By John Philip Wyllie
Like most things, basketball programs are not built in a day. When coach, Aaron Partch took over the Castle Park basketball program last year he didn’t have a lot to work with. There were undeniably some skillful players, but no sense of team unity or teamwork. He inherited a team in disarray where his players were playing more for themselves than they were for the team. It hasn’t been easy, but Partch is starting to turn that thinking around. His team, currently 5-6 in the South Bay League has an opportunity to finish for the first time in quite awhile above .500 in league and his 6’5” center, Miguel Hodges, has been a big part of it.
“Miguel brings a lot of toughness, intelligence and rebounding to our team. He plays under control and within himself and he does a real good job of passing and shooting. When he got hurt at the beginning of our league season it really affected or team. Since he has been back we have gone 4-1. He comes to practice every day and works hard. Even when he was injured he came every day to cheer us on. Last year we had a lot more talent, but they didn’t play as a team. Something that has brought a lot of joy to my heart has been watching this team grow together. It has been a pleasure to watch these guys play together, cheer each other on and not really care which one is scoring the points.”
Hodges sees a team on the rise and he is happy to be part of it. He is among the team leaders in scoring and rebounding.
“In the beginning, we didn’t really play as a team. We won a few games, but we weren’t very good. At about the time I got hurt (with a thigh injury) the team was starting to improve. I had to just sit on the sideline and watch. In the second half of the season I came back. I don’t know if I made a big difference, but we started playing together, making our shots and passing the ball better.”
With a team that is rich in underclassmen, Hodges sees the trend toward improvement carrying over into next year. In between now and then he will play football going both ways as a tight end and defensive lineman on the Trojans varsity team. While he plans to attend college, he is not sure where he will go or even which sport he might play. But there is plenty of time to sort that out.