As the Northwest boys basketball team prepares to host Wootton in its season opener Friday night, second-year Head Coach Robert Smith is hoping this team will find a way to do the little things better and do what no other Northwest boys basketball team has done.
“With 10 wins last season, we felt we should have had a few more and lost a few games we were ahead in and couldn’t handle pressure down the stretch,” said Smith. “We still have some team goals to do what no other Northwest team has done.” And no other Northwest team has had a long run into the postseason, making it to the Maryland State tournament.
Last year’s 10-12 season, was not something that Smith and his players can point to and call success, these Jags are looking for more. However, this season schedule poses a big challenge to the Jags.
“Our schedule is tough,” said Smith. “We have some new teams that we did not face last year. We play Kennedy, Einstein, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Oakdale and more the regionally located teams twice. We want to improve on every game and play every team tough mentally. We need to come prepared for practice and games every time.”
While the Jaguars have lost the talents of last year’s seniors, Donnie Gaines, Reagan Zamena, and Jamar Wilson to graduation, Smith has high hopes for the juniors that saw a lot of minutes in big games last year.
“You can’t replace kids from year to year, most of these kids all have different skills sets. Jamar’s athleticism can’t be replaced along with Reagan’s basketball skills,” said Smith. “Those juniors from last season got a lot of game experience, especially in the playoff game and a lot of our close games. These juniors bring back a good core of guys. We as of now only have five returners from the right juniors. Two of which averaged a double-double last season. I don’t expect us to lose a step on the court defensively, which is where we need to strive.”
Smith hopes some new players and a couple of football players will join the team to add to their depth. He said he hopes some of the competitive fire that other teams at Northwest have used to propel them deep into the postseason will transfer to the basketball court.
“We have to hold each other accountable on the court,” said Smith. “This has to happen at practice, and at games. We have a lot of talent, and we need to bring the competitiveness at all times. You see it from our volleyball team, our football team, and other teams here at NW that win. That’s what we need to do.”
Northwest will open at home against Wootton on Friday night at 7:15 pm, and then on Tuesday, Dec. 8 they will travel to Walter Johnson at 7:15 pm, and then back home next Friday, Dec. 11 to host Tuscarora from Frederick County.
Top: The Jags will look to senior guard Nick Pinto (23) to help raise their game this season.
Next: Senior forward Tyrell Richardson (35) is among the five returning juniors from last season.
Next: Coach Smith is looking for leadership from this year’s senior class, including senior guard Tim Biakapia (25).
Photos by Germantown Pulse.