With three games remaining in the regular season, the AIMS Athletic Department sat down with AIPHS Golden Eagles Head Basketball Coach Jermaine Worley and Lady Eagles Head Basketball Coach Charnise Jones as both teams are on the verge of the playoffs during AIPHS’s historic first inaugural basketball seasons.
Either one might find it difficult to distinguish the young AIPHS Golden Eagles Head Coach Jermaine Worley from his players, or tempting to question his experience after falling two out of his first three games of the season. But after a four game winning streak, the Golden Eagles (4-1; 5-2) are defying critics and their expectations ahead of today’s pivotal match-up against Leadership Prep of Richmond.
“It’s not about how you start, but how you finish,” remarked Coach Worley. “Since the beginning of the season, I told my players not to judge our team by the result of our first few games, because greatness is shown over time.”
As a former college basketball player, Coach Worley fashions himself as an old-school type of coach - suits on game days, intense game pace, and is quick to interject conventional life lessons whenever he interacts with his players. In this regard, Coach Worley is able to relate well with his players while demanding 100% of their effort throughout the game. Although mental mistakes will lead to reduced playing time, Coach Worley’s next man up philosophy gives all of his players an opportunity to play within his system - a system in which he expects his players to be ready to “execute” at a moment’s notice.
Among the most notable contributors to the Golden Eagles are junior Luseni Monya-Tambi, who leads the team with 17.5 points game and registered the team’s first dunk in school history, junior and leading rebounder Delvoun McClain-Smith, who is averaging a double-double with 12.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, and senior captain and sharpshooter Van Gerald Del Valle, who is averaging 13 points per game.
With a win today, the Golden Eagles are all but assured a spot in the playoffs and have a legitimate shot at competing for a championship in its first season. But while the thought of securing a championship in the first year of the AIPHS Basketball program seems enticing, Coach Worley admits that the game of basketball is not just about winning and losing - his team’s attitude and effort while in pursuit of a championship can create an unbreakable bond that extends beyond the arc: “I wanted to establish a brotherhood with these young men. In the midst of them getting closer as a team, we became a family!”
Heading into the start of their inaugural basketball season, the Lady Eagles deserved the benefit of the doubt: They led into the second half against Golden State Prep amid questionable officiating and chippy play that marred the flow of the game. Even the entire Lady Eagles starting line-up, credited with minimal basketball experience, fouled out. In the end, after nearly three hours and a burgeoning hostile atmosphere, the game was called with less than 4 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter and the Lady Eagles sustained their first and worst loss of the season.
To wit, given the circumstances surrounding the first game, the Lady Eagles’s earned every right to be dejected and to give-up on the remainder of their season.
Instead, Head Coach Charnise Jones used the Lady Eagles’ opening loss as character building moment. “Winning wasn’t the only focus,” quipped Coach Jones. “It’s character building, commitment, and hard work. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, because hard-work beats talent everyday of the week.”
On the eve of their eighth game of the season, the Lady Eagles (5-0; 5-2) are sporting a five-game winning streak and now sit atop the BACSAC Division B North in first place. Like their male counterparts, the Lady Eagles are all but assured a spot in the playoffs, but need to win its remaining games and build upon its momentum before heading to the final four.
With the season winding down, Coach Jones will continue to develop her young and gritty players and will need key contributions from her senior trio - leading scorer Maria Ekowge, who leads the Lady Eagles with 13 points per game, team assists leader Saron Abrham, who is also averaging 7.5 points per game, and rebound specialist Zuulekh Gulaid, who is averaging 10.2 rebounds per game and recorded the first triple double in AIPHS history.
As a former college basketball player, Coach Jones believes the team’s mental toughness and ability to work on the court as a unit will help propel the Lady Eagles into the postseason and beyond: “When you have a group of strong ladies in your corner, it makes life a little easier. Basketball becomes more than just playing - it’s about family and becoming a sisterhood for life.”
Remaining Games of the Season
AIPHS vs @ LPS Richmond
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 (4:30 PM Girls Tip Off / 6:00 PM Boys Tip Off)
LPS Richmond Gym
880 Bissell Ave.
Richmond, CA USA
AIPHS Basketball @ Richmond Cal Prep
Wednesday, January 30, 2019 (4:30 PM Girls Tip Off / 6:00 PM Boys Tip Off)
3040 Hilltop Mall Rd.
Richmond, CA USD
LPS Richmond vs. AIPHS Senior Night
Friday, February 1, 2019 (4:30 PM Girls Tip Off / 6:00 PM Boys Tip Off)
31 4th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
For post-season information, please visit bacsac.org. Thank you for your continued support of AIMS and AIMS Athletics. AIMSTRONG!