ROCHESTER — Rochester Adams boys basketball coach John Hall is a little surprised by his squad’s record, but not by its success.
At press time, the Highlanders were 13-0 overall and 5-0 in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.
“We had pretty high expectations coming into this season. We have a lot of guys returning — seven seniors, six that played a ton of minutes last year, plus a junior that has been starting for us since his freshman year,” Hall said. “We expected to play well, to be in contention for our league title.”
Hall credited the senior class.
“We have those seven kids, and they’ve provided great leadership on the floor, off the floor, in the classroom, everywhere. They’re great kids, great role models, and they work extremely hard,” the coach said. “They buy into everything we’ve done. The seniors set the tone, then everyone kind of falls in line.”
Hall said this is a very mature group; there isn’t need for inspirational speeches or raising of voices to get its attention. Instead, he tells the squad the adjustments that are needed and it responds.
As a program, the Highlanders pride themselves on being gritty and defensive-minded. They may not have the flashiest of players, but they believe their hard work will carry the day.
In all but four games, Adams has kept opponents under 50 points. No team has scored more than 54.
“We’ve worked very hard as a staff over the last several years to kind of build that identity,” Hall said. “We’ve modeled that in practice. They don’t play any harder in games than they do in practices. It just kind of becomes second nature to them.”
The molding process begins at the freshmen level. Hall said his staff has been together for seven years, so the message is always consistent. This season, the freshmen team is 12-0 and JV is 11-1.
“They just have great coaches to work with all the way through, so by time they get to the varsity level, the expectations are engrained in them so well that they’re able to compete against some athletes that are better than them,” Hall said.
There is potential this year to turn a good season into a special one, but the Highlanders aren’t thinking that far ahead.
“We know we just have to be prepared for the next game,” senior Zack Littleson said. “If we look forward, like to the Rochester game (Feb. 26 at home), we know that we have to take care of the games before that to make sure we keep rolling the way we are.”