Rebuilding a high school basketball team that graduated most of its starters is a daunting task and Englewood’s bid to be competitive became even more difficult Jan. 18 playing a tough Fort Lupton team without four of the season’s five starters.
“We knew this would be a challenging season for us,” Pirates coach Dave Chapman said. “All the starters and a couple of the first-line reserves graduated last year so we only had a few guys with limited varsity experience coming back. So we came into the season as a team with a new coach, a new system and basically a whole new roster.”
Chapman said the players have worked hard and while there aren’t a lot of games in the win column, he said the team has played hard and steadily improved.
“Now, we are starting the league season with most of our normal starters out of the lineup,” the coach said. “That means against Fort Lupton I had two sophomores and a junior starting with the varsity for the first time.”
Two of the early starters are gone for the season and, while the other two will be back with the Pirates by the middle of the week, things don’t get any easier for the team as they are on the road for the next seven games against league teams that all have been playing well this season.
They begin their stint as road warriors Jan. 22 at Vista Peak and then go to Skyview Jan. 25. The seven-game stretch concludes when the Pirates return home Feb. 15 against Vista Peak.
The Jan. 18 league game against Fort Lupton belonged to the Blue Devils as they dominated the boards and the Pirates struggled against their aggressive defense. While Fort Lupton won the game, 71-43, it was a game to remember for Tristan Sisneros who got his first varsity start and led his team with 18 points and tied for the league lead in rebounds with four and with steals with three.
“It was good to get the start against Fort Lupton but I was a little nervous at first,” the junior said. “I think hitting that first three-pointer made me comfortable out there and, hitting that shot, gave me the confidence that I could play at the varsity level.”
He said the three-point shots are his strength. He said he feels he can set up and put the right angle on his wrist so the shot will be on target.
Sisneros said basketball shares his favorite sport spot with baseball. He added that playing basketball keeps him in good physical condition so he’ll be ready to go when it is baseball season.
“While I’m playing basketball, I want to work to be able to dribble better and I can always improve my shooting,” he said. “The thing I like the most about basketball is make the good play and the fans cheer for you.”
Sophomore Austin Trail also got his first varsity start against Fort Lupton.
“It was a good feeling to get my first varsity start. There were a few butterflies at first but they went away soon after the tipoff,” he said. “It was an adjustment to move up from JV because the game has a faster pace and the players on the other team are bigger, faster and shoot better. It was challenging and I learned a lot about playing varsity basketball from my first experience as a starter.”
Trail said he likes playing basketball but he really doesn’t know which is his favorite sport because, in addition to basketball, he likes to play lacrosse, soccer and golf.
He said he likes basketball because, to him, it is a lot like lacrosse, a sport he also plays.
“Playing basketball’s offense helps you be a better lacrosse player,” Trail said. “In basketball, like in lacrosse, you call plays, screens and finding the open player for your pass.”
He said his ability to dribble the ball and bring it up court against an aggressive defense was a plus for the Pirates against Fort Lupton.
“I’m a guard and I see my job is to get the ball up the court and pass it to the open player,” the sophomore said. “I want to work on being a better ball handler and work on shooting too so maybe I can score a few points in future games.”