Hernandez, Plainsmen feed off energy from fans
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While Josue Hernandez was excited to get his first taste of varsity basketball with the Crocus Plainsmen last year, he couldn’t help but think that something was missing.
As the power forward’s Grade 11 campaign got underway this weekend with the Brandon Sun Spartan Invitational, Hernandez quickly discovered that the support of his fellow students in the stands was the missing piece to the puzzle.
“It’s nice to have our classmates and everyone else come out and watch us again,” Hernandez said. “That wasn’t the case with COVID the last couple of years and we can definitely feel a lot more energy out there, which helped us gain some momentum at times.”
“I just love it when the crowd gets hyped up and everyone starts banging on the bleachers. It’s fun and that’s what you want from the high school experience. It’s all about trying stuff and enjoying it when you are at this age.”
The Plainsmen used their home court support to their advantage on Friday morning as they picked up a 65-46 win over the Vincent Massey Vikings junior varsity program.
Hernandez scored eight points in the triumph and logged a ton of court time in the final two quarters for the Plainsmen, who were trailing the Vikings by a 28-22 score at halftime.
“It’s still early in the year of course, but I think we showed in the second half that we’re getting stronger as a group and that we’re learning all the time in order to get better,” Hernandez said.
“This team is quite a bit different when you look at where we are now compared to where we were last December. We had a lot of guys out sick during the year, but now we have everyone at practices and we are seeing each other around the school a lot more, which has helped us out a lot in terms of our overall chemistry.”
While last year’s campaign wasn’t quite back to normal as a result of the pandemic, Hernandez says he got a real good idea of what it was like to play varsity basketball.
“It was a pretty big shock to be going up against guys who were older than me and had a lot more experience than I had,” said Hernandez, who started playing basketball when he was in Grade 8.
“You had to play hard to keep up with them at times and that’s probably the biggest thing I learned over the course of last year. Hopefully, our new guys that are joining the team can learn that right away as well.”
This year’s Plainsmen roster is a little younger than in years past with just four players — Femi Alebiosu Adiamo, Phoenix Baker-Peterson, Nathaniel Flett-Neapew and Jacob Thornitt — set to age out of the program at the end of this season.
For coach Angus MacInnis, one of the biggest things he’s looking to see early on from the team is continued development.
“Right now they are finding out who they are and reining things in a little bit, which is very important at this time of the year,” MacInnis said. “If we can take the energy we saw at the end of our game against the Vikings and build off of that in our practices, I think we should be a pretty nice team.
“We’re all learning right now but I think if this group can stay together, we’ll have a very competitive team down the line, especially as we get some players from our junior varsity program.”
Hernandez — who also plays for the Plainsmen volleyball program — says the basketball’s team goal this year is to compete for a city title, especially after losing in the semifinals to the Vikings last season.
“If we keep building our chemistry and we keep pushing hard in our games, I feel like we can definitely contend for a championship,” Hernandez said.
“A trip to the provincials is also up there as something we’d like to accomplish, but I don’t want to push our goals that far ahead yet.”
» Twitter: @lpunkari