By ALEX SPONSELLER After losing 12 seniors, last year's Cranston East boys basketball team took its lumps as it featured perhaps the youngest roster in all of Division I. Although the Bolts are still young heading into the 2021 season, they certainly do
By ALEX SPONSELLER After losing 12 seniors, last year’s Cranston East boys basketball team took its lumps as it featured perhaps the youngest roster in all of Division I.
Although the Bolts are still young heading into the 2021 season, they certainly do not lack experience, as many of the players were forced into big roles last season.
In the early going, East coach Isaiah McDaniel has been encouraged by his team’s growth as a unit, especially from the mental side of the game.
“We have a pretty young team, but with that said, it’s an experienced team. With losing 12 seniors going into last season, they were young and they had to play. There was a lot of playing time that they got under their belts last year,” said McDaniel. “It’s early, but there has already been a huge jump in maturity. I think with everything going on nowadays, the kids don’t have a choice but to mature. You’ve seen it in their decision making on the court, their willingness to get on the floor and give that extra effort at practice.”
Leading the way this season will be senior center Jamari Bell, who had a breakout year last winter and is set to be one of the top big men in the division.
Bell is confident in his leadership role and hopes to finish his high school career strong.
“We’re very confident, we have a lot of young guys but we’re very confident. We learned from our losses and we’re going to come back stronger and better. As a senior, this is my fourth year on varsity so I’m going to have to give it all I’ve got,” said Bell.
With a young squad, especially during the current climate with the ongoing pandemic, McDaniel has high expectations for this team and will demand its best each day at practice and in games.
“All I am expecting from them is to go out there and play hard every night. If they do that then the rest will take care of itself. If they play as a group, stay determined, stay hungry, work hard every day, I think the wins will come. I also think they have a bad taste in their mouths because they didn’t perform as well as they wanted,” said McDaniel, who also feels that his team is in good shape as it closes in on opening night. “We’re in a good position. Most of these guys have been in our program now for two years, so we have that understanding of when, where, and how they are executing our system, we have put everything in so now it is just fine tuning things.”