In his second year at the helm of the Cosumnes Oaks boys’ varsity basketball program, Wolfpack head coach JT Roberts has one goal: Make the playoffs.
His team certainly got off on the right foot toward achieving that goal, earning a 78-37 home victory against visiting Hiram Johnson in their season opener last Wednesday inside the Wolfpack gym.
Led by 21 points from junior guard Raymond Castro, who tied the school record with seven made three-pointers in the contest, the game was never in doubt for Cosumnes Oaks (1-0 overall). With Castro connecting on five of his shots from beyond the arc in the first half, the game quickly was out of reach for the Warriors (2-1 overall), who trailed by 22 points at halftime.
“That’s the way the game is going now,” Roberts said of Castro’s shooting performance. “If you’re hot, I’m going to let my guys let it fly, and he tied the school record.”
Senior guard Raj Sidhu also made a big contribution from distance, scoring 12 points on four three-pointers. Sidhu also managed to tie the school record for three-pointers made last season in a game against Ponderosa. Together, Sidhu and Castro figure to make quite the backcourt tandem for the Wolfpack this season. Junior guard Teshawn Johnson also added 10 points as one of three players to score in double digits for the home team.
Cosumnes Oaks didn’t let up in the second half as they opened the third quarter with a 12-0 run and held the Warriors to just six points in the period due to their effort on the defensive end. The size of senior power forward Justin Davis, sophomore forward Ravenna Miller, and junior foward Martin Billings II made things difficult on the Warriors as they tried to drive to the basket. The Wolfpack were able to use their frontcourt length to snatch rebounds and create fastbreak baskets, literally running away with the victory.
“It felt pretty good,” Roberts said of getting the win in the opener. “We were itching to play because we didn’t get to play last week due to the weather and the smoke from the fires. We were practicing a lot, so we had guys ready to get after it and ready to get the season started.”
Sophomore guard Ivanson Foxx led Hiram Johnson in scoring with 12 points. Freshman guard Tagipo Maui Jr. chipped in 10 points in the loss for the Warriors.
This season brings forth a ton of changes for the Wolfpack. The team has more length than last seasons’ club, and also features three sophomores as Roberts looks to continue making his mark on the program. Roberts also stated this year his team will look to shoot it from long range a little more often, and increase the tempo by trying to generate more fastbreak opportunities.
Perhaps the biggest change for the Wolfpack will be the competition, as they will begin their first season in the Delta League on January 2 when they face Davis. Last year, Cosumnes Oaks finished in sixth place in the Capital Valley Conference with a 14-13 overall record, including a 6-8 mark in CVC play.
“I want us to play against the best,” Roberts said when asked about his feelings on joining the Delta League. “I’ve been doing this a long time and it’s all about playing against the best coaches and the best teams. There are no nights off in the Delta League, everyone is playing at a high level. So it’s about how we execute, how we get after it, and what we bring to the table.”
Although it is his teams’ first year in the league, Roberts isn’t shying away from his desire to make some noise in the standings and earn a postseason berth.
“We missed out last year but got close,” Roberts said. “The Delta League gets four teams that make the playoffs, and I want to be a part of that top four. We definitely want to get up there and compete with the best.”