Unexpected times on court for St. John Bosco

An exodus of players and chemistry issues within have left a dark cloud over the St. John Bosco basketball program.

Earlier this week, St. John Bosco head coach Derrick Taylor celebrated his 300th career win. It came in dramatic fashion thanks to a Daniel Hamilton buzzer-beater to lift the Braves over JSerra in Trinity League play.

Three hundred wins is quite a milestone, but aside from that, there hasn’t been much to celebrate for Taylor or St. John Bosco (15-9) this season.

Before the start of the season, the Braves were a preseason Top 10 team in the nation according to some publications.

But an exodus of players and chemistry issues within have left a dark cloud over the program in what has been a turn for the worse that no one saw coming.

"I didn’t expect this," said Hamilton. "I thought we’d do way better than what we doing right now." 

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Hamilton, who’s committed to UConn, and Arizona-bound guard Tyler Dorsey remain, but the cast of characters around them has shrunk.

Because of a number of transfers out of the program, the Braves have had to change up the way they play. They’re not a big as they once were, losing the likes of 6-foot-9 Devin Burleson (Highland) and 6-10 Jordan Dallas (Long Beach Poly). They also lost two starters — Billy Preston (currently homeschooled, according to a source) and Lorne Currie (Fairfax) — after the start of the season.

That has had a direct reflection on the team chemistry.

"I just think we need to play together more," Hamilton said. "That’s the most important thing right now. The chemistry is just way off right now. It’s really like AAU with all of us." 

"It’s been a tough season," Dorsey said. "Up and down. Very crazy.

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"It’s hard to adjust to everything — an up and down season, losing players and all that. It’s tough but you got fight through it."

Hamilton has put some of the pressure to turn things around on himself, saying he needs to lead better. It may be too late. The defending CIF Southern Section III-A champions could find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the Open Division once the playoffs start later this month. Teams selected for the Open Division will be announced on Feb. 14. A selection has gotten even more questionable after Friday night’s Trinity League loss to Mater Dei.

"I’d be hurt," Hamilton said of his feelings if his team isn’t selected for the Open Division. "I don’t know what I’d do. That’s what I’m playing for. I want to play against the best. I don’t want to play against nobody else."