Experienced Panthers shooting for CCS title

Town Crier file photo
Pinewood’s Jaeden Bailey goes up for a shot against rival Woodside Priory last season.

Led by a new head coach and a slew of seniors, the Pinewood School boys basketball team is off to a fast start. The Panthers, slated to begin league play tonight, finished their preseason with a 6-3 record.

“It’s going well right now,” senior captain Jaeden Bailey said. “I mean, it’s only preseason, but we’ve been playing really well.”

If Pinewood’s preseason play isn’t impressive enough, consider that the Panthers are doing it while learning a new playbook. The transition to new head coach Scott Alexander has been smooth, according to Bailey, but it takes time to learn the new plays and techniques that come with a coaching change.

“It’s a lot of new (principles) on offense and defense,” Bailey said. “It’s just getting to know the new offense, defense. … We push the ball a lot more now, with him.”

Alexander, new to Pinewood, is a Colorado native. This marks his first season as a high school head coach. Alexander replaces Jason Peery, who stepped down after last season. In two stints as the Panthers’ coach, Peery steered them to a 111-46 record over six total seasons.

“(Alexander) kind of picked up the same qualities that Jason possessed,” senior captain Connor Riches said. “Of course they have different personalities, but our game plan has not changed that much.”

Pinewood’s strength, much like its new coach, lies in experience. All but two players from last season’s team return, including eight seniors. However, the Panthers did lose all-leaguer Matt Peery – the former coach’s son – to graduation.

“I think it’s a really important part of our team that we’ve all been together so long,” senior Bo Fick said. “Most of us have been on the team for three years now, and we’re all super connected, super close.”

The Panthers placed sixth in the West Bay Athletic League last season and finished 16-11 overall after falling to St. Francis-Watsonville in the Central Coast Section Division V semifinals.

“Our first goal is CCS – to win CCS,” Riches said. “And then, of course – after we win that – we want to go to state.”

Pinewood is scheduled to open league play 6:30 p.m. today at Menlo School.

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