NEW BRITAIN - With the postseason not far off, the Goodwin Tech boys basketball team believes it has what it takes - the offense and the players to facilitate that scheme - to make a deep run.
The Gladiators have scored 1,311 points so far this season, going over the 70-point mark nine times, and have won 16 out of their first 19 games heading into the season finale.
That would not have been possible without the help of senior Francisco Santiago, senior Josh Peeples and sophomore Luis Aguiar.
“It’s such a pleasure to have three kids that can put the basketball in the bucket,” Goodwin Tech assistant coach Frank Freundlich said. “Having three kids that can score at will, share the ball; it’s never about each one of them as individuals, it’s about what can we do as a team. It’s such a treat being able to watch it and being a part of it.”
Some nights it may be Peeples leading the team in scoring. Other nights, it may be Santiago or Aguiar. But they rely on each other to get the job done.
“This season has been going really good for us,” Santiago said. “It has definitely been a lot better than the years before. I think that’s because we’re all playing as a team and sharing the ball.”
During the Gladiators’ most recent win, a 66-47 victory over Innovation on Friday, Santiago was the leading scorer with a game-high 28 points.
“My teammates gave me the ball and the shots just fell,” Santiago said. “We played really good defense that led to a lot of fast breaks and easy baskets. We played as a team and that’s how we ended up winning.”
Santiago started playing basketball at age 10 and has stuck with it ever since. As a senior, Santiago has been looking at a handful of colleges, with basketball in mind.
The six-foot guard has narrowed it down to four or five possibilities, including Newbury College, Western New England University, Keuka College and Drexel University.
The Gladiators come into every game with the same game plan: Play tough defense that will lead to all of those points.
“If someone turns their back, we have to go steal that ball because they’re not looking,” Peeples said. “Then on offense, we have to move the ball around to get the defenders moving. When we get done moving, we have a person that is wide open to shoot the ball, make an easy three, or we just take it to the rack if they close out on us too quickly.”
Although the players are the ones on the court making the points happen, they give all the credit to Goodwin Tech head coach Reuben Charles for teaching them what they know.
“Coach Charles is the best coach, that’s all I can say,” Peeples said. “He’s been my favorite coach. When I started as a freshman, I was a 15-year-old young boy and all he wanted us to do was work on the fundamentals and to be able to have the high IQ on defense and offense. When we came into the locker room before our game, all he told us was, ‘You know what to do.’”
Aguir agreed, “It all starts in practice. We practice every single day with coach Charles. He works us hard.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org