Rams ready to compete with Olympus for region boys basketball crown
Nov 27, 2018 02:41PM
By Josh McFadden
Highland’s Christian Rich takes the ball to the basket in a summer league game earlier this year. (Photo by Chris Rich)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
If it hadn’t been for Olympus, the Highland High School boys basketball team would have enjoyed a Region 6 championship a year ago.
Of course, the dominant, undefeated Titans ran away with both the region and state crowns, so there was no shame in losing out to them. Still, with talent and experience returning to the court, head coach James Boyce believes his Rams have what it takes to make the Region 6 race interesting this season.
“We always expect to be in the mix for the region championship and make the state tournament,” he said. “This is a really good group. The start of each season is fun and exciting. Spirits are high, and it will be fun to see where this team ends up.”
The Rams were second in league play with an 8-2 record. The team went 15-7 overall and lost to Corner Canyon in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament 69-57. This season, returning starters Liki Makaui and Christian Rich, a senior guard, will lead the team. Makaui, a three-year starter, averaged 11 points a game last season, while Rich led the team with a per-game average of 11.7.
“[Makaui] a very talented guard,” Boyce said. “He is an elite dribbler, has good range and is an excellent passer. He has hit some huge shots for us in the past, and we expect him to do great things this year. [Rich] is a great shooter and very skilled. He is an extremely intelligent player, and we also expect big things from him.”
Senior guard Bronson Olevao didn’t start last season but will increase his role this year. Senior center Jackson Hawes was a reserve last season but will now be the main man in the middle.
“[Olevao] is very athletic and can handle the ball and finish extremely well,” Boyce said. “[Hawes] is strong and athletic and could prove to be a matchup problem for opposing teams.”
Highland does lack some depth, so Boyce hopes foul trouble doesn’t become an issue. The Rams are starting off with a short bench, so Boyce is looking for some other players to rise to the challenge and play quality minutes.
“We need to be in great shape because of our depth,” Boyce said. “We need to stay healthy this year. We do have lack of size, and hopefully that will not be an issue. We need some of the younger players to step up and be positive contributors for our team.”
Highland’s first game is Nov. 27 at home against Viewmont. The team will play in the Corner Canyon Tourney of Champions Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 1. The Rams will tip off Region 6 action Jan. 11 when it travels to East.
Regardless of what happens on the court, Boyce said basketball is secondary to the players’ classroom success. He’s pleased to report that the team has a combined grade point average of 3.5.
“They are smart kids,” he said. “School is much more important than basketball, and they have gotten it done in the classroom.”