Prelude to Boys Varsity Basketball

Shooting Stars


Dionne Agulto

Player scoring during this year’s basketball tryouts in the main gym.

Dionne Agulto, Staff Writer

   With the lights having dimmed on fall sports, fans can now shift their interests to winter sports. Watching the wrestlers grappling on the mats, or the swimmers crossing the pool, it’s clear that Gresham High has a lot to look forward to this wintertime. 

   However, it is under the lights of the new gymnasium where the largest crowds gather, the most tickets are sold, and arguably the most popular sport at this school is played: basketball. With a brand new gym and season underway, the basketball team has high hopes for success this year.

   “We’re gonna be the hardest working team on the floor every single night. We got a lot of young players in our program that have worked really hard here in the off-season, and I think we’re ready to pack this gym and create a playoff-type atmosphere every night!” boys basketball varsity head coach Eric Lysio said.

   It is well known that team success is usually a mix of good coaching and excellent team culture, and this team seems to have that.

   “As we’ve progressed over the last five years, we’ve put chemistry at the top of the list, and know what we want our kids to look like on and off the floor. Like we tell kids: you gotta be coachable, you gotta be good teammates, good in the classroom, good problem solver, and if you can’t do those four things, I don’t even look at you as a basketball player, and with that, the culture definitely helped us win more games,” Lysio said.

   The team did not always have such a positive vibe as they currently seem to have.  Lysio  explained how they used to have a “pretty toxic environment with their senior group.”  Though with the changes made since then, accompanied by new students and transfers, they have helped the team move forward.
  “It’s changed a lot actually, we got new players and transfers coming in so, I feel like our bond’s gotten way better from last years, and our coach just makes sure everyone’s following through and doing what they’re supposed to,” varsity guard Oscar Hatangimana said.

   With a smaller three game preseason set to start on the twelfth of December this year , there’s a lot to look forward to for this year’s varsity team before starting the actual season on the fifth of January next year. 

   Among the team, one player; varsity guard Esyah Pippa-White who according to, has a “star rating of two and a scholarship offer to Jackson State ”.

As one of the sole state players at GHS, Esyah has grown a lot as a player throughout his three years career as a guard.

   “He’s come a long way as a potential leader in our program, it’s something he has to work on,  and he has! It’s something that we challenge him with every year, and with every day we’re out here with him, I think you’ll see the best version of Esyah this season, even better than last year,” Lysio said. “On the floor we know what he can do, he’s obviously one of the top players in the state, and off the floor; at practice, is where he’s gotta get better because his teammates will follow if he does that the right way.” 

  With Esyah entering his third season at GHS, there’s a lot of eyes on him to see where the future takes him, but also what he’s done in the offseason to help prepare himself for the season ahead.

   “I work on my game in the offseason in the weight room, just trying to get my bounce up and trying to push to get my weight to 175 or 180, and just putting in the hours, even if it’s just two a day, three a day, you just have to keep working, and even if you’re not the best, if you just put in two hours a day, I promise you’ll get there,” Pippa-White said.

   Tryouts recently ended and both the varsity and junior varsity teams have been formed.

   “My role on the basketball team is just to go out and stop the best player out there, that’s just what I do as a good defender and let our offense come as we play,” Hatangimana said.

   As for Esyah, his role on the team as a top scorer seems to focus more on offense, which when put together with good team defense can produce playoff-qualifying team records, just like the last three years.

   “I know I can just drive on anybody, so I know my strengths and am trying to get my shooting back since I was slacking last year with that, so I’m just making sure that it’s back this season.” Pippa-White said.

   Interestingly enough, with a lack of taller players to play center, the varsity team has adapted to using a line up of smaller guards that favor shooting three pointers and aggressive perimeter defense to get more fastbreaks from steals, over a post offense which requires a lot more taller players that just aren’t there.

   “We don’t have a lot of guys who are ‘“true centers”’, so we play with four guards and posts who have the freedom to come outside in the pick-and-pop game, so we train everyone as a guard, and practice as if we have all guards and if we do have posts, we also give them individual post-training,” Lysion said. “But the game’s definitely changed, you’ve gotten away from post-type play, and so it’s positionless to an extent, but it really just comes down to who’s on the roster so we can play to their strengths”.

   This year, the boys varsity basketball team will have a fast-paced, spaced out playstyle, with a heavier focus on transition defense, a known playstyle that’s worked really well for the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns

   “We’re a team that really likes to attack downhill and get to the basket. If we can win the free throw game, then we give ourselves a chance to win. Olinix will tell you, that if you shoot and make more free throws then the other team, then you usually win that game and we’re gonna be the toughest defense on the floor!” Lysio said.