By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review
South Pasadena High School boys’ basketball coach Ernest Baskerville thinks about one particular three-pointer all too much.
Last season, the Tigers were less than two seconds away from upsetting perennial Rio Hondo League powerhouse La Cañada when an opposing player received a long pass, took a few steps and banked it in from beyond the arc. Baskerville has thought about that play so much that even his three young sons have developed a dislike for La Cañada.
It’s memories of three-pointers like that that drive South Pasadena. This season, they want to beat their rivals and push for an outright league title, then make some noise in the playoffs.
“We just really want to gel together,” Baskerville said. “A lot of people are looking at the season as a wash. People are saying, ‘You know what, let’s just play, I just want my kids to play, I’m not worried about wins and losses.’ Then you have others like myself that are like, ‘OK, yeah I believe that, too, but I want to win.’”
The Tigers, who finished third in league last season, bring well-rounded shooting to their offense this year, with multiple players who can handle the ball. They’re averaging roughly 59 points through their first seven games of the season.
“We’re sort of hard to match up with, considering we can all get low and get offensive rebounds,” said forward Jonathan Guy, “but we can also drive and kick, get open looks and hit those so we sort of put a defense in kind of a bad situation where they have to choose which they’re going to give up.”
Guy, a 6-foot-2 junior, as well as juniors Dillon Akers and Sage Wayans, look to be major contributors on offense this season.
Wayans, a 6-foot-6 forward, consistently leads the team in scoring. He’s a strength for South Pasadena’s offense, but still wants to improve. He says that after practice, he gets shots up at home, trying to perfect his mid-range and three-point shooting.
Akers provides support on offense as well, with his shooting abilities and ball-handling skills.
“[We want] a winning reputation,” Akers said. “Somebody that when they see us on the schedule, they really think, you know, that’s a team we have to prepare for a really hard, and expect a good fight every game.”
In his second year as head coach, Baskerville has assembled a challenging schedule for the Tigers themselves to start the season, going up against teams like Division 1 Bishop Alemany of Mission Hills and Division 2AA Gardena Serra. Later in the season, they’ll play Santa Monica Crossroads, another Division 2AA team.
South Pasadena lost four of its first seven games of the season, but the score differential has been no more than three points in each.
“You always want to play against the best,” Baskerville said. “We know we’re going to get challenged in league. It’s good to get challenged outside. If they learn from it and get better, it’s automatic. We make the playoffs, then we’re battle tested. That’s all that matters.”
It’s just a small part of the culture that Baskerville is trying to cultivate at South Pasadena. A culture of togetherness and consistent improvement. A culture that doesn’t forget about game-winning three-pointers.