By Ray Hamill — Fresh off their state championship win in football, many of the St. Bernard’s players are now firmly focused on basketball, with their Little 4 opener just a week off.
That success on the football field, however, appears to be carrying over to the hard court, where a core group of multi-sport athletes continue to gel well together and bring a close bond to the team.
“You definitely see it,” head coach Steve Thrap said. “This group has been together a long time and that translates on to the basketball court.”
Many of the Crusaders players were late getting onto the basketball court after their lengthy run in football, but they’ve been competing for a few weeks now and it’s beginning to show.
Last weekend, the Crusaders won two straight games to close out the Fort Bragg tournament and go to 5-4 on the season, with their defense in particular showing signs of life and giving the team a lift at the offensive end in the process.
They play at Clear Lake on Saturday, before opening the Little 4 at home to Hoopa next Friday.
And Thrap is expecting a battle when conference play opens.
“You always know any local games are going to be tough games,” the long-time head coach said. “Hoopa is traditionally tough, Ferndale is up this year, and South Fork is going to be tough. There’s a lot of parity.”
Leading the way for the Crusaders will be senior guard Lane Thrap, one of the top talents on the North Coast.
He is joined in the starting lineup by fellow multi-sport stars Bode Joyner and Will Omey, along with junior Remy Campbell, who has emerged as a top threat this season.
Rounding out the starting lineup is freshman Owen Shanahan, who has quickly adjusted to the high school game and has been impressing early.
The Crusaders, however, go a lot deeper than that.
“We actually feel like we’re pretty deep this year,” the head coach said.
Hunter Davis and Jake Fairfield are the first two off the bench, and both could, in their coach’s words, start.
“Ayden Hamanaka has done some really good things, and Cole Petrusha is always one of our smartest players on the court, and Logan Petrusha gives us some good minutes,” Steve Thrap said.