Division IV defending boys basketball champs Joy Christian work to repeat

Division IV defending boys basketball champs Joy Christian work to repeat

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Division IV defending boys basketball champs Joy Christian work to repeat

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There was something special about the Glendale Joy Christian boys basketball team last year. A lot of things were special, actually.

The team went 32-2 and took home the Division IV state title. The secret was balance, chemistry, talent and a belief in one another that could not be rattled.

This year’s team is a work in progress, coach Scott Brown said, with the players still figuring out their roles. The coach said the team is eager to step out of the shadow of last season.

“I don’t think that you can keep looking back. I just think that’s wasted energy. We’re not here to try to prove anything about last year,” he said. “I told the kids to quit worrying about what everybody’s saying. I think once they kind of let that go, we started to find our identity.”

Joy Christian lost some of its top talent from last season, including Trevor Deason and 7-foot center Jeremiah April. But it retains three very capable playmakers in Cody Nicely, Josiah Stefanski and Taliq Medley. Brown said the senior trio is the heart of the team.

“I’m challenging those three even more right now to provide more leadership on and off the court,” Brown said. “At times, they are almost too unselfish. I need more from them this year, so I’ve been pretty tough on them.”

Brown said the fast-paced style of play that helped Joy Christian wear down opposing offenses last season remains. In fact, he said the team has gotten quicker.

“This style of play takes a lot of conditioning. We get it done by doing a lot of things full court,” he said. “It’s a big commitment. If you’re going to play that fast, you better be in good shape.”

Injuries have plagued the defending champions early, so Brown said finding a rhythm has been difficult. Joy Christian is competing in holiday tournaments this break, which includes competition from the top divisions. The tough tournaments can ding a record, but Brown said he isn’t worried about wins and losses. He is more focused on getting ready for February and the postseason.

“We want to get pushed,” he said “We want to play teams that may be way over our heads talent-wise and athletically. If we can get in with these teams and we can give them a run for their money, we can grow.”

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Division IV defending boys basketball champs Joy Christian work to repeat
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