GATES, N.Y. (WROC) — The Spartans 2021 boys basketball season was no surprise to anyone familiar with the team.
The roster is made up of entirely seniors, except Cameron Brown, and a large group of them have been playing together since elementary school. Head coach Jeffery LaFave has been waiting a long time for this group of athletes to reach this point.
“I helped start the youth program here 16 years ago, and why we started the youth program was for this reason right here: get a group of kids and keep them together, so that when they got to high school they would have that chemistry,” said LaFave.
“That’s what you look for as a coach, guys that are willing to play together, guys that know where guys are going to be on the floor, guys that are unselfish because they like each other and have played together for a long time.”
In a season complicated by COVID-19 restrictions on practice and play, the Spartans were already bonded and primed to hit the floor, thanks to their longtime on-court connection.
“Over the quarantine we were playing basketball, and just getting everything down so we could be ready for the season,” said small forward Spencer Glenn. “This team is resilient, hardworking and ready to win.”
Their winning season this year follows a disappointing 10-12 finish in 2020, just before the pandemic began. Now, the Spartans are playing for the school’s third ever sectional title, the first since 2009.
“It would mean the world to put a banner up here for our senior year,” said guard Adam Williams. “I love these guys, they’re my brothers. We came a long way to have a group like this.”
“Winning that sectional title would mean everything,” said Glenn. “It would mean the hard work and everything would just be the cap on it.”
No. 2 Gates Chili will take on top seeded Victor in the Class AA sectional championship game on Saturday evening at 6 p.m.