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Experienced EC hoopsters off to a nice start


Yes, the prep basketball season is still relatively young with only about a third of the regular season having been contested. And league play throughout the county hasn’t even begun to commence.
But presently, on the local front, there can be little argument that Escondido Charter is hooping it up better than anyone else around.
As far as wins are concerned, the White Tigers clearly lead the Escondido-based contingent with a total six while only Charter (6-3) and Orange Glen (3-2) have authored winning records.
To further validate its local preeminence, EC has also delivered decisive victories over neighbors Escondido, San Pasqual and Classical Academy as well as a triumph over nearby foe Valley Center.
Indeed, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the White Tigers have basically ruled the roost around their own home turf. The question now becomes can they expand their area of influence? Based upon all indications to date, that prospect seems a distinct possibility.
After all, there can be no doubt that the White Tigers have a lot going for them. To begin with, EC’s 13-man roster is made up a core of players who have toiled with one another hearkening back to their youth days. As such the familiarity and affinity that they possess for one another is immense.
Couple that with the fact that two of the most dynamic and accomplished players in school history – namely stellar center Marley Gonzalez and gifted guard Tristan Hernandez – occupy starring roles for EC —which makes this team doubly tough to beat.
And then there’s Charter’s enviable transition game. When the White Tigers get out and run, they have the ability of lighting up a scoreboard. Already this season, Charter has produced five games in which it has tallied 64 points or more.
When asked to assess his current squad, nine-year varsity coach David Vidosic isn’t hesitant to sing its praises. “I think this is the best team I’ve ever had,” he says.. “They’re hungry and they’re coachable. And a number of the guys have gotten another year under their belt which makes us a lot more experienced. Plus, they get along really well.”
As for tactics, the White Tigers have been more than efficient at running a dribble-drive motion offense. On the defensive end, the emphasis has been on a man-to-man deployment with some occasional pressing and zone traps mixed in.
Though Vidosic has been reasonably pleased with his club’s efforts up to now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas in which improvement wouldn’t be welcomed. “Sometimes we’ve been gambling too much and allowing a lot of 3-pointers off the drive and kick out,” says the coach. “We’ve got to get better at stopping that.”
He would also like to see his charges demonstrate a little more composure when dealing with swings in momentum or turns in fortune.
But as Vidosic knows full well, any negatives are far outweighed by Charter’s considerable upside. And that all begins with its dandy duo of Hernandez and Gonzalez.
In the former, the White Tigers have a four-year performer who owns a high hoop IQ. A versatile guard who’s not afraid of the moment, Hernandez can score at all three levels as well as dish the rock with aplomb. Strong and muscular, he is a plus-defender capable of harassing the opposition’s best player. In essence a coach on the court, Tristan (8.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.6 apg) is EC’s second all-time leading scorer and could surpass the 400-assist mark in this his farewell season.
As for the 6’8” Gonzalez (16.3 ppg, 13.3 rpg), he’s a very big fellow but with soft hands and guard-like skills. A youthful senior having just turned 17, Gonzalez is still physically maturing and it’s scary to think of him getting even more powerful. Able to step out from the post and hit the trey, he can be lethal from the high post whether knocking down a shot, feeding a teammate or going hard to the rack. Using his 230-pound frame to great advantage, Marley knows how to block out and that’s made him a mighty rebounding force. And as an impactful defender down low, Gonzalez can clearly get the job done. Already the school’s most prolific scorer, this special player could exceed the 1,000-point and 800-rebound plateaus by the time he wraps up his prep career.
However, the White Tigers are a far cry from being just a two-player ensemble. Invaluable and vital complimentary pieces surround Hernandez and Gonzalez and give the team its necessary cohesion and balance.
For example, there’s guard Alexander Manuel (8.0 ppg), a starter this season after being EC’s sixth man the previous campaign. Though armed with an unorthodox shot, this crafty lefty can score on just about anybody and his defensive prowess is off the charts.
And how about small forward/guard Farhan Roshankouhi (5.6 ppg, 6,9 rpg), who can do an assortment of things at a high level while offering plenty of intangibles? A smart performer that passes well, Farhan is also quite clever around the basket.
Rounding out the starting five is junior Danny Lopez (5.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg), a fireplug who brings a dogged mentality and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Fast, strong and a good rebounder for his size, the 5’7” Lopez can go off offensively such as the time when he dropped 19 points on Classical in just a single quarter.
Others who have the wherewithal of being real contributors include John Scates, a Swiss-army-knife type who can stoke it from distance and crash the boards and Ashton Pincock, an athletic big that can play with his hands up.
Good shooters Emiliano Nieto and Albert Konado could also factor into the playing time equation.
So far, it’s been a good ride for the White Tigers and they hope to keep the ball right on rolling once Pacific League play begins. A competitive circuit where every team appears to have improved, the PL will prove to be a testing ground for Vidosic and crew. But the coach feels his squad will be up for the challenge. “We’ve got a shot,” he says about the possibility of winning a league title. “If we play well, we can be as good as just about anyone.”
Vidosic doesn’t stop there; offering even more insight when it comes to talking about his promising and competitive club. “This is a fun bunch to coach with a lot of potential,” he informs. “If we can keep playing as a group and growing as a team, I know the wins will take care of themselves.”
Indeed, the White Tigers have made a very strong case for being the best darn team in town. Moving forward, they’ll be looking to stake an even higher claim.

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