Rec basketball is hot this winter

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Things are heating up in recreational basketball this winter.

Returning for a second season, a group of senior boys is taking the court once again in the well-known Hotshots league.

This year, however, the tables have turned.

What was once one team, has split into two, over a tense few months of drafting and preparing for the upcoming season.

The “Republicans” have split off from “Team Trump” under the lead of seniors Bradley Jones, Cole Kahmann, and coach Arjith Jayaraman.

They kicked off a lot of players and made them make mixtapes for a recreational league, and now some players can’t play, so it pissed me off a little bit,” said Republicans player Jay Kumar.

The aforementioned mixtapes are essentially try out videos that Team Trump requested from the players attempting to grab a coveted spot on their team.

Senior Chase Lederer was one of the lucky few to be selected.

My recruiting process was fairly simple, they saw my talent and approached me,” Lederer said. “It was a very enlightening experience making a mixtape, and I learned a lot about myself, and the level of play I am capable of.”

While Lederer’s team more formally recruited players, Team Republicans came together under a common mindset.

Focused on serious but enjoyable basketball, Jones approached the season hoping to find success.

“I want to play because basketball is fun, and I knew I could get kids that want to play the game and not just screw around,”  he said. “We’ve got real athletes that want to make real basketball happen.”

Frustrated by the team dynamic last season, Jones and Kahmann chose to split off and create a new team this year.

Though Jones said members of each side are still “friends,” there remains competitive tension.

“I feel as if they will be no match for us and that them starting another team will disgrace the town of Granite Bay,” Lederer said of the newest team. “I can’t wait to see them on the court.”

The Republicans however, believe they will dominate Team Trump.

“They know they’re gonna get smacked,” Jones said. “They want us to shift divisions so they don’t have to play us.”

While it seems like a fierce rivalry has developed between the former teammates, Trump’s Satgur Maan doesn’t see it that way.

“We don’t have rivals,” he said. “They hate us because they ain’t us, but we don’t hate them.”

“We’re like the Golden State Warriors of Hotshots, they’re like, I don’t know, the Phoenix Suns– not relevant,” Maan said.

Regardless of their views of each other, both teams are confident in their seasons’ potential and have similar goals in mind.

Despite being a first year team, The Republicans are looking to do what Team Trump did last year: go to the playoffs.

As for the reigning champions, they are hoping to make a strong playoff run.

To achieve these goals, each team is approaching the season differently.

The Republicans are aiming to do it by sticking to the basics: putting in hard and focused hours on the court.

“Our strategy for this season is quite simply to be better than everyone,” Jones said of his team. “When you’re competing in a league like Hotshots you can do that by not being lazy and just practicing.”

Team Trump, however, is planning to harness the talent they’ve recruited and retained, to carry them through the season.

“We had multiple spots open, and we had upward of 20 to 30 kids apply for the spots,” Maan said. “But, we narrowed it down and took the 3 best candidates that we thought fulfilled our team’s needs.”

As a new players, Lederer and his fellow recruits are excited about what they can bring to the table.

“I hope to add three things to the team this year mediocre height, curry range and most of all support great teamwork,” he said.

Though there may be many divisive points between Trump and the Republicans, they can all agree on one thing.

“(Hotshots) really allows you to just pursue your dreams and goals of a playing career,” Maan said. “There’s just good coaching, good reffing, and a good environment to be in and play in at the same time.”

As most of the players’ basketball backgrounds consists of junior high play and previous Hotshots seasons, the league provides an opportunity to keep up their skills and have fun.

“It seems like a lot of fun, we’re with all our classmates, and I’m just excited for that,” Kumar said.

This season won’t begin until the winter, but  certainly appears to have great potential for an interesting story line.

The real question lies in what will happen with the popular phenomenon following the Class of 2017’s graduation.

Maan hopes to see the tradition continue at GBHS.

“After the season, maybe we’ll hand our team down to some aspiring juniors who want to pursue a basketball career as well.”

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