With Good Mix, Holy Spirit on Top of National Conference
The Holy Spirit boys basketball team has been one of the top programs in South Jersey, but this year, the team is taking on more of a spoiler role.
While many might have seen this has a rebuilding season for the Spartans, they have taken that underdog role and ran with it to five straight wins and the top spot in the Cape-Atlantic League National conference with a 10-5 overall mark and 6-1 conference record.
"We're starting to get things going a little bit," Spartans head coach Jamie Gillespie said as a guest on The South Jersey Sports Report. " We starting to get some momentum going, I give my kids a lot of credit."
In what many thought would be a rebuilding year, the young Spartans had a tough start to the season, playing area heavyweights Atlantic City and St. Augustine and losing on a buzzer-beater to St. Joe's at the Ocean City PBA Tipoff Classic, causing many to start focusing on the Spartans bright future.
"My kids never stopped grinding," Gillespie explained. "They just kept working and working and plugging through it."
Holy Spirit was 5-5 to start the season with a very young roster. The Spartans feature just one senior, Dante Daniel, in the program. However a core-group of juniors led by Drew Gallagher, Reece Miller, Sam LaMonaca and Joe Marczyk, kept the Spartans a float until the younger players were able to find their niche at the varsity level.
Guys like sophomore Jake Lamonaca and freshmen Jacob Hoping, Joe Glenn and Connor Foley all have seen their minutes rise, and roles increase, helping create more depth.
"We do have a really good core of freshman," Gillespie admitted. "We're excited about the future of our program, but right now we're focused on one game at a time."
One freshman in particular who is starting to find his way is Hoping. The freshman scored 18 in a game on Friday night in a win over Cedar Creek and has given the Spartans a spark during this win streak.
"You never know what to expect from a freshman," Gillespie said about Hoping. "He's done really, really well for us. He's stepped in and sometimes it about what you do with that opportunity, the kid was given an opportunity and he took advantage of it."
While the future looks bright for the Spartans, they are determined to make some unexpect noise in the 2016-2017 season
"I got tough kids, that what I got," Gillespie acknowledged. "I have kids that never quit.".