Gio Moimoi drives to the basket for Kentridge. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Gio Moimoi drives to the basket for Kentridge. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Summer league spotlight: Kentridge and Kentwood boys hoops

“It has been a night and day difference from year one to now.”

As he heads into his second season, Kentridge High School head basketball coach Zac Webb is seeing massive improvements from year one to year two.

“It has been a night and day difference from year one to now,” Webb said.

In his second summer league as the Chargers’ head coach, his squad made it to the semifinals and lost in a close game to Auburn — a game that, last year, would have been over in the first quarter.

Despite losing in the semifinals and having a 7-14 record last season, the Chargers are on their way up this season. Throughout the summer and in various tournaments, Kentridge has played at the level of their competition, which is a huge improvement for Webb and was quite surprising to him as well.

Outside of their first game of the summer against 1A juggernaut Annie Wright, the Chargers are learning how to win and lose for that matter.

“We are learning how to win and losing the right way. We are ticked off when we lose… It has been a process and the ‘buy in’ has been night and day from last year,” Webb said.

In terms of players making an impact over the summer, Webb could go in many directions to say who has impressed him the most. A multitude of Kentridge players have put in time since Feb. 10 to improve their skillset. But three have stood out.

Senior Amare Brown is one of them. Brown has had a lightbulb go off this offseason and as a coach, that is what Webb is all about.

“He has really come out and has been a force on the floor… He’s one of the best defenders in our league,” Webb said.

Another player for the Chargers is junior Gio Moimoi. Webb wanted him to take a step as a leader for Kentridge. He was the lone all-league player for the green and gold and as that best player, his voice carries a lot of weight in that locker room.

“Everyone knows you’re the guy. But now you have to embrace that and now lead from that. When you speak it is different than when other guys speak… He’s done an awesome job,” Webb said.

The third player is junior Troy Keowla for the Chargers. After splitting his time between varsity and junior varsity in his sophomore season, he has found his place as the main ballhandler for Webb’s side. It was something off the floor that impressed Webb in a summer game at Curtis.

“He was leading the huddle, I didn’t even have to say anything… I was like that is a dawg. Guys respect the heck out of him,” Webb said.

Even as a program, the Chargers are turning heads. At the Auburn summer league, along with the varsity level, there is also a junior varsity and a C-team series. The only other school to have their team in all three semifinals was Auburn, which is a benchmark that Webb attributes to his players and coaches.

“It just shows the talent we got. But it also shows that our standards are starting to get a little higher. There is program-wide accountability and a buy-in at all levels,” he said.

Kentwood

Kentwood boys basketball were one of the more impressive teams in the state tournament just four months ago.

A team with a single senior, lots of youth and talent went on a run, taking fourth in a convincing win over Skyview.

This year, Kentwood is looking to take that next step forward and become a threat for a possible state championship.

“This summer was big for us finding out what some of our youth can do,” said Blake Solomon, head coach.

The three-headed monster of Brandon Tagle, Corey Tita and Mason St. Louis have another year of experience under their belt and are poised to lead Kentwood on another run.

“Mason just played really, really hard and he did a good job of being that engine for us. Brandon becoming an upperclassman has helped him become vocal. All that stuff is going to be needed in the winter,” Solomon said.

Tita came to Solomon with a request right at the start of the offseason that let Solomon know that he is ready to take that next step: “He came to me and said he wanted to guard the best player on the other team every day. To me, that is a leadership quality to take that challenge.”

Over the summer, Solomon’s goal has been to find his bench — find guys to supplement his starting five and really maximize this window that the Conks have found themselves in.

“Everybody looks at us as a group with a ton of experience because we returned four of our starters. But nobody else who played this summer had played varsity before,” Solomon said.

The Conks made it to the championship of the Auburn High School summer league, but Solomon wasn’t able to see the final half of the game because he was ejected by an official for his first ever ejection.

But that one downfall wasn’t going to subtract from what was a really productive summer for Solomon and the Conks. Caleb Ross and Jacob Bell were highlights from this productive summer.

“I thought they showed that when winter comes, they are going to be even better. The goals that we have are still attainable because of their development and how they will help us out,” Solomon said.


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Brandon Tagle holds the finish of a three-pointer. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Brandon Tagle holds the finish of a three-pointer. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Corey Tita in action against Stadium at Auburn High School for a summer league matchup. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Corey Tita in action against Stadium at Auburn High School for a summer league matchup. Ben Ray / The Reporter

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