By Zach Cavanagh
Last season, Sea View League play saw the Dana Hills boys basketball team come apart.
The Dolphins had a tremendous start and were successful over the holiday tournament season to post a 12-8 record entering league action. Dana Hills then went 2-6 in league, with its two wins over last-place Laguna Hills and three losses by four or fewer points. The Dolphins went out in the first round of the playoffs and lost 11 of their final 14 games.
This season, Dana Hills finds itself in a similar spot to open league play.
The Dolphins won at the North/South Challenge and finished third in their division at the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational to hold an 11-6 record entering their league opener on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Dana Hills looked determined to avoid last season’s fate and scored the first 17 points of the game on its way to win big over San Juan Hills, 62-34, and open its Sea View League schedule on the right foot.
“Last year, we dropped some close ones. We didn’t finish games,” Dana Hills coach Tom Desiano said. “This year, our kids have been battle-tested a little bit. We played some close games, some good teams. It’s just about making some plays and having confidence in what we do. I think this group this year feels really confident in themselves and their ability.”
Dana Hills was active in its own zone and showed the strength of its defense with athletic length to shut down the lane and pressure shots on the outside.
“We’re not super tall, but we do have good length,” Desiano said. “We’re able to contest some shots, and that goes a long way. They know where to go in our zone, and when we play (man-to-man defense), they’re really buying in.”
The Dolphins’ two tallest players, 6-foot-6 junior Harrison Wiese and 6-foot-4 senior Ben Carr, are also their best players. Carr and Wiese have led the Dana Hills attack this season and were the leading scorers against San Juan Hills—Wiese with 18 points and Carr with 14.
“They kind of make us go,” Desiano said. “When they start making shots, the other guys feed off that. It reverberates throughout the whole team. They have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, but they’re good enough to handle it.”
Next up, Dana Hills takes on the league favorite, Tesoro, on the road Friday, Jan. 11. The Titans moved down from the South Coast League but may be the best team in either league. Dana Hills hasn’t won the league title since 2014 and 2009 before that, but the Dolphins still have their goals and expectations.
“To win league—100 percent,” Desiano said. “That’s it. It’s been a few years now, but I’d like to see us compete for one. I think we have the team to do it.”