Despite having only one senior in its starting lineup, the Keppel High School boys’ basketball team is off to another impressive start this season.
The Aztecs have their eye on a third consecutive Almont League title after starting fast and ending strong in defeating Schurr, 62-38 Tuesday to improve to 3-0 in league. Keppel (14-7 overall) also has league wins against Alhambra (69-62 in a three overtime thriller) and San Gabriel (57-28).
“We have a really good group of kids and I really like the way we’re coming along,” Keppel Coach Hung Duong said. “They bought into the way we want to run our program and that is to work hard, play smart and play solid defense. We try to win with solid defense.”
The Aztecs jumped out to an early lead and never looked back Tuesday. They led 20-8 at the end of the first quarter and were running away with it by halftime, holding a 39-16 advantage.
“Getting off to a good start and being able to play pressure defense were the keys tonight,” Duong said. “It’s our pressure defense that’s been helping us.”
Spencer Briglio scored 12 of his game-high 18 points in the first half to lead Keppel. The 6-foot senior forward finished the game with four three-point field goals. Kyler Lee and Bertram Mak each had 13 points to also lead the Aztecs.
Duong credits the stellar play of Mak, the Aztecs’ 6-foot-4 sophomore center, around the basket and the leadership of sophomore point guard Bailey Kikuchi for a good portion of Keppel’s success this season.
“I don’t know the actual numbers, because we haven’t kept that statistic, but it’s like Mak averages seven to eight blocked shots a game,” Duong said.
But the Aztecs lack of experience remains a concern of their coach.
“For this group of kids we’ve just got to take it one game at a time,” Duong said. “We’re a young group and every game is a learning experience for us. All we can do is come out and play hard.”
Keppel will play Bell Gardens at home at 7 Friday night.
With the loss, Schurr (8-10 overall) dropped to 1-2 in league. The Spartans play host to Alhambra Friday night.