St. Francis High junior Joseph Rose is one of seven returners for the Sharks boys' basketball team. The Sharks will compete in the PCAL Cypress Division this season. (Raul Ebio - The Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE—There’s nothing flashy about the way St. Francis High junior Joseph Rose is taking charge of a Sharks boys’ basketball team slowly finding its groove at the right time.

The standout guard’s style of play is nothing uncanny, just drain the open shot and be aggressive on defense. 

But his special season took a minor detour after Rose injured his right knee that will force him to miss some significant time.

His presence was sorely missed for the Sharks in a 47-36 win over Pajaro Valley in non-league action on Wednesday evening.

“A little bit sloppy, there could’ve been things that we could’ve worked on that could’ve changed the outcome of that game,” said Rose, who is averaging 16.8 points per game for St. Francis.

Part of the sloppiness for St. Francis was making just 1-of-26 shot attempts from behind the 3-point line. 

It was a rough night but Rose does his best to let his teammates know he’s still happy with them shooting, even if they are missing. 

“You just gotta keep shooting, they’re going to fall eventually,” he said.

With the win, the Sharks extended their win streak to four and improved to 4-3 overall with two games left before league play begins.

“[Pajaro Valley] made it hard for us,” said St. Francis coach Duncan Edwards. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well and the consequence was it was a closer game than I thought it would be.”

Apart from a poor shooting performance, another issue for the Sharks this season is failing to be efficient at the free-throw line. 

Sophomore guard Nash Horton made his head coach proud by sinking two clutch free throws in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. 

“He buried them both,” Edwards said. “That looked like the Nash of old.”

Edwards was also pleased with their spacing on the court, whether it was in the press or in the zone offense. It allowed senior center Aiden Andrade to have a big game with 10 points and six rebounds. 

“[Andrade] understands that position very well,” Edwards said. “I wasn’t surprised, I thought he played well tonight.” 

St. Francis has a short, yet, rich history of winning that includes a NorCal Division V title in 2017 and a pair of CCS Division V championships in 2010 and 2017.

Last season, the Sharks went 8-13 overall and were 2-7 in Pacific Coast Athletic League Santa Lucia Division play. 

They qualified for the CCS D-V playoffs and lost to Crystal Springs Uplands in the quarterfinals.

Rose wants to restore the program back to a contender. Yet, in order to do so they have to take the hard work in practice and transition that into the game.

Edwards said his third-year varsity starter came into the season much more aggressive, bigger and stronger than in the past. 

“[Rose] understands his role real well and he’s just coming around,” Edwards said. “It’s one of those things that’s fun to watch, he gets better and better every day.” 

Rose is one of seven returners along with seniors Adam Hernandez, Christian Magaña, Diego Ramirez, junior Junior Ibarra and both Andrade and Horton. 

The new faces on the team are juniors Andrew Garibay, Adrian Leon and Sam Braun, who Edwards is excited to have back after missing a couple of games.

Edwards believes they’ll be better once the football players—Ibarra, Hernandez, Magaña and Ramirez—are fully up to speed after not being able to practice together as much. 

“I thought Magana and Ramirez played extremely well tonight,” Edwards said. “You can see them rounding into basketball shape.”

St. Francis began the season with three-straight losses, including a 71-34 blowout defeat to Alisal in the Watsonville Wildcatz Tournament on Dec. 9.

Rose said the loss to the Trojans showed they needed to be more forceful on the court. He emphasized a weak spot for them thus far is the 3-point shooting and the inability to limit turnovers. 

“We’re a really soft team right now and we need to start being more aggressive with other teams and aggressive with our shooting, stuff like that,” Rose said. 

The Sharks dropped from the PCAL’s Mission Division down to the Cypress Division this season.

They’ll compete for a league crown against Gonzales (1-7), Greenfield (3-3), King City (4-4), Marina (6-0), North Salinas (1-5), Rancho San Juan (5-2) and cross-town rival Watsonville (3-7). 

Rose said the friendly rivalry against the Wildcatz is special because most of them know each other. Some went to the same schools together as youngsters and played basketball along with other sports together.

“It’s always fun to go back there and play against them, we know each other,” Rose said. “But it gets aggressive sometimes, I think we need to be more aggressive with them, too.”

Edwards has had a chance to watch Marina and Watsonville play in person, while the rest of the squads’ video highlights are on the National Federation of State High School Associations Network website.

The PCAL’s Cypress Division is still a mystery to him but he thinks they have a solid chance at capturing the league title just like any other team.

“We just look at this and we just gotta take them one at a time, we just can’t play like this,” said Edwards after their win against Pajaro Valley. “We gotta be much better.” 

The Sharks (4-3) will play at Seaside (3-6) on Dec. 28 and at Harbor (8-4) on Dec. 30 to close out the pre-league schedule. Both games are slated for a 7pm tipoff.

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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