Hoops on the Hill is back: Let’s meet the Lion players of Tacoma

After a long-awaited off-season, the men’s Bellarmine Basketball team returned to the court last Wednesday, Nov. 30. The team has high hopes of reaching the Tacoma Dome, a feat not accomplished since 2017. The first two games show these hopes could be within reach as the Lions dominated back-to-back opponents at home. With only seven years of combined varsity experience, who are the players that seek to bring Bellarmine basketball back to the dome?

Junior center Dylan Wiggins is arguably the most integral part of the team with his playmaking ability, 6’5 frame, and his threat from both beyond the arc and inside the paint. As the highest recruit on the Lions, many eyes will be watching how Dylan steps up as a leader for the first time in his high school career. The man with the most varsity experience

Senior forward Malik Momoh figures to be a massive part of the offense this year and an even larger part of the defense.

Playing in a league with stars such as Zoom Dialo and Parker Garrett —— Momoh will be tasked with limiting their production. Momoh is 6’3 and likes to run the court and score in transition. It will be interesting to see how his shooting continues to develop throughout the season, which could complete his game as an all-around player.

The only other player with significant varsity experience is the electric senior point guard Tony Scarola. Scarola combines his shifty handles with an excellent ability to distribute the ball and score from anywhere on the court. Scarola seemingly has the ball on a string while dribbling and could be the X factor in a successful Lions campaign. 

An excellent three-point shooter, Sam Inderbitzen showed flashes of talent in his limited playing time last year. The senior is sure to get meaningful minutes this season, because of his ability to pull up from the elbow as well as from behind the three-point line.

Rounding out the starting lineup is senior guard Lucas Kokich. His athleticism, which was shown earlier this year on the football, allows Kokich to find success on the court despite being an undersized guard. Kokich scores at the rim, hits the three, and plays great defense. His contribution will be shown in transition and at the free-throw line, as he consistently draws contact near the hoop. 

The Lions also have an exciting group of players coming off the bench this year. That group is highlighted by junior Mateo Garcia, whose three-point shot rivals anyone else in the league. His work ethic is shown on the court and is a selfless player who knows when to pass up a good shot for a great one.

Senior center Peter Matthew has had an unconventional route to varsity basketball, starting on the freshman team and choosing to play lacrosse over basketball during the shortened COVID year. However, his 6’6 frame was too much to ignore, as he balled out with JV during his junior year and is now a productive varsity player. Matthew could start against teams with two bigs, because of his elite rebounding skills.

Junior Jonah O’Callaghan will also find playing time, due to his scrappy defense and crafty handles.

Gabe Gomez is a true unknown, a sophomore who dominated last year with JV and could easily find himself playing meaningful minutes by the end of the year.

Sam Nam is a crafty guard who looks to produce at the varsity level for the first time in his career. He figures to be the backup point guard and could provide an offensive spark off the bench with his elite handles and perimeter shooting.

Another athletic guard senior Josh Albers will provide some needed speed to the squad and can seemingly not miss when he gets going. Rounding off the team is quite possibly the most intriguing player the Lions have.

Senior Matteo Smith is a hyper-athletic guard who will contribute on both ends of the court. He can score off the dribble as well as the catch-and-shoot, gets to the line, elevates to the rim, and will stick with even the most shifty guards. Matteo unfortunately was injured a few days before the start of the season and is hoping for a return at some point this year. His coming back to the team could be the difference between going to the Dome and staying home. 

The Lions will look to continue a strong start to the season this Tuesday, Dec. 6 as they face the Roger Rams. The Lions are looking for revenge against the Rams after a tough loss last year in which the Rams overcame a 20-point deficit forcing the Lions into a much harder route to play in the state tournament. The Rams will be the first league game of the year and is a crucial game that could forecast how the team will fare the rest of the season.

1st pic : Junior Dylan Wiggins brings the ball up the court against the Bethel Bisons last Friday, Dec. 2. (Photo courtesy of Instagram: Dylanwigginss)
Senior Malik Momoh drives into the lane last year against Sumner. (Photo courtesy of Instagram: Malikmomoh24 )