Work Doesn't End for California State Champs

GARDENA, Calif. -- Here is the prize for winning state: an understanding that the training needs to ramp

The boys basketball team at Junipero Serra High School in suburban Los Angeles quickly realized that their 2010 state championship is nothing but a great memory going forward. The Cavaliers finished 34-2 and beat Oakland's Bishop O'Dowd in overtime for the California Division III title. Coupled with the football team's state championship three months earlier, Serra is the first school in California history to win the football and boys basketball state championships in the same school year.

But that's over. A month after hoisting the trophy, the basketball players gathered in the Serra High School gymnasium to start working on a title defense.

An appearance by high-profile elite performance trainer Travelle Gaines--who normally works out NFL and NBA players--consisted of a pep talk and a quick training session on a hot afternoon in Southern California.

"Their reward for the state championship is more hard work," Gaines said. "They now become the hunted. They now become the team in the state of California that everyone is gunning for."

In the 30-minute workout, which was preceded by a leisurely pickup game, the Serra boys basketball team did a variety of drills:

  • Setting up five speed hurdles about a foot off the ground, Gaines had the players broad jump over each one without stopping. Once through the hurdles, they approached a practice dummy and shuffled into the defensive stance.
  • Gaines then had the players go over the same hurdles, only sideways, to work on lateral explosiveness.
  • A speed ladder was then laid out, and the players shuffle-stepped over each rung before finishing in a defensive stance.
  • Then, Gaines switched it up and had them go through the speed ladder laterally--a perfect way to develop lightning-quick feet.
  • Afterward, two players were strapped together using belts with a four-foot band between them. One player acted as an offensive player; one a defensive player. The offensive player tried to lose the defensive player within a small space outlined by cones. If the defensive player was more than four feet away from his man, the belt would snap and he would lose. Gaines had players do this in 10-second increments.

For the offseason, it was a quick, yet tiring workout for the state champions. But there will be many more to come--Serra's schedule next year will feature everyone's best shot, and the Cavaliers are already at work to get ready for it.

"Instead of resting on the laurels and thinking about what they did a couple of weeks ago," Gaines said, "they're right back on the court, training hard, and getting ready to defend their title for the 2010-2011 season."

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