Huffman, Fisher key for California's hopes
It seems as if Tanner Huffman and Brian Fisher have been on the California Trojans' roster forever.
Huffman returns for his fourth year as a starter while Fisher enters his third season in Phil Pergola's lineup, and the senior duo will both join the 1,000-point club this season.
More importantly, their play will dictate how successful the Trojans are this season.
“They bring leadership and know everything we are going to do,” Pergola said of the pair. “They are two coaches on the floor, and they give us everything on both ends of the floor.”
Despite the familiarity that Huffman and Fisher bring, the team also has to bring along several inexperienced players as it looks to make a run to the post-season.
The Trojans went 11-12 a year ago, making the Class AA playoffs in Section 4 and they lost three players to graduation from last year's playoff team.
Huffman averaged 19.3 points and 4.7 assists per game last season and has 849 points for his career while Fisher averaged 17.5 points per game a year ago and has 826 points thus far.
As a freshman, Huffman was an all-section award winner and he was all-district as a sophomore, but missed part of last season with an injury.
Senior forward Evan Patterson enters his second season as a starter while a pair of juniors, Demetri Clements and Austin Wingo, will fill out the starting lineup.
Key reserves will be sophomore guard Malik Jackson, junior guard Jacob Columbus, senior guard Jarid Marinos, and senior forwards Kyle Newman, Mike Mikula, and Bobby Kalbaugh.
Pergola is happy with the size that his team has as Patterson, Wingo, Newman, and Fisher are all listed at least 6-2.
“That's not a bad level of size for the AA level,” Pergola said.
Despite the size, California will feature its customary trapping and pressure defense and will look to run.
“The key to our entire season is chemistry,” Pergola said. “We know that Tanner and Brian will do their thing, but they have to not get frustrated by the mistakes the newer guys make.”
What are Pergola's goals for the team?
“The playoffs are always our expectation and I think we are in the running for a section title,” he said.
The Trojans are in revamped Section 5 AA along with Charleroi, Bentworth, Frazier, Jefferson Morgan and West Greene. Gone from last year's section are perennial playoff teams Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic, along with Beth-Center.
With the new look of the section, the Trojans go from contenders for one of the last playoff spots to section title contenders. Bill Hughes is a freelance writer.