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Einstein basketball: Another game in town

Einstein boys hoops is building a foundation of success

Posted: January 22, 2014 10:41 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2014 10:41 p.m.

The Einstein Academy basketball team is off to a 9-4 start this year and is a potential Omega League champion and CIF-Southern Section Division VA force. The program is in its second varsity year.

 

If you haven’t had a chance to catch the Albert Einstein Academy Rockets varsity boys basketball team this season, you are missing out on “an exciting brand of basketball where we score a lot of points,” according to Einstein head coach Greg Patterson.

To be fair, it’s probably easy to overlook a Division VA school with little program history when there are traditional Foothill League teams enjoying success.

But despite just two full seasons of varsity competition, the Rockets have already established a winning pedigree.

At least, as winning as one can reasonably expect from a small school in a similar position.

Either way, Einstein is now sitting at 9-4 on the season and looking to repeat as Omega League champions in 2013-14. It’s growing harder for the Santa Clarita Valley to ignore the Rockets.

“Going into this year we expected to win league and make it far into the playoffs,” said Rockets senior guard Chris Yin, the team’s third leading scorer with 12.8 points per game. “Last year coming into playoffs we were still on that high from winning league. I guess we’ll see what happens this time.”

Last season, Einstein’s first as a varsity basketball program, the Rockets went 16-6 and finished 12-1 in the Omega League en route to a league championship.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon ended with a 60-53 loss to Oakwood in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division VA playoffs.

Still, the results showed that Einstein had a lot of potential to make some noise. A season later, it appears that the Rockets are indeed in a position to fly higher.

Through their first 13 games, the Rockets are putting up impressive numbers.

They are scoring 70 points per game, and forcing opponents into 16 turnovers a contest.

By now, it’s no secret how the Rockets get those numbers either — they run.

Einstein utilizes a lineup built for fast-paced games, employing the use of four guards and one big man. It’s a risky approach at first glance, but not if the lone big man is as good as Rockets senior Hunter Morris has been.

The 6-foot-6-inch, 230-pound center has been a load to handle all season, leading the team in scoring with 14 points per contest to go along with eight rebounds a game as well.

“Sometimes it does get difficult if I need to play the entire game,” Morris said. “But it helps because if I get double teamed down low, I can always kick it out to an open shooter.”

In the Rockets’ case, that’s a winning proposition.

Including Yi and Morris, four Rockets players are averaging double digit point totals, the other two being junior Jackie Saucer and senior Sahil Rai, whose 13 points per contest is good for second best on the team.

That depth can be hard to gameplan for, but at least it’s more concrete a task than preparing for noise.

Due to a raucous and inspired student section, Einstein home games have become an experience. Given that they don’t yet have their own venue and play their home games at seemingly whatever middle school gym or private complex is available, the passionate fan following has helped supplement the Rockets’ games with a true high school atmosphere.

“I’ve been to Valencia games. Canyon, Hart, Chaminade and all of that — I saw what that was like,” said Einstein senior and student section hype machine Josh Brooks. “We can get really loud, honestly. For two straight weeks last year we went around classes to recruit as many kids as we could. Had about 130 kids show up for the first game.”

According to Patterson, who coached Montclair Prep from 1995 to 2001 and 2004 to 2010 and won CIF titles in 1996, 2005 and 2006 and a state championship in 1995, the impact cannot be dismissed.

The Rockets are currently in the middle of a two-game losing streak, having fallen to Santa Clarita Christian and last year’s season-killers Oakwood on Jan. 17 and 18.

Despite that, the Rockets are still 6-0 in league play and their dreams of playoff success are still realistic and completely possible,

That’s a lot more than most people could ask out of a program with the resources that Einstein has.
In the short term, Einstein is a playoff-bound basketball team with a growing tradition of supportive and passionate fans.

Thinking larger — it’s only year two of something that could end up becoming special.

“I was just excited to start a program from scratch. It was new and I hadn’t done it before,” Patterson said. “We’re part of a fun league with a lot of teams that play differently. It’s my first time here with a group of seniors and they’ve been great.”

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