At some point in the third quarter in Sobrato’s boys basketball game with crosstown rival Live Oak on Dec. 12, Bulldogs coach Sean Tate looked up at the scoreboard and saw his team up by 20 points, which he found a bit incredulous.
“It felt a little funny because it didn’t feel like we were up by 20,” said Tate, whose team improved to 5-3 after the 51-36 victory. “They’re coming along, but it’s interesting because we’ll go minutes looking really good and minutes going really bad. We get so sloppy sometimes, but at the same time we have a lot of guys who didn’t play much last year.”
Despite graduating eight seniors—four of whom were starters—off a team that won a share of the BVAL Santa Teresa East Division championship and advanced to the semifinals of the Central Coast Section Division III playoffs last year, the Bulldogs have comported themselves nicely.
That’s due in large part to the return of their most experienced players: senior forward Ethan Marmie, senior point guard Kalvin Chak and junior wing Trey Miller. Marmie, a Cal Poly Division I-signee for baseball, had a breakout junior season on the hardwood and has looked every bit as good his senior year.
Marmie is averaging around 14 points per game and is lethal from 3-point range. However, Tate likes how the 6-foot-7 Marmie has become more aggressive when taking the ball to the basket this season. That was apparent in a win over Evergreen Valley on Dec. 8 when Marmie came through the lane on a curl, took one dribble and unleashed and dunked.
In basketball lingo, Marmie threw it down.
“Ethan is trying to get to the rack more, but the difference is now he’s trying to dunk on you,” Tate said. “It’s a good thing he’s more aggressive which adds to his outside game. He’s putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rack a little more and still knocking down outside shots.”
Chak started a couple of games at point guard last season when then-starter Andrew Zorio was out and did well, preparing him to run the show this year. Tate said Chak has done a fantastic job of taking care of the basketball as he’s averaging just one turnover a game, which is one of the more impressive statistics you’ll see at any level.
“Kal has played big time,” Tate said. “If he gets the ball from [point] A to B, then good things can happen for us. He did a great job last year when Andrew got Covid and started those two games which put us over the top.”
Miller is averaging around 14 points per game and has excelled in hitting shots from 3-point range, in the mid-range and driving to the basket off dribble penetration. Just as important, Miller and Marmie can affect the game defensively.
“We need both of them to play both ends of the floor and good things will happen,” Tate said. “Trey is going to score but right now he’s really taking pride in his defense, which is good because if he’s deciding after next year to be a next level guy, college has 50 scorers. You have to be a standout on defense and you’ll find a place to play in college.”
Junior Aidan Mollenhauer has taken over the center position. The 6-4, 164-pounder has been making incremental progress and is averaging around 8-10 points the last couple of games and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win over Live Oak.
“Aidan had a good summer, is doing really well, learning to be strong with the basketball and grabbing a lot of boards for us,” Tate said. “He’s also playing good defense and if we play defense, we can play with anybody.”
Senior off guard Hakim Moghaddami has also been coming along nicely and averaging 8-10 points a game.
“Hakim can’t relax because we kind of need him now that he’ll be getting more minutes,” Tate said. “He’s been doing pretty well and playing good defense and works his butt off. Sometimes he’s errant with the basketball, but he can really shoot the ball.”
Forward Jayden Bejarano earned some quality minutes in the Live Oak game and will be counted upon from here on out, Tate said, while 6-2 senior Henry Garcia—another player who didn’t see much court time last year—has improved and will play a larger role on the team this season.
Despite losing a good chunk of his roster off last year’s team, Tate has guided Sobrato to a nice start and intends to keep it that way.
“Our first goal is to make it to CCS and every win after that is a good thing,” he said. “Every game counts and we’ll take any win this year.”