five games.) “The sophomores adjusted to the game’s speed in the last half of the season, and it showed in their improved play,” according to Frazier.
Frazier reflected on next year’s core:
Omar Ali-Abdi has the talent to be a point guard. He needs to improve his motor, but the talent is there.
Marquawn McCraney could be the best athlete in the district. In the last half of the season, the game seemed to slow down for him; he could see it and was in the right place at the right time.
Kelvin Stuart is one of my best outside shooters. He will work on ball control. He keeps a centered and clear head in the game. He is also spending time in the weight room. Kelvin is a natural leader in everything he does.
Kai Zinn can also shoot. He is a committed and focused guy.
Ebrima Hern is likely the most improved player this year. As he relaxes and does not let mistakes bother him so much, he will become even better.
Jaylen Simpson started some games for us this year. He is improving, and next year will be even better.
Finally, Corey Crosby will be back and 100%. He did not get beyond 70% after his early season injury. Corey could have the highest basketball IQ on the team. Corey knows where to be and when. He can help in so many ways.
“I have a chip on my shoulder after this season. I have been in the playoffs for 11 out of 15 years as a coach and have gone deep in a few. I do not like to be out this early, but I am going to take the players to the State Championship games. I want them to taste it and feel it. I want them to want to be there and see themselves there”, said Frazier.
Frazier is putting a lot of emphasis on his players getting into the weight room. “We need to add muscle and strength,” said Frazier. Summer ball, the Quacker Slam tournament in June, and opportunities for improvement throughout the summer for his players will be front and center for him.