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BOYS BASKETBALL – John Glenn rebounds from worst loss of season with sixth double-digit victory 

December 25, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

Nothing has come easy for the John Glenn High boys basketball program over the course of the past 25 seasons. Even when things are going good for the Eagles, there’s always something that takes away from the positives, whether players defecting during a season, or coaches being quietly forced out because parents don’t agree with the coaching styles.

This season sees Chris Palisin as the program’s third head coach since the 2020-2021 campaign and 11th since the 1998-1999 season. And Palisin has Glenn going in the right direction with a relatively new team as the Eagles knocked off Alliance Health Services Academy 38-24 last Friday, snapping a two-game losing streak and coming after a 65-15 shellacking to the hands of Norwalk High.

“It was a tough game because Santa Claus is coming and a lot of kids are sick and there’s not a big crowd and we’re coming off a rivalry game which didn’t go our way,” said Palisin. “So, we wanted to get a good start, and energy was important to us. We were trapping out of our zone early and that was what we were looking for as far as a spark to get the game going and play the pace that we wanted to.”

Glenn improved to 9-5 and while the Eagles have scored 50 points only twice, they have allowed 40 points or fewer nine times. After spotting the Wolves a 2-0 lead just over two and a half minutes into the game, Glenn scored the next 13 points of the stanza, then got a three-pointer from freshman Samuel Reeves eight seconds into the second quarter to go up 16-2. Glenn’s lead would not dip below 10 points as it was playing more of a defensive game, forcing AHSA to turn the ball over 14 times in the first half, getting nine steals with three each coming from Reeves and sophomore Bundana Adams.

“Very important because we were very limited today with only seven players,” said Palisin. “We were missing two starters, so it was very important to have that, delay the clock a little bit and then run our stuff.”

The Eagles held a 24-10 halftime lead and only took 19 shots from the field with four of the seven players who suited up scoring at least three points. Both teams would score in the third and fourth quarters respectively as Glenn would lead by as much as 16 points twice. In fact, the Wolves would score consecutive points just once in the game.

Adams led everyone with 17 points and had seven rebounds, six steals and three assists. He has quietly become the team’s leading scorer through the first 14 games and has scored at least 20 points three times. His performance comes three days after a season-low two points against Norwalk.

“He’s a sophomore and he’s our captain and usually you don’t make sophomores captains,” said Palisin. “But in our situation here with a rebuild, he’s earned it. He’s quick, talented, and still has a lot of growth, as we all do. But he sparked us with some defensive plays and his leadership on offense.”

Also having a great game coming off the bench was Reeves, who had 10 points, five rebounds, four steals and an assist. He tied his career-high in points, which came in the second game of the season against Vista Meridian High on Nov. 15.

“The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores,” said Palisin. “But I’ll tell you what, he didn’t play like a freshman tonight. He’s been working on his three’s and those were big three’s, and he was very coachable tonight, being a leader with the team and connecting with me.”

Senior Justin Rodriguez, the only returning player left on the team, had eight points, six rebounds and five steals while sophomore Jesse Caldwell led the team with eight rebounds. The Eagles pounded the glass for 33 rebounds with everyone getting at least two rebounds. 

Glenn is in Division 5AA this season and while its schedule may not look that impressive with the teams it has been playing, you need wins no matter who it’s against. Glenn has six wins of 10 points or more, one by seven points, one by five points and one by three points, and of the five losses, the first two were by a combined four points. Since the 1999-2000 season when Glenn finished 9-14, the program has had four other teams win at least nine games. The Eagles went 10-17 in the 2006-2007 season, 14-13 two seasons ago, 11-17 last season and this season’s team.

“We’re beating Division 5 teams,” said Palisin. “I don’t see any problem with that. We’re a small school, we’re rebuilding, we don’t have a freshman or junior varsity team. So, we scheduled a lot of non-league Division 5’s so our kids can earn confidence. We always want to win, but we see nothing wrong with Division 5 schools that we’ve been playing. It’s been ultra good for us; very competitive games.”

The Eagles have one more game this month, a Dec. 28 home game with New Designs University Park, then it’s off to 605 League action where they will entertain league favorite Artesia High on Jan. 3. If Glenn doesn’t finish in the top three in league, which would be good enough for an automatic playoff berth, it would need to win at least five more games to be considered for an at-large berth. The Eagles also have a few more non-league contests in January. 

“Besides working on our fundamentals, which we always stress here with me, is our communication on the court and our connection with me on the court,” said Palisin on what his team need to do to be successful. “It’s good, it’s bad, it’s up and down, and you’re going to get that with a young team. But going into league, which has extremely talented teams, crowds and great coaches, our communication and chemistry and our connection with me…we better be on a sprint to get better, or it’s going to be challenged very much so in league.”