When you’re playing on a junior varsity team, development comes first.
There are no playoffs and, for the most part, little reason to celebrate.
It was very different when the Torrey Pines JV boys basketball team defeated rival La Costa Canyon 73-46 on Jan. 23.
After the game, longtime coach Jonathan Moore told players in the locker room his team had just hit a milestone with the win.
“I told them they won 50 in a row and there was an enormous cheer,” Moore said. “It was really loud.”
And then it was party time.
“Everybody was jumping up and down,” Freshman guard Drey Fox said.
The Falcons winning streak began at the start of the 2018-2019 season. Going into a Jan. 28 game against Canyon Crest Academy, the Falcons hadn’t lost since Feb. 16, 2018, when they experienced a 68-54 loss to LCC in the season finale for both teams.
“When coach Moore came into the locker room and told us that’s 50 straight (wins), we were all just happy for each other and the program,” sophomore guard and team co-captain Logan Huston said.
The Falcons have been a perennial power at the varsity level for years. They are the defending Open Division champions and were alone in first place in the Avocado League West with a 4-0 record (17-4 overall) going into their Jan. 28 game against CCA.
The freshman team is on a roll of its own too. It’s 50-28 victory over Escondido on Jan 25 was its 38th straight win.
That the Falcons are successful at every level is no coincidence.
Continuity among the coaching staff is a big key, Moore said.
Moore has coached the JV and John Olive the varsity for 24 years each, and Tanner McEntee has coached the freshman team for six years.
It’s at the lower levels of their program that the Falcons establish a culture of unselfishness and instill a sense that their athletes are playing for something bigger than themselves.
“We’re not playing just for ourselves to get seen by some coach or get seen by our varsity coach to play next year,” Huston said.
“Stats don’t really matter as long as we’re playing together and having fun.”
The hard-nosed man-to-man and disciplined zone defenses that are a trademark of Falcons basketball on the varsity team are the product of development on the freshman and JV teams, which run similar plays on offense, too.
“We just really have good players, a good system and a good culture,” Moore said. “It’s a good family, really, this team that I have.”
All indications are that the Falcons players have bought into the system.
“Our coaches are really hard on us because they know how talented we are as a team and how good we can be on the next level, so I think that playing on this JV team, it’s been great for us,” Huston said. “The coaches have shown us a lot of things. We’ve learned and gotten a lot better as the season has progressed.”
Moore said this year’s team is the most talented he’s ever coached, including last year’s team that went 28-0.
The Falcons are led by Jacob Bannarbie, a 6-foot-5 freshman forward who is averaging 12 points and 8.5 rebounds.
J.J. Bartelloni, a 6-4 freshman wing, is the team’s scoring leader, averaging 16 points.
Huston is averaging 10.2 points and Fox 6.4 points and 4.6 assists.
The Falcons combination of size and speed, and their ability to shoot and defend makes them tough to beat.
They are entertaining to watch, too.
Bannarbie is among several players who can dunk.
“We have 17 dunks on the season,” Moore said. “You rarely see one on a JV season.”
Chemistry is a big key too.
“All of us play together,” Fox said.
“The bench gets really into it. Even if guys don’t play, they still are very enthusiastic and help out on the bench and that keeps the energy up in the game. A lot of times that’s how we get wins, it’s from the energy of the bench.”
If their winning streak is any indication, Torrey Pines’ formula for success seems to be working.
“It’s a big accomplishment obviously,” Huston said. “Torrey Pines has always been really good, and our JV team has been working really hard this year. Seeing how well the JV team did last year, it’s huge for the team and it’s huge for our chemistry. It’s a good example of what’s to come from Torrey Pines basketball and hopefully it brings in more talented kids to the program as well.”