BY ANTHONY MENDOLIA
Photo courtesy of COD Athletics. Sophomore forward Anthony Ogrodnick (Centaurus, Colorado) looks for the open man up the court.
After a difficult stretch of losing seasons the past few years, COD tipped off this season with some promising results. They won two out of three games at the Frank Garcia Classic, a seasoning opening tournament hosted by the Roadrunners.
It was a special weekend for first-year head coach and Desert alum Trent Skinner, who was joined on the court by his teammates and coaches from the 1996-98 basketball squad before the opening tip of the tournament. When talking to Skinner, it was clear that this moment meant a lot to him.
“It was amazing. We had guys who flew in from all over the country, and they were here for all three games,” Skinner said. “It was awesome, it really was. They said they’re going to try to make this an every year thing, showing support for the program and hoping we do well.”
Coach Skinner was equally impressed with his team’s play on the court. They played outstanding team defense, holding their three opponents to under 40 percentshooting from the field. They also had stellar performances from freshman guard Sam Skipper (Perris, California) and sophomore guards Gunnar Mogolis (PDHS) and Riley Welch (Littleton, Colorado).
“It was perfect,” Skinner raved about his guards’ play. “Each of them stepped up a different game, and they’re going to be guards that we rely on all year.”
The freshman Skipper led the team in scoring in two of the three games, scoring 15 points in the 70-68 win over Victor Valley, and 27 points against West LA in their only loss of the weekend, 82-80. He attributed his team’s success to their great communication on defense.
“Communication is a big part of basketball in general,” the leading scorer said. “When one of your teammates gets beat, the next player over has to yell out ‘I got your help’ and slide over. Our coaching has also been a big impact.”
The sophomores also showed their leadership, with Mogolis leading the team in scoring in their first game of the weekend, a 58-50 win against Grossmont. Mogolis scored 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting, including going 4 of 8 from three-point range. He also scored the game-winning layup in the game against Victor Valley, getting the bucket with 2.1 seconds remaining.
The third player mentioned, Riley Welch, would not be outdone either, as he filled up the stat sheet all weekend. He had 7 points and 10 rebounds in the Grossmont game, then followed that up with 19 points and 8 assists in the loss against West Los Angeles In the third and final game, he had 13 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds, and finished the weekend shooting a staggering 20 of 21 from the free throw line.
The Roadrunners lost their most recent game of the season 83-74 against Moorpark Nov. 14. However, this team has the looks of one of the most promising groups this program has seen in a long time. Their next game is on the road Nov. 21, against Rio Hondo.