The Malibu Elite 13U hoops team’s previous five contests against 1Up Basketball have ended with losses.
The first defeat was by 30 points and the second was by 15. The next three losses were close nail-biters. Elite coach Richard Harris said the games have been more competitive each time the youth teams square off in a summer league at 1st Place Sports Complex in Chatsworth.
“It’s the only team in the league we haven’t beaten,” he said.
Harris, also head coach of Malibu High’s basketball team, expects this Saturday’s match-up against the 1Up, the league’s host team, to be even more competitive because it’s for the league championship.
“It would be such a big deal if we upset them,” the California hoops coach of 13 years said. “We have had a tough time matching up with them. They have some advance level players, but we have played them up to the last second.”
The Elite, a group of mostly 13 year olds, has been running and gunning on the hardwood for the past few months and is constantly improving.
Harris, heading into his fourth season as the Sharks’ head coach, said things are going well for the 12-member team, which he coaches with his brother, David Harris.
“They play really well together,” he said. “You can tell they are an advanced, good team.”
The Elite have progressed from a team that initially was getting beat by double digits regularly, to a travel basketball team that blows opponents out. Harris, the head coach, said the young hoopsters could be effective in a high school game.
“The decision making they have, the way they work through pressure, the way I can put anyone in almost any position and they look comfortable — those types of things are hard to teach,” he said. “Them doing it now will make a big difference with how they perform in high school.”
Harris said players Dean Furlong, Alex Noken, Jordan Wilson and Arman Santizo have stood out for the Elite.
The coach said Furlong has transformed into an aggressive point guard. “He will handle the ball under pressure,” Harris said. “He will take good shots. He used to be passive.”
Noken, a 6-foot-4 hooper, is a good shooter and passer that “has really progressed through time,” while Wilson is superb passer, Harris said.
Santizo could be a really good player when he is in high school. During the summer, he has shown he can score or defend.
“He is the best player in the gym,” Harris said. “I can put him anywhere on the floor. He has been the best player in the whole gym.”
Harris said after this weekend’s championship game, the Elite will look to play in other leagues and tournaments throughout the summer.
There is also a 12U Malibu Elite team that has played around five games this summer.