Coral Shores High’s Hurricanes carry a deep and tested roster into Monday’s boys basketball season opener this week. They’ll probably need it.
“We’ve got three pretty tough games in a row in the first three days,” Jarrod Mandozzi, the Canes’ new head coach, said of the Monday-through-Wednesday grinder coming up.
“It will be a challenge after an abbreviated preseason,” he said, “but we’ll make do.”
Coral Shores plunges into the 20-game regular season at home Monday, against Immaculata-LaSalle at 6:30 p.m., following a 5 p.m. JV start. The Canes then head for two games at the Palmer Trinity Tournament in Miami on Tuesday against Sports Leadership Academy and Wednesday versus host Palmer.
Mandozzi’s 12-man varsity roster includes eight returners from last year’s 8-9 varsity campaign. Eight are seniors and four are juniors.
“We had 60 kids try out for varsity and junior varsity, which is astonishing,” Mandozzi said. “We’re excited to see the turnout, and trying to form a freshman team to keep the younger kids playing.”
Mandozzi and assistant coach Gabe Suarez have penciled in a tentative starting lineup of multi-year veteran guards Elijah Woods and Jason Polanco, with a front-court crew of Connor Rhyne, Juan Fleita and Tim Orr, the only junior in the bunch.
Seniors Tanaris Walker, Zech Rock and Brandon Rowland will work into the mix as “tweeners” who can play as guards while “sliding out to the wing with a little length,” Mandozzi said.
“We feel like we’re pretty good in the post, but not as deep in true traditional guards,” he said. “With the number of tweener players we have, we feel we can mix it up.”
Alex Castillo, Alberto Rodriguez, Valente Reynoso-Heaton and 6-foot-6 newcomer Robbie Prosek all are expected to see plenty of court time.
“Experience should be a strength for us although obviously we have our hands full with the guys learning new systems in short order,” Mandozzi said.
“There have only been about 10 practices to put in the offense and defense. Now we have to see who remembers it,” he said. “It’s a great group of kids and they’ve been in the gym working hard.”
After the three consecutive games this week, Coral Shores will travel to Redland Christian on Dec. 4 before playing their second home game, at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 against Ransom Everglades.
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206