Yosemite High School third year boys basketball coach Aaron Eames and the Badgers look to compete for a North Sequoia League title and another playoff run this season, coming off a 19-10 overall, 7-3 league record (second in NSL behind Kerman) last season.
“We are very excited about this season after working hard this summer,” Eames said. “The team participated at the UCSD team camp where we really came together. It will pay off. We continue to focus on defense first, but this will be an up-tempo team, even more than last season. The team will score points off steals and in transition. We have depth too. You need it to run at our pace.”
Basketball is a new challenge for Eames after playing and coaching football for 25 years, but he knows his way around the hardwood. An all-star shooting guard at Santa Maria High before his college football career where he played QB at Azusa Pacific, Eames has a 1996-1997 YHS girls basketball CIF title to his credit.
“I love coaching this group of players,” Eames said. “Last year we learned how to compete and win. This is an intelligent team that has bought into the system 100%. We are very confident of where this program is going.”
Erik Peterson assisted YHS girls coach Gary Blate for eight years. In football, Peterson has been defensive coordinator for three different coaching staffs. He is a key part of the YHS defensive-first philosophy.
The most immediate challenge for the coaching staff will be to integrate four key football starters coming off a successful but grueling 13 game season.
Starting guards (senior) Tristan and (junior) Cannon Eames, and forwards Ben Negley and Ty Peterson were standout football players. It will take a little time to integrate the team due to soreness and nagging injuries.
The Badgers will start with much more experienced varsity squad. Last year there was only one senior, Kade Cross. His graduation leaves a big void, but there is a lot of talent to fill the gap.
The Badgers start the best guard duo in the NSL. Tristan will lead YHS at point. Eames is the rare four-year varsity starter at basketball’s most crucial position. Last season Eames averaged 12 points and 3.5 assists per game and was named All-NSL. Tristan can score inside and out and is a clutch free-throw shooter.
“Tristan is our leader,” said Coach Eames. “He worked hard this summer on his outside shot. Being a senior he brings experience and leadership to the position.”
Cannon starts at shooting guard. YHS’s most accomplished long range shooter, he connected on a team-leading 59 3-pointers while averaging 9.4 points per game last season. On defense Cannon led the team in steals with 82. Like Tristan, Cannon was a varsity starter as a freshman. “Cannon will be more aggressive going to the basket this season,” Coach Eames said. “Cannon will get more points in the paint this season. He can be a shutdown defender who can change a game.” Cannon will back up Tristan at point.
Negley, who got limited varsity minutes last season due to an injury, will start at center. Negley is bigger and stronger this year adding weight and toughness from football. “Ben is very athletic,” Eames said. “He can run and defend inside and outside. He has all the tools.”
Peterson is a defensive specialist who brings instant intensity to a game and can handle the ball. “Ty is a top defender,” Eames said. “I love his energy. He brings it on a consistent level.”
Senior Peter McLean, coming off an All-League year in water polo, will start his third season at power forward and is coming off a great season where he he averaged nearly a double-double each game. McLean averaged 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 points per game. McLean had two 20-plus rebound games and set the YHS record for rebounds in a game (24).
Eames envisions McLean with a bigger scoring role. “Peter has an excellent shooting touch,” Eames said. He is getting more polished offensively. His defensive play is just outstanding. He is so focused and smart. I see him with a double-double each game.”
Senior small forward Trevor Peter had a great summer according to Eames. “Trevor had a great summer,” Eames said. “Trevor isn’t tall, but he is an explosive jumper. He has the highest vertical leap on the team. Trevor will definitely contribute with scoring and rebounding.”
“Senior guard Harry Thearle will provide solid backup at shooting guard, especially when Cannon is running point,” Eames said. “I like his shooting ability. Harry is getting better from long range and he can also handle the ball and the press.”
Senior forward Alex Williams will back up Negley at center. “Alex is a physical player and is such a hard worker, especially under the boards. We are looking for big things from Alex this season,” Eames said. Junior Brian Mularkey will back up at center and power forward.
Junior Noah Allen will be playing varsity for the first time, after leading the JV team in scoring at 9.4 points per game last year and hitting a team-leading 17 3-pointers.
Besides the athleticism, the Badgers bring a lot of intelligence to the floor. “This is a very smart team academically,” Eames said. “We expect seven or eight players to make the NSL all-academic team. Virtually all players take advanced courses and college prep. I am so proud to lead a great group of young men.”
Former Badger basketball great Charley Medley will handle JV for the second straight year. Last season the JV Badgers were 12-11 and 4-6 in the NSL.
Medley is No. 3 all-time in points per season (525) and 3-pointers made-season (54). Medley’s teams were the most dominant in Yosemite boys’ basketball averaging 21 wins in Medley’s junior and senior seasons. Brother Andy, a former YHS standout from 2001-04 will coach with Medley.
As a freshman Tyler Matyshock led the JV program in rebounds (9.1) per game, and was second in scoring 7.2 per game last season. Matyshock also led the team in steals (53) and was second in blocked shots (12).
Jaeden Pierce, Paul Antonis and Christian Rold will be key returning contributors.
The teams will host Tranquility Dec. 1. 5:30 p.m. JV game, 7 p.m. varsity.