Words: Jeramy Slavlas
Centennial High School’s Varsity basketball team has entered a new era after the departure of 12-year head coach Chad Hollwedel. Now, under the hands of coach Chris Sanders, the team looks to continue their legacy of a team built from integrity and winning nature.
On Friday, December 6, Centennial fell to Marriotts Ridge 60-55, starting their season with a loss.
Coming off a 13-11 season, the players, all coached by former JV coach Sanders in past years, plan to start their new beginning stronger than ever despite this initial loss. Sanders believes the team will be competing right away, as the players already know the team dynamics from their time on JV.
“There’s familiarity and comfort… and there’s some pressure to succeed,” Sanders said.
The majority of the Varsity team has been together since their freshman year, building a strong team chemistry between the players. Senior Jeong Hwang, who has been a key part of the group, said, “we’ve had the same group of people for four years so you can treat us like family at this point.”
Junior Bryson Baker, who played a large role on last year’s JV team, also believes the players’ close bond will lead them to success. “I think all that chemistry will lead us to a state championship,” Baker said.
After a lackluster 2018-19 season in the players’ eyes, they look to get their revenge over their competitors this season. “We have a really bitter taste in our mouth, and we want to go win states this year,” Hwang said.
Baker believes “it’ll be a really smooth transition” between head coaches this season.
Despite the loss of state champion coach Hollwedel, the team will continue to do things the “Centennial way,” according to Sanders. “I would be foolish to completely change the blueprint that coach Hollwedel developed. It was a winning blueprint.”
Not only does Sanders’ idea of the Centennial way include winning basketball games, it also means that the players perform their best off the court. From strong academics to help in the community, Centennial’s basketball program has developed a behavior over the last decade that Sanders has no intention to change.
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