It is rare to see a JV team of any sport receive much attention. But in the winter of 2016-17, the B-CC Junior Varsity Boys basketball team finished off one of the most prolific seasons in school history. This year’s team finished with an incredible 14-1 record, the best record in B-CC basketball history.
The 2015-16 JV team finished with a mediocre 6-9 record, and the team was laden with then sophomores who now are on the varsity team. Additionally, three current sophomores were promoted to varsity for the 2016-17 season. Thus with so many voids to fill, Head Coach Andrew Sonnabend had a arduous task laid in front of him in order to prevent another porous season.
Even with the roster spots to fill, Sonnabend didn’t see this year as a rebuilding project. “Last year’s team had five sophomores, and the rest were freshman. The plan was to build the team for two years...the rest of this year’s team is made of sophomores who were cut as freshman, and stuck around with the program,” says Sonnabend.
Sonnabend knew he had two key returning players, Jack Robinson and Kevin McAuliffe, but many other players would put on a B-CC uniform for the first time. Sonnabend came into the season knowing his team had potential, but he couldn’t have predicted the Barons’ blistering start.
JV schedules are set up so that a team plays the exact same schedule for two seasons. 2015-16 was the first year in the current two year cycle, meaning the JV boys were set to face the same teams again. In the 2015-16 season, the team started 0-6. Knowing that his team would face those same six teams that beat them to start the year, Coach Sonnabend and his team coined the term “Revenge Tour.” “This year, we made it our mission to pay back each one of those six teams, with the sixth team being Whitman,” Sonnabend said.
The team met this goal with flying colors. The Barons won the six games on the Revenge Tour by an average of 10 points, capping it off with a 56-52 win at Whitman, a game in which the boys came back in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Barons used the momentum from the Revenge Tour to drive them through the rest of the year, moving closer and closer to history with every passing victory. After the Revenge Tour, the Barons beat Wheaton by 20, stomped over Churchill by 11, and took down Wooton by 15 before beating Whitman for a second time in the second to last game of the year.
The Barons sat on the brink of perfection at 14-0 with just one game to go.
The JV boys traveled to Einstein for the fifteenth and final game of the year. Einstein had given the Barons trouble in the first matchup of the year, as B-CC came away with a win by a slim 41-37 margin. QO may have been the closest win for the Barons, but Sonnabend believes the Einstein Titans may have been the toughest opponent. Sonnabend said, “They drove the ball extremely well, they shot the ball extremely well, and they had a big man inside who was very physical.”
Early in the game, the Titans had the edge. Einstein would not give up the lead, and by the beginning of the fourth quarter, the JV boys found themselves in a 10-point hole. But in the fourth quarter, the Barons stormed its way back into the game. B-CC closed the gap to one possession, but it was too late. With little time on the clock, B-CC was forced to foul, and Einstein did not miss from the line. In the end, the Titans held on for a five-point victory, ending the Barons’ bid for perfection in the final game of the year.
“Obviously it hurts a bit,” Sonnabend said. “I said to the guys in the locker room after the game, ‘I’ll take 14-1 and that loss not being Whitman.’ You’ve got to be happy with that.”
Sonnabend will have to restart for the coming 2017-18 season, as Robinson and leading scorer McAuliffe are both set to move up to varsity. Still, Sonnabend is prepared: “[B-CC basketball] is a fantastic program, I think it will be strong for years to come,” he said. “I knew the year before I got here, we were playing for a state championship, and I see that happening again in the near future.”