APTOS—Aptos High senior Trevor Brady and sophomore Isaiah Ackerman were supposed to be key components this season in helping continue the program’s legacy with the next generation.
Both standout players continue to be instrumental on the court for the Mariners boys’ basketball team following a 57-36 rout over San Lorenzo Valley in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League action Jan. 13.
Brady finished with 16 points, four rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals, while Ackerman had 16 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Aptos coach Brian Bowyer was pleased with how both players executed, especially Brady who not only shot the ball well but he did an excellent job of finding open teammates and making the correct pass.
“[Brady] shot the ball when he should’ve shot it and he passed the ball consistently all game long,” Bowyer said. “When he wasn’t scoring for us, he was finding the open person and it really helped us out.”
Senior center Tosh Woods added eight points and three rebounds, and fellow teammates junior Johnny Cornejo and sophomore Ryan Solorio each had six points for Aptos, which improved to 3-1 in league play.
However, the Cougars were swinging right out of the gate and ready to battle against the defending SCCAL co-champions.
Skyler Thaler knocked down a pair of shots from beyond the arc, giving them an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and keeping it tight in the second.
Bowyer thought they moved the ball well and had a lot of good looks at the basket. However, the shots just weren’t falling in for the Mariners, who made 3-of-19 three point attempts in the first half.
“We got a lot of open shots, shots that we like to take,” he said. “We just weren’t knocking them down.”
The second second stanza was a much different story for Aptos, which continued playing in a press defense that wasn’t working well for them to begin the game.
Ackerman took advantage on two of the turnovers in the second quarter with a pair of monstrous dunks, including a one-handed slam that had the home crowd oohed and ahhed with delight.
“I just think about my dad, he always wants to see me dunk,” he said. “When I go up, I’m a little bit nervous that I’m going to miss but I punch it and everything just goes away. I just start playing my own game.”
The 1-3-1 zone defense came alive for Aptos in the third and they disrupted the Cougars from driving into the lane, forcing them to take the deep shots.
“We got the steals, transitioned and as soon as we got the momentum going, it all kind of changed,” Ackerman said.
Their season also began to shift after Ackerman noted that they were playing soft to start the season. That’s when the defense buckled down and the new offense began to gel.
“As soon all of that happened, everything clicked,” Ackerman said. “We’re also a brand new team, so everything has been coming together and being brothers. Moving the ball, sharing and wanting other people to succeed.”
The Mariners came up short in a 44-36 loss to Santa Cruz in league action Jan. 10. Ackerman said it’s going to take a tremendous amount of confidence and play with a chip on their shoulder after losing in the first meeting.
“I want to take down Santa Cruz and get this league title,” Ackerman said.
Aptos will have the home court in its anticipated rematch against Santa Cruz (13-3, 2-0) on Jan. 27 at 7:30pm.
Bowyer said it’ll be just another game in league play and each game will be a grind, including last week’s meeting against SLV (3-10, 0-3).
“You never know what you’re going to get every night,” he said. “[SLV] played well, they played that tight zone. They made us shoot the ball and we had trouble with it for a little bit.”
Scotts Valley has won two straight and Bowyer is expecting it to be a tough match.
He mentioned their game against Santa Cruz isn’t going to mean anything unless they can take care of business against the Falcons and other league opponents left on the schedule.
Bowyer doesn’t anticipate Santa Cruz losing a game in league play, which will make their rematch all that much more important if everything is lined up the right way.
“We have to take care of ourselves and then worry about them when we get there,” he said. “If we overlook anybody, we can lose to anybody. We just have to take it one game at a time.”
Aptos (11-7, 3-1) will host Scotts Valley (9-9, 2-2) on Tuesday at 7:30pm.