This is Kevin Mack’s seventh season as coach of the Mountain View High boys basketball team, and he’s never had a roster as big as this one. Not even close.

The Spartans’ roster stands at 21.

“It’s a lot,” Mack said. “More than I expected to keep.”

But basketball is booming at Mountain View – nearly 40 players tried out for the team – and Mack said just cutting down to 21 was difficult.

Because only five of them can be on the court at the same time, sacrifices must be made. Mack said he conveyed this to the squad before the season, sitting down each player to tell him what to expect as far as playing time.

“They understand (the situation),” he said, “and they’ve bought into playing for the person next to them.”

Of course, there are some advantages to having a robust roster. The Spartans “have a lot of size and depth,” Mack said, and “practices are competitive.”

That’s benefited Mountain View in games, the coach noted, with the team off to a 4-2 start. Opening the slate with wins over Los Gatos, Prospect and Fremont, the Spartans dropped a one-point game to Leland in the Westmont Tournament final, then routed Leigh at home. Mountain View next faced St. Francis in the Merv Harris Classic at Serra, falling 51-45 Dec. 11.

“We had chances in that game; we were right with them,” Mack said. “I’m proud of the way we came out – with no fear. And we competed without one of our best players.”

That would be Patrick Kane. The 6-foot-4 senior is also a standout in volleyball and was playing in a tournament that weekend. Kane is Mountain View’s second-leading scorer, averaging 10.5 points per game, and the team’s best rebounder at seven per contest.

“It’s great to have him back,” Mack said of the forward, who didn’t play as a junior because the pandemic pushed the season to spring and conflicted with volleyball. “He’s having an outstanding year so far.”

Senior guard Joey Peir is the sole Spartan to average more points per game (13.2), and he also tops the team in 3-point shooting. The third-year varsity player has made nearly half of his shots from beyond the arc (13-of-27).

Forward Joe Brown, who joined the team late due to football, is the other Mountain View player averaging double-digit points (10). The returning starter has made 12 shots from 3-point range.

“He’s probably our most talented player,” Mack said of the 6-foot-4 senior. “He’s a special player who will probably end up being our leading scorer.”

Point guard Ryan Davenport and center Jack Pillsbury, both seniors, round out the starting lineup. Davenport, who shares captain duties with Peir, “has made humongous strides this year,” Mack said, while the 6-foot-5 Pillsbury “is a great paint protector.”

Getting defensive

For Mack, the Spartans’ success starts with defense.

“We press full court to wear teams down, and we’ve done a good job of that,” he said. “And in the half court, we’ve done a good job staying connected.”

Mountain View, allowing just under 44 points per game, averages 12.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per contest.

Defense and depth have gone hand-in-hand, according to Mack, as the Spartans can bring in waves of fresh players to turn up the pressure.

Key reserves include backup point guard Dylan Louie – the team’s lone sophomore – junior guard Jackson Kim and post players Will Edmondson and Aidan Gefken, a junior and senior, respectively.

“Dylan is one of the first guys off the bench and is doing a great job,” Mack said. “Jackson is really fast and athletic. … Will brings a lot of energy and rebounds well. Aidan has been a pleasant surprise; he brings a lot of physicality.”

It’s no wonder Mack is excited about the Spartans’ potential this season. He expects them to compete with the likes of Los Altos, Palo Alto and perhaps Homestead for the SCVAL De Anza Division title.

“Our team goals are, No. 1, to win the De Anza and, No. 2, to win CCS,” said Mack, whose squad reached the Central Coast Section Division I semifinals a season ago. “I don’t think those are unrealistic goals.”

Mountain View is scheduled to open league 7 p.m. Jan. 4 at home against Milpitas. The Spartans have several non-league games before then, including at 6 p.m. Thursday versus visiting Silver Creek.