Despite the challenges high school and middle school basketball teams faced, cadets have continuously practiced hard and competed harder, earning them a reputation of worthy competitors. Read about each team’s progress below…
High School Basketball
Currently, the varsity basketball team sits at an even 2-2 record, with wins over Silex (55-23) and Wright City (44-38) and losses to Class 4 Powerhouse Columbia’s Battle High School (41-80) and Class 2 Final Four qualifier Salisbury High School (51-56). Junior varsity also knocked off the varsity squad from Pilot Grove 36-30. Cadet-athletes have been demonstrating hard work and determination during practice, where they maximize their time with high-energy drills that push them to their limits.
“The best part of the season has been our desire to play harder than previous teams have played,” David Mahurin, who coaches the high school basketball team, said. “I expect that we will continue to improve, especially defensively.”
According to Mahurin, cadets are performing exceptionally well, especially considering they are still learning how to play as a cohesive team.
“We face three main challenges this year: 1) we have to blend kids from all over the world into a cohesive unit within around 15 practices; 2) the majority of this year’s squad is new to the program; and 3) due to COVID-19 precautions, we often don’t have the same players each game, so it is difficult to install team concepts,” Mahurin says. “There is certainly a learning curve we have to address, but overall cadets are playing better with each practice and have been very competitive.”
MMA’s varsity basketball team has proven to have a few diamonds in the rough, with new star players emerging with each game. According to Mahurin …
Alexander Thomas ’22 is an outstanding leader, playing harder than Mahurin has ever seen before. His work ethic during practice and on the court speaks for itself, setting an example for his team to follow.
Enrique Padron ’22, MMA’s All-State football player, has shown spurts of pure dominance. As he acclimates to basketball, Mahurin expects he will stand out as a top player.
Landry Rudasingwa ’21 is the most experienced member on the team, and his combination of natural talent and practiced wisdom make him a worthy competitor.
TJ Somsanith ’21 has become the team’s top-scorer, scoring an average of 15 points per game, mostly from the three-point range.
Jose Elizondo ’23 is also a top-scorer, achieving an average of 10 points per game, with a record of 7 rebounds so far.
Maxon Castle ’21 and Jeremy Ansel ’23 have split starting duties and provide depth at the guard position as well.
Points, scores and records aside, Mahurin says his main priority is reinforcing MMA’s values on the court. Through basketball, cadets will learn the value of hard work, integrity through sportsmanship and the importance of teamwork.
“My coaching philosophy is simple. Let’s do things the right way, play as a team and work hard,” Mahurin said. “I hope players learn to push themselves beyond what they think they can do. I want them to learn to play as a unit instead of as individuals and care about the ‘we’ more than the ‘me.’”
According to top team player Rudasingwa, the work-hard-to-play-hard mentality is a lesson he will carry with him throughout life – not just on the basketball court.
"The best part of being in the MMA basketball team is that the team puts hard work as their first priority, no matter how skilled you are," he said. "They have taught me that everything in life worth having is hard to get and your effort will determine your outcome."
Middle School Basketball
MMA’s middle school basketball team currently holds a 2-7 season record. Cadets showed admirable teamwork and made great strides in their skill as individual players.
According to Middle School Basketball Coach Anthony Yannielli, with many new players on the team – some of whom had never played basketball at all – the main focus of this season was to teach cadets the fundamentals of basketball, from the rules to basic form and techniques, while developing their team skills.
“The main thing we focused on this season is the fundamentals of basketball,” Yannielli said. “My main goal was for the boys to learn how to play basketball and come together as a team. The best part of this season is watching the boys come together.”
While Yannielli says the season had its ups and downs – and defeats certainly hit the boys hard – they proved their grit through practice, and determination will help them prevail next year. Yannielli says he looks forward to seeing the cadets achieve more success next year, driven by the hard work of cadets like Ashton Williams ’25, who “always hustles and is great under the hoop.”