Auburn Mountainview HC Kendall White tires to get his defense to slow down Aidan Flores. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Auburn Mountainview HC Kendall White tires to get his defense to slow down Aidan Flores. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Basketball: Kentridge drops opener in new coach’s debut

Chargers open the Zac Webb era with loss to Auburn Mountainview.

After longtime Head Coach David Jamison announced his retirement from coaching the Kentridge Chargers boys basketball team, the direction of the program was in question.

But when Zac Webb was hired, he answered all of those questions.

“They’re learning on the fly. I think some of them are figuring it out and it started to click,” Webb said.

It has been a tough start to the Chargers’ seasons over the past three years, and that continued this season. Kentridge has dropped the opening game of the season each of the past four seasons.

Webb took the Chargers into battle in his first game at the helm Nov. 28 against the Auburn Mountainview Lions, who made the state tournament last year. In a year that will have a lot of firsts for Webb, he got his first loss out of the way in game one.

Kentridge Head Coach Zac Webb makes his head coaching debut. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentridge Head Coach Zac Webb makes his head coaching debut. Ben Ray / The Reporter

The 2022 3A state tournament Lions took care of the young inexperienced Chargers, 56-36. A season ago under Jamison, the Chargers were a veteran heavy group. Of the 12 rostered players, 10 were seniors. Jamari Harris and Braxton Gruenich were left to carry the Chargers this season.

Harris had other plans and transferred to the purple and black of the Garfield Bulldogs in downtown Seattle for his senior year.

Gruenich is one of four seniors on the roster to start this season, and the only player who has recorded varsity minutes. Every other player has never reached the varsity level until this season.

“A lot of the guys were fighting to the end. I love guys putting their bodies on the line for Chargers,” Webb said.

Webb even remembers his first varsity game and connects with his players on that hurdle that every athlete has to get over.

“You’re going to have yips and jitters whenever you get your first taste of varsity. I was telling my coaches I remember my first varsity game. I just felt ‘Don’t screw up, don’t screw up.’ Some guys that’s happening and others are taking a little longer. But that’s the best part of coaching is when that light bulb goes off,” Webb said.

It was a struggle out of the gate for the Chargers as Auburn Mountainview jumped out a quick 8-0 lead. But Kentridge found its way back in the first quarter down 10-7.

“We were kind of weathering the storm going back and forth. Then they went on a run, and we just couldn’t respond. But that happens,” Webb said.

Aidan Flores brings the basketball up the floor for Kentridge. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Aidan Flores brings the basketball up the floor for Kentridge. Ben Ray / The Reporter

The second quarter wasn’t much different for the Chargers, but what stayed consistent was their effort.

“Our defense is going to be our bread and butter. I think we’ll piece together some offense depending on if we face man or zone. But our defense will be our calling card,” Webb said.

Defensively, the Chargers have things to hang their hat on, limiting Lion stars Sebastian Arius and Mande Wanlemvo.

“We held their best two kids to eight points apiece. They’re heck of a players. I thought our guys were really good defensively,” Webb said.

Aidan Flores along with Gruenich is another senior on this young team, and Webb put a lot on his shoulders entering this year.

“He’s a guy we challenged a ton in the off-season and all summer. Telling him ‘We need more, we need more.’ He just continued to step up and not just changed the way he played, but he stepped up as a leader,” Webb said

Flores showed his leadership after the game came to a close: “We gotta be better as a team. I have to be more accountable and lead by example and cut down on turnovers and communicate with my team,” he said.

“I was just really proud of him. He’s got all the talent in the world. He’s an undersized kid and is sneaky and gets in (the paint) there,” Webb said.

Flores led all Chargers with eight points in his varsity debut, but wasn’t satisfied at the end of the game: “We gotta practice hard with my teammates. We’re going to practice hard and come back with some wins,” Flores said.

Amare Brown contests a shot from an Auburn Mountainview player. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Amare Brown contests a shot from an Auburn Mountainview player. Ben Ray / The Reporter

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