There have been more talented teams in the Crossroads boys basketball program, which didn’t win as much.
Now, as the Roadrunners have begun their season with 10 victories in 11 games, Coach Kevin Jackson makes an observation.
“Ten of the 13 players have been at Crossroads since kindergarten,” he points out.
“They know each other’s tendencies on the court. The players are unselfish. They get along well and make good passes to each other.”
Many challenges remain because Crossroads plays in the tough Olympic League. But so far, so good.
The latest triumphs occurred last week. Coming off winning the Viewpoint Tournament against strong opposition the Roadrunners didn’t stumble against weaker foes. They scored home wins over New Roads (63-32) and Kilpatrick (59-41).
The Roadrunners’ success is surprising because the team had two quality big men who are no longer in school.
Conrad Liebowitz developed steadily through four years on the varsity and grew to 6-foot-9, attracting attention from Division 1 recruiters. He chose Lehigh, where he’s on the team as a freshman.
Solomon Haina played forward early last season, combining his skills nicely with Liebowitz. While Liebowitz was a true center Haina ran well on a wing and was a 6-foot-7 forward.
But Haina left school in mid-season attended Palisades but did not play. He had been recruited by Hawaii and Pepperdine, among others but is now playing at Santa Monica College.
When Haina left, 6-foot-5 Chester Lindley replaced him as a starter. Lindley has fit in well and was named MVP of the Viewpoint Tournament.
Aaron Irmas and Josh Flyer were chosen to the Viewpoint all-tournament team. Irmas, a 6-foot-1 guard, is Crossroads’ leading scorer with 18 points per game. Flyer, a star baseball player, gave the basketball team a boost by participating this season. At 6-foot-4 he’s provided scoring and rebounding.
Then there’s Luke Shmuger, a guard who was brought up to the varsity from the junior varsity out of need last season and has grown into a key role.
Jackson thought moving him up might be premature, but Shmuger has learned quickly.
Since becoming Crossrosds’ coach Jackson has had to deal with a couple of high profile players transferring — one to a prep school in Florida — and some ineligibility matters.
Not this season.