MHS boys basketball preps for new seasons with new coach

The Malibu High School boys basketball team has a new coach, and with him, a new outlook to the 2014-15 season.

Richard Harris previously led teams at Pierce College, AGBU High School in Pasadena and New Roads High School in Santa Monica.

This season, he’s looking to help Malibu forget last year’s 8-20 record and make some noise in the Frontier League.

“Honestly, this year we really want to try and win league,” Harris said. “I think that’s a big goal for all of us.”

Harris said he inherited a good group of guys when he took the head coaching job, and has already noticed some players he feels will make big contributions throughout the season.

“I think I have a really good core of guys to start with,” Harris said.

Dane Marshall, Cordell Newton and Cade and Hunter McMillin are some players Harris mentioned have impressed him during fall and summer league play.

Harris also singled out Westlake transfer Jordan Newt, and expects big things from him this year.

“He meshes really well with players, he has really good basketball skills, and I think he’s going to have a really good season,” Harris said of Newt.

Harris said he was surprised the team has worked well together so early despite the coaching change and losing some key players from last year.

“It wasn’t really difficult to try to bring them together,” Harris said. “They’ve been a really strong unit ever since I’ve been with them.”

One aspect of the game Harris is looking to change is the team’s pace. He wants to push the ball on offense and diversify its defense, with an emphasis on ball pressure.

“I will run zone, I will run man, I’ll run traps — I’ll have a lot of different things involved,” Harris said. “But pressuring the ball is my ultimate goal. I don’t like to see teams comfortable with the ball.”

The Sharks were a paltry 1-9 in league play last year, according to Max Preps. Malibu was a member of the Tri-Valley league, but will switch to the Frontier League this season.

Malibu has some tough teams to face before this season’s league schedule starts, but winning a couple would help set the tone for the rest of the year, Harris said.

As a first-year coach in Malibu, Harris is hoping to put basketball on the map among in the community.

“I think when people hear Malibu, they don’t think of basketball,” Harris said. “I would like to see that change and I would like to see a lot of community support.”

Harris said his biggest challenge as a coach is getting his team to not look too far ahead on the schedule.

“A lot of times, players will look ahead and it’s hard to keep focused on the next game,” Harris said. “So one game at a time is one of the main things I want to promote.”

Harris suggested that winning league would be a challenge, but said there is a chance of reaching the goal if the team does the right things.

“We have to be disciplined and we have to be focused all season,” Harris said. “I think if we play together, and we stay disciplined [and] stay focused on what our long- and short-term goals are, I think we can really surprise some people.”


MHS girls cross country advances to CIF championships

With a third place finish at league finals on Thursday, Nov. 6, the Malibu High School girls cross country team advanced to the prelims of the CIF Southern Section Championships.

This is the first time the team has reached the prelims since 2004, head coach Shawn Waco said.

“Just getting there is a huge accomplishment,” Waco said. “Now we’re into the unknown and it’s going to be a really fun race to watch. I really hope that the girls team does really well.”

Caroline Pietrzyk and Abby Blackwood led the charge for the Sharks once again, finishing first and second, respectively, on Thursday.

The prelim round is slated for Saturday, Nov. 15 at Mt. San Antonio College.

Waco said there will be plenty of challenges Malibu will face now that they are in uncharted territory.

“The teams are there, the pressure is going to be there,” Waco said. “It’s whether or not they can handle the pressure of all the other teams and focus within themselves and then within their ability.”

Even with Pietrzyk and Blackwood leading the team, Waco said it will be a difficult challenge for even his two star runners because of the heightened competition from the other schools.

However, Waco remains cautiously optimistic.

“Basically, there’s a lot of other fast teams, so the chances are pretty slim for the whole team to move on to the finals,” Waco said. “But we’re going to do our best.”

Waco suggested there is nothing left for his team to do except race, and said his runners will need to have “the race of their lives” to have a chance at advancing to the finals.

“It’s all about them at this point,” Waco said. “They’ve done all the hard work … and gotten to this point. So it’s just what else they have now, what they’re capable of.”

The boys’ varsity team finished seventh in league finals, and therefore did not advance to the prelims. Waco said it could have been the weather on race day that affected the team’s performance.

“It was a hot day,” Waco said. “The girls were able to kind of hold on and actually get some PRs [personal records] or get close to their times. The boys I think fell a little more victim to the heat.”

Of the seven girls that will be racing on Nov. 15, the top five have a chance to advance to the CIF Finals. But Waco hasn’t thought that far ahead yet.

“In terms of feeling really confident that they are going to move on to the CIF finals, that is just beyond what I can imagine,”  Waco said. “I’m just going to have to be there for them, support them and just hope for the best for the team.”