A new starting five, a new coach and low expectations will characterize the 2018 boys basketball season.
The Panthers will begin the season after having lost vital pieces from last year’s team, including star small forward Cal Spurlock as well as the rest of the starting five. This year’s go-to offensive options will likely be juniors Nikola Kovacevic and Anthony Sylvestri, who led the 2017-18 junior varsity team to a league title. Defensively, a man-to-man approach, led by the ball hawk Kovacevic and an imposing force in the middle, junior center Taylor Clark, will be a key factor in determining the team’s overall success, as the Panthers lost defensive stalwarts Gavin Coleman and Dimitri Rally to graduation.
After the hiring of veteran coach Pete Harames in the spring of 2013, the Panther program rode star Our Lady of Angels School alumni Connor Haupt, Frankie Ferrari, Vinny Ferrari and Paulie Ferrari to new heights, twice reaching the Central Coast Section playoffs and twice beating Serra between 2013 and 2016. The Harames tenure was arguably the most successful run in Burlingame basketball history.
However, the 2017-18 campaign proved disappointing, as the Panthers struggled to find an identity without a Ferrari on the floor. With the unfortunate retirement of Pete Harames and the subsequent hiring of Jeff Dowd, the Panthers will have important questions to answer about the future of the program.
For most sports teams, poor seasons are occasionally inevitable and often follow bouts of unprecedented success. However, a period of mediocrity can also provide an opportunity for new players to drastically change the spirit and culture of the program. All eyes are on Kovacevic, Sylvestri and Clark, and nothing will come easily.