Radford Rams get ready for OIA hoops season

Senior Robert Garrison aggressively attacks the basket for a shot.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

A year after qualifying for the OIA high school playoffs, the Adm. Arthur W. Radford High School Rams boy’s basketball squad is laying the groundwork for another strong season.

Despite losing sparkplug point guard and Navy family member Santino Calloway, and athletic post player Jordan Pinder, whose family had a permanent change of station earlier in the year, the Rams appear ready to butt heads against a stacked OIA Western Division after competing in their own Jim Alegre Basketball Tournament last weekend.

Loaded with players from families at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and a quartet of 6-foot-plus players, led by co-captain 6-foot-5-inch senior Robert Garrison, the Rams should be physical enough to hold their own against any OIA West squad and are busy at work to put all the finishing touches together before the Rams season opener against the Nanakuli Golden Hawks Dec. 23 at Nanakuli High School.

“We have the physical talent, but we need to work on our mental game,” Garrison said after showing off his aggressive style of play at the block and strong rebounding game against Hayward High School from California Dec. 1. “We’ve still got to get used to playing with each other.”

One of the players joining Garrison near the basket is 6-foot-2-inch Tyler Jordan, whose dad Master Sgt. Brent Jordan was a member of the 647th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) Over 30 JBPHH 2017 intramural basketball championship team.

Although only a sophomore, the younger Jordon’s ability to slice and dice near the hoop is a nice complement to the hard-hitting style of Garrison.

“We just have to set our picks, do our pick and roll and play our offense,” Garrison said about improving the team’s inside play. “We just have to set our screens and that would give us looks down low.”

While the post seems to be well in hand, the team’s back-court has its work cut out for it, but luckily for the Rams they have the players needed to do the job.

Last year’s perimeter was well staffed by sharpshooters Jeremy Ramos and Jordan Annaquey, as Calloway directed the team’s potent attack.

All players have departed by way of graduation, but returning guard and team co-captain senior Earl Ray Navarro will help fill the void.

Navy family member Navarro, who spent a good deal of his youth polishing his skills in MWR Youth Sports, has tremendous hustle on the court and uses it to drive to the basket or pull up for the jumper on offense, in addition to holding down his opponent on defense.

One sleeper in the group could be sophomore No. 2 guard Elhadji Kone, who was the team’s brightest weapon on offense in the team’s game against Hayward.

Kone opened up the scoring for the Rams with a splash-down from beyond the top of the arc for three points and went on to score a team-high 13 points.

He not only knocked down his second trey of the game later in the first quarter, but also scored at least a basket in all four quarters.

This year marks the second season in which head coach Travis Armstrong leads the Rams.

A solid and tactical coach, Armstrong’s rotations and schemes might be tough to master, but Garrison, playing in his second year under Armstrong, said players are beginning to understand that the coach’s playbook is a vital key to the team’s success.

“Since last year, we’ve gotten at least 20 percent better,” he said. “We’re getting better at every practice.”

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Category: Sports