High school basketball: Eagles closing in on Majestic title

High school basketball: Eagles closing in on Majestic title

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High school basketball: Eagles closing in on Majestic title

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PALM SPRINGS

The Desert Chapel High School boys’ basketball team didn’t reach the .500 mark last season yet earned a bid io the CIF playoffs.

The Eagles took advantage of the opportunity, racing all the way to the Final Four. The Eagles were the last area school standing in any division of the 2013 playoffs.

This year, the Eagles are in position not only to win a Majestic League title, but to go a step further. They return with a similar cast, all of whom coach Alfonso Alvarez says are “bigger, better, faster and stronger” than last year.

Desert Chapel is currently ranked No. 2 in the latest CIF poll and has two key returners from last season averaging more than 20 points a game. Seniors Roman Pellum and Taner Alvarez also welcomed newcomer Jaleel Miles, a senior who adds to the mix in a big way.

Miles, who transferred from Desert Hot Springs, is also averaging more than 20 points per game.

“The maturity of Taner and Roman and bringing over Jaleel is gonna solidify the two guards that we have,” said coach Alvarez. “That’s what is gonna get us over the top. They all get involved and they adapt.”

The Eagles are currently 8-0 in the league, 14-4 overall with Taner Alvarez leading the way with 22.6 ppg to go with seven rebounds. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Pellum, who has committed to play football at New Mexico State, scores 21.3 points a game along with eight rebounds. Miles averages 22.3 ppg with 10 rebounds.

“We have a luxury of three guys getting those numbers every game,” said coach Alvarez. “Some of them have been to the playoffs, and now they just have to show Jaleel the way.”

However, first on the agenda is a key league clash with No.7-ranked Palm Valley. It’s the same neighboring team that the Eagles needed to knock off in the second round of the playoffs last year. Now, the Firebirds and Eagles are competing for a league title and jockeying for playoff positioning.

“Our record speaks for itself,” said Taner Alvarez, a three-year starter. “It’s pretty amazing what we did last year. No one expected. We didn’t expect it.

“Now we have a bigger goal. Winning league is one thing, but with Jaleel here we can do a lot more.”

When coach Alvarez arrived three years ago, he set goals for the team to first, make the playoffs, then make the playoffs and have a home game. He believes he has the tools to take the next step toward the title game.

So does Miles.

“Between the three of us, we’re the primary scorers, but the rest of the team feeds off of us,” he said. “We depend on each other. We’ll play good defense, we’re unselfish with the ball and as far as rebounding, it’s all boxing out to crash the boards. It’s not just me, it’s the whole team doing a good job of it.”

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