With the prep basketball season winding down, the Mainland High School Buccaneers boys are finding their way.
Mainland has been arguably the best local team this season.
After a slow start, the Bucs find themselves at 13-9 having won six of their past eight games, including a six-game winning streak from Jan. 7-24.
“We’ve played the fourth hardest schedule in the country. We did it to get us ready for the district tournament and playoffs. I thought it was best for us. We also had a lot of new guys this year. It took a while for it to come together,” responded Head Coach Joe Giddens.
Successful track record
Mainland has been the best boys’ program locally in recent years under Giddens’ guidance. Last year, the team went 27-2 and made the second round of the playoffs. The previous season they were 21-8 and made the Final Four.
“Our track record of recent success does make teams play us harder. We get everyone’s best shot,” commented Giddens.
The Buccaneers are led by reigning local Player of the Year in do-all senior guard Jordan Sears.
“My job is to keep the machine moving. I have to do that in order for all of us to play better,” said Sears.
Other key players
Mainland also has a playmaker in senior guard Taron Keith.
Other key players are forward/center Ty’Rion Denson along with freshman guards Nigle Cook and Dontrell Thompson.
“It took us a while to come together. We’ve progressed and grown tremendously. We had a lot of new guys. Out of 13 players, nine were new entering this season,” stated Giddens.
‘Like a family’
Sears says the players do have that bond.
“We’ve been together on and off the court. I think it’s finally showing on the court. We’re like a family. Coach has instilled in us since day one to be like a family,” added Sears.
Giddens always knew that this team had the capacity to be special.
He expressed, “I knew from since day one that we were capable. We have the player of the year returning as well as Taron Keith, who is a DI football athlete. We played on the road a lot early too.”
The Buccaneers were to play Spruce Creek on Wednesday which was after the Daytona Times’ deadline. They close the regular season at Seabreeze on Feb. 7.
Eyes on district title
It’s now all about winning the district title, then making a run at a state title. The district 6A-4 tournament is from Feb. 12-15. The district champion gets an automatic playoff bid. At-large bids go by MaxPreps rankings in the top eight in each region.
“I think we just have to go out there and work hard. We have to trust each other and play with confidence. We got to play hard on both ends of the court and play Mainland basketball,” emphasized Giddens.
Sears echoed, “We just have to play with that energy and efficiency, especially on the defensive end. We also have to stay positive.”