Western Wildcat ballers fast break to success on the high school … – South Florida Sun Sentinel

The The Western High School boys basketball team is off to an impressive start this season. From left, front: Lavar Miller, Geo Obradovich, Gavin Ostrow, Emmanuel Toribio, Josh Silverman, Josh Knight, Jurghen Ramos; and back: Nick Zimmerman, Jonathan Vilchez, Seth Maniscalco, Julian Cajuste, J.C. Gonzalez, Steven Flores, Paul Harrington, Jakai Linwood, Kevin Rodriguez. ( photo/courtesy of Kenneth Kelly )
Western High School boys basketball coach Kenneth Kelly had an inkling his team could be good from the start of the season.
But to race out to an 8-1 start and an undefeated district record? Probably not that big an inkling.
“I thought we had a chance to be good just because (the players) were buying into everything we were teaching, but I wasn’t sure if we could be quite this good,” Kelly said. “They have bought in, they’re committed, they play for each other and they play hard.”
Still, the start has surprised the veteran coach who took over the program this season after spending the past five seasons as an assistant at Broward College. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Miramar High School for seven years.
The Wildcats are riding a seven-game win streak after dropping an 84-69 decision to Stranahan in the second game of the season. As of this writing, Western sits atop the District 12-9A standings with a 4-0 record.
Senior wing Jonathan Vilchez leads the Western squad with an average of 18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, three assists and three steals per game, while senior guard Emmanuel Toribiois is averaging 15.2 points, along with 2.1 steals, 1.4 assists and 1.3 rebounds.
Kelly said the players first showed their determination to be successful during the pre-season workouts and conditioning sessions. The Wildcats were coming off back-to-back seasons where they finished just above .500 (14-12 and 12-10 records) and Kelly, who has taught at the school for the past five years, jumped at the chance when the position became open.
The Wildcats have eight returning players and three senior starters among that group, including Toribiois, Kevin Rodriguez and Steven Flores.
“Those guys have been huge,” Kelly said. “They bring experience. They want to win … it’s more than I can ask for as far as their attitudes and their leadership go this year.”
Kelly, who has former National Basketball Association guard Raja Bell as an assistant, said the Wildcats have to guard against becoming complacent and they need to push themselves to become even better.
“Western is a great school and an amazing environment,” Kelly said. “The kids just had to realize what they put into it was what they would get out of it. Winning does become contagious.”
While his team is not “big,” Kelly noted that the roster is filled with players who shoot the ball pretty well.
“Class 9A is tough. I think it is similar to what coach Rak (Adam Ratkevich) did with the football team. I think once you start winning and they realize that we are trying to teach how to play correctly, people want to become part of the program,” Kelly said. “Now, you get a buzz going in the community, the same way it was for the football program.”
Kelly said the positive mindset is rubbing off on all the players.
“I think we can legitimately play with anybody and at least we have a shot to win,” he concluded. “Are we able to beat the teams like Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Cypress Bay or some of the others? I am not sure, but I think we can at least make a game of it.”
Copyright © 2022, Sun Sentinel
Copyright © 2022, Sun Sentinel


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