There’s almost always a basketball being dribbled or shot in the Storm Center, and such was the case Monday.
That’s when Perfect Shots Shooting Clinic skills development coach David Nurse was there, helping to hone the skills of a dozen current or future Cleveland High basketball players.
As he stood in a corner of the gym, CHS varsity boys coach Brian Smith smiled, already contemplating the start of the 2013-14 season — about four months away from its tipoff and just about three months removed from an 80-77 loss at Rio Rancho in the first round of the District 1-5A tournament, a loss that left the Storm with a 6-20 record and kept it out of the state tournament for the second year in a row.
That state tournament, of course, is the goal of every player lacing up his high tops — and it’s a destination missed the past two seasons by Smith.
The 2013-14 season might be different, he says, happy for the 22 wins in 31 games this summer at five camps for his varsity — and the JV was even better, going 22-3.
“The guys are playing well together,” Smith said.
Yes, he lost some seniors, but, hey, Ryan Jones led the JV in scoring and could have been a key varsity contributor had he been eligible, after transferring from Rio Rancho High School, to play on the Storm varsity. Don’t bet against Jones setting a new single-game scoring mark this season, notes Smith.
Also added to the roster are two more transfers from RRHS, juniors Jajuan Bush and Keyshawn Tindal, who played sparingly for the Rams last season.
Speaking of former Rams, during the latter stages of the shooting camp on Monday, former RRHS post P.J. Horgan had just arrived from The Citadel, where he’s played the past seasons, anticipating he’d be needed at the camp (there was one for younger kids in the afternoon) and former Ram Lucas Archuleta showed up to lift weights.
Horgan happy about his 2012-13 season
Horgan, who played two seasons for the Storm after the school opened in 2009, was already looking forward to his junior season for the Bulldogs.
Majoring in engineering, he said he’d be working this summer for CHS freshman coach Giles Good’s construction business. That would provide him some good, hands-on experience, he’s hoping.
Horgan said he’d obtained a 4.0 grade-point average for his summer school studies, giving him a cumulative GPA of 3.4. He’s smart enough, too, to understand that he’ll probably never play in the NBA — “You have to be a realist,” he says — there could be a professional spot overseas for him.
“If the opportunity comes, I’ll take it,” he said.
Horgan was jokingly told there should be a special X placed on the Storm Center court to mark the place where he launched a long-distance shot that helped beat La Cueva a few seasons ago. That’s still his CHS highlight, he said, while helping The Citadel stage a huge comeback to beat rival Furman is his college highlight thus far.
Smith knows there will be more college highlights coming Horgan’s way in his next two seasons there, and spending a lot of time in the CHS gym will help.
“He loves being in the gym,” Smith said. “It’s good seeing him.”
Smith said when he talks to his current players, he stresses academics and uses Horgan as an example of how hard work in the classroom and the gym can pay off.
“P.J. came in and put in extra time his junior and senior years and now he’s reaping the benefits of it,” Smith said.
Storm warnings: Former multi-sport CHS assistant coach Gary Boatman is leaving the sidelines at CHS to become the varsity boys basketball coach at Menaul School, where he’ll succeed former UNM Lobo cager Kelvin Scarborough. Boatman will remain a teacher at CHS, where he has assisted in coaching for football, girls basketball and baseball.
… Nick Gerard, the first Rio Rancho High School basketball player to play collegiately (Eastern New Mexico), will be back to assist Smith this season. Smith said Gerard will coach the Storm’s junior varsity team. Zach Kamm, like Gerard a former Rams standout, will remain Smith’s varsity assistant. Giles Good is also a former Ram cager.